Word of the day


Dell – a small valley, usually among trees; a secluded hollow or small valley usually covered with trees or turf;  small secluded wooded valley; a vale.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Benefits all round in NZ-UK free trade deal:

Federated Farmers says today’s announcement of a free trade deal between the United Kingdom and New Zealand is great news for consumers and farmers in both countries.

“The United Kingdom is walking the talk when it comes to promising a truly global Britain,” Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard says.

“We congratulate the New Zealand team of negotiators, officials and politicians who have tenaciously pursued this deal. The result is impressive. It’s a job well done.”

Federated Farmers has a long history of supporting efforts to free up global trade and it takes every opportunity to get producers in other countries to embrace trade liberalization. . .

UK FTA ‘back to the future’ :

Today’s announcement of a comprehensive new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom will offer some welcome variation in market access to New Zealand exporters, say the EMA.

“It’s great news for many of our export members, particularly in the horticulture, wine and honey sectors. The dropping of 97% of all tariffs from day one is a major success and the access to new investment in both direction is also significant,” says Chief Executive, Brett O’Riley.

“I don’t think New Zealand would have had this level of free access into the UK since before the UK first went into the then European Economic Community (EEC) back in 1973. That was a black day for many exporters, but this announcement is a bit ‘Back to the Future’ in terms of access.” . . 

NZ Apple industry welcomes UK free trade agreement :

New Zealand Apples & Pears Inc (NZAPI), the industry association representing the country’s apple, pear and nashi growers, has welcomed the announcement from the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and Trade Minister, Damien O’Connor, that an agreement in principle has been reached on a Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom.

“We congratulate Minister O’Connor and the MFAT negotiating team for achieving this outstanding outcome”, says NZAPI chief executive Alan Pollard.

“The United Kingdom is a very important market for our apples and pears, regularly featuring in the top two or three markets by volume. . . 

Wrestling with forestry decisions – Keith Woodford:

Carbon and forestry, increasingly linked to overseas investors, continue to outmuscle sheep and beef but nothing about carbon is simple

I had intended this week to move away from forestry to other topics. But once again, I have been drawn back to forestry because it is the biggest issue right now facing rural land-use.

For those who are farming sheep and beef there is the disconcerting reality, but also in some cases exciting reality, that carbon farming is now the most profitable land use.

Somewhat ironically, this changing land-use is also relevant to the dairy industry, which in combination with the other pastoral land uses is supposed by 2030 to reduce methane by 10 percent. It is looking as if much of this might now come from the decline in sheep and beef. . .

Meat industry backs mandatory vaccination for sector workers :

The meat processing industry says it would support a vaccine mandate for staff.

It comes after the Government last week announced it would make vaccinations mandatory for education and health sector employees.

The Meat Industry Association believes the Government should also consider a mandate for other high-risk sectors, such as meat processing.

Association spokesperson Esther Guy-Meakin said it had written to the Food Safety and Associate Health Minister, Ayesha Verrall to make its views clear. . .

Strategically developed farm Eco farm with high regard for the environment is placed on the market for sale :

A strategically developed New Zealand sheep and beef farm aligned to an international award-winning environmental enhancement project has been placed on the market for sale.

The 377-hectare property on the Mahia Peninsula between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay comprises rich pumice soils sustaining a mixture of fodder crops, fertile grazing pasture, and strategically planted native developments.

Over the past two decades, the farm – known as Taharoa – has been developed with a focus on creating an environmentally-sustainable operation. Two kilometres of the Whangawehi River flow through Taharoa. An organisation known as the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group was established to protect some 3,600 of land on Mahia Peninsula where Taharoa is located. . . 

Thatcher thinks


Are you smarter than the Finance Minister?


Can you do better than the Finance Minister?

It should be back to school – if he can find one that’s open – for Minister of Finance Grant Robertson, says National’s Finance spokesperson Michael Woodhouse.

“Having raised doubts about our detailed Back in Business economic recovery plan, we thought it might be useful for the Minister, who has only ever been a professional politician since his days in student politics, to brush up on his financial literacy skills.

“So, let’s give him a quick quiz – Economics 101, if you like. The Minister should answer true or false, and show his working for all questions.

“Note that while he may seek assistance from senior colleagues, we’re not sure that Health Minister Andrew Little, who still can’t work out how many ICU beds there are in New Zealand, or Education Minister Chris Hipkins, who is in charge of an education system where the numeracy levels of Kiwi kids are going backwards, will be of much use.”

    1. Spending $710 million from the borrowed Covid Response and Recovery Fund on a plan to pinch water assets from ratepayers who have already paid for them is Covid-related. True or false?
    2. Spending $26 million from the borrowed Covid Response and Recovery Fund to put cameras on fishing boats is Covid-related. True or false?
    3. Granting $500,000 from the borrowed Covid Response and Recovery Fund to a start-up headed by an American wedding celebrant with close to zero knowledge of New Zealand literature “to help Aotearoa audiences access books” is Covid-related. True or false?
    4. Granting $19,000 from the borrowed Covid Response and Recovery Fund for a temporary public art activation where members of the public can “harvest” a ceramic vegetable from a small makeshift garden which they can then take home as a gift is all about responding to Covid. True or false?

“There are at least 60 more questions in the quiz, but we’ll save the Minister some time. The answers are all the same. There’s little or no explanation for how any of these projects can, or should, be categorised in any way as Covid-related.

“And, put together, they add up to some $12 billion – money the Government borrowed to get us through Covid. But, instead of actually using it on the Covid response, the Minister and his Government spent it on vanity projects such as a ‘green school’ in Taranaki and $27 million on wallaby control.

“This $12 billion would fund our Back in Business package many times over.

“It also puts the $1 billion gain over 15 years from the free trade agreement with the United Kingdom to shame.

“If the Minister wants to know how we would pay for the critical spending to help New Zealand businesses and prevent New Zealand being mired in growing debt, we can tell him where to start.

“We’ve even attached the full list of dodgy spending to help him out as a study guide.

“And if you answered ‘false’ to the four questions above, congratulations – you are officially smarter than Grant Robertson!”

Wasting money at any time is an abuse of power.

Spending money approved for one purpose on something else is a misuse of funds.

Doing it during a pandemic with borrowed money that was supposed to help the recovery makes it even worse.

Brexit benefits NZ


Whether or not Brexit is good for the UK is still moot, but it has led to a free trade agreement with New Zealand which is good for New Zealand.

Trade negotiator Charles Finny writes :

. . . If you had told me 10 years ago that New Zealand would on 21 October 2021 announce agreement in principle on a comprehensive high quality free trade agreement with the UK, and that agreement, over time, would lead to full free trade in beef, lamb and dairy products, I would have asked what you had been smoking or drinking.  . .

We have to wait 15 years for some of the more sensitive agriculture products to reach full free trade but that will be worth the wait. Beef, lamb and dairy products will enjoy progressively larger duty free access to the UK from year one. Ninety-seven percent of New Zealand’s existing exports go duty free on entry into force. . . 

All up, the Government is claiming that the agreement will boost New Zealand’s GDP by $1 billion. I am sceptical of such claims – usually high quality agreements such as this deliver far greater impacts than it is possible to model. . . 

The UK’s entry to the European Union in 1973 had a serious impact on our trade.

It wasn’t all bad though, it forced us to diversify our markets which is sensible. However, in recent years we have become very, many would say overly, reliant on China.

The deal announced yesterday allows us much better access to the UK than we’ve had for decades which will be good for consumers and exporters on both sides of the agreement.

Their farmers will be worried but they have five years until cheese and butter are fully liberalised and 15 years until beef and sheep meat are fully liberalised.

Those who are fearful could learn from what happened here when we were forced to face the real and unprotected world of trade in the 1980s.

Instead of producing what the government subsidised  us to produce, we had to provide what markets wanted.  Farmers, and the wider economy, are stronger and more sustainable as a result of that.

This deal is a welcome reversal of the protectionism that has increased since Covid-19 spread and a reminder that the only really fair trade is free trade.

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