Word of the day

23/03/2020

Jakes – a lavatory, especially an outside one; an outdoor privy; outhouse; bedpan; human excrement.


Sowell says

23/03/2020


Rural round-up

23/03/2020

Livestock are providing answers – Neal Wallace:

Livestock farmers already have answers to many of the accusations being levelled by critics, they just need to package their responses better, Michigan State University scientist Jason Rowntree says.

He and other speakers at the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown said claims a world without ruminant livestock and diets free of red meat will reverse climate change are scientifically wrong.

Managed properly, livestock on pasture can enhance and improve the environment by increasing organic matter, microbial activity and biodiversity while sequestering carbon in the soil. . . 

Coronavirus: Farming likely to recover fastest from Covid-19, says economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Farming is likely to be the quickest to rebound from the fallout from coronavirus, says ASB rural economist Nathan Penny.

When crises hit, food demand remains and that would be no different this time, he said.

Farmers might not get paid as much but there would be demand for food, with the exception of luxury foods like seafood, prime steak and wine, he said. . . 

Coronavirus: Rural isolation a good thing in face of pandemic, farmers say – Catherine Groenestein:

Rural isolation is helping farmers feel somewhat safer than their urban counterparts in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases in New Zealand has risen to 20, it was announced today, and the Government is advising New Zealanders overseas to return as soon as possible.

North Taranaki farmer Katrina Knowles, who is North Island co-ordinator for the Rural Support initiative, said it was a good time to live rurally.

“We live in relative isolation anyway, we have the opportunity to carry on with our lives and our work and businesses,” she said. . . 

Canterbury has tonnes of feed – Annette Scott:

Ongoing North Island drought has created a serious feed shortage with many farmers looking further afield for supplies.

Arable Solutions director Simon Nitschke, of Marton, said despite the good harvest in the region there’s nothing left to buy on the spot market.

“What is around is under contract, sold. There’s nothing available.

“A lot of barley this season has gone malting and barley harvested for feed is taken up with no reserves looking likely coming into the maize harvest either with a lot chopped for silage due to poor grain quality.” . . 

 

Coronavirus and your workers – guidance for farm businesses – Julie Robinson:

Farms are not professional services firms where remote working may be an alternative to being physically present on site. Remote working does not get millions of daffodils picked, lambs delivered safely or the harvester moved from one field to the next. Farm managers need to be on hand, not at home or stranded in a hotel in lockdown.

That brings its own set of challenges during a period where self-isolation is the Government’s policy for dealing with a highly contagious virus, and where lockdowns are imposed at short notice across the globe, preventing people from travelling freely to their place of work.

The Q&A below describes some scenarios and gives some pointers about how to deal with them. . . 

A look into the future of UK agriculture – Tom Clarke:

It is March 20, 2040 exactly 20 years to the day since the Coronavirus pandemic forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson (remember him?) to acknowledge the Brexit transition period would have to be extended, says Cambridgeshire Fens farmer Tom Clarke. 

And thus it turned out that when it came down to it, what Brexit only ever really meant was… delay.

Our permanently stalled, semi-separation has left us more independent, it freed up our thinking, and the lack of security did make us sit up and sing for our suppers.

The two decades since the pandemic transformed the Commonwealth of Britain (the country formerly known as the UK) in ways that few predicted, and it is perhaps we farmers who have been at the front end of it, again in ways the previous generation could have hardly imagined. . . 


Farming’s not immune

23/03/2020

People still have to eat. Farming will get us through this.

Both these statements are true but there’s a but.

McDonald’s is closing all it’s restaurants in the UK and Ireland.

The company says it will work with community groups to distribute food and drink but even so that’s an awful lot of beef, cheese, bacon, potatoes and buns that won’t be being bought.

This morning we got news that one meat company has stopped processing and another is cutting back because staff aren’t turning up for work.

People still have to eat and food and farms are still producing it.

But farming’s not immune to the fallout from Covid-19. There are lot of people and processes between the farm and the plate and any disruption to any of them will at least slow supply.


It’s raining

23/03/2020

The government’s decision to put public health before that of businesses can be justified but National’s Finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith says it’s time to open the public purse:

We are facing the sharpest and deepest recession in living memory.

To avoid an accelerating downward spiral, with the mass failure of previously healthy firms, large scale job losses, mortgage foreclosures and serious hardship, a massive economic package is required now. Bring out the bazooka.

The primary economic goal must be to reduce the number of business collapses, and thereby to sustain jobs and incomes.

We’d support an economic response that is bigger and faster than what has been delivered so far. . . 

Businesses which have received help are grateful but a lot more needs to be done to protect jobs.

The primary source of urgent assistance is the $5.1b wage subsidy scheme. This we support. But the $150,000 cap for businesses, which translates to 21 full time staff, means that around half or more of New Zealand’s workforce won’t be covered the scheme.

While it’s true that most businesses in New Zealand are small, the majority of workers currently work for the 5000 businesses that employ more than 50 people.

Just think of a large scale tourist bus operator with hundreds of employees. This business’s revenues will have collapsed. A subsidy capped at 21 employees will be of little assistance.

Our strong view is that the government’s immediate package of economic support – $6b at best – is far too light. 

The $150,000 cap needs to be much higher, so that workers are covered no matter what the size of the business.

Urgent further consideration also needs to be given to the shape of the scheme. The Government’s scheme pays the money with no guarantee people will be kept in employment – only ‘best endeavours’ are required. The British scheme, recently announced, is a more generous payment for employees kept on the payroll but sent home.

The costs of the British scheme will be eye-watering, but some variation of that will likely be the least worst option.

Monetary policy, meantime, is not yet doing anything like the hard work it did during the GFC. The Reserve Bank will need to do more.

There is no doubt that if further dramatic restrictions on movement and work follow, we will have to go even further. . . 

Working capital will be the greatest challenges facing most businesses. The banks are rightly the first port of call. A government backed line of credit to banks to on-lend to businesses in trouble is required now. I know the government and banks are working on this; I’d encourage them to fast-track their plans.

On the assumption that this disruption could run to months, we should also move urgently to start on useful transport and water infrastructure – work that definitely needs to be done against nice-to-haves. We should fast-track legislation to get the shovels on the ground.

We cannot possibly stop every job loss, nor avoid every business collapse. But we can, and we should, do more to save as many jobs as we can.

Remember this is an economic shock created by government responses to a virus. This is why successive governments have reduced debt when they could. This is what we’ve prepared for.

My plea to the government is to focus on the here and now, and move more rapidly to stabilise businesses as best we can to save jobs. The National Party stands ready to help in any way we can.

The previous government was criticised in some quarters for its determination to return the government books to surplus.

The current government has been criticised for its determination  to keep debt low.

Both were preparing for a rainy day and that day has arrived.

It’s bucketing down and urgent action is needed to prevent the flood of business collapses and job losses that will follow.


%d bloggers like this: