Word of the day

29/07/2021

Screef -a layer of surface vegetation on an area of ground; a small area of ground from which the surface vegetation has been cleared, or that has otherwise been prepared for planting; valueless rubbish, waste material.


Thatcher thinks

29/07/2021


Rural round-up

29/07/2021

‘Groundswell’ expose rural/urban divide in media – Colin Peacock:

At the biggest national protest for years last week, farmers made it clear they are unhappy with the government and they feel unloved by the country – and the media. 

In one sense, the Groundswell protests in 55 towns and cities on 16 July last were poorly timed for farmers. 

It was not a great time to be away with heavy rain on the way that caused flooding in many places the next day. 

But in media terms, the timing was great.  . . 

Farmers’ Howl of a protest should have been front page news in all NZ newspapers – Shane Reti:

Why was one of the biggest protests of recent times relegated to the back pages of print media?

My expectation for print media on the first publishing day after the march (on Saturday, July 17) was that a protest of that breadth and size would have front-page coverage in the major metropolitan and regional newspapers.

I was surprised, then, when one of the biggest weekend papers relegated substantive reporting (assessed as page coverage) to page 5 behind a $20,000 fraud story on page 1, whiteware sales on pages 2 and 3 and free meals for schoolchildren on page 4.

Was a protest about land and fresh water and taxes really less important than whiteware sales? . .

Frustrated farmers ‘giving up’ on costly native bush restoration– Amber Allott:

On the other side of Banks Peninsula from bustling Christchurch, a sprawling, 1250-hectare forest runs almost from hill to sea.

Botanist Hugh Wilson has been restoring Hinewai Reserve from farmland to native bush since 1987 and it stands as a testament to what “letting nature get on with it” can achieve.

Hinewai sucks about 8 tonnes of carbon a hectare from the atmosphere each year and earns about $100,000 a year under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

But the reserve registered for carbon credits before the ETS existed and now similar gorse-covered blocks slated for natural regeneration are having trouble qualifying for much-needed cash. . . 

Standing up for wintering practices – Blair Drysdale:

Recent photos of wintering practices in Southland has Blair Drysdale responding to the trial by media.

In general it’s the same group of people wanting dairy cows inside, who also campaign for pigs and hens to be outside.

Winter certainly has its challenges but it’s a very reliable season as it’s just damned cold every day and that suits me just fine. As farmers though, and especially those with breeding livestock, we like all the inclement weather with its southerly snowstorms to arrive now and not in spring.

The challenges are very real given we’re having a wetter than average winter which on the back of a dry autumn meant winter crops are below average, putting pressure on livestock and farmer.

Throw in some sneaky covert photography of stock on winter crops that get plastered over social and mainstream media by a few environmental activists and it is a pressure cooker situation for some farmers. The reality is that if they were genuinely concerned about animal welfare MPI would be their first port of call. . . 

Shedding sheep – wool you or won’t you? – Lee Matheson:

Are shedding sheep the answer to the wool industry’s woes? Lee Matheson, managing director at agricultural consulting firm Perrin Ag, investigates.

A perfect storm has been brewing.

Low wool prices, increasing shearing costs, dilapidated wool harvesting infrastructure (historically known as woolsheds), a tightening labour pool and an apparent lack of consumer recognition of wool’s inherent values and performance as a fibre, are all contributing to increasing moves towards shedding sheep.

It is a potentially divisive and emotive topic when raised with sheep farmers. . . 

Milking opportunities for dairy markets  :

Technical barriers remain a key challenge for Australian exporters seeking to expand market access across the region.

Dairy Australia have been awarded a $310,000 grant from the Australian Government to reduce technical barriers to trade across six markets in South East Asia.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the grant would enable dairy exporters to build on our trade agreements.

“What this grant will do is identify and reduce the impact of technical barriers to trade,” Minister Littleproud said. . . 

 


Yes Sir Humphrey

29/07/2021


Aoteanomics Labour’s plan

29/07/2021

Robert MacCulloch asks: has Aoteanmoics become Labour’s plan for New Zealand?:

It started as a few comments that weren’t seen as mainstream. Now it’s become a veritable tsunami.

The Head of the Productivity Commission has just announced his disdain for GDP. He says it “is not a great measure of anything useful” and blames the profit-oriented shareholder model for our society’s ills. Even though it forms the basis of wealth creation in this nation.

GDP isn’t a measure of anything useful and a focus on profit is wrong? What would they replace them with?

The Reserve Bank is backing him. As for the Climate Change Commission, had it cared about both the environment and economic growth, it would’ve advocated for carbon taxes with the revenues being used to cut other tax rates. But it didn’t. Furthermore, the keynote address at the NZ Association of Economists 2021 Conference by the Ministry of Primary Industries’ Chief Economist called for a “systemic transition” to a new “holistic”, “post-growth”, “doughnut” approach to management of the country’s affairs.

The keynote gave this new approach a name. Aoteanomics. What is it? A full blown rejection of the idea that GDP growth is desirable. And it is way more radical and experimental than Rogernomics ever was. So why won’t the PM and Finance Minister come clean to the nation about the new post-growth agenda that’s the talk of the Wellington elite?

Are they terrified of their party being wiped by Kiwi business if they make the big reveal? Is this the reason why the government is pretending to be inventing gravity-defying forms of economic management? Ones that can close borders and still yield long-term prosperity? Ones that can impose a swathe of command-and-control rules relating to climate change with little effect on output? Ones where more equity can be achieved by dumping the shareholder model, or by introducing fair-pay agreements, without giving up efficiency?

These policies are sadly typical of people who see a desirable goal without understanding any of the downside in the way they plan to get there.

The twin aims of good economic and good health outcomes that the PM describes were achieved the past year due to robust consumer demand made possible by our domestic elimination of the virus. People were able to go on holidays and enjoy a freedom of movement denied in most other places. But the policy actions that achieved this outcome were short-term patch-up jobs. The factors that determine long-run growth rates are very different to the consumption spending that has recently been underpinning output. Those factors include skills, innovations and investments, which are being severely constrained by our border controls. . . 

Closing the borders last year was justified by the risk of letting Covid-19 in. They are still closed because our vaccine roll-out is so slow and until most of us are vaccinated the risk of the disease spreading as it has, and still is, in most other countries dictates that they will stay closed.

But that has come at a huge personal and economic cost. Families and friends are being kept apart, business people can’t meet customers and the public and private sector are both facing desperate staff shortages.

Countries are now moving beyond addressing the fall-out from what first appeared would be a temporary shock to designing ways of accommodating what’s fast looking like becoming a more permanent state of affairs. In this new equilibrium, biting trade-offs will occur. Better virus-related health outcomes supported by closed borders are likely to lower long term growth paths, especially for small, isolated countries. The best-of-both-worlds scenario that we previously savored is about to evaporate.

As NZ enters this new phase, some truths about government priorities are beginning to be revealed. Long-run economic growth isn’t one of them. . . 

Is there any alternative to long-run economic growth other than decline?

If our economy doesn’t grow, how will we afford the health care, infrastructure and other goods and services that allow us to call ourselves a first world nation?

If the government is going to take us down this uncharted territory, shouldn’t they tell us what they’re doing and why?


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