Word of the day


Marginalia – notes written in the margins of a book, letter, manuscript or text; marginal notes or embellishments.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Repeating mistakes of the past – Kerry Kerry Worsnop :

 In 1984, the last time farming was declared a sunset industry, the newly elected Labour government began the deregulation of what had been a highly regulated pastoral economy.

Between 1982 and 1988, the value of grazing farms fell by 32%. With falling land prices some farmers lost all their equity and, unable to meet the rising interest rates, were forced to sell up. Sheep numbers fell by over 43% from the heights of 1982, to around 40 million in 2002. By 1993 the effective rate of assistance to agriculture had fallen to 3% compared to 52% prior to deregulation. The government viewed pastoral farming as an industry in decline.

Today sheep number fewer than 28 million and – yet again – the sector faces a Labour government hell-bent on reinstating the very regulation and heavy-handed intervention that preceded the economic meltdown of the 1980s.

In He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) – the soon to be adopted mechanism for pricing agricultural emissions – we have the ghost of recessions past come to haunt our already flailing economy. Those of more advanced years will recall the strong arm of government reaching in to guide investment decisions of the past. A little help here, a payout there, some more financial assistance for this – and a handful of subsidies for that. All in all, as mentioned above, the pastoral economy came to rely on as much as 53% of its revenue from taxpayers for adherence with the prevailing view of what ‘good’ looked like. . . 

Agricultural GHG bullets are firing randomly – Keith Woodford :

At times I despair at the GHG debate in New Zealand. There are multiple teams firing firecrackers masquerading as missiles into the debate, thereby creating noise but little substance.

Here my focus is on the agricultural gases, methane and nitrous oxide, for which the Government has recently released a discussion paper outlining its preferred pathway for taxing agricultural emissions. The discussion paper also asks questions and seeks responses as to the specifics of the plan.

This latest Government paper has created outrage within the rural industries. The Government must surely score a zero for the way in which its messaging has been managed. Quite simply, the Government stuffed up mightily in relation to the messaging that it put around the proposals, and has been shocked by the consequent reaction.

The key message received by the sheep and beef industry is that they will carry the main burden with 20 percent loss of production, perhaps by 2030, and with profitability damaged greatly for those who survive. . . 

Carbon farmers feel the heat – Jill Herron :

Farmers looking to plant pines to compensate for methane-emission charges are encountering community pushback 

Increasing interest in planting pine trees for carbon farming has become a flashpoint in ecologically sensitive parts of Central Otago.

The owners of Lammermoor Station, a sheep, beef and grain-growing property near Middlemarch, say they’ve been taken aback by the vitriol directed at them since they applied for consent to plant 66ha of pines.

Wilding pines are a serious problem in Central Otago, where rocky landscapes are highly valued by residents and are a tourism drawcard. . . 

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust welcomes Sarah Harris as general manager :

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust has announced the appointment of Sarah Harris to the role of General Manager. Harris has commenced the role this week and is based in the Manawatu. Sarah will bring to the Trust a strong background in agribusiness and a passion for environmental sustainability.

Having grown up on a farm in the Wairarapa and raised her children on a sheep and beef property near Bulls, Sarah has a lifelong association with the agricultural sector which underpins professional roles encouraging the best in high performance both in New Zealand and abroad. Harris had a long association with High Performance Sport NZ, before she was High Performance Director for NZ Equestrian. Harris leaves her long-standing role as Operations Manager for Primary Partners.

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust Chair Joanne van Polanen is delighted to finally, officially welcome Sarah to the Trust, noting the timing is right on cue. ‘We see the value in Sarah and her skills, passion and experience, and feel even more fortunate to have her accept the role of General Manager, with an aligned breadth of project and performance leadership, farm investment, asset management and primary sector industry experience to bring to bear’. . .

Young Hort winner announced :

Regan Judd has been named the Young Horticulturist of the Year.

Speaking after winning the coveted Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title at the finals in Karaka last night, Regan said he was “blown away” about winning, given he was up against “such a strong group of people”.

Regan represents the Young Grower of the Year, Horticulture NZ Fruit & Vegetable Sectors and works as an orchard sector manager with T&G Global in the Hawkes Bay.

The 26-year-old was up against six other finalists representing different sectors within the horticulture industry. . . 

Don’t pull the wool over my eyes – it’s criminal not to value nature’s coziest fiber – Rachel Martin:

When polyester production releases around 700 million tonnes of emissions a year, it seems almost criminal that a natural, biodegradable resource like wool is so quickly shunned.

In a week where policy-makers and the hoi polloi are pondering how many shirts they need to pack for COP27, it feels almost feels like a parallel reality to see masses of shoppers queuing for hours to check out the racks of cheap polyester garbs at the reopening of Primark’s flagship store in Belfast.

Granted, it comes four years on from the Great Primark Fire, which devastated parts of the city. But a lot has changed in that four years – both in society and our awareness of where the planet is heading in terms of global warming: We bring our own bags to the shops, drive electric cars, use water canteens instead of plastic bottles, and attempt to recycle anything and everything in sight – or at least claim to.

You might be wondering what this week’s column has to do with farming – and tellingly, I think that’s actually where the industry in Ireland misses a trick. Not often enough are the connections drawn between the island’s primary produce and how it can help the end user. . .

The Common Room – How to actually solve social issues


Over at The Common Room Ronji Tanielu discusses how to actually solve social issues:

Despite mountains of money being thrown at solving our toughest social issues, most problems are getting worse. Ronji Tanielu, who has spent years on the front line of solving social issues, unpacks the current approach and his thoughts on making real progress.

Making bad worse


The government is still not listening on Three Waters:

Despite overwhelming opposition to its Three Waters reforms, the Government has failed to use the opportunity to listen and make material changes to the Bill, National’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts says.

“The Government has not made any significant changes to improve its broken Three Waters model.

“The Bill that has come back to Select Committee today shows Labour still isn’t listening.

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta gave assurances that they would consider the alternative Three Waters model proposed by the Auckland, Christchurch and Waimakariri mayors.

“I lodged a motion in select committee last week to extend our deliberations in order to properly consider the mayors’ proposal, but Labour MPs used their majority to block the motion – ensuring the Bill would be sent back to the House without adequately considering the new proposal.

“It shows that Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta’s promises of consideration and open dialogue with mayors about their alternatives are just talk. Labour has no intention of making any real changes to their reforms.

“The Government is intent on ploughing ahead with their highly-centralised, co-governed mega-entities, no matter how strong the public opposition is. Labour wants this Bill passed and out of the public eye as soon as possible.

“National would work with communities to develop solutions that work for them, instead of going from the top down. We will repeal Labour’s Three Waters disaster.”

This is another very good reason to vote for a National-led government next year.

The Taxpayers’ Union says the government is gaslighting us:

Nanaia Mahuta is gaslighting the more than 80,000 New Zealanders who took the time and effort to submit on her flawed Three Waters Bill, which will take community-owned water assets from councils and put them into the control of unaccountable and expensive entities.

Mahuta “thank[ed] the committee for its careful consideration of more than 80,000 submissions” and claims that “extensive changes have been proposed” in a statement published on the Beehive website and sent to media.

“The dishonesty of Ms Mahuta knows no bounds” says Taxpayers’ Union co-founder Jordan Williams. “This is gaslighting at its finest.”

“Far from ‘carefully listening’ to submitters, the Government majority on the Committee specifically blocked officials from reading, reviewing, and summarising the 68,661 submissions from our supporters.”

“First they made us print and deliver hard copy submissions – rather than accept by email – then they didn’t even bother to get officials to read or summarise them. The Committee even turned down our offer to use software to pull out unique points submitters made. In what world is that ‘listening’ to the public?”

I was one of the 68,661 who submitted using the TU’s template and I made sure that it wasn’t just a cut-and-paste-what-they-said. I took a lot of time to personalise my submission.

It was a waste of time for me and all those other submitters, and the TU staff who had to print and deliver hard copies. It was also a waste of paper when they weren’t even read.

“The number of submissions ranks this bill among the most submitted on in the history of our Parliament. But the Government majority cut short the time listening to submitters – travelling the country for just five days. As I told the Committee – it is pathetic that we can do better, getting out on the road for more than a month on a roadshow tour to listen to New Zealander’s concerns.”

Ms Mahuta also claims that ‘extensive changes have been proposed’. What nonsense. Rather than promote democratic accountability, the proposed changes actually double down. Te Mana o te Wai and Te Mana o te Wai statements will be even more powerful and tie the hands of the half of the ‘Regional Representative Groups’ who are accountable to elected councils. The Government has ‘listened’ to councils, so more council representatives can sit on the ‘Regional Representative Groups’ – but the 50/50 requirement for unaccountable iwi appointments remains the same.”

“One of the changes is for councils to have annual ‘shareholder meetings’. That in and of itself is dishonest misrepresentation – councils still won’t have any rights of ‘shareholders’ or ownership. There will be absolutely nothing to talk about, and certainly no control exercised.”

“We are glad to see the Green Party’s minority report making many of the same points as the Taxpayers’ Union. They say the councils should have the equivalent level of control to a council-controlled organisation, akin to WaterCare, and the C4LD proposal supported by the Taxpayers’ Union.”

“Ultimately, Three Waters will cost ratepayers with higher water costs, more bureaucracy, no local control, and less democracy. It needs to be stopped.”

The government keeps telling us rates will go up if Three Waters doesn’t go ahead. They conveniently ignore the extra costs that we’ll all pay for water because of the layers of bureaucracy they’re inflicting on us.

The only way to stop it is to vote out this government which is not only planning to confiscate water assets, it might also take over local parks and reserves:

Labour’s Three Waters reforms are now taking control of much more than local water assets, with the Government now eyeing up community parks and reserves, National’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts says.

“Provisions in the Water Service Entities Bill suggest that ownership of some community parks and reserves that link to the stormwater system, like Waitangi Park in Wellington, will be taken out of the hands of the local council and given to the mega water entities.

“These public spaces are crucial parts of community life. It’s where kids play rugby and soccer, families have picnics, and dog owners take their pets for a run-around.

Their control and management should be with communities, not co-governed and within unaccountable mega entities.

“The lack of clarity around what assets will and won’t be confiscated from community control is just another example of the incompetence of these broken reforms and how Labour can’t be trusted.

“National is calling on the Local Government Minister to rule out transferring any local parks and reserves to these new mega entities as part of its Three Waters reforms.”

It takes a special level of ignorance and arrogance to make a deeply unpopular, wastefully expensive and undemocratic proposal even worse, but that’s what the government is doing.



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