Word of the day

16/12/2020

Wolfram – tungsten or its ore, especially as a commercial commodity; a rare, bright gray, lustrous metallic element having a high melting point, 3410°C, used in electric-lamp filaments.


Sowell says

16/12/2020


Rural round-up

16/12/2020

Agriculture minister warned of impact of Covid-19 on industry’s future – Eric Frykberg:

Minister of agriculture Damien O’Connor has been has warned that the primary sector faces strong headwinds as the impact of Covid-19 lingers on into coming years.

In its traditional briefing to the incoming minister, the Ministry for Primary Industries said the global economy was forecast to decline by 4.4 percent this year.

Although agriculture withstood the impact of Covid-19 better than most sectors and enjoyed growth of 4.6 percent annually between 2010 and 2020, it would be exposed to weak demand from a nervous world economy, and some sectors were likely to struggle financially.

This problem would be especially severe as governments around the world eased back on fiscal and monetary stimulation, thereby reducing the buffer between ordinary businesses and general economic conditions. . . 

Government warned about potential spread of wilding pines – Eric Frykberg:

The government has been warned that without controls, wilding pines could cover one fifth of all New Zealand’s land area by 2035.

The warning came in a briefing to the incoming minister of biosecurity, Damien O’Connor.

These briefings come after every election and alert an incoming minister to the main problems that must be dealt with.

The briefing from Biosecurity New Zealand, which is part of MPI, said some progress had been made in dealing with wilding pines. . . 

1980s downturn recorded in book – Linda Clarke:

Mid Canterbury farmers today are among the most productive on the planet, but 35 years ago they were angry and bitter about government policies that were driving some from their land.

The rural downturn of the 1980s had a big impact on the district’s farmers and their families. The businesses of Ashburton suffered, too.

Emotional and hard decisions made then continue to have ramifications for some families today, says first-time author Alison Argyle, who has published a book about the downturn and its resulting grief, stress and challenges.

She spent nearly three years interviewing 40 farmers, workers, farm consultants, bankers, social workers and others and has woven their stories into a 130-page book called The Half Banana Years. . .

Strawberry prices squished as exports drop :

Strawberry prices fell 43 percent in November 2020 as COVID-19 border restrictions reduced exports, Stats NZ said today.

Soaring air freight costs since COVID-19 border closures has made exporting products much more expensive, and a shortage of international workers in the fruit picking industry has meant that growers can’t pick their fields fast enough, meaning that many berries are too ripe for exporting.

“With less exports there is more supply available for domestic consumption, causing lower prices,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said.

Strawberry prices were an average price of $3.45 per 250g punnet in November, down from $6.04 in October. . . 

Lamb numbers up, despite a challenging year for farmers – Bonnie Flaws:

Despite tough droughts and meat processing restrictions as a result of Covid-19, farmers have achieved a near record number of lambs this season.

For every 100 ewes, an average of 130 lambs were born compared with an average of 124 over the prior 10 years, Beef and Lamb New Zealand says.

Its Lamb Crop Outlook report for 2020, which forecasts the next year’s exports, showed the total number of lambs born this year was only slightly less than in spring 2019 when 131 lambs were born for every 100 ewes. . .

What does resilience really mean? – Lorraine Gordon:

Story brought to you by THE REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE ALLIANCE and FARMING TOGETHER PROGRAM.

In November 2019, off the back of the toughest drought in Australian history, my family farm at Ebor was ‘smashed’ by the Ebor fire at one end of the property and the East Cattai fire at the other end.

This took out approximately 20kms of boundary fence and $700,000 in infrastructure. These catastrophic fires completely devastated our landscape in a few hours.

Come March, we had just re-opened our farm tourism and function centre, when COVID-19 hit. This shut down our tourism business for much of the remaining year.

This is a familiar 2020 story for many Australians. It initiated a deep dive on my behalf into what makes people and landscapes truly resilient. . . 


Eight days before Christmas

16/12/2020

Twelve days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “If the wind keeps up the lucerne should be fit by mid-afternoon and we’ll start making hay so there could be a few extra men for tea.”

Eleven days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “I have to go through to a sale in Central today. I haven’t forgotten the school concert and I should be back in time, but if I’m late you’ll have to go without me.”

Ten days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “When you go into town this morning could you see if the spare part for the tractor has turned up yet  and pick up some drench as well. You’ll be passing the bank so could you drop these cheques in then pay these bills too please, there’s only two or three.”

Nine days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “We’ll be shearing today, one of the men will be in the shed so he’ll want lunch early, the other should be in at the usual time and I probably won’t be in ‘til after one. But if we get the irrigator fixed this afternoon there might be time to get the Christmas tree.”

Eight days before Christmas my farmer said to me, “One of the rousies didn’t turn up so I’ve had to get another at short notice. Would you mind giving her lunch and could you throw something together for her morning and afternoon tea?”


Yes Sir Humphrey

16/12/2020


If more tax is the answer . . .

16/12/2020

Sigh:

The Treasury says the Government will need to raise taxes to keep providing health and education services, which are becoming more expensive by the year.

It also warned that house prices will continue to rise for some time yet.

The department’s briefing to returning Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Government’s books weren’t sustainable thanks to rocketing public service costs.

The Treasury warned that the Government’s finances would be “unsustainable in the medium term if the costs of public services continue to increase at historical rates”.

That is unless tax revenue was “increased as a share of the economy”. . . 

If more tax is the answer, have they asked the right questions?

A business faced with this scenario would take a very careful look at every cent it spent, cut out luxuries and reassess exactly what were necessities.

This is what National did when it led the government through the GFC.

Can anyone point to any time since Labour was elected in 2017 where it so much as hinted at doing anything like that?

Despite its warnings about spending, the Treasury warned that the scale of the Covid-19 crisis was so big that in the short term the Government needed to spend more to stimulate the economy.

“At present, the risks of fiscal policy doing too little outweigh the costs of it doing too much,” it said.

The Treasury said carrying higher debt was the right thing to do as it would keep unemployment low and improve people’s wellbeing.

“Too little support will result in more job losses, firm closures and a permanently poorer economy.

“While the economy remains weak, higher debt from expansionary fiscal policy is likely to be welfare-improving, if expenditure is temporary, targeted and timely.” . . 

Temporary, targeted and timely are very important qualifiers.

When so much is being borrowed it is absolutely essential to ensure every cent is spent wisely.

Now more than ever the government should be focusing on the quality of its spending and doing every thing it can to reduce the burden of debt and repayment that future governments and taxpayers will face.

In doing so it should be mindful of Winston Churchill’s observation:  We content that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

Taxes (Churchill Quote) – Simon Burrow


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