Rural round-up

September 11, 2018

Climate change and rural confidence – Mike Chapman:

There has been a lot of talk in the media and in boardrooms about a drop in business confidence. This is also a hot topic in the rural sector, with some of the employment law changes causing concerns about the ongoing financial viability of businesses, and economic growth stalling. An additional concern for the rural sector is the impact of climate change adaptation on primary industry businesses.

Recent reports published on climate change include models that increase hectares planted in trees, and in fruit and vegetables. Some models have fruit and vegetables increasing from today’s 116,000 hectares used for growing, to 1 million hectares. That’s a big increase in growing area and for horticulture, it will most likely come from what is now dairy land. Forests are more likely to be planted on sheep and beef land. The challenge with models is that they make predictions, but turning that into reality may not be easy. . .

Waimea Dam investor that revived project remains a mystery – Erik Frykberg:

A mystery investment which helped get approval for the Waimea Dam project near Nelson is likely to remain anonymous for now.

The investment is for $11 million, and it helped Tasman District Council put the dam project back on course after it was blocked for financial reasons last week.

While little is being said about the investment, RNZ understands it comes in the form of convertible preference shares from an institutional investor, possibly a nominee company from in or around Richmond. . .

Waimea Dam decision good news for Tasman:

The decision by Tasman District Council to support a revised funding proposal to enable the Waimea community dam to proceed is good news for the district, says IrrigationNZ.

Without a dam, the council says that urban and rural water users will be facing significant water use cuts from this summer. This is due to a plan change introducing higher flow requirements on the Waimea River.

“The dam is the most cost effective way to provide a secure water supply for urban residents, business and irrigators while sharing the cost of this major project,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ Chief Executive. . .

Feeding and breeding are vital – Andrew Stewart:

A desire not to be anchored to machinery led Mike and Vicki Cottrell to try something new. They headed for the hills and have spent a quarter-century running sheep and cattle on medium to steep back country near Taihape. They told fellow Rangitikei farmer Andrew Stewartabout facing the on and off farm challenges of the farming life.

Venture southeast from Taihape and you come across the farming community of Omatane.

It is here that clean, green hills are punctuated with river chasms and rim rocks. In the distance Mt Ruapehu provides a stunning but sometimes chilly backdrop. Loosely translated from the Maori dictionary, Omatane means a fleeing man.  . .

New Zealand’s largest forestry acquisition goes ahead:

Australian sustainable forestry company, OneFortyOne Plantation’s (OFO) purchase of Nelson Forests completed this week, following approval by the Overseas Investment Office.

Nelson Forests, was owned by investment funds advised by Global Forest Partners LP (GFP), and is a vertically-integrated plantation and sawmill business in the Nelson Tasman and Marlborough regions of New Zealand. Nelson Forests employs 101 people fulltime and its business activity is further supported by approximately 350 contractors. . .

World not yet falling apart – Allan Barber:

Much to a lot of people’s surprise, the global economy is resisting the dire predictions of many commentators, just as the New Zealand economy continues to perform much better than businesses are prepared to accept. But it is far from certain whether this just a question of timing or the genuine possibility the predictions are exaggerated. Speculation, based on suspicion and anecdote, appears to be an unreliable guide to what is actually happening, so, while planning for an uncertain future is essential, it would pay not to ignore present realities.

For the agricultural sector, certainties include sheep meat prices at around all time highs, a high milk price, a fairly mild winter following good growth earlier in the year, continuing demand from trading partners, no new tariffs imposed on New Zealand agricultural products, a bullish, if potentially volatile, global economy, a stable domestic economy and an exchange rate which has stabilised at up to 10% off its 2017 peak. All these factors suggest the world isn’t about to end any time soon. . .

Owen River Lodge first fishing lodge to win at NZ Tourism Awards:

Luxury fishing accommodation Owen River Lodge near Murchison is the first fishing lodge ever to scoop a gong at the New Zealand Tourism Awards.

The 2018 Westpac Business Excellence Award, open to New Zealand tourist operators with less than $6m annual turnover, was presented to owner Felix Borenstein at a black tie dinner in Christchurch last night. . .


Where’s the consistency?

September 4, 2018

Simon Bridges has facilitated the payment for the medivac of a New Zealand woman from Bali:

Kiwis have paid it forward by fronting $170,000 for the medical evacuation of Abby Hartley, who is in a coma in Bali.

National Party leader Simon Bridges told Newstalk ZB on Monday he was contacted by concerned New Zealanders last week who he knew “pretty well” who didn’t want anything out of it aside from helping the Hamilton family.

“They could see the money was the issue.

“They have underwritten what has happened and paid for the medevac.”

Bridges said he had facilitated the payment for the medevac with Abby’s husband Richard.

“The plane has been paid for, the medevac has been paid for. Now it’s just about when the medical right time for Abby to come back to New Zealand,” he told Newstalk ZB. . .

Hartley’s insurance company wouldn’t pay for their treatment and return to New Zealand.

The family approached the government for help but were turned down.

The government has to be very careful about bailing out people in this way.

It would be too easy to set a precedent that led people to expect public funding to extract them from predicaments.

But this government has repatriated bodies of dead servicemen and is paying millions in an attempt to retrieve dead bodies from Pike River and many more to bail out uninsured property owners in Christchurch.

Then there’s the cost of a special flight for the PM to go to Naru for a short time so she won’t be away from her baby who would have to have a whole lot of vaccinations if she accompanied her mother.

I am not going to join the critics of the Jacinda Ardern over this. Whether Foreign Minister Winston Peters could have stood in for her is a fair question. But if it was important for her to be there, the shorter the trip the better it is for Neve. If we have a PM with a baby there are going to be different compromises and extra costs.

But where is the consistency?

 


Calling 175,000 Richie McCaw fans

September 3, 2018

Kurow is calling on 175,000 fans of Richie McCaw to help fund a statue of their hero in the town:

The small Waitaki town of Kurow needs 175,000 Richie McCaw fans to help erect a bronze statue of the All Blacks great, right where he kicked off his legendary career.

It was hoped the life-sized statue of the most capped test rugby player of all time would bring economic growth and more visitors to the Waitaki Valley.

McCaw grew up in the Hakataramea Valley just across the Waitaki River from Kurow where he began playing rugby for the local club. . . 

Kurow-local Bob Watherston had a dream to erect the bronze statue of the world’s greatest rugby player.

The former chairman of the Statue Project Committee passed away in November last year, missing out on seeing his dream fulfilled. . . 

Along with the Waitaki Valley community, Watherston’s daughter Chrissy Watherston was picking up the slack and has created a Givealittle page, asking for the public’s help.

Watherston asked for 175,000 of McCaw’s fans to pitch in and donate $1 to help get the statue project over the line. . .

Will a statue of McCaw bring more people to the town?

One of Colin Meads attracts fans to Te Kuiti but it is on a main road between other places.

Kurow would require a detour for most travellers but even if the statue doesn’t bring people to the town it might stop those who are passing through.


Working groups breeding working groups

August 16, 2018

First the good news – the government is providing $8.5 million to better manage freedom camping.

 . . .Recycling collection facilities, infrastructure and operating costs in Grey District will receive a $850,000 funding boost.

Westland District Council has been allocated about $780,000 for new camping facilities and to cover operating costs, education and enforcement.

Tasman District Council is set to receive $660,000 from the fund to improve tourism infrastructure in the lead up to summer.

Queenstown Lakes, Buller, Mackenzie and Waitaki district councils will receive more than $500,000 in the lead up to the tourism season, with Mackenzie and Waitaki receiving a joint payment. . .

Visitor numbers are well in excess of ratepayers’ ability to fund infrastructure for tourists. This money will be thinly spread in areas with great and urgent need but it is a good start.

But then there’s the bad news.

The working group set up to review freedom camping wants five more reviews.

One of the Government’s infamous 140 working groups has, incredibly come back with a recommendation to have five more reviews, National’s Tourism spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis’s Responsible Camping Working Group has reported back not with a plan but with a recommendation the Government reviews the Freedom Camping Act, the compliance regime, the administration system, the camping-grounds regulations and the ‘responsible camping rules’.

“That’s right. Five more reviews leading us to the extraordinary situation where we have working groups calling for working groups.

These working groups are like mushrooms, breeding more of their kind in the dark.

In a damning indictment on its lack of work in Opposition this Government came to power with so few ideas it’s launched 140 working groups and inquiries costing $170-odd million, to tell it what to do.

“Now it turns out not even those working groups have any answers and decisions are being kicked further down the road, with Mr Davis saying his ‘cross-Government plan of action’ is still off somewhere in the never-never. We’re talking two years before any major legislative change will bring relief to most popular tourist destinations, and to the communities in those areas.

“Worryingly, Mr Davis also says even those recommendations the Responsible Camping Working Group did make won’t all be ready in time for this summer’s peak influx of tourists.

“That will be hugely disappointing for a sector which generates $14.5 billion of export earnings.

It’s not just disappointing for tourism, it’s frustrating for locals who have to put up with rubbish and human waste left behind and councils who have to pay the bills for cleaning it up.

New Zealand’s natural beauty and relatively unspoiled countryside are among the reasons tourists want to come here.

Too many freedom camping, washing themselves, their dishes and their clothes in rivers and lakes, and leaving their rubbish and waste behind are damaging the environment and posing health risks.

An answer to the problems needs to be found and acted on in the next few months before the summer tourism rush starts.

“This is symptomatic of a Government that loves to set up reviews and working groups rather than actually get on and do the job. At a time when businesses are crying out for certainty this Government gives them less.

“What is Mr Davis actually doing? Tourism is a full-time profession and it deserves more than a part-time minister.

“In the meantime, the Government could pick up National MP Anne Tolley’s Freedom Camping Bill which would prohibit Freedom Camping more than 200 metres from public toilet facilities, provide more organisations with the right to restrict freedom camping, and provide for instant fines that have been issued to be collected by rental car companies. That will make an immediate difference.”

All of this could be easily implemented, could take effect and make a difference immediately.

Tourism competes with dairying as our top income earner.

We owe it to the people who contribute to that to provide them with facilities and infrastructure they need to visit without despoiling our country.


365 days of gratitude

February 18, 2018

On my morning walk I happened to be passing the entrance to Burnside Homestead as four cyclists came out and stopped to take a photo.

I offered to take one of all of them and in the process got into conversation with them.

They were very enthusiastic about the Alps2Ocean cycleway and the hospitality they’d received at Burnside.

The cycleway has created lots of jobs and brings a lot of people who would never have travelled from Mount Cook to Oamaru Harbour without it.

It’s boosting the local economy and also providing exercise opportunities for locals and I’m grateful for that.


Rural round-up

May 18, 2017

UK farming looks doomed – Allan Barber:

Two contrasting publications have each given a pretty damning picture of the state of farming and food production in pre-Brexit UK; and despite the conclusions of the Ferguson Cardo report into the future of British agriculture, it is hard to see how this situation will change for the better without a huge amount of pain on the way. But equally it is almost impossible to imagine a continuation of the status quo within the EU, where in 2015 70% of UK farm income came from direct and environmental subsidies.

A much shorter piece in the well-known satirical paper Private Eye captures the problems faced by UK dairy farmers very cogently, although these have been well publicised already. The number of dairy herds has fallen like a stone since 1993 – the year the Milk Marketing Board was abolished – when there were 33,000 herds, compared with fewer than 10,000 today. The cost of milk production this year is forecast to rise to 32.5 pence per litre, while the price farmers receive is anchored at 25p or even worse predicted to fall even lower. Not surprisingly more closures are expected. . . 

No idle time for top dairy woman – Sally Rae:

Jessie Chan-Dorman’s determination was evident from an early age.

At 16, she left home and funded herself through secondary school and university.

Ms Chan-Dorman (39) was named 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Queenstown last week.

The inspirational Canterbury businesswoman’s career spanned farming, business and governance. . . 

Interim Project Director Appointed to Dam:

Tasman District Council and Waimea Irrigators Limited, on behalf of the Waimea Water Augmentation Project (WWAP), have appointed John Hutton to the role of Interim Project Director.

The appointment is necessary now because the WWAP team overseeing the delivery of the various work streams has come to the view the project is sufficiently advanced that it needs a step up in the level of direction and a dedicated project office needs to be established.

John Hutton’s tasks are to: . . 

University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards 2017 winners announced:

When Blanche Morrogh (nee Murray) started Kai Ora Honey in 2012, she had no idea it would bloom so quickly into a multi-million dollar global concern.
Today, the Far North-based whānau-owned business operates 2500 hives and exports 50 tonnes of Active Manuka Honey to customers in Asia, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Kuwait, with plans to export 90 tonnes-plus by 2020.

Her achievements were honoured on Friday night when Morrogh (Ngāti Kuri and Te Rarawa) received the Young Māori Business Leader Award in the 2017 University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards at a sold-out dinner. . . 

New $5 million earthquake fund for farmers and growers:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $5 million in new funding support for quake-struck farmers and growers.

The new Earthquake Recovery Fund will support projects that investigate long-term land use options and will also fund professional advisory services for future land use planning.

“The November earthquake has caused significant erosion and damage to land in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough regions. Farmers, growers and foresters are now faced with the challenge of determining what to do with their land going forward and this fund is designed to help with those decisions,” says Mr Guy.

The fund is designed to provide support to farmers and growers in two different ways, depending on their needs. . . 

Entertaining evening on wellbeing coming to Kaikoura:

Take a night off on Wednesday 24 May – Farmstrong and the Rural Support Trust are inviting you to find out how healthy thinking can help you live well, and if you are in farming, to farm well too.

The free event will kick off with a free bite to eat before medical doctor and author, Dr Tom Mullholland, shares his simple and practical Healthy Thinking tools to help you manage the ups and downs that come with rural life.

“The stress that people have been under from the earthquakes alongside those in high-pressure professions such as farming, can take a toll on our wellbeing,” Farmstrong spokesperson Gerard Vaughan says. . . 

Country’s top bull breeders celebrated:

Some of the country’s top bull breeders came together in Hamilton this week  to celebrate their contribution to the next generation of elite genetics for the New Zealand dairy industry.

Breeders from all over the country (listed below) attended LIC’s Breeders’ Day after supplying a bull calf to the co-operative which went on to form part of the 2016 Premier Sires artificial breeding bull teams. The teams are responsible for approximately three out of four dairy cows being milked on New Zealand dairy farms.

LIC chairman and Nelson dairy farmer, Murray King, said the event recognises a partnership that secures a productive future for the average kiwi dairy farm, the New Zealand dairy industry and New Zealand economy. . . 

Fired-up tourism infrastructure fund appreciated:

Farmers and other ratepayers in tourist hotspots will be pleased the Government has upped the ante in co-funding new infrastructure, Federated Farmers local government spokesman Katie Milne says.

“Earlier this year Federated Farmers described a $12 million regional tourism infrastructure fund to help councils cope with tens of thousands of freedom campers as ‘a damp tea towel on a bonfire’.

“It seems the Government has heard our message, and that of others, and called out the fire brigade,” Katie says. . . 

Another Feds’ success at Dairy Woman Awards:

Federated Farmers is delighted that Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Jessie Chan Dorman was crowned 2017 Dairy Woman of the Year.

Jessie received the prestigious award at a ceremony in Queenstown last night (Thursday). She follows in the footsteps of Federated Farmers’ Board Member Katie Milne who was a previous winner in 2015. . . 


Just a Little extra tax

April 3, 2017

The ink is barely dry on the Labour and Green Parties’ attempt to convince voters they won’t overtax and overspend which includes a promise for no tax increases.

But Andrew Little is already calling for a new tax:

Labour leader Andrew Little wants a “tourist tax” charged at the border to help pay for tourism infrastructure, rejecting Tourism Minister Paula Bennett’s concerns it risked making New Zealand look like a “rip-off.”

Little said a “modest” levy would be ring-fenced to pass on to local councils to use on tourism-related infrastructure. . . 

On Friday Rob Hosking pointed out the difficulty with the Labour-Green framework:

The real question is about the other promises Labour and the Greens are making and how these might fit within that framework.

The short answer is, they don’t.

The ability to fund free tertiary education and start payments into the NZ Superannuation Fund alone will test the limits of that framework. Those two policies alone will cost literally billions of dollars.

That is going to make it difficult to fit within one of the other joists in the Labour-Green fiscal framework: keeping government spending at around 30% of GDP.

One of these things is sheer spin: either the promises of new spending policies or the fiscal framework itself.

Take your pick.

Little’s suggestion of a new tax just days after the attempt to convince us of the Labour and Greens fiscal prudence has shot a very big hole in the framework.

There is a case for more spending on tourism infrastructure but Lincoln University professor of Tourism David Simmons has calculated that the government made a $630m surplus once tourism related costs – such as those for Tourism New Zealand and Department of Conservation visitor services – were deducted from the GST take.

We don’t need a new tax, whether it’s levied on New Zealanders or visitors.

A new tax is a tax increase by another name. That Little is considering the idea shows how flimsy the fiscal framework is.


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