Word of the day


Trouvaille – a lucky find; something lovely found by chance; a piece of unexpected good fortune, especially financial gain; something blown down by the wind, especially a piece of fruit; windfall.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Fonterra boss Miles Hurrell says turning around the dairy giant has not been smooth sailing – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell faced a daunting task when he was asked to take the helm of the country’s largest company in 2018, but he is getting the dairy giant in shape.

The co-operative owned by its 10,000 farmer suppliers and supporting some 20,000 employees was heading for its first annual loss since its creation in 2001 after a period of big expansion failed to deliver the promised profits and left it saddled with too much debt.

Hurrell, an 18-year veteran of Fonterra and head of the Farm Source unit that worked with farmers, talked with his wife and a few close friends who backed him to take on the challenge of what was looking like a tough couple of years.

“I was under no illusion at that point in time about what needed to be done,” he says. “Clearly we needed to go about doing things differently.” . . 

Living the good life after ‘bovis’– Sally Rae:

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for South Canterbury farmers Kelly and Morgan Campbell since their cattle were the first in New Zealand to be depopulated due to Mycoplasma bovis. But they have come out the other side with a new business venture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

On a lifestyle block in rural South Canterbury, Kelly and Morgan Campbell are living the good life.

Residing in their dream home, surrounded by hundreds of happy hens, their seemingly idyllic existence belies the roller-coaster ride they have lived the past few years.

Morgan Campbell arguably summed it up best by saying: “it’s a crazy story … with lots of kinks and curves … along the way. Dead cows, IVF and chickens.” . . 

Sheep numbers plummet by 800,000 in a year – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s sheep numbers plummeted by almost a million in 2020, new data shows.

Figures from Stats NZ put the sheep population at 26 million for the year ended June 2020, a fall of 800,000 from the previous year and a far cry from the peak of 70 million sheep in 1982.

Stats NZ agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said widespread drought conditions and feed shortages were a major factor in the 3 per cent fall.

“Hawke’s Bay had the largest decrease, with the total number of sheep falling by 12 per cent (346,000) from the previous year to a total of 2.5 million as at June 2020.” . . 

Too many customers, not enough grapes, Marlborough winemakers struggling to match demand – Hugo Cameron:

Key export markets are thirsty for Marlborough wine, but low grape yields mean that demand is outstripping supply.

Frost and cold weather early in the season led to smaller harvests from many vineyards in the area and the smaller crop could leave some wineries facing tough decisions on who they can supply over the next year, industry group Wine Marlborough says

Caythorpe Family Estate owner Simon Bishell said the grape yield was about 25 to 30 percent down on the normal volume.

The business had seen plenty of fresh interest, but supplying those new customers after a slim harvest was a challenge, Bishell said. . . 

100 years on the land – Shawn McAvinue:

The Frame family recently celebrated 100 years of farming Burnbank in Teviot Valley. Shawn McAvinue talks to Bill and Gwenda Frame about how four generations have transformed the land from an unfenced block covered in gorse and rabbits to a productive sheep and beef farm.

A blanket of snow covered the land when Bill Frame was born on the sheep and beef farm Burnbank in Teviot Valley, on New Year’s Day in 1932.

When the snow melted, rabbits covered the farm in Dumbarton, near Ettrick.

As the baby boy grew, so did the rabbit population, and a dream was born. . . 

Meet challenges head-on says Beef Achiever Tracey Hayes – Shan Goodwin:

IF there is piece of advice Tracey Hayes believes has the power to guarantee a prosperous future for every sector of Australia’s beef industry, it’s the idea of never shying from a challenge.

Don’t turn a blind eye to what’s difficult, regardless of how insurmountable it may appear. Instead focus on precisely that.

These were the words from Ms Hayes after she was named the 2021 Queensland Country Life Beef Achiever at Beef Australia in Rockhampton last week.

Ms Hayes is an agribusiness executive with a beef production background and a down-to-earth persona that has made her one of the most liked, and respected, identities in the cattle game. . . 

Yes Sir Humphrey


Govt shouldn’t waste $35m taking us back to 70s


Is the government hatching another plan to take us back to the failed policies of the 60s and 70s?

A $90 million plan to turn Dunedin’s Hillside workshop into a world-class assembly plant has been revealed in a leaked government funding pitch.

But there are concerns importing parts to be assembled locally is not a good use of taxpayer money.

This week the Government reaffirmed its commitment to the South Dunedin facility as part of its 10-year rail plan.

In 2019 an initial $19.97 million investment was made in plans to expand the workshop through the Provincial Growth Fund.

But documents obtained by the Otago Daily Times show an additional $90 million is needed to turn it into a wagon assembly facility. . .

Concerns that this wouldn’t be good use of taxpayers’ money is justified:

KiwiRail needed to replace about 2300 wagons over the next five years. About half of those could be assembled locally, starting in July 2023, at a rate of two wagons a day.

A cost breakdown showed it would cost $219,800 per wagon if they were assembled locally, $23,000 more than if they were fully procured overseas.

That was an extra $35 million overall, based on 1520 wagons. . .

How hard would it be to come up with much better uses for $35m than this?

National’s Transport spokesman Michael Woodhouse, of Dunedin, questioned whether bringing in parts to be assembled at Hillside was a good use of taxpayer money.

“Now Labour, and probably half of Dunedin, are going to say ‘that’s a fantastic idea’, but the New Zealand taxpayer is funding that,’’ he said.

He said the Government had a “romantic notion about rail and the local production of that’’, but that was not where the modern New Zealand economy was at.

“What we should be investing in is what we’re good at, and what we’re competitive at.” . . . 

This proposal is going back to the bad old days of import controls, high tariffs and subsidised production.

It wasn’t sustainable then and it is even less sustainable now when the government is borrowing so much money in response to Covid-19.

How bad the policies were became obvious in the mid 80s when the then-Labour government was forced to implement tough solutions to the problems they’d caused.

Anyone who learned from the mistakes of the 60s and 70s and the consequences of the policies of the 80s knows the stupidity and expense of trying to do here what’s better done elsewhere.

Anyone who learned from those mistakes also know the wisdom of what Woodhouse said – investing in what we’re good at and what we’re competitive at.

Anyone who learned from the mistakes of last century wouldn’t be stupid enough to repeat them.

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