Word of the day

February 3, 2020

Misbelove – not to love; hate.


Thatcher thinks

February 3, 2020


Rural round-up

February 3, 2020

Worst time for virus – Neal Wallace:

Coronavirus couldn’t have come at a worse time for meat processors, analysts say.

With no one dining out, Chinese cold storage facilities are flooded with product, AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said.

“From a New Zealand perspective the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“Large-scale buying for the Chinese New Year festivities meant processors’ inventories were well-stocked going into the outbreak. 

“A large portion of the Chinese workforce remains on leave too, further slowing down the movement of product.” . . 

Fighter for free trade will be sorely missed – Federated Farmers

Many farmers will remember Mike Moore as a man who rolled up his sleeves to fight for global trade liberalisation and making things better for New Zealanders in general.

“He was brimming with talent and positivity and wasn’t afraid to stick his neck out,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne said. “Who can forget his tireless efforts to promote the lamb burger? He took quite a bit of stick for that but was ahead of his time in terms of creating markets for our products.”

For his roles with the World Trade Organisation and as our ambassador to the United States he was away from the home shores he loved, but he continued to strive for the interests of Kiwis. . .

Farmers encouraged to open their gates to connect with urban New Zealand:

Greg and Rachel Hart are opening their Mangarara Station gates on Open Farms Day (Sunday 1 March), and inviting urban Kiwis to learn about their how they farm first-hand.

The Hart family are on a mission to connect New Zealanders with what they eat, how they live, and back to the farm where it all begins.

Greg Hart says, “When we learned about Open Farms Day, it was a no-brainer for us.”

“We love sharing Mangarara Station and offering the farm as a place where people can connect back to the land.” . . .

Walking a mile in her gumboots – Cheyenne Nicholson :

Matamata farmer Ella Wharmby feels more at home in the back paddocks than shopping in the high street. Farming was not her first choice but fate had different ideas. She tells Cheyenne Nicholson how she found her calling.

As the saying goes, you can’t fully understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And if you swapped the shoes for gumboots, Waikato farmer Ella Wharmby could tell you a thing or two about that.  

Looking at her now, it is hard to believe that she had barely stepped foot on a farm before embarking on a career that would see her combine her passion for food, animals and the outdoors. 

“Having not come from a farming background I now realise how far removed we’ve become from the food chain,” Ella says. . . 

Kiwigrowers to help pay for $18m Queensland fruit fly response:

Kiwifruit growers will fork out around a million dollars toward a year-long operation to eradicate the Queensland fruit fly.

An $18 million biosecurity response in Auckland finished on Friday, with New Zealand declared once again free of the pest.

The total cost will mostly be covered by the government, but industry groups will also have to chip in. . . 

Rothesay Deer operation grew to take over entire farm – Toni Williams:

Rothesay Deer owner Donald Greig has been building up the genetics of his English and composite deer operation for more than three decades.

The farm, near Methven, is spread over three sites but the home block has been in the family for two generations.

The land the stag block is on is an extension of the original farm secured by his father, Tom Greig, following World War 2.

That land was part of a rehabilitation block for ex-servicemen to use for farming after the war. . .

 

Site builds under way at Southern Field Days near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

As trucks roll into the Southern Field Days site at Waimumu to start setting up the South Island’s largest agricultural trade fair, the event secretary has a lot on her plate.

There’s phone calls from exhibitors, a third reprint of 4000 day passes to organise, and a gale warning from the Metservice which may have slowed down progress on putting marquees up.

It’s still two weeks until the crowds begin to flock to Field Days, but the site was a hive of activity already. . . 


Only a start

February 3, 2020

The government’s announcement of a $12b investment in infrastructure wasn’t quite what the headlines said.

For a start, the spending announced last week was for around $7b. No doubt the government is leaving the other $5b for announcements later in the year.

And while the government has been clear it’s borrowing to fund this investment, it hasn’t given a timetable for repaying the debt, nor has it mentioned the interest that will accrue. Yes interest rates are at historically low levels but even a little interest compounding on $12b soon turns into a lot more to repay.

The announcement on new and better roads has been well received but as Steven Joyce points out:

. . .Hallelujah! A victory for sanity and the reasonable belief of most New Zealanders that personal mobility in the form of cars, trucks and motorbikes will continue to be the norm well into the future, even as the fuel that drives those vehicles radically changes for the better.

Beyond that, the government’s announcement was tepid and unambitious, despite all the hype.

Alongside a few worthwhile already scheduled rail and local roading projects, they are simply re-starting five of the major state highway projects that were cancelled after the last election.

To provide some context, when completed these projects will provide just over 60 kilometres of modern four lane highway.

The Roads of National Significance of the last decade just wrapping up provide over 300 kilometres of new highway to the same standard.

Also the pace of construction over the next five years will be about half what it has been over the last three years.

We’re getting less, it’s taking more time, and the government’s borrowing to do it.

The Government is therefore expecting a lot of applause for a massive reduction in roading investment. I suppose it is better than nothing.

It must be questioned however why there is a need to borrow all those billions when a programme nearly five times the size was able to be mostly funded from petrol taxes and road user charges (which are much higher today).

There is also a sizeable fish-hook embedded in the fine print. The government is to investigate dedicating one of the two lanes each way on each project for buses, or cars with multiple occupancy.

I can see that going down like a cup of the cold proverbial if it ever comes to pass. . . 

The government has wasted two years before deciding to do some of what National would have done and is borrowing to do what National would have done from better management of crown accounts rather than debt-funding it.

There is a better way:

With all that in mind, here is a starter for ten on what a new state highway building plan for New Zealand could look like: three networks of modern four lane highways based through and around our three biggest cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The Northern Expressway network would safely and efficiently link Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua. The Central Expressway network would do the same for Wellington, Hutt Valley, Levin, and Palmerston North, on towards Whanganui and over the hill to Hawkes Bay.

The Southern network would radiate out from Christchurch, north to around Amberley, south to Ashburton and on towards Timaru, and inland towards the Alps.

A decent chunk of each is now already built. Completed over say a twenty year period the three networks would provide safe, reliable, stress-free travelling of a standard that is taken now as a given in the rest of the developed world.

They would help spread around growth and development as has occurred in the Waikato with the new expressway, and much earlier on Auckland’s North Shore with the Northern motorway.

They would lower the road toll by eliminating the temptation for dangerous passing manoeuvres on our busiest two-lane roads, as we have seen with the Tauranga Eastern Link and Waikato Expressway.

This sort of plan would be an upgrade worthy of the name, and would require simply upping the pace of the last ten years. . . 

So it’s a start, but only a start and a late one on borrowed money at that.


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