Word of the day

10/05/2022

Untermenschen –  people or races considered racially or socially inferior; common people.


Sowell says

10/05/2022


Rural round-up

10/05/2022

Concern over widespread dry conditions – Neal Wallace and Gerald Piddock:

Dry autumn conditions are spreading throughout the country, with most regions seeking rain and forecasters warning conditions are likely to remain dry in the coming months.

Recent rain and warm weather has boosted feed on parched Southland and Otago farms which are delicately poised heading into winter, while Waikato and South Auckland farmers are being told to plan for a possible drought.

Dry autumn conditions are widespread through both islands, prompting farmers to reconsider winter feed budgets to account for lower than desired pasture cover.

The south of the South Island and Waikato appear hardest hit, missing the usual autumn flush leaving some farmers with low pasture cover, low supplementary reserves and fingers crossed for a mild winter. . . 

Health restructure ignores rural New Zealand :

The Government is squandering an opportunity to prioritise rural health and enshrine it in legislation, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill sets out the framework for Labour’s ill-timed health restructure and after the second reading in parliament yesterday, there is still a woeful lack of focus on the health needs of rural New Zealand.

“The genesis of this restructure was the Heather Simpson-led review of the health and disability sector. It mentioned rural health at least 30 times and made it very plain that rural services should be specifically planned for, recognising the unique challenges of living rurally.

“This idea is further emphasised by submissions made during the select committee process. . . 

Fonterra’s new capital structure gets closer – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s new capital structure brings its own risks, designed for choppy seas but not for a storm

The Government has been wrestling for many months as to how to respond to Fonterra’s proposed new capital structure, which its farmer-members voted for overwhelmingly.  The Ministry of Primary Industries, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, has now released a discussion paper indicating the Government proposed response. Essentially the Government is conceding to Fonterra’s wishes, but with some shackles proposed to constrain Fonterra‘s subsequent behaviours.

To understand what is happening, it is necessary to go back to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. The Fonterra that was formed at that time, with 96% of the national milk production under its control for processing and marketing, would not have been allowed if assessed under the Commerce Act. It would have run foul of restrictions on monopolies.

Accordingly, special legislation was put in place via the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) by the Labour Government of the day. Regulations were set in place allowing Fonterra to act as an effective monopoly in relation to marketing New Zealand milk overseas, but constrained in exerting monopoly power in the local New Zealand market.   . . 

Steady increase in beef cattle numbers :

Beef cattle numbers increased in 2021, while the number of sheep dipped slightly, Stats NZ said today.

Final figures from the 2021 Agricultural Production Survey showed that the number of beef cattle was up by 2 percent (82,000) from the previous year and there was a total of 4 million at 30 June 2021. Total beef exports were $3.6 billion for the year ended 30 June 2021.

“The total number of beef cattle has been increasing steadily since 2016. Just over two-thirds of all beef cattle are farmed in the North Island,” agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said. 

Sheep Numbers Down Slightly . . 

Smart spade one of new technologies for forest silviculture project :

A ‘smart spade’ which identifies exactly where to plant a tree seedling is just one of the new technologies in the seven-year $25.5 million Precision Silviculture development project.

The newly elected President of the Forest Owners Association, Grant Dodson, says the just announced joint government funded project to bring mechanisation and robots to the production of tree seedlings and the tending of plantations covers a wide range of technologies.

“It’s not a single Eureka discovery which is going to make all this work. It’s combining, for instance, a planter with a sensor and linking it to electronic mapping. The map sends a beep signal to the planter that they need to go a couple of metres up or along the slope to put the seedling in. The end result is a much more optimally spaced plantation forest which makes for better growth and easier and safer harvesting.”

Grant Dodson says that the growth in mechanical harvesting over the past decade already shows that using machinery results in greater productivity and a much safer workplace. . . 

The West’s role in Africa’s day of the locusts – Richard Tren & Jasson Urbach,:

Two weeks ago a Boeing 737 on final approach to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, flew into a massive cloud of locusts swarming above the airport. The insects were sucked into the plane’s engines and splattered across the windshield, blinding the pilots to the runway ahead. Throttling up to climb above the swarm, the pilot had to depressurize the cabin so he could reach around from the side window and clear the windshield by hand. Diverting to Addis Ababa, the plane was able to land safely.

The locusts that almost brought down the 737 are part of the worst infestation to hit Africa in 75 years. Swarms of locusts can blanket 460 miles at a time and consume more than 400 million pounds of vegetation a day; and the grasshopper-like insects increase logarithmically, meaning locust swarms could be 500 times bigger in six months.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls the threat “unprecedented,” but attempts at aerial spraying have been too little, too late — largely because of FAO’s own politically-driven agenda to limit pesticides — and experts fear Africa may once again be tilting toward widespread famine.

As poor farmers futilely shoo the voracious insects away with sticks, this modern plague highlights the urgent need for pesticides to protect crops and save lives. It also casts into stark relief the tragic consequences of UN, European and environmentalist campaigns to deny these life-saving chemicals to developing nations. . . 

 


Black Heels & Tractor Wheels – Sarah Martelli

10/05/2022

Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcasts are a Rural Women NZ initiative in which they share stories from a range of women around New Zealand.

Today, Sarah Martelli joins us on the podcast, who amongst many other things is the incredible woman behind Strong Woman.

Sarah is a mum to three young children and lives with her husband Mathew, her kids, a spoodle puppy, pet pig, and chickens, on a 400 cow dairy farm in Reporoa, New Zealand.

Life is pretty hectic with juggling kids’ activities, helping on the farm, the household, and being actively involved on the PTA committee and as sports co-ordinator at the local primary school.

Sarah had a Molar Pregnancy – a very rare gynaecological abnormality where instead of growing a baby, the cells didn’t form properly and grew into a cancerous tumour called Choriocarsinoma. She very candidly and bravely talks to us about her journey and how this encouraged her to create the Strong Woman community.

In 2017, she qualified as a Personal Trainer. Sarah runs an Online fitness membership platform, group fitness classes, and personal training sessions. In 2020 she completed a Certificate in Exercise Nutrition, and now provides one on one health coaching to women from all over New Zealand, and in 2021 she trained to become a Qualified Pilates Instructor. 


What goes up . . .

10/05/2022

Fonterra has revised its forecast farmgate milk price down:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised its 2021/22 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range from $9.30 – $9.90 per kgMS to $9.10 – $9.50 per kgMS.

This reduces the midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, from $9.60 per kgMS to $9.30 per kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the change in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price is due to a number of recent events which have resulted in short-term impacts on global demand for dairy products – in particular, the lockdowns in China due to COVID-19, the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“While the long-term outlook for dairy remains positive, and we expect global demand and supply to be more balanced over the rest of the year, we have seen these short-term impacts flow through into pricing on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) platform. For example, average prices for whole milk powder (WMP), a key driver of the milk price, have decreased by 18% over the past four GDT events.

“As an exporter to 140 countries we deal with these kinds of global events all the time, but right now we’re seeing the impact of multiple events. Coupled with inflationary pressures, it’s not surprising to see buyers being cautious.

“Our scale and ability to move products between different markets and categories remains important, and reinforces our strategic focus on ensuring our milk is going into the highest value products.

“This will be disappointing for our farmers, but the change in global dairy prices is coming off record high levels. At a midpoint of $9.30 per kgMS, this would continue to be the highest forecast Farmgate Milk Price in the Co-op’s history and would see us contribute almost $14 billion into New Zealand’s economy through milk price payments, which supports the wellbeing of our local communities.

“Looking out to the rest of the year, global milk production is expected to remain constrained as high feed, fertiliser and energy costs continue to impact production in the Northern Hemisphere, and we expect demand to recover as the short-term impacts begin to resolve.

“While there is still a high level of uncertainty in global markets, the majority of our milk has been contracted for the season. It’s for this reason that we’ve made the decision to narrow our forecast range to +/- 20 cents.

“As always, there are a number of risks we are continuing to keep a close eye on, including potential impacts on demand from inflationary pressures and rising interest rates, increased volatility as a result of high dairy prices, and further disruptions from COVID-19 and geopolitical events.”

It’s disappointing but not surprising. What goes up eventually comes down, and recently global prices have been going down from the peak reached a few months ago.

Last year some were suggesting this season’s milk price could start with a 10, but China’s Covid lockdown and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine coupled with international and domestic inflation have put paid to that.

However, the low point is still above $9 which is a very good payout.

Uncertainty here and abroad make it unlikely that next season’s forecast will be as high and a rural banker told me that a lot of clients are using the combination of good returns this season and the threat of higher interest rates to pay down debt.

That is prudent. When inflation will boost input prices, reducing the amount borrowed is one way to lower costs without reducing production.

If only the  government understood this prudence and wasn’t so keen on ensuring the only exception to what goes up must come down with tax.


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