Word of the day


Rede– a plan or scheme; a story; advice or counsel given by one person to another; to advise or counsel; speak with others about; talk over in detail; have a discussion; to interpret, explain;  give an interpretation or explanation to.

Thatcher thinks


Rural round-up


Farmers ask government to align domestic, international emissions target – Eric Fryberg:

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists reflect depth and diversity in the industry:

Three woman contributing to the dairy industry in very different ways are this year’s finalists in the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award managed by the Dairy Women’s Network being announced early next month.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. . . 

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

Primary product prices will fall further this year but remain at reasonable levels before some improvement in 2021, according to BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

However, the falls – so far this year – have not been as much as might have been expected, he says.

“The defensive qualities of NZ’s food-heavy export mix may well be a Godsend for the economy as a whole during the current turmoil. If nothing else, it is easy to imagine a new-found appreciation for where our food comes from,” Steel told Rural News. . .

Ritchie instrumental in driving positive change for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

Tim Ritchie came into the Meat Industry Association as CEO at the end of 2007, initially intended to be for an 18 month period, and retired earlier this month over 12 years later. His first task was the planned merger of the processor representative organisation with Meat & Wool, the forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, which was strongly promoted by Keith Cooper, then CEO of Silver Fern Farms, and Meat & Wool chairman, Mike Petersen.

The merger was doomed to fail after dissension among the processors, some of which failed to see how the two organisations, one a member funded trade association and the other a farmer levy funded body, could possibly work as one. History has clearly shown the logic behind the eventual outcome which has seen MIA and B+LNZ each carving out a clearly defined role to the ultimate benefit of the red meat sector. . . 

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

NZ Apples and Pears says while it’s early days yet, apple export volumes for this year are only slightly behind last year.

Alan Pollard, chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears, says so far there has only been 25% harvested, but the signs are encouraging and he’s cautiously optimistic.

He’s predicting that it may be a reasonable year, but not a great year. . .

An historic month:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 less farm sales (-15.1%) for the three months ended March 2020 than for the three months ended March 2019. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months ended March 2020, compared to 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020 (-14.6%), and 331 farm sales for the three months ended March 2019. 1,216 farms were sold in the year to March 2020, 15.9% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2019, with 32.6% less Dairy farms, 14.3% less Grazing farms, 26.1% less Finishing farms and 14.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2020 was $21,130 compared to $23,383 recorded for three months ended March 2019 (-9.6%). The median price per hectare increased 2.7% compared to February 2020. . . 

Let’s not repeat past mistakes


Many of the critics of the erroneously called ‘failed’ policies of the 80s and 90s overlook the fact that the seeds for the problems were planted years earlier.

Those seeds were protectionist policies which provided subsidies for production here and imposed tariffs and import restrictions on goods from overseas.

As a result, producers were divorced from markets and produced far more than we could sell.

Consumers were also worse off. They had less choice and paid more for locally made goods that were often of a much lower standard than imports.

This all put a lot of power in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats and a lot of money in the pockets of the favoured few who had import licences or received subsidies.

It also cost far more than the country could afford and consumers paid twice – first in higher prices and then in higher taxes.

Dismantling all that was painful and nowhere more so than in North Otago where the sudden end of subsidies for primary produce coincided with successive droughts.

At one stage in the 1980s it wasn’t unusual for farmers to get a bill for sending stock to the freezing works because the transport cost more than the animals were worth.

There were predictions farmers would be forced off the land in their hundreds. A few did lose farms but the real devastation was in servicing and supplying businesses and processing.

However, gradually farmers adjusted to the new rules and became stronger for it, helped in North Otago by increased irrigation which drought-proofed the district.

There are arguments about the way the changes were made but nothing will convince me it wasn’t necessary to make them.

Farming, and New Zealand are far better for it.

That is why I have been appalled by the calls here and abroad for a return to the bad old days of protection of local industries and trade restrictions.

We need to be doing what we do best, not protecting local producers of goods others can produce at higher quality and lower prices and we must be free to sell the excess of what we grow so well to the rest of the world.

We consume only about 10% of the food we produce.

Selling the other 90% is one of the major contributors to the country’s wealth.

Successive governments, diplomats and trade negotiators have spent decades fighting for freer trade not just to benefit us but to benefit producers and consumers in other countries as well.

If we start putting up barriers, other countries will retaliate and we will come off far worse than they will.

One of the silver linings to our response to Covid-19 is the reinforcement of New Zealand as a safe country.

That will be a valuable selling point in a world that is aware of new dangers and will be more aware than ever of the importance of food safety.

It would be foolish to do anything to jeopardise that by repeating mistakes that were made in the past, the correcting of which caused so much pain.

Let’s not go back to the bad old days. We must learn from the mistakes, not repeat them.


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