Word of the day


Midwit – a person of middling intellect; someone with an education who is lacking in common sense; someone smart enough to think about ideas, reason through them to some degree and feel confident, or over confident and then cause damage.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


No workers to harvest, so farmer sacrifices 300,000 heads of lettuce – Gerhard Uys:

A farmer has been forced to plough more than 300,000 heads of fresh lettuce into the ground because he cannot find enough workers to manually harvest them.

Farm labour woes come on the back of the Government announcement that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3% in the three months to the end of September.

Alan Fong, a Waikato vegetable grower, said ploughing produce back into the ground was sad, especially because of high vegetable prices. In October, vegetable prices were up 17% on the year before.

In October, the average price of 1kg of lettuce was $6.43, Stats NZ said, up from $5.39 a year earlier and $3.64 the year before that. . . 

Lamb processing delays expected due to labour shortage – Sally Murphy :

Farmers are being told to expect delays for this years peak lamb kill, with the season expected to be longer due to labour shortages.

Processors have been struggling with staff shortages for the past two years due to the border closure and staff being off sick with Covid-19.

AgriHQs latest market update said staff shortages had been a major problem for some processing plants and in some cases lambs were sent back to the farm as there were not enough staff to process them all.

Alliance Group, which operates five meatworks in the South Island and two in the lower North Island, had not had to send lambs back, but farmers were experiencing wait times of 10 to 14 days. . . 

Lifecycle study challenges methane measurement – Richard Rennie:

A carbon lifecycle study on New Zealand red meat has been welcomed as a good start, with provisos, by climate change (āhuarangi panoni) researcher Professor David Frame.

Released by Beef + Lamb NZ, the lifecycle assessment (LCA) study has determined NZ’s red meat is among the most efficiently produced in the world. 

Per kilogram, sheepmeat produces 15kg of carbon dioxide, while beef produces 22kg per kilo of meat.

The report determined the outcome is largely driven by farm-level efficiencies, representing 95% of the products’ carbon footprint. . . 

Dairy land being lost at 1 percent a year, Fonterra – Nikki Mandow :

Fonterra says declining annual milk production will likely continue in the foreseeable future, as dairy farmers sell their properties or switch to alternative land use. But forests aren’t to blame.

Dairy farmers are converting their land away from cows and milk at about 1 percent a year, Fonterra chair Peter McBride says. And that’s something the company is going to have to live with. 

Speaking at the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund annual general meeting, McBride said land use change could even go faster, as a variety of factors – from ageing demographics and farmer lifestyle choices to stricter regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and water quality – put further pressure on farmers.

The trend is despite record farm gate dairy prices, which rose from $6.35 per kilo of milk solids in the 2018/19 season to $7.14 in 2019/20, $7.54 in 2020/21 and $9.30 last season. . . 

EastPack announces $30 million notes issue to meet growth in kiwifruit demand :

EastPack, the largest post-harvest operator in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and one of the country’s largest cooperatives, today announced that it intends to raise $30 million via an issue of five-year subordinated Notes to New Zealand investors. EastPack will have the ability to take oversubscriptions of up to $10 million.

The amount raised will help expand packing capacity at EastPack including processing and packing efficiency.

The minimum interest rate for the Notes will be 8.5% per annum, paid quarterly in arrears. The interest rate is set annually and will be set at the higher of the minimum rate or the five-year government bond plus 4.5%. The initial interest rate is 8.9% per annum.

In its discretion, EastPack may redeem the Notes any time after 3 years. There is no intention to list the Notes on the NZX debt market but the notes will be tradeable via Syndex. . .

Livestock is a form of climate justice in the global south – Simplice Nouala:

As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) proceeds in Egypt, few seem to be acknowledging that the elephant in the room is actually a cow. The livestock sector has faced global scrutiny for its contribution to climate change, but is reducing livestock production actually a fair, or even an honest, climate outcome?

The answer is less than straightforward when considering the billions of people living in the Global South. As counterintuitive as it might seem at a first glance to people living in the “Global North”, there is a strong case to invest more in sustainable livestock systems across the developing world as a matter of climate justice. Let me explain.

Having been widely recognised as the “African COP”, this year’s negotiations are emphasising the need to support the most vulnerable in adapting to climate change by requiring the wealthiest historic emitters of greenhouse gases to pay for the loss and damage that has already occurred. Livestock actually offers a compelling case for both of these priorities.

If COP27 is to truly deliver for Africa, this should start with recognising the vast differences between livestock in the Global North and South. Viewing livestock and its climate impact in developing countries through the same lens as livestock in the Global North is, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, actively harmful. . . 


Combatting youth crime


National has launched a plan to combat youth crime:

National will crack down on serious repeat youth offenders like ram-raiders to turn their lives around and to protect the public, National Party Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“A ram-raid every 15 hours shows that Labour’s soft-on-crime approach is failing,” Mr Luxon says.

“No place is immune from the youth crime wave, but some are being hit harder than others. For example, 20 per cent of all recent ram-raids were in the Waikato. Gang membership in the Waikato is up 70 per cent over the past five years and gangs are recruiting nearly three times faster than Police.

“Enough is enough. My message to young offenders is that under National, you will face consequences for your actions.”

Making young people face consequences will reduce offending, making communities safer but this isn’t just about makign them face consequences, it’s about helping them become better people..

National’s Combatting Youth Offending Plan will:

1) Target serious repeat offenders

National will create a new Young Serious Offender (YSO) category, targeting the ringleaders of crimes like ram-raids. This will apply to offenders aged 10 to 17 who have committed a serious offence such as a ram-raid, other aggravated burglary, or serious assault at least twice.

Consequences will include being sent to a Young Offender Military Academy, electronic monitoring, or being subject to an intensive supervision order in their community.

2) Create Young Offender Military Academies

National will create Young Offender Military Academies where YSOs aged 15 to 17 can be sent for up to 12 months. The Academies will provide discipline, mentoring and intensive rehabilitation to make a decisive intervention in these young offenders’ lives. The Academies will be delivered in partnership with the Defence Force, alongside other providers.

This will feel like punishment to some but it will also help them change direction and give them the skills to live better, crime-free lives.

3) Back Police to tackle gangs

Some serious youth offending is being driven by gangs. Young people are stealing to order and committing ram-raids as a form of gang initiation. As previously announced, National will give Police greater powers to tackle gangs including by banning patches and stopping gang members gathering in public.                               

4) Empower community groups to break the cycle of offending

National will fund community organisations and other non-government agencies to break the cycle of offending. Some YSOs will be ordered to undergo intensive supervision by community-based organisations. This will mean they face consequences for their actions and are equipped with tools to turn their lives around, while remaining connected to their families.

“New Zealand’s youth justice system works well for the majority of young offenders; 80 per cent of first-time offenders who interact with the youth justice system are dealt with quickly and put back on the right path.

“National’s Combatting Youth Offending Plan targets the most serious repeat young offenders and will disrupt crimes like ram-raids by removing the ringleaders, some of whom have gang connections.

“Labour’s current approach is to wring its hands and do nothing. That’s not working for business owners getting a call at 2am to say a car has smashed through their shop, which has been looted. Doing nothing is also not helping offenders whose lives are destined for mayhem and misery unless there’s a circuit breaker. 

“National is the party of law and order and we will not ignore the serious challenges that New Zealand faces.”

Submission on Ag emissions and pricing


Submissions on the government’s proposals to impose a tax on farm emissions close today.

You can submit here .

This is my submission:

  • We oppose the government’s proposals for pricing agricultural emissions

1.3. The Paris Accord agrees: ”to decrease global warming through: . . .  Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.”

1.4 Until there are affordable, practical and safe ways to reduce emissions any costs imposed on farmers will reduce food production and lead to job losses on farms, in businesses that service and support farmers and process their produce; and in the wider communities.

1.5 New Zealand has a well-deserved reputation for producing nutritious and safe food, efficiently with high standards of animal welfare. We have strict requirements about the use of chemicals and drugs. Any tools that reduce emissions must not have any adverse impact on stock, meat quality and nutrient value and human health.

1.6 We oppose the use of the ETS to encourage on-farm emissions reductions. Unless, and until, there are safe measures to reduce emissions it would simply be a tax on production.

1.7 We do not support the pricing of emissions until there are safe measures to reduce them. However, if one is imposed, a farm level system would be less bad than the proposed interim processor level system as a backstop.

1.8 If the government persists in imposing costs, any approach to reducing emissions must maintain the viability of New Zealand’s farming sector and rural communities.

1.9 It must not encourage practices that would lead to poor economic, environmental and social outcomes, for example large scale job losses on farms and rural communities or replacing pastoral farms with pine plantations.

1.10 It must recognise the good work that many farmers and rural communities have already done to mitigate climate change through establishing vegetation and that is fair across all sectors and New Zealand industries and communities.

1.11 The Governments proposal does not do this.


2 He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) did not have universal support but the government has succeeded in uniting farmers against its proposals.

2.1 The He Wake Eke Noa approach aimed to create a mitigation package that included recognition of technologies used and progress already made, the adoption of mitigating technologies only when they had been proved safe and were readily available, recognition of the agri sector’s contribution to the economy, care for rural communities, recognition of progress against goals and recognition of our competitive position in markets.

2.2 The government’s proposal is primarily focussed on emissions pricing to achieve arbitrary targets that have no relation to what is possible, practical and proven.

2.3 The proposal is overly simplistic, would destroy rural communities and come at a huge economic cost. Taking out 20% of sheep and beef farms would cripple small rural towns and take multi millions of dollars from export earnings.

2.4 Primary industries in general and pastoral industries in particular are fundamental to New Zealand’s economic wellbeing.

2.5 They comprise more than 80 percent of New Zealand’s physical export earning and make up about 50 percent of these total export earnings. There is no other way to pay for all the imports the country needs.

2.6 New Zealand has international commitments to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions. That does not mean that New Zealand has to be the first country to destroy its most important export-earning industries.

2.7 No other country in the world is considering going down a self-destruction path for mainstream industries that underpin that nation’s fundamental economic well-being. It is not happening and it is not going to happen elsewhere in the world.

2.8 Sabotaging farming, which the government’s proposal would do, would at best have a minimal environmental impact, at worst it will increase global emissions through carbon leakage and degrade New Zealand soil and waterways when pine plantations replace pastoral farms.


3 The government’s proposed emissions accounting system will add unaffordable costs to the dairy sector and have an even worse impact on the deer, sheep and beef sectors.

3.1 The assumption that tools and technologies will be available to assist with reducing or mitigating emissions is putting the green cart well in front of the scientific horses.

3.2 There are no options available now and there is a risk that some proposed tools would impact the quality of meat and milk, and possibly human health.

3.4 Professor Keith Woodford points out:

. . . The problem is that nature’s ruminant nutritional system was designed for a purpose over millions of years by trial and error. That is how evolution works. And nature does not necessarily take kindly when humans want to interfere with the basics of that ruminant system. Change part of the system and there is always a good chance that the overall system will fall apart.

One way or another, the excess hydrogen has to be removed from the rumen. Otherwise, the rumen will turn from a fermentation vat to an acid vat. The animal will not be impressed and will get very sick.

Accordingly, it is not just a case of killing the methanogens. Something else has to take over the job that the methanogens do naturally. If there was an easy solution that was energetically better than producing methane, then nature would in all likelihood have figured that out itself.

So, what are the technologies that humans have been exploring?

One of the most fascinating technologies is to feed some bromoform-releasing seaweed to ruminants. These trials have been going on both in New Zealand and overseas. The bromoforms are particularly good at killing off the methanogens, but unfortunately, they tend to also mess up other parts of the rumen system. Particularly important is the finding in a recent scientific paper that bromoforms pass from the rumen into milk.

Alas, bromoforms are a suspected carcinogen and certainly have the ability to interfere with many human processes. My own assessment is that, despite some ongoing hype, there is close to zero chance of this technology being acceptable to food-safety authorities. Indeed bromoforms, which are similar in their action to chloroform, are already widely banned in foodstuffs.

The second feed additive that has generated considerable hype is a chemical called 3-NOP. This has been developed through to early-stage commerciality by Dutch firm DSM with the trade name Bovaer.

This technology appears to be much safer than bromoforms and does reduce methane production in feedlot situations for dairy and beef cattle. However, the evidence to date is that it does not work under pastoral conditions because it needs to be evenly distributed throughout the feed. . . .

3.5 There is not yet anything that can safely reduce methane emissions in stock and there are very real questions about food safety with what is being trialled.

3.6 We must not risk our hard-earned reputation for safe food in an attempt to reduce emissions.


4 Relying on forestry to make the ETS work is a temporary band-aid. It does not address the carbon problem and it is creating an artificial market that incentivises planting trees on good pastoral land.

4.1 This increases the risk of fires, provides shelter for pests which threaten native species and carry diseases which could infect farm animals; takes up large amounts of water which compromises waterways and water life and would be hard to reverse.

4.2 It also takes jobs from farms and the local community and reduces export income.

4.3 The government’s approach to emissions accounting is inequitable by proposing to levy farmers for methane emissions but not give any credit for the sequestration from on-farm vegetation.

4.4 Unless farms are able to offset emission through sequestration, some will become unviable and the damaging conversion from farmland to forestry will be exacerbated.

4.5 A broader range of sequestration is critical to achieving a balance in the system that will make it work for both extensive and intensive farmers. If the government insists on levying farmers it must adopt the HWEN recommendations and recognise a broad range of vegetation categories.

4.6 The government’s excuses exluding on-farm sequestration on the basis of the complexity of measuring sequestration. That is wrong.

4.7 Hyperspectral photography using LIDAR technology is available to measure both biomass and species composition of vegetation over a large scale. This technology could be adapted to measure vegetation to account for sequestration.

4.8 If the government insists on levying farmers for emissions based on hypothetical models it must accept sequestration credits based on accepted and standardised measurement.


5 We oppose the Government’s proposal for taxing emissions altogether and its proposal for price setting through the Climate Change Commission.

5.1 If the government does impose costs on emissions, the agricultural sector must be represented on any body that sets prices to ensure it is fair and manageable.

5.2 The CCC’s brief to reduce GHG emissions is a conflict of interest with price setting that could risk it using agriculture to cross-subsidise a wider reduction in warming

5.3 Criteria that must be taken into account when setting the price must include equity, economic impacts and what other countries, in particular those with which we compete in exports.

5.4 Agriculture’s contribution to reducing emission must not be the expense of any of our major exporting sectors and rural communities.


6 We oppose linking the price of nitrous oxide to the carbon price.

6.1 Linking nitrous oxide and CO2 reduction targets doesn’t make sense if there are different targets for them.

6.2 If the nitrous oxide price is linked to the carbon price and the carbon price rises rapidly this will become a significant cost to farms and their profitability.


7 We have grave concerns about the impacts the government’s proposal will have on on production, income and costs on farms, rural communities and the wider economy.

7.2 During the ag-sag of the 1980s it was feared farmers would be driven from their farms in their thousands. Some did lose their land but the worst impacts were further downstream in the businesses which serviced and supplied them, schools, and provincial towns. Farmers retrenched and businesses and service providers they used to frequent had too few alternative customers and clients.

7.3 The impact the government’s emissions reduction proposal would have would be far worse for job losses and business failures.

7.4 The modelling shows that a very cautious approach needs to be taken to pricing and the government must recalculate the methane targets.

7.5 High targets require a higher price with the proposed system. No other country is planning to put a price on agricultural emissions. It is foolhardy to sabotage the agricultural sector and the whole New Zealand economy for no benefit except being able to claim a first.

7.6 The government’s claim that customers will take emissions into account and pay more for produce if the country’s agricultural emissions is unproven.

7.7 Until and unless there are affordable, practical and safe tools for reducing emissions, the country’s emissions might reduce but the emissions per animal and therefore per kilo of milk and meat won’t.


8 The government’s proposal will have a disproportionate impact on sheep, beef and deer farmers.

8.1 The impact will be even worse if there is not proper recognition of sequestration.

8.2 No single sector should disproportionately carry the burden of meeting New Zealand’s targets.


9 If a levy is imposed, if must be at a level that delivers only on the scheme’s intended purpose and not to collect excess funds or charge farmers more than absolutely necessary.

9.2 The use of any revenue collected must be under farmer control and they must have the say on how it is used for reinvesting into agriculture for example for research or supporting the uptake of technology.


10 We oppose the processor levy backstop.

10.1 This is inequitable because it would only be imposed on those who slaughter stock.

10.2 A processor levy would treat the best, most efficient producers the same as the worst and least efficient with no reward or incentive for improving on-farm practices.


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