Word of the day

07/10/2021

Cozenage – the practice of deception; fraud; trickery; the art or practice of cozening;  an act or example of cozening.


Sowell says

07/10/2021


Rural round-up

07/10/2021

Planning for farming’s future – Samantha Tennent:

Environmental challenges could threaten the country’s food production and food security.

Protecting the billions of dollars New Zealand agriculture contributes to our economy depends on how we deal with the environmental challenges and the future risks of adapting to climate change. Around 83,000 jobs are hinged on agricultural production and related industries in NZ and approximately 14% of Kiwis live rurally.

At a recent webinar hosted by Massey University, Dr Lucy Burkitt, a senior research officer from the School of Agriculture and Environment, explored the future of farming. She explained how Massey research is informing how we might best manage the environment for a sustainable future.

“With climate change, parts of the country will get warmer and drier, other areas will get wetter and colder, and this will influence the types of crops we grow, pests and disease prevalence and the risk of nutrient loss from storms,” Burkitt says. . . 

A Filipino migrant believes his farming success is his destiny – Gerald Piddock:

A migrant from the Philippines who won the national Farm Manager of the Year title for 2021, nearly chucked it all in before landing his dream role.

Christopher Vila is a believer in destiny.

The Ōhaupō dairy farmer believes it helped him in his journey climbing the industry progression ladder to farm management, as well as meeting his wife Jonah.

It also played a hand in him winning the Farm Manager of the Year title at the New Zealand Dairy Awards. He believes this because it almost all never happened. . . 

Seasonal work during pandemic not easy for ni-Vanuatu – Johnny Blades:

Ni-Vanuatu workers coming to New Zealand for seasonal employment are enjoying the benefits of a one-way travel bubble, but their mission abroad comes with steep challenges.

Around 150 ni-Vanuatu landed in Christchurch on Monday for work in the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme in New Zealand’s South Island. 

RSE work offers them a chance to earn money to help their families back home, while providing much needed labour for New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture sectors

Coming from a covid-free country, ni-Vanuatu workers are exempt from managed isolation and quarantine at New Zealand’s border, and instead isolate at their workplace. . . 

New Zealand well-placed to ride regenerative agriculture wave:

There is a significant opportunity for New Zealand to position itself to take advantage of the global regenerative agriculture trend, according to research commissioned by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW).

“Although still in its infancy, regenerative agriculture is gathering momentum and is set to become a significant trend in food internationally,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ.

“Brands are beginning to follow the leads of farmers and growers in the support of regenerative agriculture, and while the concept has yet to properly take hold among consumers, this research reveals there is a bright future.

“Fortunately, we believe the majority of New Zealand’s sheep and beef farming practices naturally align with key pillars of regenerative products or production . . 

Mid-Northland farm offers exciting options:

Investors and farmers will find plenty of appeal in a mid-Northland property near the Pacific coast that can offer the best of farming returns and lifestyle opportunities only an hour from Auckland.

Located on Gibbons Road about 15 minutes south-west of Mangawhai coastal village, the 220ha property is currently milking 440 cows and is one of the last remaining dairy units in the Mangawhai district.

Last season the farm produced 126,000kg milksolids, with its best year managing 131,000kg from the property that features largely easier country throughout.

Bayleys salesperson Catherine Stewart says a savvy buyer would be able to find a range of opportunities within the property’s boundaries, including the opportunity to ramp up the farm’s dairy production, capitalising on its good infrastructure that includes a 30-bail rotary dairy shed. . . 

Rising machinery prices a major concern for rural contractors :

Rising machinery prices are rivalling bad weather and breakdowns when it comes to the main worries keeping agri-contractors awake at night, according to a survey.

Breakdowns and weather problems continue to be agri-contractors’ biggest challenge, but the rising cost of machinery is catching up, NFU Mutual research shows.

Contractors put the escalating cost of machinery as their second biggest worry (28.6%), as contracting margins remain tight amid rising prices for new and used farm machinery.

Difficulty employing trained workers was rated as the third most serious concern (21.4%). . . 


Thatcher thinks

07/10/2021


MIQueue madness could cost lives

07/10/2021

This is MIQueue madness:

Southland Hospital’s maternity unit may be downgraded because its clinical director can’t get back into New Zealand.

Dr Jim Faherty, who runs the hospital’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology service, has been trying to return home to his family and his important job for a month, but can’t get a spot in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ).

He’s frustrated with the opaque, clunky and time-consuming emergency allocation process and is struggling to understand why the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment doesn’t recognise his role as critical.

This is despite a letter from the Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming explaining why the specialist surgeon is urgently needed back in Southland where maternity services are “precarious”. . . 

After losing his mum in March and being unable to attend her funeral in the United States, Faherty’s father was admitted to a US hospital in a serious condition in August, where he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and renal failure, with six months left to live.

Fleming wrote that the DHB discouraged staff from travelling, but given the emotional impact of Faherty’s situation, decided it was extremely important he be allowed to see his family in the US.

Faherty and management understood that he would be eligible for two of the emergency allocation categories outlined on the MIQ website – namely, the category related to delivering critical public or health and disability service and the one for New Zealand residents visiting terminal family members. . . 

How on earth can he not be eligible?

MIQ joint head Megan Main said the category Faherty applied under was only for people who were starting a new critical job in New Zealand.

All applications for emergency were assessed on a case by case basis, she said. . . 

Can she not see the stupidity of the first sentence and the contradiction of the second?

Assessing by a case by case basis shouldn’t be a tick box exercise matching the application against the criteria. It should look at the individual circumstances of the the applicants and consequences of refusing entry not just for the applicants but others who depend on them.

In this case it isn’t just the doctor and his family, it’s the staff and patients at the hospital who urgently need the doctor’s services.

This madness could cost lives.


Interest rates rising

07/10/2021

The cost of borrowing is going up:

The Monetary Policy Committee agreed to increase the Official Cash Rate (OCR) to 0.50 per cent. Consistent with their assessment at the time of the August Statement, it is appropriate to continue reducing the level of monetary stimulus so as to maintain low inflation and support maximum sustainable employment.

The level of global economic activity has continued to recover, supported by accommodative monetary and fiscal settings, and rising vaccination rates enabling a relaxation of mobility restrictions. While economic uncertainty remains elevated due to the prevalent impact of COVID-19, cost pressures are becoming more persistent and some central banks have started the process of reducing monetary policy stimulus. . .

This is a response to a steep increase in inflation:

Headline CPI inflation is expected to increase above 4 percent in the near term before returning towards the 2 percent midpoint over the medium term. The near-term rise in inflation is accentuated by higher oil prices, rising transport costs and the impact of supply shortfalls. These immediate relative price shocks risk leading to more generalised price rises. At this time, measures of core inflation and medium-term inflation expectations remain close to 2 percent.

The Committee noted that further removal of monetary policy stimulus is expected over time, with future moves contingent on the medium-term outlook for inflation and employment. . . 

The Taxpayers’ Union lays the blame for the increase at the government’s door:

“Today’s OCR hike – which will see households squeezed with hire mortgage payments, is a direct result of the Government’s reckless spending over the last 18 months. Even worse, with COVID’s economic shock now coming, it comes at the very worst time for households.”

“The Government needs to do all it can to focus on quality, not quantity, of spending. Its programme of money-printing and borrowing for political purposes has pumped up inflation to unacceptable levels and left future generations of taxpayers with a debt monster. Higher interest rates will increase the financial pain caused by that debt.”

It’s a risky move:

Today’s move by the RBNZ to raise the Official Cash Rate by 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent shows the bank has been forced to make the risky move despite two major New Zealand cities still being locked down, says National’s Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayley.

“The Government’s failure to rollout the vaccine and prepare our Covid defences has resulted in the Reserve Bank having to make this decision in the middle of lockdown, which is incredibly risky for the economy.

“Obviously, the Reserve Bank has seen that the cost of living is rising too quickly, and its hand has been forced. This has been exacerbated by huge amounts of wasteful, untargeted spending from the Government on matters entirely unrelated to the Covid response.

“As a result of the Government’s lack of fiscal discipline and failure to prepare for another Covid outbreak, mortgage-holders and businesses are now set to face rising interest costs at a time they can least afford it.

“The Government should now take a cue from the Reserve Bank and rein in its wasteful spending and focus unrelentingly on its Covid response, and ensuring businesses survive the current extended lockdown.” . . 

The announcement has already led to an increase in interest rates:

It took just a few minutes for ANZ to announce it was increasing its floating and flexi rates by 0.15 percent. . . 

No doubt other banks will follow.

It’s a small increase on what was a historically low rate and is unlikely to bring much cheer to savers.

But it could bring woe to some borrowers.

A small increase on a big amount, which many who have bought into the overheated housing market have borrowed, could be more than some can afford.

The younger ones among them might not have seen interest rates in double digits and will have no memory of the 1980s when inflation and interest rates were raging.

Like most conventional sheep and beef farmers then, most of our income came in a couple of big chunks when we sold our lambs and wool. That was always several months after our major costs had to be paid so we survived on seasonal finance and at the peak we were paying around 26% for everything we bought for the farm and household.

Thanks to the “failed” policies of the 80s and 90s, such eyewatering interest rates should be consigned to history.

That won’t be of any comfort to home and business owners whose finances are already stretched and for whom even a very small increase in interest could stretch them too far.


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