Dairy prices trending back up

October 8, 2015

The price index increased 9.9% in yesterday’s  GlobalDairyTrade auction.

That’s the fourth good increase in a row, a positive and welcome trend after the run of sharp falls.


Whole milk powder, which has the biggest impact on the farmgate price, increased by 12.9%.




Although Fonterra has been offering smaller quantities at the auctions it says it isn’t stockpiling product and that it isn’t selling product elsewhere for less than the auciton price.

Dairy futures are also positive and an increase in the forecast payout is expected.

Any  improvement will be welcome but it will need to get above $6 before most farmers will make a surplus.


Quote of the day

October 8, 2015

FTAs aren’t solely about tariff elimination. They are also about the ability to trade with as few impediments as possible. In this respect, TPP looks comprehensive at first glance, with the promise to breakdown compliance and non-tariff barriers across the Pacific Rim. These benefits are significant, especially for smaller economies and companies. . . .

Closer connectivity with the major players on the trade and investment scene adds another string to our bow. The likes of the United States, Japan and Canada have some of the highest incomes and thus purchasing power of all countries. New Zealand isn’t the lowest cost producer in many sectors anymore and needs access better market access to wealthy consumers to capture margin, and to deliver on the “value-add” strategies that many sectors are pursuing. . . 

There is a raft of empirical evidence suggests trade liberalisation benefits overall welfare and lifts nationwide GDP, particularly for open trade dependent economies like New Zealand. Studies by the Peterson Institute suggested that the gains to New Zealand from TPP would cumulate to around 2% of GDP by 2025. Some of the numbers being bandied around by Government officials look a little on the high side, but considering the surge in two-way trade between New Zealand and China following the signing of the FTA less than a decade ago it leaves little doubt as to benefits on overall trade (and GDP) from increasing trade liberalisation. . . ANZ

Hat tip: Kiwiblog

Quote of the day

October 7, 2015

John Key's photo.

Trade is incredibly important to NZ. As a country, we won’t get rich selling things to ourselves. – John Key

NZ’s biggest trade deal

October 6, 2015

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – New Zealand’s biggest free trade agreement.

“This agreement will give our exporters much better access to a market of more than 800 million customers in 11 countries across Asia and the Pacific, and help Kiwi firms do business overseas,” Mr Key says.

“In particular, TPP represents New Zealand’s first FTA relationship with the largest and third-largest economies in the world – the United States and Japan. Successive New Zealand governments have been working to achieve this for 25 years.”

TPP has been a significant focus for the National-led Government, as part of its wider plan to diversify the economy by building strong trade, investment and economic ties around the world.

“As a country, we won’t get rich selling things to ourselves. Instead, we need to sell more of our products and services to customers around the world, and TPP helps makes that happen,” Mr Key says.

TPP will eliminate tariffs on 93 per cent of New Zealand’s exports to our new FTA partners, the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Peru.

Dairy exporters will have access to these markets through newly created quotas, in addition to tariff elimination on a number of products.

Tariffs on all other New Zealand exports to TPP countries will be eliminated, with the exception of beef exports to Japan, where tariffs will reduce significantly.

TPP also reduces non-tariff barriers to trade, ensures fair access for New Zealand firms doing business in TPP countries and provides greater opportunities to bid for government procurement contracts overseas.

“We’re disappointed there wasn’t agreement to eliminate all dairy tariffs but overall it’s a very good deal for New Zealand,” Mr Key says.

“We’ve seen with China how a free trade agreement can boost exports of goods and services and deepen trade and investment links.

“The overall benefit of TPP to New Zealand is estimated to be at least $2.7 billion a year by 2030.

“That’s more jobs, higher incomes and a better standard of living for New Zealanders,” Mr Key says.

“Many concerns raised previously about TPP are not reflected in the final agreement. For example, consumers will not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP and the PHARMAC model will not change.

“Now the negotiations have concluded, people will see that TPP is, overall, very positive for New Zealand,” Mr Key says.

The conclusion of TPP follows recent trade agreements with Korea, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, ASEAN/Australia and Malaysia. The Government is continuing negotiations with a number of other countries and is actively pursuing the launch of an FTA with the European Union.

John Key's photo.

Trade Minister Tim Groser and the team of people who have been working on this for years deserve the praise they are getting.

This deal isn’t as good as it could be but it is a lot better than what we have now.

The Minister says it will deliver significant benefits to New Zealand and build on the hard-won gains from previous free trade agreements:

“This comprehensive agreement offers much better access for New Zealand goods and services in 11 important markets across Asia and the Pacific.

“TPP breaks new ground for us. It is our first FTA relationship with the United States – the world’s biggest consumer market – as well as with Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru.

“As a result, New Zealand will now have FTAs covering our top five trading partners – Australia, China, the United States, Japan and Korea.

“We’ve seen from previous FTAs, including the China FTA, how positive they have been for New Zealand trade and investment, and therefore in supporting jobs and growth for New Zealanders.

“Not being in TPP, on the other hand, would put New Zealand at a competitive disadvantage compared to other countries,” Mr Groser says.

Tariffs will be eliminated on 93 per cent of New Zealand’s trade with its new FTA partners, once TPP is fully phased in. This will ultimately represent $259 million of tariff savings a year – around twice the savings initially forecast for the China FTA.

As a result of TPP:

  • Tariffs on beef exports to TPP countries will be eliminated, with the exception of Japan where tariffs reduce from 38.5 per cent to 9 per cent.
  • New Zealand dairy exporters will have preferential access to new quotas into the United States, Japan, Canada and Mexico, in addition to tariff elimination on a number of products.
  • Tariffs on all other New Zealand exports to TPP countries – including fruit and vegetables, sheep meat, forestry products, seafood, wine and industrial products – will be eliminated.

TPP also reduces non-tariff barriers to trade and ensures fair access for New Zealand firms doing business in TPP countries.

“TPP sets high standards in many areas,” Mr Groser says. “New Zealand is already an open, transparent and trade-friendly country, which means only a fraction of TPP’s obligations will require changes to our current practices.”

The most significant change is an extension of New Zealand’s copyright period from 50 years to 70 years. The cost of this to consumers and businesses will be small to begin with and increases gradually over a 20-year period.

“Other potentially far-reaching or costly proposals raised earlier in the negotiations were not included in the final agreement,” Mr Groser says.

“Consumers will not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP and few additional costs are expected for the Government in the area of pharmaceuticals. There will also be no change to the PHARMAC model.

“Regarding data protection for biologic medicines, New Zealand’s existing policy settings and practices will be adequate to meet the provisions we have finally agreed on,” Mr Groser says.

Investor-state dispute settlement provisions have been included in TPP, as they have in previous FTAs.

“This will give New Zealand investors more confidence and certainty when doing business overseas and does not prevent the Government regulating for legitimate public policy reasons.

“TPP also contains a provision that allows the Government to rule out ISDS challenges over tobacco control measures,” Mr Groser says.

“Overall, TPP is a very positive agreement for New Zealand, further improving access to international markets, which supports our exporters to grow and create new jobs.

“New Zealand supports the release of the text before it is signed by TPP governments but arrangements are yet to be finalised.

“TPP, like any free trade agreement, will go through New Zealand’s Parliamentary processes. We expect it to come into force within two years.”

There’s a Q&A here and more information on outcomes for specific industries here.

Some of us are old enough to remember Fortress New Zealand as it was before we opened our doors to trade.

The misguided doctrine of patronage and protectionism fostered inefficiency and divorced producers from the realities of the market. It limited what we could buy, made much of what was available more expensive and/or of poorer quality, gave far too much power to politicians and bureaucrats and provided far too much opportunity for corruption.

The TPPA hasn’t got rid of all protection. That means it isn’t as good as it could be, especially for dairy but it is an improvement on existing access and we’ll find other markets.

The people who will be hurt most by the failures in the agreement are those still behind the fortresses which add to their costs and limit their choices.

Their politicians have failed them by allowing the interests of a powerful, but small, group of sectional interests to trump the best interests of their countries.

Quote of the day

October 6, 2015

. . . And when we say ugly, we mean ugly from each perspective – it doesn’t mean ‘I’ve got to swallow a dead rat and you’re swallowing foie gras.’ It means both of us are swallowing dead rats on three or four issues to get this deal across the line. Tim Groser

Quote of the day

October 2, 2015

What always haunts a Prime Minister is ‘will there be a series of trade blocs develop that you are not part of?’ Because that is unthinkable for New Zealand as an export-oriented, small trading nation.

So of course New Zealand has to be in on the action with the TPP and go for the very best deal it can as the agreement expands beyond the original four economies to a wider regional agreement.  Helen Clark

Rural round-up

October 1, 2015

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine – Uptown Farms:

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine on a sales call,

I wouldn’t have thought much about you before last night.  Chances are, if you had tried to call on my husband and ride along in his combine I wouldn’t have known about it.  Most likely I would have been on a different farm, with a different farmer, trying to do my job in the same way you are doing yours.

I didn’t think of you before – but now I will.  Last night I read a post from a woman who was upset that a young, presumably attractive female, made a sales call to the farm – and rode in the cab of the combine with the farmer (the poster’s husband).  

For anyone not in the industry, it may sound funny that you would get into a combine with a customer. This time of year, the combine often acts as an office.  People who need to see the farmer go to the field and are often invited to ride along while they keep working.  Roughly 70% of the time that farmer will be a man.  

Women poured out of the woodwork to attack the sales rep, calling her unprofessional, unthoughtful, disrespectful and worse. . . 

Turning point for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The Shanghai Maling Aquarius offer for 50% of Silver Fern Farms may not be the restructuring catalyst that MIE and some shareholders of both cooperatives were hoping for, but it certainly presages a dramatic change in the industry’s dynamics.

Assuming a positive shareholder vote on 16th October, for the first time in years all the major processors will have relatively strong balance sheets and will be in a position to compete on an equal basis. This is unlikely to bring about an immediate change in livestock procurement calculations, but different companies will progressively move to payments based on quality and specifications supplied for individual markets.

For too long the meat industry has been affected by an excess of processing capacity, under-capitalisation, procurement battles, inadequate market returns and, as a consequence of all this, falling livestock volumes. The recapitalisation of the country’s largest meat company potentially provides a solution to several if not all of these problems. . . 

Silver Fern receives an offer it can’t refuse – Allan Barber:

No wonder the deal between Silver Fern farms and Shanghai Mailing took so long to conclude, but from all appearances it was worth waiting for. Not that you would necessarily think so, if you read about the disappointment of some shareholders and the MIE group about the board’s unwillingness to give serious consideration to an alternative farmer offer of $40 million or some of the business commentary.

Going back several years, SFF wanted $120 million from its shareholders, hoped for $80 million and actually received $22 million. Nothing has really changed since then – good and bad years have followed each other, as livestock numbers and market prices fluctuated and the business struggled under a huge debt burden. . . 

Value-add key to improved returns for shareholders – Westland Milk Products:

Continuing its move into more value-added production is the best strategy to ensure shareholders competitive and sustainable returns Westland Milk Products says, as the co-operative confirmed a company average operating surplus available to shareholders for the 2014-15 season of $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), before retentions.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says Westland, like dairy companies globally, has been adversely impacted by the “significantly lower” market prices in the last season, with total group revenue for the financial year 2014-15 down 23 percent on the previous year, at NZ$639 million.

However he says there is room for cautious optimism for an improvement and, accordingly, Westland has increased its forecast payout for the 2015-16 season by 30 cents to $4.90 – $5.30 per kgMS. . . 

Identifying insect species crucial to protect the environment:

Students at Lincoln University are covering the length and breadth of New Zealand to discover new insect species and keep ahead of potential threats to agriculture and the environment.

Bio-Protection Research Centre students, Francesco Martoni, Samuel Brown and Hamish Patrick have visited mountains, grasslands and forests to collect insect specimens. They have identified about 50 new species.

“This research, to understand what [insects] are present in New Zealand, is vital for us to recognise any change. Especially if it involves the introduction of species that may become pests, or spread disease,” says Dr Karen Armstrong, a Senior Researcher at Lincoln University, and the students’ supervisor.

“The only way to stay ahead of this, and to detect damaging interactions, is to know what is here. And for that, we need to produce experts in traditional taxonomy who are also trained to use modern technological approaches to describe and discover [insect species],” says Dr Armstrong. . .

Initiative gives support to rural schools:

Canterbury’s rural primary schools have been given a welcome boost, thanks to the support of local farmers and fertiliser company, Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd.

The initiative, calls on farmers to nominate a school that they feel could benefit from Hatuma’s ‘Growing Minds’ fund. Over the last six years, Hatuma has donated over $30,000 to New Zealand’s rural schools through the programme.

One such beneficiary of the fund is Glentunnel School in mid-Canterbury, which attracted huge support from farmers. . . 

Chinese developer harvests first crop in Western Australia’s remote Ord Valley – Tom Edwards:

The Chinese-backed company developing the Ord River Irrigation Area in Western Australia’s east Kimberley is harvesting its first crop.

Kimberley Agricultural Investment is halfway through harvesting 360 hectares of chia in the Goomig farmland of Ord Stage 2.

Farm manager Luke McKay said it was an exciting milestone for the company and for the Ord agricultural zone in general.

“There’s been a fair bit of interest obviously, a lot of excitement about getting to this point,” he said. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes progress with South Korea Trade Deal

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes news that the Tariff Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament on Friday, a big step towards implementing the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

The negotiators have achieved a great outcome for the wine industry, said Philip Gregan, ‘tariff free access into South Korea at the time the agreement comes into force represents a significant boost to our export ambitions in one of the key Asian markets.’ . . 

More Veterans Set to Go From Protecting America to Feeding America – Nicole Mormann:

For 200,000 U.S. service members transitioning out of the military each year, returning to civilian life will mean trading in their combat boots for a tractor and rubber galoshes, thanks to new farming-focused job-training programs created by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Last week, the USDA and the Department of Defense announced that agriculture will be one of the industries in which the government will provide career assistance and counseling programs to service members finishing their term of enlistment.

The program will give veterans the opportunity to gain farming skills through classroom instruction and registered apprenticeships from experienced farmers. In addition to educational opportunities, the USDA will offer financial assistance to beginning farmers or ranchers who lack the funds to purchase necessary farming equipment, land, livestock, and other resources. Returning service members are also eligible for housing support programs, which can range from repair loans to emergency placement assistance. . . 



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