365 days of gratitude

August 6, 2018

Today is Farm Worker Appreciation Day.

We’re blessed with a team of top people whose dedication, enthusiasm and skills are essential elements in the success of our business.

Today and every day I appreciate them and am grateful for them.

 


Rural round-up

August 4, 2018

Property rights are being forgotten – Gerry Eckhoff:

William Pitt the elder (1708-78) got it right with a famous speech in which he said – in part – ”The poorest man in his cottage may bid defiance to the Crown. It may be frail. The roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain and storm may enter but the king of England may not – nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of that ruined tenement”.

While Hunter Valley Station hardly qualifies as a ”ruined tenement”, the principle of security of tenure and the right to exclude the Crown and by association, the public, holds as true today as it did in the 18th century

And so the debate begins, yet again, 240-odd years later. There are those who seek access to every corner of this fair country but who choose to ignore the common courtesy of seeking permission of the owner. During the last tenure of the previous Labour government, Helen Clark sought to pass legislation to force a right of entry to all rural land which included freehold, Maori, and leasehold land, but especially pastoral lease land. . .

Kiwifruit Industry ‘New Zealand labour just not there’ – Kate Gutsell:

The kiwifruit industry is facing a shortfall of 7000 workers as it predicts it will double in value in the next ten years.

The industry body, Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, has released a report which estimates the $2.1 billion industry will generate $4b of revenue by 2027.

Kiwifruit is already New Zealand’s largest horticulture export and the report is forecasting production will jump by 54 percent, from 123 million trays to 190 million by 2027. . .

Westland Milk to review ownership as it strives to boost returns – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Westland Milk Products, whose payments to its cooperative shareholders have lagged behind rivals, may change its ownership structure as it looks at ways to improve returns.

Hokitika-based Westland said today it has appointed Macquarie Capital and DG Advisory to consider potential capital and ownership options that will create a more sustainable capital structure and support a higher potential payout. All options will be explored in the process expected to run for several months, it said. . .

Economic outlook the sour note in farm confidence survey:

Pessimism about the economic outlook is a sour note among the otherwise generally positive indicators in the Federated Farmers July Farm Confidence Survey.

This is the 19th time the twice-yearly survey has been conducted and for the first time farmer optimism has increased in all areas except their continuing negative perceptions of the economy, Feds Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says. . .

Farmers worried as Government increases costs:

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor confirmed in Parliament’s Question Time today that farmers will face ‘additional costs’ under his Government, National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Mr O’Connor has previously signalled a climate tax for farmers, slashed the Primary Growth Partnership fund and won’t fund any new water storage projects,” Mr Guy says. . .

The European Union rejected genome edited crops – Matt Ridley:

The European Court of Justice has just delivered a scientifically absurd ruling, in defiance of advice from its advocate general, but egged on by Jean-Claude Juncker’s allies. It will ensure that more pesticides are used in Britain, our farmers will be less competitive and researchers will leave for North America. Thanks a bunch, your honours. 

By saying that genome-edited crops must be treated to expensive and uncertain regulation, it has pandered to the views of a handful of misguided extremists, who no longer have popular support in this country. . . 

Tell your story by entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Farmers and growers are being encouraged to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for 2018/19. The awards are organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, a charity set up to promote sustainable farming and growing.

The Chair of the Trust is Joannne van Polanen, who farms in Mid-Canterbury. Joanne says “There’s a lot of discussion about the need for the primary sector to tell our stories. The awards provide an opportunity for farmers and growers to share the positive actions they are involved in with their local community and a wider audience.” . . 

Pact Group launch first rPET bottles for NZ milk producer:

Pact Group subsidiary Alto Packaging has announced the launch of the new 750ml and 1.5litre milk bottles made from 100% recycled plastic polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) for Lewis Road.

Malcolm Bundey Managing Director and CEO of Pact Group says “Pact is proud to have designed and manufactured these bottles. We are excited to be in partnership with Lewis Road and part of their journey to become New Zealand’s first milk producer to switch to using entirely recycled materials for these two products.” . . 


Where are the willing workers ?

July 24, 2018

Dairying has revitalised North Otago.

It gives better cash flow than traditional sheep and beef farming, and needs more and younger workers.

However, in spite of pay rates well above what young people with few if any qualifications could expect elsewhere, it is difficult to recruit and retain blood staff.

When the local market can’t supply willing workers, farmers and sharemilkers turn to immigrants.

Getting short-term staff isn’t hard. There are plenty of young people touring on visas which allow them to take up temporary work and most of them work well.

But getting good staff for longer term work is hard and this isn’t a problem confined to New Zealand as the tweet below shows.

 

The problem isn’t confined to farming either.

Employers in hospitality have similar problems and visitors from overseas told us they rarely had locals serving them when they ate out.

In spite of all these employers needing staff, the number of people on benefits increased in June for the first time since 2010, and the number of those being sanctioned fell.

It looks like the willing workers are coming from other countries and the unwilling ones are Finding it easier to get and retain benefits.


So bad so soon

June 19, 2018

How did it get so bad so soon?
It’s a mess of ministers
acting like goons.
My goodness how the
mess has grewn.
How did it get so bad so soon?

With apologies to Dr Seuss, how did it get so bad so soon?

Audrey Young writes that Jacinda Ardern will forgive Winston Peters for anything, even the unforgivable.

A National MP joked this week that the Opposition didn’t want things to get so bad under Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave that the country was desperate for her return – they just wanted a medium level of dysfunction.

That threshold was almost reached this week even before the big event, and things got worse as the week wore on.

Ardern’s faith in Winston Peters being able to manage the inevitable bush fires that will flare when she is away must be seriously undermined given that he and his party have caused many of them.

A series of accidental and deliberate mishaps has raised questions about a series of important issues including basic coalition management, ministerial conventions, the application of the “No Surprises” policy, and when a minister is not a minister. .  .

Stacey Kirk calls it a three ring circus with one ringmaster at the centre .

Consensus government in action, or a bloody awful mess? 

It’s difficult to characterise the past week as anything but the latter and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be worried about whether she’ll have a Government to come back to when she returns from maternity leave. . .

Patrick Gower wants the old Kelvin Davis back.

Patrick Gower on The AM Show. Credits: Video – The AM Show; Image – Newshub.

Kelvin Davis is a “wounded man walking” who better watch out, says Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower.

The Corrections Minister on Wednesday announced plans for a new prison, but appeared to be unaware how many of its inmates would be double-bunked.

Corrections boss Ray Smith interjected after Mr Davis froze, confirming Newshub’s suggestion it would be around half.

“I get nervous before interviews,” was Mr Davis’ explanation, when asked about it on The AM Show. . . 

Duncan Garner describes government MPs as misfit kids.

. . .It’s taken them three minutes to look as shabby, arrogant and as broken-down as a third-term government suffering rampant hubris and pleading to be put out of its misery.  . .

Sue Bradford thinks the Greens are in mortal danger.

The Green’s water bottling decision exposes potentially fatal flaws and complacency at the heart of Green Parliamentary operations 

The Green parliamentary wing seem to be clueless about the mortal danger they face following news this week that their own minister, Eugenie Sage, has signed off on the sale and expansion of a water bottling plant at Otakiri Springs. . . 

Hamish Rutherford writes with Winston Peters in charge everything could be up for grabs.

. . . These are extraordinary times. Suddenly, with a Government already battling to keep business confidence up, with a story that the economy keeps on rocking, it seems as if everything is up for grabs.

We are now being handed lessons that have been coming since Peters walked into the Beehive theatrette on October 20 and announced he was forming a Government with the Left.

A Government so broad that the issues on which there is division become so amplified that they could almost appear to outnumber ones where there is consensus.

Where previous coalitions since the creation of MMP managed to keep together because the centre of power was so obvious, the timing of Peters’ action will be further unsettling. . . 

Health Minister David Clark has been accused of trying to gag a health board chair.

A leaked voicemail message appears to show Health Minister David Clark attempting to gag top health officials over the woeful state of Middlemore Hospital buildings. 

Clark has rejected the accusation, which has stemmed from audio of him telling former Counties Manukau District Health Board chair Rabin Rabindran it was “not helping” that the DHB kept commenting publicly.  

Emails suggest he also attempted to shut down the DHB from answering any questions along the lines of who knew what, and when, about the dilapidated state of Middlemore buildings. . . 

Peter Dunne asks is the coalition starting to unravel?

Almost 20 years ago, New Zealand’s first MMP Coalition Government collapsed. It was not a dramatic implosion on a major point of principle, but was provoked by a comparatively minor issue – a proposal to sell the Government’s shares in Wellington Airport – and came after a series of disagreements between the Coalition partners on various aspects of policy.

There has been speculation this week in the wake of New Zealand First’s hanging out to dry of the Justice Minister over the proposed repeal of the “three strikes” law that the same process might be starting all over again. While it is far too soon to draw conclusive parallels, the 1998 experience does set out some road marks to watch out for. . . 

Michael Reddell writes on how the government is consulting on slashing productivity growth.

 . .  I have never before heard of a government consulting on a proposal to cut the size of the (per capita) economy by anything from 10 to 22 per cent.  And, even on their numbers, those estimates could be an understatement. . . .

Quite breathtaking really.   We will give up –  well, actually, take from New Zealanders –  up to a quarter of what would have been their 2050 incomes, and in doing so we will know those losses will be concentrated disproportionately on people at the bottom.   Sure, they talk about compensation measures . . 

But the operative word there is could.  The track record of governments –  of any stripe –  compensating losers from any structural reforms is pretty weak, and it becomes even less likely when the policy being proposed involves the whole economy being a lot smaller than otherwise, so that there is less for everyone to go around.  The political economy of potential large scale redistribution just does not look particularly attractive or plausible (and higher taxes to do such redistribution would have their own productivity and competitiveness costs). . . 

And the Dominion Post lists mis-steps and mistakes and concludes:

. . .Some of this has been simply amateurish.

Such things are often a sign of a government that has outlived its mandate and begun to implode around the core of its own perceived importance. In its tiredness it can trip over the most obvious hurdles.

This Government is barely nine months old. It needs to find its feet, and quickly.

Has there ever been a government that has attracted this sort of criticism just a few months after gaining power?

How did this government get so bad so soon?


Rather go hungry than go to work

May 9, 2018

The Ministry of Social Development has today declared a seasonal labour shortage across the Bay of Plenty, where an additional 1,200 people are needed to pick and pack an extra 20 million trays of kiwifruit this season.

This allows foreigners on tourist visas to apply for a variation which allow them to work.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.4% .

Some of those people must be in the Bay of Plenty and able to work so why aren’t they?

Kiwifruit company Apata employs more than 1000 people and will harvest and store about 10 percent of the region’s kiwifruit this year.

Managing director Stuart Weston told Morning Report about 60 percent of his staff were locals, with the rest made up of workers from the Pacific and backpackers.

He said he did not think raising the pay rate would attract more local labour.

“We think that we’ve really reached the very limits of what’s available ready and willing to work, irrespective of the money.

“And that’s evidenced by the fact that already [Work and Income New Zealand] have a system of stand down if people choose not to work in our sheds and inexplicably people will choose to go hungry rather than work in a packhouse.” 

He said the agency had been working hard to attract people to the industry but it had been having “decreasing levels of success”.

“We’re sending vans to Murupara, Tokaroa, Whakatāne and Rotorua – we’re just trying to reach out further and further to capture people who wish to work,” Mr Weston said.

Working with kiwifruit was hard work, and people who have been on an unemployment benefit struggled to cope with full-time work and could be unreliable, he said.

We visited a pack house earlier this year.

Our host told a similar story of going to great lengths to get locals to work including transport to and from work and a creche for workers’ children.

But if people prefer going hungry to work, what more can employers do?


He tangata

May 1, 2018

National Party leader Simon Bridges delivered his first speech on the economy yesterday:
 . . Now sometimes people can think the economy equals boring, or that we’re focused on balance sheets rather than people.

But when I talk about the economy, I’m talking about jobs for our children.

About wages for our families.

About the local sparky as much as the big corporation in the CBD.

About the opportunities we can give those kids from Rutherford College to move into work and follow their passion.

He tangata – it is people. The economy is the what and how, people is the why.

We need a strong and growing economy to look after people – to provide the services and infrastructure they need.

We also need a strong economy to enable businesses to succeed, to provide jobs and produce goods and services that we need to export in order to afford the imports that keep us in the first world.

All of this flows from a strong economy.

But those opportunities aren’t created by accident.

They’re built on the hard work of people who get up early in the morning to go to work, or who stay up late the night before to make the school lunches.

They’re built on the entrepreneurs who take a risk and hire their first staff member, or their hundredth, and the workers who produce world-class exports. 

They’re built on a nation of innovative, passionate Kiwis who back themselves to succeed – the farmers just out of town, the butchers down the road, and scientists and teachers and IT whizzes.

There is, however, one group of people who don’t directly create those jobs – and that’s politicians.

Of course we have some part to play. Our role should be to get the settings right and then get out of the way – making good, consistent, sensible policy choices that give businesses the confidence to do business. . . 

The government has made a lot of fuss about regional development and has given one minister $1 billion to play with.

The best and most important thing any government can do for the regions and the cities is to get the settings and policies right then and get of the way of people and businesses.

Confident businesses invest and take the risks that enable them to produce more and create more jobs.

They make a bigger contribution to the economy and that enables them and the government to do more for people.


Anti-oil greenwash adds costs for no gain

April 13, 2018

A friend who has a horticulture business estimates the government’s ban on further offshore oil and gas exploration will add around half a million dollars a year to his costs of production.

That comes on top of a similar amount more he’ll be paying for labour with the increases to the minimum wage.

He might be able to absorb some of the increased costs but will have to pass on at least some of the increase.

Food in New Zealand is already expensive. Government policies will make it even more expensive and will also lead to job losses.

Adding extra costs for green wash is economic vandalism for no environmental gain.

The Government’s decision to ban gas and petroleum exploration is economic vandalism that makes no environmental sense, National MPs Jonathan Young and Todd Muller says.

“This decision will ensure the demise of an industry that provides over 8000 high paying jobs and $2.5 billion for the economy,” Energy and Resources Spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“Without exploration there will be no investment in oil and gas production or the downstream industries. That means significantly fewer jobs.

“This decision is devoid of any rationale. It certainly has nothing to do with climate change. These changes will simply shift production elsewhere in the world, not reduce emissions.

“Gas is used throughout New Zealand to ensure security of electricity supply to every home in New Zealand. Our current reserves will last less than ten years – when they run out we will simply have to burn coal instead, which means twice the emissions.

“The Government says that existing wells will continue but that’s code for winding the sector down.

Climate Change Spokesperson Todd Muller says the decision makes no sense – environmentally or economically – because less gas production means more coal being burnt and higher carbon emissions.

“Many overseas countries depend on coal for energy production. Those CO2 emissions would halve if they could switch to natural gas while they transition to renewable energy.

“By stopping New Zealand’s gas exploration we are turning our backs on an opportunity to help reduce global emissions while providing a major economic return to improve our standard of living and the environment.

“We need to reduce global CO2 emissions. But there is no need to put an entire industry and thousands of New Zealanders’ jobs at risk.”

Mr Young says the Government’s decision today is another blow to regional New Zealand, and Taranaki in particular.

“It comes hot on the heels of big decisions that reduce roading expenditure, cancel irrigation funding, and discourage international investment in the regions.

“This is simply Jacinda Ardern destroying an industry in the cause of a political slogan pushed by Greenpeace.”

You can sign a petition against this economic vandalism for no economic gain here.

When oil and gas are mentioned, we think of fuel for vehicles.

But oil isn’t just used for fuel.

Filling up at the gas station is certainly one of the ways to use oil that is most familiar to us. But guess what: of all the oil we use, only 43 per cent goes to fueling our cars.

Given this, can we seriously consider ending our “dependence on oil”, as some would suggest? Someone who wants to stop using oil will have to say goodbye to smart phones, ballpoint pens, candlelight, clothing made of synthetic fibers, glasses, toothpaste, tires (including those on bicycles), and thousands of other products made from plastic, a petroleum derivative.

Good luck with that program.

Problem is, the anti-oil discourse so demonized this resource that we came to forget the many benefits conferred by its use. Oil and its derivatives have improved living conditions in Western industrialized societies, as the list quoted above quite clearly demonstrates, but also worldwide. In Africa, for example, earthenware jars used to transport water have been replaced by plastic jars, which are much lighter, providing some relief to women who have to carry out this task.

What’s more, some of these products shaping everyday life are designed locally. That’s the case for Eska water bottles or Kraft mayonnaise recipients, manufactured in Montreal. So much so that a high-technology sector has emerged around Montreal refineries over the years, providing quality jobs for more than 3,600 workers. . . 

Like other greenwash, the anti-oil movement has gained traction based on half-truths and emotion.

Like other greenwash, the government’s decision to ban offshore exploration will come at a high economic and social cost with no environmental gain.

Like other green wash the ban is about doing something, not doing the right thing,


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