Word of the day


Étourdi – unwise; silly; resulting from folly or stupidity; forgetful,  an absentminded, foolish, irresponsible, thoughtless or unthinking person; a scatterbrain.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Bursting the methane bubble :

In their report for BusinessDesk, Adrian Macey and Dave Frame point out that the 30-year-old metric chosen by the UN to measure the different greenhouse gases (known as GWP100) is inaccurate for short-lived gases – such as methane.

“It greatly overstates the warming caused by NZ’s methane in relation to the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal. Recent work by scientists has solved the problem by devising a different metrict, GWP*, which is an adaptation of GWP100 that very accurately replicates methane’s actual warming.”

Macey and Frame point out how even the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report sums up the shortcomings of GWP100:

“Expressing methane emissions as CO2-equivalent using GWP100 overstates the effect of constant methane emissions on global temperature by a factor of 3 to 4, while understating the effect of any new methane emission source by a factor of 4 to 5 over the 20 years following the introduction of the new source.” . .

Creating coats of many colours: The growth of rural women-led businesses – Rachel Klaver:

Years ago I wrote a book called She’ll Be Right, about rural New Zealand women building businesses, running farms, and building careers outside of cities. Some of them had been thrown into it by circumstance, while others were actively pursuing building businesses where they were, instead of having to relocate to cities where there were more people, bigger resources and better wi-fi.

I was living rurally myself, but was making a 60km round trip daily just to get a latte from the nearest town’s cafe. I was not really made from the same cloth as the women I was profiling.

I hadn’t thought about that book for a long time, until I interviewed Claire Williamson for my MAP IT Marketing podcast. I’d asked her to come on and talk about her bespoke clothing line, Velma and Beverly, and quickly discovered this thriving small business was only one of the activities Willliamson has on the go.

There are a growing number of rural women-led businesses emerging, especially as the face of farming is evolving. There’s a greater need to diversify and find ways to generate income off the land, that is sustainable, protects the environment and also helps protect and support the families living on the land. . . 

Website launches to support farmers for major weather events :

A new website aims to make it easier for farmers to prepare for and access support after a major weather event.

The Farmers’ Adverse Events Trust has just launched a new website with tips on how farmers can prepare for bad weather.

Trust chair William Rolleston said the effects of climate change meant farmers were facing more severe weather events more frequently.

Preparing for severe weather events should be incorporated into farm plans, Rolleston said. . . 

Climate science we can all get behind – Bryan Gibson :

A movement based solely on what you don’t want to do has no future.

Most conversations about politics these days seem to focus on what people oppose, rather than what they support.

It may be Three Waters, or co-governance in general.

Other government regulations, like Essential Freshwater and the pricing of emissions, also provoke strong opposition. . . 

New Alumni group has been launched by NZ Young Farmers:

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) has formally launched the NZYF Alumni Network.

The NZYF Alumni Network, officially formalised at the 2022 NZYF Annual General Meeting in July, will provide former Young Farmers members with the opportunity to stay connected with the organisation.

The Network will also offer past members a channel for offering up their expertise and support, contributing to NZYFs goal of becoming a sustainable organisation.

NZYF Chief Executive, Lynda Coppersmith, is excited to have the Network formalised. . . 

Aimer raises a million dollars to launch a ‘Siri’ for NZ farmers:

For the average farmer, optimising pasture use is inherently complex, with different herd numbers, paddock growth rates, pre and post graze targets and target feed intakes requiring a myriad of tools and dashboards. Managing this requires a lot of manual calculations, ‘clicking’, guesses and communication with staff and quite often, the use of consultants. To solve this, pastoral optimisation startup Aimer Development has built an artificial intelligence (AI) enabled digital assistant (called Aimer) currently being tested across some of the country’s most complex and challenging dairy farms. The ‘Siri’ for farmers is New Zealand’s first digital coach in your pocket for the dairy industry and has attracted its first NZ$1 million dollars in investment from Sprout.

“Within an industry in which ongoing success relies on optimisation, the stakes are high. The very best farms can be $1,000-2,000 dollars more profitable per hectare per annum than their competition, and a large part of that is due to the successful management of pasture. Aimer has built a digital tool that will allow farmers to test and optimise the use of their pasture easily and at scale. For processors and retailers, Aimer is an effective way of supporting suppliers and customers to improve business profitability and economic resilience as well as meet increasingly stringent environmental requirements. For farmers themselves, Aimer places game-changing, predictive and intuitive technology into the hands of those responsible for on-the-ground decision making,” comments Warren Bebb, Investment Manager for Sprout.

Aimer Development is the fifth investment of over thirty NZ$1 million agritech and foodtech investments Sprout will make over the next six years, having joined forces with investment partners US-based Finistere Ventures, Kiwi dairy giant Fonterra and Israeli venture builder OurCrowd, as well as Callaghan Innovation’s Tech Incubator programme that was designed to support the commercialisation of early-stage deep tech ventures. . . 


Perverse consequence


The government took away the right of people to vote against Maori wards.

Rotorua then established Maori wards and the city’s new mayor Tania Tapsell points out that’s had a perverse consequence:

. . . “There were a lot of whānau that were surprised that now, with the establishment of Māori wards they could only vote for, in our situation, only three Māori councillors as opposed to all councillors at large.

“Unfortunately, we now have less Māori representation at the council by restricting to only three seats. We had four councillors before so the big question needs to be asked – how do we move forward to enable a better reputation but also enable our whānau, our voters, and our communities to be able to support and vote for the best counsellors at the table.

“You always have to be careful what you wish for.” . .

The government wished for more Maori in local government and Rotorua now has one less than the city had.

However, the city does have a Maori mayor, elected on her merits, not as a result of government manipulation.

Colder, hungrier, poorer


Does the government want us to be colder, hungrier and poorer or does it not understand the damage it’s doing?

Most of the focus on the damage it’s planning to do to farming with its butchered version of He Waka Eke Noa has focused on the inevitable reduction in stock and the production of milk and meat.

But it’s not just pastoral farming that will be affected.

Cropping farmers and horticulturalists will be too.  We will produce less of everything including cereals, fruit and vegetables and they will all cost more.

That will fuel inflation and make it even harder for people who are already struggling to feed themselves and their families.

It’s not just farmers whose livelihoods are at risk.

During the ag-sag of the 1980s there were fears that farmers would be forced off their farms in large numbers.

Some did have to sell but it was the businesses further down the economic stream, the ones that serviced and supplied farmers, where jobs were lost and firms went out of business.

Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers president, is right to say that it’s the small-town businesses and their staff who are also  at risk with the government’s plan:

. . . “What they’re modelling is a 20 per cent reduction in output from the sheep and beef sector,” says Hoggard.

“And if you think of small towns like Wairoa on the East Coast, the major employer there is the meatworks. That town pretty much exists to not only support the meatworks but to support the farming community around it. In all likelihood, the East Coast and that area, in particular, is going to be in the firing line. The effects will be felt harder there than potentially in other regions.”

Hoggard anticipates it is likely that more farms will leave the sheep and beef business.

“It won’t take much of a drop to hit a tipping point for the freezing works where they go: ‘Well, it’s no longer profitable here.’ And once that happens, you’re just going to have a massive flow-on effect in that town in terms of unemployment. That’s going to impact the businesses that used to support the freezing works, but also the businesses that supported the farms in that area. It’s going to be quite a considerable impact and it’s going to be acute in a number of small rural towns.”

In addition to Wairoa, Hoggard also identifies Pahiatua and Taumarunui as towns that could be affected by the change. . . 

A lot of small towns in the South Island have been reinvigorated by the downstream flow from increased dairying. That hasn’t happened in the north and there will be no easy way to replace the businesses that fail and jobs that are lost when sheep, beef and deer farms are forced to retrench.

Hoggard expressed concern that these towns may not be able to adapt to the changes quickly enough to offer the population new jobs.

“These towns have a long history of providing these services and jobs around that area,” says Hoggard.

“It will take a hell of a lot of the community. And what can they replace it with? It’s all good to say ‘We’ll come up with a just transition and dream up some imaginary green jobs, but these are real jobs that are right there right now.” . . 

When the businesses go, services including schools and health centres will be under threat too.

Then there’s the very important point that emissions are a global problem the impact on which will be at best negligible and at worst negative.

“India is at 23 per cent of world milk production, and their ambition is to keep growing at 6 per cent per year to be at 43 per cent in 20 to 30 years,” says Hoggard.

“They’ve got a carbon footprint per litre of milk that’s about 10 times what you get for a New Zealand litre of milk … And when questioned on what sustainability meant to them, they said: ‘a full belly’. That’s as far as they’re interested in sustainability going.

“And so it really made me think if New Zealand’s place in the world is cutting our own production, cutting our own throats, or is it about taking our know-how and can-do attitude to other agricultural systems in the world.”

Taxing more and doing less here will not solve climate change.

The energy problems facing Europe and the economic crisis in Sri Lanka show how misguided environmental policies leave people colder, hungrier and poorer.

The government’s plan will do similar economic and social damage to us.

Given how little impact anything we do will have, we should be focusing on mitigation and the research, science and technology that could make a real and positive difference, not just in New Zealand but around the world.

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