Word of the day


Discept, – to debate, discuss, disagree; to dissent in opinion or dispute; to fail to correspond; conflict; to be opposed to in principle.

Rural round-up


The consequence of cutting livestock numbers to tackle farm emissions – a culling of support for Labour in rural areas perhaps – Point of Order:

Has the Ardern government just  shot itself in the  foot?

Despite its  poll  ratings slipping in  recent  months, it nourished hopes of  returning to power next year.  But  its  “world-first” policy to  cut greenhouse  gases with farm-level pricing, effectively making 20% of  NZ’s  sheep and beef  farms uneconomic, could result in it  bleeding  votes  in  most  of the  regional electorates  it  won  in 2020.

The unpalatable  truth  is  just  dawning on the  country: cutting  agricultural emissions  means  cutting  food and fibre output.  And  that means slashing the export income on which  NZ  depends.

Clearly  the  Cabinet  ministers  adopting the  policy  announced  yesterday  believed  they  could “sell” it  on  the  basis  that NZ  would be  leading the world, in  cutting agricultural emissions. . . 

Govt HWEN response ‘fails fairness test’– Neal Wallace :

The government’s response to the primary sector’s He Waka Eke Noa proposal fails to meet the partnership’s fairness test, according to the group’s programme director.

Kelly Forster said of particular concern is the government’s rejection of He Waka Eke Noa’s (HWEN) proposed involvement in setting the emissions price, its priorities in how the price is set and the tightening in the classes of vegetation recognised in sequestering carbon.

“We don’t think it has met the sector’s fairness test,” Forster said.

“What the sector put forward we felt was a good balance. This shifts the balance away from what the sector thinks is fair.” . . 

The government is shafting rural New Zealand – Mike Hosking:

We have the sort of logic only the Prime Minister can use when she largely isn’t on top of the subject she is talking about.

She tells us that farmers will benefit by leading the world once the Government’s new “tax farmers more to save the world” scheme gets under way. Small news flash, we already lead the world.

It’s been a good trick. You create the problem, in this case farming emissions.

You then tell farmers you’re going to tax them and farmers get upset. Farmers are lucky because they are the backbone economy so have political heft. So the Government pretends to acquiesce and say “okay no ETS for you, let’s have a special plan, and you can tell us what it is.” . . 

Emissions plan a kick in the guts for Southland farmers – Simmonds :

Invercargill MP and National Party Associate Spokesperson for Agriculture Penny Simmonds describes the Government’s recently released emissions plan as another kick in the guts for farmers, one which she claims threatens the future of farming in the South.

The Emissions Plan, released yesterday, has seen the Government accept most of the recommendations from the He Waka Eke Noa partnership, including a farm-level split-gas approach to emissions pricing.

“I’m deeply concerned at the implications of the Government’s proposals, which will effectively price farming off the market for a large number of people within the sector and risk leaving our rural communities in despair,” Simmonds says.

She says that while there has to be change, New Zealand farmers are already the most carbon efficient in the world and no other country has imposed a carbon tax on its agriculture sector. . .

Low emissions not production – Peter Burke:

AgResearch scientists say they’ve managed to breed sheep that produce less methane while still producing good quality meat.

NZ has been a world leader in the recent development of breeding sheep that belch out less methane – a relatively short-lived but potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The latest progress stems from more than a decade of research by AgResearch scientists, supported by the industry through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics, as well as the Government via the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC).

The result is sheep that naturally emit less methane as a product of their digestion and it is believed this trait can be bred for and passed down through generations. . . 

Renewed support for Get Kiwis on Farm initiative :

Federated Farmers and the Ministry of Social Development are pleased to announce another round of support for the “Get Kiwis on Farm” project, one of the government’s most successful worker placement COVID initiatives.

The initiative started in 2020 and to date has helped 605 people get jobs in farming.

MSD Industry Partnerships provides $323,000 of funding for 100 ‘starter kits’, to get the right gear in the hands of wannabe farm workers, and it also goes towards support with recruitment and pastoral care for those people.

New recruits get free farm and wet weather gear from Northland-based Kaiwaka Clothing, aimed to make them feel comfortable from their first day at work on the farm. Affording the right clothing was identified as a barrier for young people looking to work in farming. . . 

Do you hear the people howl?


The people behind last year’s Howl of a Protest are planning another:

“This is our nuclear moment for farming.”

Groundswell New Zealand co-founder Bryce McKenzie was referring to the world-first scheme that will require farmers to pay for agricultural emissions in some form by 2025 which went out for consultation this week.

Yesterday, Mr McKenzie confirmed the rural group was planning another national protest which would be run along similar lines to its Howl of a Protest event in July last year — which involved convoys of thousands of tractors and utes — and then the Mother of All Protests four months later.

Groundswell has always said it stood against unworkable regulations that were impacting the rural sector.

Since the Government’s emissions announcement on Tuesday, phones had been ringing red hot and the protest would be held “in the very near future”, the West Otago farmer said.

“The feeling is really strong, people all over New Zealand are contacting us, saying ‘what are you doing?’ They just want for us to go [ahead],” he said.

While Mr McKenzie acknowledged it was a busy time of year on-farm, he was confident of a good turnout saying “if we don’t get a say in what’s happening now, that stuff is going to be irrelevant”.

“People are ready to go, they’ve just had enough.”

While not necessarily surprised by the announcement, he was still “gutted” by it.

“The first thing you get hit with is a feeling of uselessness … in a position of a hopeless situation,” he said. . .

That sums up widespread feeling.

Although the government is calling for submissions on its plan, farmers already suffering from policies that make farming harder, have no confidence that their concerns will be heard and make any difference.

Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny said imposing charges on agriculture emissions — particularly for sheep and beef farmers — would end up costing consumers.

“This will mean higher food prices. There is no free lunch for this policy — it will mean higher meat and dairy prices. Invariably, those costs will end up with household consumers,” Mr Penny said. . .

Yesterday StatsNZ announced an annual 8.3% increase in food prices, the highest in13 years.

Anyone from the government who tries to commiserate with people who are already struggling to feed themselves should be asked, why they want to force people to move from farming to forestry, decimate rural communities and make food even more expensive.

It won’t just be farmers who will be howling when the full affects of this folly are felt.

It’s not about the water


Three waters isn’t really about the water, it’s about the infrastructure – the pipes, pumps and purification equipment that get water from its source and take it away.

These are owned, and have been paid for, by ratepayers.

Contrary to the government’s propaganda, they are not all in dire need of extensive and expensive upgrades.

Some do need urgent improvements, some need a bit more attention than they’ve been getting, some works well and needs little or no work to reach an acceptable standard.

None need three levels of bureaucracy that would add costs and reduce responsiveness.

Labour might like to pretend there was no anti-government message in the local body elections but the majority of councillors and mayors elected are opposed to the government’s plans to the Three Waters plans.

Tweaking will not change their minds.

There are several better ways of ensuring we all have safe drinking water and that storm water and sewerage do not degrade waterways.

The simplest is for central government to set the standards, audit councils to ensure they’re met and let local bodies work out how best to do it.

This might need some taxpayer help but it won’t be nearly as expensive as Three Waters.


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