Word of the day

28/01/2022

Mulligrubs – a despondent, sullen, or ill-tempered mood; ill temper; grumpiness; feelings of melancholy, sullenness, or depression; sulks, blues; a griping of the intestines or stomach; colic.


Rural round-up

28/01/2022

Farmers want to be critical workers as part of Omicron response

Farmers are warning of huge pressures on food supply if they’re not considered part of the critical workforce.

The government has laid out its three-phase plan to tackle Omicron, which would allow critical workers who are close contacts of a case to return to work after a negative rapid antigen test.

But they haven’t defined exactly which workers it covers yet.

Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard told Checkpoint that farmers and other workers in the industry definitely met the criteria of being critical due to looking after animals and producing food. . . 

Farmers prepare as closed borders disrupt harvest amid Omicron outbreak – Samantha Gee:

With harvest season set to kick off for the horticulture sector in the top of the South Island, orchardists, growers and hop farmers are faced with staff shortages due to closed borders.

It is estimated the region needs 1500 more staff across a number of industries: hops, apples, pears, kiwifruit and pipfruit to name a few.

Valima Orchard business manager Matthew Hoddy, who grows apples near Nelson, said more than half of his 220 employees during harvest were made up of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers and those on working holiday visas.

But February 2020 was the last time that car loads of travellers showed up at the orchard, looking for seasonal work picking apples. . . 

‘Razor’ shares rugby secrets with farmers :

Make sure you have someone to talk to when life gets tough.

That was the key message from Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and some rural mental health advocates at a packed gathering of the Ellesmere farming community recently.

Ellesmere Sustainable Agriculture Inc (ESAI), with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries, invited its members and community to listen to four speakers sharing their experiences around leadership, stress, anxiety and depression and the strategies to cope with the pressures life creates in rural communities.

A capacity crowd of nearly 100 farmers, their families and their neighbours were captivated by Robertson sharing some of the secrets of the culture that created the Crusaders dynasty, including their methods to handle setbacks and stress, which according to Robertson apply to both the rugby field as well as the farm. . . 

Quinedale Farm & Stud – a family affair

Taupiri dairy farmer Balraj Singh jokes that when he married his wife Hardeep, he ‘converted’ her.

He’s not talking about sports teams or coffee brands, but cattle breeds.

“I’ve been milking cows since I was 14-years-old, and I was brought up with Holstein Friesians,” he says.

“Before we got married, Hardeep had a small herd of 75 pedigree Jersey cows, but I convinced her to start milking Holstein Friesians. . . 

New lending rules could benefit sector – Nigel Stirling:

New lending rules wreaking havoc on residential borrowers have not had any noticeable impact on farm lending and could even spur the banks to look favourably again at the sector after a lean couple of years.

Since the start of December, banks have been applying extra scrutiny to loan applications in response to legislation designed to protect borrowers from saddling themselves with unaffordable levels of debt.

While the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act had seemingly been motivated by a desire to crack down on loan sharks, it has ended up capturing a far larger share of the market than ever intended.

Bankers are being extra cautious under pains of fines of up to $200,000 if they are found to have failed to follow the letter of the new law when assessing loan applications. . . 

Upland farmers face ‘income crisis’ in transition to new  schemes :

Upland farmers have warned they face an income crisis if significant changes are not made to the UK’s post-Brexit agricultural support system.

In a meeting with Defra, the NFU uplands forum said the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) failed to offer a meaningful return for the costs of managing upland landscapes.

The SFI – the first of the UK’s new environmental land management schemes replacing the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy – will be rolled out this year.

The reform is the most significant change to UK farming and land management in over five decades. . .


Speaker series – Lucy Hone and Matt Chisholm

28/01/2022

Speaker Series is an initiative by Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and Dairywomen’s Network. It’s funded by Worksafe NZ.


Inflation is theft

28/01/2022

Government spin is trying to tell us that the highest inflation rate in three decades is due to global pressures. It’s not.

Inflation hit a 31-year high at the end of 2021, with a strong rise in domestic costs expected to create headaches for the Reserve Bank.

Statistics New Zealand said the consumer price index (CPI), the official measure of household inflation, rose by 5.9 per cent in 2021, the highest since 1990, shortly after the Reserve Bank was given new powers to use interest rates to keep prices stable.

While the figures were largely in line with expectations – several economists had predicted inflation hit at least 6 per cent last year – the breakdown of the theoretical basket of goods used to calculate the CPI suggested the current wave of increases is more of a domestic issue than some had expected.

Shortly after the figures were announced, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters that the rise, predicted by commentators, was largely the result of global inflation pressures.

While tradeable inflation – generally reflecting costs imported from overseas – rose to 6.9 per cent, this was actually below expectations. Non-tradeable inflation, made up of the components of inflation that are mostly domestic, was 5.3 per cent, well above expectations and at the highest level recorded since Statistics NZ began providing a breakdown of local and imported elements. . .

A large contributor to the domestic component is government spending:

The Finance Minister must rein in his spending to avoid adding more fuel to the inflationary fire that is hurting everyday New Zealanders, National’s Finance spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

“At 5.9% for 2021, inflation is the highest it has been in three decades. It’s a thief in New Zealanders’ pockets, and it’s the least well-off Kiwis who will be doing it the toughest.

People on low and middle incomes are already over-stretched. Inflation will make life even harder for them.

Parents will have to put food back at the supermarket, workers will only be able to partly fill up at the petrol station, and there’s even less hope for young people trying to buy their first home.

“With wage growth of only 2.4%, well under half of inflation’s growth, New Zealanders are going backward. At the same time, we’ve got rising interest rates and record amounts of government spending.

“Grant Robertson’s spending has been 40% higher throughout his time as Finance Minister than it was under National. This year he’s planning to increase that to a staggering 68% at $128 billion, with $6 billion in new spending.

“While elevated spending was appropriate through much of the pandemic, some easing off and greater focus on the quality of spending is now required.

The elevated spending wasn’t all appropriate. Some that was authorised for Covid recovery was spent on other much lower priority projects and some, like the $50m on the bike bridge to nowhere, was simply wasted.

The big spend increasingly won’t achieve anything in a constrained economy where each public dollar is just competing with New Zealanders’ investments in scarce resources and workers.

“Even worse, big spending now will simply push inflation higher, which will act as a double whammy, hitting New Zealanders in the pocket twice through the inflation effect and as the Reserve Bank is forced to continue hiking up interest rates, higher than would otherwise be necessary.

Grant Robertson’s glib response on inflation in the past has been that ‘it’s international’. If that’s a complete answer, then he needs to explain why the domestic part of New Zealand’s inflation is also rising and why Australia’s is considerably lower than ours at 3.5% over the same period.

“More importantly though, he needs to act by focusing on the quality of his spending and reining it in so that everyday Kiwis don’t keep getting burnt by price rises that far outstrip wage increases.”

Wages haven’t kept up with inflation but they have pushed some people into higher tax brackets:

Grant Robertson must urgently respond to spiking inflation with an adjustment of tax brackets, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union in response to Stats NZ’s latest inflation figures.

Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “At the Reserve Bank’s last forecast, inflation was expected to hit 5.7% in March, but inflation has already hit 5.9% – that’s two months early.”

“Inflation doesn’t just hammer New Zealanders with higher prices – it also means we pay more in income tax. As salaries scramble upwards to keep up with rising costs, New Zealanders end up in higher income tax brackets, despite being or worse off in real terms. Workers are whacked once with inflation, and again with a tax hike.”

“The dirty secret of inflation is that Grant Robertson benefits from it. More tax revenue means he can make bigger spending promises – spending that itself serves to bid up the cost of goods and services, fueling inflation further.”

“There is one simple thing the Grant Robertson can do to avoid the perception he’s got a vested interest in driving up inflation – he needs to urgently adjust tax brackets and index them to shift automatically to counter the effects of rising costs.”

Inflation is theft.

It steals the real value of wages and without an adjustment to tax brackets the government will be making life harder for people by taking even more from them


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