Rural round-up

September 5, 2017

NOSLaM meeting: 

Randall Aspinall, from Mt Aspiring Station, will speak at a North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group meeting at Five Forks on Thursday.

He will discuss the challenges of being a high country farmer in the Wanaka area and share lessons that had been learned.

NOSLaM was revived several years ago by a group of farmers who were keen to improve water quality and promote good pastoral management practices. . .

Water scheme grew from ground up – Hamish MacLean,

In the 1950s, rural water schemes sprang up in North Otago but the 1989 local government reform, and then progressively stringent legislation aimed to improve drinking-water standards, started to take the control of water schemes away from the farmers who used them.

This winter, after a three-year trial, a community-led non-profit company signed a five-year agreement with the Waitaki District Council to manage four rural water schemes from the grass-roots, Hamish MacLean reports.

Corriedale Water Management Ltd was formed when the Waitaki District Council rewrote its water bylaw four years ago.

A “fundamental” philosophical difference separated the way its users wanted to operate and the way council-owned water schemes were expected to work, chairman Bill Malcolm, of Airedale, said. . .

Does OAD lift productivity?:

In their quest to increase six-week in-calf rates, a growing number of farmers are looking at once-a-day (OAD) milking as a way to improve herd reproductive performance. How effective is this strategy?

The success of taking this approach depends on how long cows are milked OAD before mating. It’s important to note that the benefits of whole-season (or full lactation) OAD on herd reproduction don’t necessarily translate to the use of short-term OAD milking around mating. . . 

Vivid flavones from a vivid country – Joelle Thomson:

Wine writer Jamie Goode says simplicity is key in communicating New Zealand wine to global markets.

The British blogger visited New Zealand to speak at the country’s second Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference in Marlborough in June this year. His message was emphatic.

“You will maintain an edge in international markets by sticking to a simple clear marketing message going forward in the same way as you have done in the past with Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. It’s consistent, reliable and there are no nasty surprises. . .

ExportNZ has released its manifesto for the 2017 election:

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard says exporting is critical for the economy and voters should choose a Government that supports trade.

“The single biggest policy issue is whether there is support for TPP-11 and other key potential trade deals. These have the best practical ability to grow jobs and incomes,” Catherine Beard said.
Exporters wanted to see a Government keeping the pressure off the New Zealand dollar by balancing the budget and keeping interest rates low through a focused target on inflation. . .

Export vital for New Zealand’s prosperity:

Support for TPP11 and the wider trade agenda by the incoming government is crucial for New Zealand now and in the future, says the EMA.

The need to speed up the growth of exporting was one of the key recommendations in the EMA 2017 Election Manifesto.

“As a nation we rely heaving on trade for jobs and growth. With a population the size of ours, we need a vibrant exporting sector for New Zealand’s prosperity, says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA. . .

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Rural round-up

September 4, 2017

Eradication is still doable MPI says – Annette Scott:

Officials expect to decide by the end of the year whether the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis can be eradicated.

The disease, identified on a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farm in South Canterbury in July, had now been traced to six farms including four van Leeuwen farms, one North Otago farm believed to be a calf rearing operation and a lifestyle block at Sefton in North Canterbury.

A fourth community meeting in North Otago on Thursday attracted a crowd of 160 people full of questions. . . 

Urgent need to train rural GPs – Eileen Goodwin:

A decade before Waikato University sparked a public debate on a third medical school, a far-sighted Queenstown GP set up a Rural Medical Immersion Programme to try to fill rural health shortages. Health reporter Eileen Goodwin talks to those involved.

The trust founded to further his brother’s legacy fostering rural health may be redundant when a new rural school of medicine is established, John Farry says. Mr Farry, of Dunedin, chairman of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust, hopes the new school will be awarded to the University of Otago under its joint bid with Auckland. He did not want to see it set up as a new medical school, such as that sought by the University of Waikato. . .

Water Conservation Orders should be abolished says Feds:

Federated Farmers is calling for Water Conservation Orders (WCO) to be abolished because they are no longer relevant and a relic of the past.

Under the Resource Management Act (RMA), the Orders are limited and do not acknowledge farming, horticulture, beverages, manufacturing, and access for human and livestock drinking.

The Federation says the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management has superseded the Orders and made the legislation no longer fitting for future challenges around water conservation. . . 

Farm sector welcomes TPP resuscitation talks:

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) of Australia and Federated Farmers of New Zealand say moves to bring into force the bulk of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is good news for both Australian and New Zealand farm exports.

In Sydney this week, officials from Australia and New Zealand concluded three days of talks with chief negotiators from the other nine TPP countries.

The aim of the talks was to push forward on the development of a ‘regional trade pact’ following the United States’ withdrawal from negotiations earlier this year. . . 

Landcorp back in the black as valuations swing in its favour:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming reported a full-year profit as the state-owned farmer recog-nised a jump in the value of livestock and benefited from strong market prices.

Profit was $51.9 million in the year ended June 30, more than four times the $11.5 million it earned a year earlier. Revenue rose 11 percent to $233.5 million while expenses rose 3.3 percent, which included costs related to the end of its sharemilking contract with Shanghai Pengxin, the company said.

The results include a $20 million increase in the value of livestock, “reflecting strong market prices” while the year-earlier result carried an unrealised loss of $24.8 million on land and improvements. The operating profit in the latest year was about $5.7 million, within its guidance range of between $2 million and $7 million, from a year-earlier loss of $9.4 million. . . 

Terms of trade just shy of all-time high:

Record butter prices and high prices for meat helped lift the merchandise terms of trade by 1.5 percent in the June 2017 quarter, Stats NZ said today. This was just shy of the all-time high set 44 years ago in the June 1973 quarter.

Terms of trade is a measure of the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and an indicator of the state of the overall economy. The 1.5 percent rise in the June quarter means New Zealand can buy 1.5 percent more imports for the same amount of exports.

“The 1.5 percent rise in terms of trade in the June quarter follows a 3.9 percent increase in the March 2017 quarter,” prices senior manager Jason Attewell said today. “Because the March provisional quarter was revised down from 5.1 percent, the terms of trade didn’t quite reach the record high as expected, but it is very close.” . . 

NZ’s Top Butcher Announced:

The nation’s top butcher and butcher apprentice have been announced this evening at one of the most anticipated events on the meat industry calendar.

Reuben Sharples from Aussie Butcher New Lynn has been named Alto Butcher of the Year and Samantha Weller from New World Rangiora took out the title of Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year.

Following three highly competitive regional competitions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, 10 finalists from each category went head to head in the Grand Final held at Shed 10 in Auckland earlier today. . . 

T&G Global secures exclusive commercialisation rights for blueberry varieties in Australia:

T&G Global has become the license holder of a suite of 16 proprietary blueberry varieties in Australia, allowing it to better deliver to growing demand for berry fruit worldwide.

The exclusive agreement represents one of the biggest collections of proprietary commercial and pre-commercial blueberry varieties in the world and is the result of an agreement between T&G and Plant & Food Research in New Zealand. The arrangement includes varieties developed by Plant & Food Research and a collection of premium varieties from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in Oregon, USA, for which Plant & Food Research holds the Australian licensing rights. . . 

Farmers feed cities. Support your local farmer before the Labour Party sens him/her out of business.


Let’s not play the blame game

September 3, 2017

Wise words from Derek Daniell:

“The Blame Game
The 2017 election campaign is heating up, and the Blame Game is at fever pitch. Farmers are an easy target for those playing the Blame Game. The accusations of poor land and water use are coming thick and fast. It’s time to level the playing field.

80 PERCENT OF TOWNS AND CITIES ARE NON COMPLIANT WITH WATER QUALITY REGULATIONS.

ESTIMATED COST TO MEET REGULATIONS? $7 BILLION.

You can swim safely in the Waikato river upstream of Hamilton, but not below, according to an ex-mayor of that city.

A recent exposee in the Dominion Post revealed that the streams around Wellington city are largely devoid of life, because of urban pollution.

$7 Billion?

Much of the animal farming around the world is done in a feedlot situation: pigs, chickens, farmed fish, most of the dairy cows, some beef cattle. It’s more efficient for purposes of feeding and effluent disposal.

Cities are people feedlots. Cities have the same advantages as animal feedlots for concentrated supply lines of food and water, and also for effluent disposal. But the concentration of effluent, and other rubbish, requires expensive solutions. When is urban New Zealand going to get serious about tackling the $7 billion makeover of non compliant waste water systems?

Are we at the party or are we on the menu?

• Rather than exclusively blaming farmers, concerned citizens should be asking, “What’s been happening in New Zealand farming over the past forty years?”
• Since 1980 there has been a huge reduction in the number of sheep, down from a peak of 70 million to just 27 million. From 2005 to 2015 total stock units of dairy and beef cattle, sheep and deer dropped 8 percent.
• Each sheep, dairy cow, and beef animal is being farmed more efficiently, on average, with reduced carbon emissions per unit of product. Pastoral exports earn around $20 billion, or more than 40 percent of New Zealand’s traded total. The prosperity of all New Zealanders is derived mainly from the land and sea, which delivers more than 70 percent of exported product revenue. 
• Tourism is touted as an important earner of overseas exchange, but a high percentage of that revenue is needed to offset the money spent by New Zealanders travelling abroad. 
• Dairy farmers have spent on average around $100,000 each on protecting the environment, more than $100m total. 
• Over 3,000 QE2 covenants have been set aside by private landowners, many of them farmers, since 1979. QE2 covenants now total over 180,000 hectares, and there are five hundred more covenants in the pipeline. 
• Fish and Game plays holier than thou, yet is responsible for ruining the ecological balance in our rivers and streams with introduced fish species. The organisation is also responsible for introducing Canadian geese, now declared a noxious pest, and for introducing the Mallard duck, which has made the native Grey Duck almost extinct. Fish and Game is still protected by an Act of Parliament. That protection should be removed immediately. 
• Why don’t environmental lobby groups target Fish and Game or urban people? They get their funding largely from urban dwellers, and Fish and Game adds to the united attack on relatively defenceless targets like farmers. A proportion of any population enjoys a jihad, the opportunity to force their views on others.

Disappearing land

The Beef and Lamb Economic Service estimate that 4.05 million hectares, or 35 percent, of land has been lost to sheep and beef since 1990. Of that total, 950,000 hectares has been converted to dairying or dairy support, 377,000 hectares went to forestry, a big area was retired to DOC estate, 180,000 hectares has been covenanted to QE2 since 1979(with more on the way), some poorer hill country reverted to scrub/bush/ weeds, and smaller areas changed to viticulture/horticulture/ lifestyle blocks/Manuka/urban sprawl. Pastoral farming has been reduced to only 40 percent of the land area in New Zealand.

Disappearing animals

The ruminant animal population of New Zealand has shrunk since the Rio Earth Summit in 1990. An estimate that 48 percent of New Zealand’s Green House Gas emissions come from ruminant animals is out of date. And there is a solution at hand: a recently trialled feed additive has resulted in a reduction of up to 50 percent in methane emissions relative to increased productivity. This additive has the effect of improving the efficiency of the rumen “from 50 to 60 percent”, in the words of the leading scientist, and also significantly increases milk value from the same volume of feed.

Too many people?

Meanwhile the human population has grown from 3.5 to 4.8 million, a 37 PERCENT INCREASE. It is the increase in the human population which is causing New Zealand to miss its targets on saving the Earth. And talking of population, why doesn’t New Zealand have a policy around it? New Zealand is one of the few uncrowded countries in the world. One estimate has New Zealand’s potential human stocking rate at 40 million. Where would you like to see it?

Is five million people a good fit? Our population will be there some time in 2020.

What will we think with 2020 hindsight?”

We all want clean water.

We all want good quality food.

Playing the blame game widens the rural-urban divide. It doesn’t solve any problems.


Rural round-up

August 31, 2017

South Canterbury coastal plan will become operative in September – Elena McPhee:

A change to coastal South Canterbury’s farming rules will come into force next month and despite an initial challenge, farmers say they are now looking forward to helping protect a nationally significant wetland area.

The South Coastal Canterbury Plan Change addresses both water quality and water quantity in the catchment, which includes Wainono Lagoon.

Environment Canterbury councillor Peter Skelton said the schedule set out good farming practices relating to nutrient management, irrigation management, grazing intensively-farmed stock, farm cultivation, and animal effluent. . .

‘Retirement’ is apples for Murray – Yvonne O’Hara:

Former Alexandra retailer Murray Bell has given up heels and soles for Honeycrisp and Jazz.

Mr Bell, 63, retired from his shoe retailing business earlier this year, but relaxing with his feet up has yet to happen.

He and partner Rachel Samuel have Crag-an-oir Orchard, which is 15ha of apple trees on the outskirts of Alexandra.

They originally grew some apricots, but they now focus solely on growing several apple varieties, using organic principles. The orchard is certified under BioGro as part of the Springvale Apple Growers Partnership. . .

TracMap gets room to expand:

TracMap founder Colin Brown addresses the crowd at the opening of the company’s new offices in Dukes Rd, Mosgiel, last week.

The company supplies precision guidance systems to the primary food production industries with the cloud-based system allowing accurate task management and placement reporting for products, people and vehicles in-field. . .

Agrifood sector is tech-savvy but not ready for major disruption:

A new agrifood sector report has found that New Zealand farmers have been quick to adopt smart farming techniques, but few are preparing for major technological disruption.

The report, funded through Microsoft’s Academic Programs initiative and prepared by researchers from the Massey Business School, examined the impact of cloud computing and other potentially disruptive technologies on the sector.

Researchers interviewed both technologists and members of the agrifood industry – and found there was a gap between how the two groups perceive the future. . . 

Red Stag Timber plans to lift production from its Waipa ‘super mill’ to meet demand – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Red Stag Timber, which developed New Zealand’s first ‘super mill’ a year ago, plans to step up production next year to meet demand in its local and overseas markets.

The Rotorua-based Waipa Mill increased its production of sawn timber to an annual 550,000 cubic metres from 450,000 cubic metres after investing over $100 million in more efficient machinery, transforming the mill, and plans to lift production further to 600,000 cubic metres from next year, general manager Tim Rigter told BusinessDesk in an interview at the Waipa State Mill Road site. . . 

Telco minnow joins giants by winning rural broadband contract:

A no-frills approach has seen Hawke’s Bay-based rural wireless broadband company AoNet Broadband successfully compete with the giants of the industry to win a slice of the Government’s latest rural broadband funding package.

Telecommunications Minister Simon Bridges today announced AoNet Broadband as the Wireless Internet Service Provider for the King Country, making it responsible for connecting homes over an area that includes remote and mountainous terrain.

The appointment is part of a $150 million funding package for telco companies to partner with the Government through Crown Fibre Holdings Limited (CFH) to bring better broadband and mobile services to an increased number of under-served rural areas, state highways, businesses, residents and tourists in New Zealand. . . 

First chilled meat shipments to China – Allan Barber:

According to a press release from SFF the company’s first sea container leaves this week for arrival early next month, claimed by the company to be the first sea freight consignment of chilled product to the Chinese market which has only recently opened up to New Zealand meat exporters. However, I have since been informed that the first shipment from Greenlea arrived on 18th August and a chilled container of AFFCO product is already on the water, arriving on Friday 1st September, with a container of chilled mutton being shipped next week.

According to SFF’s press release the company has already trialled small quantities of chilled beef cuts to food service distributors for high end restaurants and lamb cuts to a multinational supermarket chain. But the sea shipment is planned to test the port and supply chain protocols for large scale consignments of chilled product. . . 

Swiss meat is expensive in dollars, cheap in minutes – Catherine Bosley:

Swiss meat prices are pretty hard to stomach at first glance.

At $49.68, Switzerland tops the ranking for a kilogram of beef leg round. Yet that seemingly eye-watering sum – around 150 percent higher than the world average – gets more reasonable when you factor in what locals get paid: An unskilled worker needs just 3.1 hours to afford it.

The 2017 Meat Price Index is a foray into the study of relative price levels of goods and labor. According to publisher Caterwings, the cost of beef, fish, chicken, pork and lamb in each country’s biggest cities were compared to the minimum wage and then calculations were run for affordability. In those where there is no federal statutory minimum, it used the average pay for unskilled labor. . . 

Allied Farmers posts 60% lift in full-year profit as livestock division outperforms – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Rural services firm Allied Farmers reported a 60 percent lift in net profit on an improved result from its livestock division, particularly in the second half, and further cost reduction.

The Hawera-based company said net profit was $2.2 million in the year ended June 30 versus $1.4 million in the prior year. Pretax earnings were up 52 percent to $2.4 million, which was ahead of the guidance it gave in June when it forecast a 40 percent gain. . . 

 


Bring dreams alive, see small hopes grow bigger

August 27, 2017

National Party leader and Prime Minister Bill English’s speech to the party’s campaign launch today:

It’s great to see such a marvelous crowd. And a sea of blue.

Welcome to National’s campaign for Election 2017!

Thank you Nikki and Paula for those wonderful introductions.

And a special thanks to my daughter Maria for the way she sang our national anthem.

Maria, everyone here was glad it was you instead of me. I did offer!

Can I also acknowledge my son Xavier who is here today. Also my sons Luke, Tom, Rory and Bart. You all make be very proud.

I also want to thank my wonderful wife, Mary – thank you for everything. 

Mary’s worked out that the best way to spend time with me these days is to join me on stage at our campaign launch.

Hers is the story of many new New Zealanders.

Her families came to this country from Italy and Samoa on the promise of a better life. And they found it through community and family.

They instilled in their 13 children the value of hard work and personal responsibility.

Mary is now a doctor, a business owner, a volunteer and a fantastic mother of six kids.

Like most parents, Mary’s mum and dad worked hard to ensure their children had better prospects than they did.

Their success makes me proud of my country.

And that’s what this election campaign is all about.

It’s a campaign for every New Zealander who wants to bring their dreams to life.
Who wants to see their small hopes grow bigger.

Who wants the New Zealand of the 2020s to be confident, successful and prosperous.

It’s a campaign for Kiwis who are prepared to work hard and back themselves.
To all of you, I say this:

National…stands…with you.

We’re a party delivering for New Zealanders.

We share your ambition for the future.

We have always known this election would be close. That’s how it is under MMP.
On our side, we have a strong record of proven success and a confident vision to take New Zealand forward.

We have the best team.

We have MPs who listen to their communities.

We have Ministers with great ideas for making this country even better.

And we have new candidates passionate about our future.

But most importantly we have you – our volunteers and supporters.

You make us strong.

You make us united.

And you’re making New Zealand a better place.

Together, we’re creating a strong and growing country.

We are now a nation of opportunities for all.

Opportunities to build success for our families.

Opportunities to deliver on the potential of each and every New Zealander – providing we stay on track.

We will not squander these opportunities New Zealanders have worked so hard to create.

Remember just how far we’ve come together.

Since 2008 we’ve faced a recession, the global financial crisis and devastating earthquakes.

The economy shrank, unemployment rose sharply, and we faced large deficits and spiralling debt.

Fast forward to 2017. We now have one of the best performing economies in the world and the books are in surplus.

Under National, families up and down New Zealand are reaping the deserved rewards of that turnaround.

Over 180,000 new jobs have been created in the past two years and unemployment is the lowest since the GFC.

The average annual wage is up $13,000 since we took office, that’s twice the rate of inflation.

New Zealanders recognise progress when they see it.

In 2008, a stadium full of New Zealanders was leaving for Australia every single year.

Our children and grandchildren were heading for the departure lounge in search of better opportunities.

Not anymore. 

For the first time in a generation, more people are moving to New Zealand from Australia than going the other way.

That’s what success looks like and I’m proud of it.

New Zealanders’ hard work is helping the economy to grow.

But on its own, a growing economy is not enough.

Because National understands the pressures of running a household, paying the bills and saving a bit for a rainy day.

We’re making sure families are rewarded for their hard work and can see the benefits of growth flowing into their households.

And National is focused on making that happen.

Take a young couple, each on the average wage and looking to buy their first home.

Since 2008, their joint income has gone up by $26,000 a year.

And next April, they’ll get another $2000 boost from our Family Incomes Package – something Labour opposes.

And if we get re-elected, we want to do that sort of package again.

We’re also helping them get into that first house.

If they’ve been in KiwiSaver for five years, a combination of government grants and their own KiwiSaver would mean they have $50,000 to put towards a house.

Add in our Welcome Home Loan programme, and they would need to save another $10,000 to have enough for a deposit for a $600,000 home.

Or take a retired couple on New Zealand Super.

Since National came into office, their Super payments have gone up by 25 per cent – or $6000 a year.

From next April, they’ll receive another $680 a year on top of the normal increase as a result of our Family Incomes Package – cash Labour would take away from them.

Superannuation is based on after-tax income. When taxes go down, superannuation goes up.

And if they don’t have much other income on top of Super, they’ll now be eligible for an $18 GP visit from next July – saving them money every time they go.
That’s how National really is helping families.

Under National’s strong economic plan, we’re also building the houses, roads, schools, hospitals and broadband needed by our growing communities.

We’re investing to get our school leavers ready for work and to ensure our health services are world class.

We’re providing more police on the beat to keep our communities safer.

We’re lifting thousands of children out of poverty every year. And by one measure, our Family Incomes Package will reduce child poverty by 30 per cent.

We’re investing to improve our environment and protect our beautiful landscapes and fresh water and meet our climate change targets.

And we’re backing Kiwis to succeed on the world stage.

That’s why we’re leading the charge to finalise the TPP – because our exporters are world beaters when they’re given the chance.

The great thing is, if we stay on course we can do even better.

New Zealanders are ambitious for themselves and National is ambitious for them.
So in 27 days, voters will have an important choice.

A choice between two very different visions for New Zealand.

National’s plan to keep New Zealand moving forward – a confident plan for a confident country.

A strong National team energised by new ideas. A team that’s open to trade, open to investment, and knows how an economy works.

Or an unstable, untested group on the left that would risk it all with unpredictable and unclear policies.

Take the Labour Party, their policies have two things in common – working groups and more taxes.

Do you want a water tax?

Do you want a new petrol tax?

Do you want a new capital gains tax?

Do you want higher income taxes?

And nor do I.

Hard working New Zealanders aren’t an ATM for the Labour Party.

Labour wants to turn its back on Kiwi businesses and families, and add more taxes that would slow our economy and make it harder to compete in the world – just when we’re getting good at it.

Here’s the thing: we don’t need more taxes, if we manage the government finances well.

National focus on how well spending works, not on how much is spent, aiming for the quality of the spend not the quantity.

When forecasts show on-going taxes there is no need for new or higher taxes.

Unlike them, I back New Zealanders.

I believe in the Kiwi character, that when people make their own decisions and take responsibility they can and will succeed.

Here’s what I mean.

Recently, I met a determined young woman who lives with a condition that means her joints can dislocate with the slightest movement.

Her story had a big impact on me.

Diagnosed at 23, she was contemplating a painful and difficult life ahead.

Then she came across a new programme called Enabling Good Lives – National’s partnership between government and people with disabilities.

It’s about helping people one by one – giving those who want it more choice and control over their support, so they can choose what’s best for them.

It gives them the dignity of being responsible for themselves.

This young woman told me life is 10 times better because she’s living the way she wants.

Today, she is working as an advisor in the disability sector and speaks about the difference this approach has made in her life, and how she wants others have the same opportunity.

There are thousands more New Zealanders like her.

National respects their capacities and will enable them to have better lives.

Through our social investment programme, we’re changing lives person by person, family by family and community by community.

For example, we’ve set a target to reduce the number of children admitted to hospital with preventable conditions like rheumatic fever.

So now when a child turns up at the hospital with bronchial problems, we expect someone will be sent to their house to sort out problems with curtains, insulation and heating.

Another example is young mothers.

Too many don’t get the help offered by Plunket or GPs because they move house, they don’t answer the phone or they’re in hiding because of domestic violence.

I’m committed to changing the system from hoping those young mothers will turn up looking for help, to going out and finding solutions that work for them.
Moving from servicing misery to reducing it.

We’ll continue to expect personal responsibility and accountability.

In return, we’ll treat people with respect.

Our approach is about faster action, more trust and less bureaucracy.

And we can look taxpayers in the eye and tell them we’re investing their money well because it’s getting results.

Results like a 60 per cent reduction in teen parents on a benefit.

And 60,000 fewer children live in benefit dependent households because their parents can get jobs in our strong economy.

This is more than a plan.

It’s a mission.

And I’m committed to it because when we change lives, we change our country.
We reduce child poverty.

We help more families to live independently.

And we keep more children safe from violence.

National is turning ideals into practical results for people.

As proud of I am of getting our country’s books in order and back into surplus, that’s not what gets me out of bed in the morning.

What drives me is helping all New Zealanders achieve their goals and improve their lives.

What drives me is ensuring every child who grows up in our country has every opportunity to succeed.

We don’t give up on any of them. There’s always a way forward.

National is especially focused on education.

Isn’t Nikki Kaye doing a fantastic job as Education Minister?

She’s passionate about every child getting the opportunity to reach their potential, no matter what their background.

And she will do whatever it takes to deliver a New Zealand that’s open, ambitious and confident about the future.

We owe it to our children that they leave school equipped to succeed.

Every single child matters – they matter to their family, to their community and to our country.

And they certainly matter to me.

So National has put students at the centre of everything we do in education.

It’s working. Around 85 per cent of 18-year olds now get NCEA Level 2 – up from less than 70 per cent in 2008.

The improvement among Māori students is even better. Three out of every four Māori students now achieve NCEA Level 2. A few years ago, it was around half.

National is working hard for students and parents to build on those achievements.

We’ve increased the number of students who start school ready to learn by increasing early childhood participation to 97 per cent.

We’re sharing teaching expertise through our Communities of Learning.

And last month, we confirmed we’ll replace decile ratings with better targeted funding for kids at the greatest risk of not achieving.

Students from a decile 1 school recently told me what they thought of those ratings.

They said they were tired of having to explain why they aren’t useless.

No young New Zealander’s aspirations should be limited by a decile rating, and we will remove them.

National has also introduced National Standards, allowing parents and teachers to share valuable insights about every child’s learning.

Labour wants to abolish National Standards and prevent parents from getting that information.

I know from personal experience – quite a lot of it actually – just how valuable it was to get feedback about how my kids did at school.

All of these changes are improving achievement by our students.

But we can do even better.

We can do even more to help our young people embrace new technology, find new ideas, create new ways of working and build stronger global connections.

Nothing can replace the thousands of motivated, professional teachers who care for and educate our children.

But we can improve the tools they use and the support we give them.
So today, I’m announcing that National will implement a targeted four-point education package – costing $379 million.

Digital learning for senior students, more resources for maths, and a guarantee that all primary school students will be able to learn a second language if they choose to.

And we’ll make it even easier for parents to track how their children are doing at school, through an expansion of National Standards.

Let me talk you through the package.

First, we want our young people to have the best opportunity to take advantage of new technology – to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Rod Drury or Frances Valintine.

So we’ll invest $48 million to introduce exciting new digital learning opportunities for Year 12 and 13 students.

Each year, new Digital Academies will offer 1000 students specialised, IT-focused learning. They’ll be similar to our Trades Academies, and they’ll be just as successful.

And new Digital Internships will provide mentoring and tailored learning from businesses for 500 year 12 and 13 students, a pathway between skills gained in the classroom and real IT careers.

The second part of our announcement today is a $126 million investment to raise maths achievement for primary school students.

National Standards show we need to lift our game in maths. So we’ll provide our students and teachers with the tools they need to do that.

We’ll help 1200 teachers a year complete extra university papers targeted at teaching maths to primary students.

We’ll also provide intensive classroom support for students, where schools have identified the need to improve their maths.

That’s all alongside extra funding for classroom resources like digital apps.

If we want our children to succeed on the world stage, from this small country at the bottom of the globe, they need to be good cross-cultural communicators.

So the third part of our package is a $160 million investment to give all primary school children the opportunity to learn a second language, if they choose.

Schools will choose from at least 10 priority languages, which we expect to include Mandarin, French, Spanish, Japanese and Korean, along with Te Reo and New Zealand Sign Language.

Finally, I can confirm that a new National-led Government will update National Standards, so families have more comprehensive and more timely information about their children’s achievements in the classroom.

It will be called National Standards Plus.

National Standards has successfully set clear expectations about what every student needs to achieve in reading, writing and maths.

It provides a valuable snap-shot of how your child has performed across the year.
National Standards Plus will build on this by allowing you and your child to track their progress in more detail, online, as it happens.

We will show you your child’s progress on your mobile phone.

Some schools have already rolled out tools that support this approach.

I’ve met these children.
It was amazing meeting a little 10-year old who sat me down and showed me how much he’d achieved in the last month and what he would learn next.

I want to see that for every child in every school.

By moving the reporting online, the new system will help our hardworking teachers by streamlining their paperwork and allowing them to focus more of their time on teaching.

And teachers will have better information at their fingertips to help them develop the individual learning paths they already create for students.

National is always looking to the future.

Our teachers and schools work so hard to create opportunities for our children and these measures will further help more of our kids reach their potential.

Ladies and gentlemen.

National is a party of fresh ideas for a confident and outward-looking New Zealand.

A country that’s moving forward and heading in the right direction.

But to be in the National Party is to never be finished.

To never be satisfied.

To take nothing for granted.

And to never stop working.

That’s my pledge to you, and that’s my pledge to New Zealanders: to never stop working alongside you to make our country even better.

So over the next four weeks, I’ll be talking – and listening – to New Zealanders about our country’s future.

National has a strong team with a confident plan to keep New Zealand heading in the right direction.

We will fight hard for every single vote.

Will you join me?

We have a clear message: If you want a growing economy – party vote National!

If you want an economy that can afford world leading hospitals, schools, roads and public transport – party vote National!

If you want higher wages and better jobs – party vote National!

If you want to raise family incomes – party vote National!

And, if you want to secure your future and New Zealand’s future – on 23 September, party vote National!


Rural round-up

August 16, 2017

Paying for water should be a consistent policy:

A consistent policy on water for everyone is required, says BusinessNZ.

An ad hoc policy on water charging would be prone to political manipulation, with regions, councils and businesses all lobbying for favourable royalty regimes, BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said.

“Business needs an agreed, consistent water policy that applies to all water users and where rights to use water are tradable, fairly apportioned and can be known in advance.

“It would not be helpful for business to have to operate and make investment decisions in an environment where the cost of water is determined on an ad hoc, changing basis. . . 

Unwanted, Unknown, Unnecessary – Labour’s New Water Tax on Auckland’s Rural Northwest:

The water tax recently proposed by Labour would deliver a sharp blow to the economy of Auckland’s rural northwest, says National’s candidate for Helensville, Chris Penk.

“It’s unwanted because farmers, horticulturalists and viticulturists provide a significant number of jobs in the region … and slapping them with a water tax would completely undermine this growth. And the inevitable price rises for consumers would hardly be welcome either.”

“It’s unknown because Labour aren’t saying what they’d actually charge. There’s almost no detail associated with the threatened tax, even on such key aspects as how much it’d be and where the money would go.” . . 

The realities of Mycoplasma bovis – Keith Woodford:

The recent outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis in South Canterbury has come as a shock to all dairy farmers. It is a disease that most New Zealand farmers had never heard of.

Regardless of whether or not the current outbreak can be contained, and the disease then eradicated, the ongoing risks from Mycoplasma bovis are going to have a big effect on the New Zealand dairy industry.

If the disease is contained and eradicated, then the industry and governmental authorities will need to work out better systems to prevent re-entry from overseas. And if the disease is not eradicated, then every farmer will have to implement new on-farm management strategies to minimise the effects. . . 

Slowing supply growth to impact NZ dairy supply chain – new industry report:

New Zealand dairy processors will struggle to fill existing and planned capacity in coming years as milk supply growth slows, leading to more cautious investment in capacity over the next five years, according to a new report from Rabobank.

The report Survive or Thrive – the Future of New Zealand Dairy 2017-2022 explains that capital expenditure in new processing assets stepped up between 2013 and 2015, but capacity construction has run ahead of recent milk supply growth and appears to factor in stronger milk supply growth than what Rabobank anticipates.

Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins says milk supply has stumbled over the past couple of production seasons and, while the 2017/18 season is likely to bring a spike in milk production of two to three per cent, Rabobank expects the brakes to be applied and milk production growth to slow to or below two per cent for the following four years. . . 

Synlait Milk says US approval for ‘grass-fed’ infant formula will take longer –  Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the NZX-listed milk processor, said regulatory approval for its ‘grass-fed’ infant formula in the US is taking longer than expected.

Rakaia-based Synlait is seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its ‘grass-fed’ infant formula to be sold in the world’s largest economy ahead of a launch of the product with US partner Munchkin Inc. The companies said in a statement today that the FDA process, which had been expected to be completed this year, is now expected to take a further four to 12 months. The stringent process, known as a New Infant Formula Notification (NIFN), includes a range of trials, audits and documentation. . . 

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd continues to grow:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says that during the past year, New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 2.8 per cent – to 3.6 million head – while the decline in the sheep flock slowed sharply as sheep numbers recovered in key regions after drought and other challenges.

The annual stock number survey conducted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service highlights the continued growth in beef production, as farmers move towards livestock that are less labour-intensive and currently more profitable. . . 

Grad vets encouraged to apply for funding:

Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston is encouraging graduate vets working in rural areas to apply for funding through the Vet Bonding Scheme.

Since the Scheme was launched in 2009, 227 graduates vets have helped address the ongoing shortages of vets working with production animals in rural areas of New Zealand.

“The 2014 People Powered report told us that by 2025, we need 33,300 more workers with qualifications providing support services, such as veterinary services, to the primary industries,” says Ms Upston. . . .

Production and profit gains catalyst for joining programme:

The opportunity to look at their farm system and strive to make production and profit gains was what spurred Alfredton farmers, James and Kate McKay, to become involved in the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

RMPP is a seven year Primary Growth Partnership programme aimed at driving sustainable productivity improvements in the sheep and beef sector to deliver higher on-farm profitability.

Encouraged by their ANZCO livestock rep, Ed Wallace, James and Kate joined the programme in 2015 and have had the opportunity to look at some key aspects of their farming system. This has included sitting down with local BakerAg consultant, Richmond Beetham, who has helped the McKays look at their ultimate goal of mating a 50kg hogget. Increasing weaning weights and looking to diversify their forages has also been a goal for the McKays. . . 

Fonterra Dairy Duo Claim Awards at Top International Cheese Show:

Two Fonterra NZMP cheeses have scooped silver awards at the prestigious international Cheese Awards held recently at Nantwich, UK.

One of the most important events in the global cheese calendar, the International Cheese Awards attracted a record 5,685 entries in categories that ranged from traditional farmhouse to speciality Scandinavian. Cheeses from the smallest boutiques to the largest cheese brands in the world vied for top honours in the Awards, now in their 120th year of competition. . . 

Dairy farmers spend over $1b on the environment:

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ have conducted a survey on New Zealand dairy farmers’ environmental investments, revealing an estimated spend of over $1billion over the past five years.

Five percent of the nation’s dairy farmers responded to the survey and reported on the environmental initiatives they had invested in such as effluent management, stock exclusion, riparian planting, upgrading systems and investing in technology, retiring land and developing wetlands. 

“It is encouraging to see the significant investments farmers are putting into protecting and improving the environment,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair. . . 

Criticism of farming gas emissions tells only half the story  – Paul Studholme:

It is imperative that political decisions on reacting to climate change are based on science, writes Waimate farmer Paul Studholme.

I write because of frustration with the sweeping generalisations and half-truths critical of the farming industry in this country that are presented by the mainstream media and environmental groups as facts.

One in particular, repeated frequently, is this: Farming produces more than half the greenhouse gases in New Zealand. This is only telling half the story or one side of the equation.

What is referred to here are the gases methane and carbon dioxide emitted by cattle and sheep. This is part of the carbon cycle. . .


Labour policy protects big multinational hits small locals

August 15, 2017

Water bottlers fear they’ll be put out of business if Labour’s water tax is applied:

Charging water exporters a per litre levy will penalise a small, struggling New Zealand industry and lead to company closures and job losses, say two Putaruru water bottlers. Aquasplash and NZ Quality Waters are united in their opposition to Labour’s proposed water policy and say it is unfair to cherry pick by industry.

“You should charge everyone who uses water for commercial purposes, or no one. As it stands, this policy would hit small exporters like us but wouldn’t affect the big multi-nationals who are using the same resources. At a time when people are upset about the lack of tax paid by companies such as Google and Apple, is this really a wise position to take?” says Aquasplash chief executive Mark Manson.

Labour has been a vocal critic of multinationals not paying enough tax yet they’re going to tax small local companies but not Coca Cola.

He and NZ Quality Waters General Manager Bruce Sherman agree, if the policy became law, many of the 27 water bottlers around the country could close. “It would hit the livelihood of the 370 people who work directly in the industry, plus a similar number indirectly. The majority of those 750 people work and live in rural economically depressed parts of the country. A lot of those jobs could disappear,” says Manson.

That’s a lot of jobs that would be lost from regions where alternative employment opportunities will be scarce.

Sherman adds: “Of the 213 billion litres of water consented for bottling, only 0.5% of that is used. A mere 26 million litres were exported in 2016, equivalent to just two minutes’ flow over the Huka Falls or one and a half hours’ consumption of water in Auckland.And why is so little water exported? Because there’s virtually no money in it. It’s a hugely competitive global industry and the offshore markets are swamped by the giants like Evian and Perrier. Our margins are already extremely low so an additional levy would see companies shut down.”

Manson adds: “Given a 10c per litre levy, and assuming everyone managed to stay in business, we’re talking about an extra $2.6 million a year into Government coffers. Is that worth it for a potential loss of 750 jobs and the extra WINZ benefits those people would then require?” He says Aquasplash’s contract with the South Waikato District Council allows it to take up to 200,000 litres per day from the Blue Spring. Currently it uses 35,000 litres per day. That equates to 0.4 litres per second, compared to the minimum flow through the Blue Spring of 700 litres per second. “Clearly, this is a very sustainable, well-monitored and well-controlled water supply.”

Manson and Sherman say, should Labour become the Government, they would welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue in-depth and help devise a fair and equitable system that protects New Zealand companies and jobs and does not let the multi-nationals off the hook. “For instance, we are interested in exploring the system used in Canada, where they charge a levy based on the number of litres you have consent for, rather than the actual amount of water taken. This encourages users to only ask for what they need, thus ensuring there is plenty available for other consents for other users. It also avoids anyone “stockpiling” consent volumes for commercial gain.”

Both Aquasplash and NZ Quality Waters are members of the New Zealand Beverage Council Water Bottlers’ Sub-committee, which is also opposed to Labour’s policy.

Rodney Hide is another to point out the inconsistencies and unfairness of Labour’s water tax:

Farmers are right to be worried about Labour’s plan to tax water.

The power to tax is the power to destroy and such a tax has the potential to tip a farm from profitability to bust. . . 

Of even more concern is a complete lack of any detail of how much the tax will be, how it will be applied, and what Labour is expecting to raise.

It’s hard to imagine a party heading into election promising, say, to tax cars without declaring what the tax will be or how much is expected to be taken.

The bare-bones announcement shows just how little farmers count in an election. They still drive the economy but matter little in politics.

Sad but true.

But even a small tax should be worrying. All taxes start out small. The principle is established and then the tax is ramped up. Whenever government is a bit short, up goes the tax. . .

A little bit of tax is like a little bit pregnant.

Of course, water should not be free. It’s a scarce and valuable resource. It’s also nonsense that its use is often subsidised. That’s bad both from an economic and an environmental viewpoint.

Rather than applying a blunt and damaging tax, it’d be better to allow tradeable water rights.

It’s not without precedent. A system operated excellently for the most valuable water in the country in central Otago for well over 100 years.

The Resource Management Act abolished these old rights in favour of government control and regulation. It was a huge loss.

Today’s system doesn’t provide any certainty and doesn’t confront users with the cost of their use.

It would be better to convert all existing water rights to perpetual rights and allow them to trade. That would get farmers onside – and it would price a valuable resource. It’d also keep environmentalists happy, if done right.

The only ones missing out would be politicians and bureaucrats who would not have the tax dollars to spend.

And there’s the issue: taxes are good for Wellington and bad for everyone else.

When there is room in projected surpluses for tax cuts, there is no need for new taxes, especially not ones as ill considered, inconsistent and unfair as Labour’s water tax.


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