Rural round-up

12/01/2019

The story of genetics and Mt Albert’s forbidden fruit – Farah Hancock:

A controversial new apple created by New Zealand scientists has to be seen to be believed – and has to be eaten offshore. Farah Hancock reports.

The red-fleshed apples developed by Plant and Food Research’s scientist Professor Andrew Allan and his team are so contentious they’re not allowed to eat them in New Zealand.

“In the end we had to take them to America.”

The cores were removed from the apples so no seeds were present. They were triple-bagged and sealed. Phytosanitary certificates were gained to get approval to move the apples from their glasshouse in Auckland’s Mount Albert to the airport, and then on to the United States. Allan and the science team flew the precious cargo to San Francisco where a taste-testing panel of 50 people waited. . . 

Good grass growth but drought on horizon if rain delayed for Taranaki farmers – Mike Watson and Leighton Keith:

Taranaki dairy farmers are keeping an eye out for rain clouds with the summer heat taking a toll on grass cover.

Favourable growing conditions since spring, following a devastating one in 40 year drought last summer, meant many farmers had good supply of feed to prepare an extended dry period.

“The conditions have been good, in fact fantastic, to date but it is starting to get dry now and we will be looking for some rain by the end of the month,” Okato farmer Ray Barron said. . . 

Plant pines, not natives to make money from carbon farming, says consultant – Heather Chalmers:

Landowners planting forests for carbon credits should plant pine trees rather than natives to achieve the best returns, a carbon consultant says.  

Ollie Belton, a partner of Permanent Forests NZ a Christchurch-based carbon consultancy, said that the rate that natives absorb carbon dioxide was much lower than for pinus radiata. 

Sequestration calculations used by the Emissions Trading Scheme for forests under 100 hectares showed that pinus radiata absorbed almost 1000 tonnes of carbon over 25 years, while native forests absorbed less than 300 tonnes.     . . 

Short stature corn on the way from Bayer Cropscience – Gil Gullickson:

Farmers who have waded and stumbled through corn decimated by green snap or stalk lodging may be in luck in a few years. Bayer CropScience is developing what it calls short-stature corn that company officials say will likely debut early next decade. Bayer officials discussed this development and others on a conference call this week with agricultural journalists. 

“Over the next two to three years, we will demonstrate them (short-stature hybrids) to growers and give them a feel and sense of how they will work on their farms,” says Bob Reiter, Bayer CropScience head of research and development. “I think this is a little like what was experienced with the Green Revolution in rice and wheat through Norman Borlaug, which is the foundational shift in how crops are produced and how growers will be able to unlock and enjoy additional productivity value.” . . 

Help for SMEs to accelerate Health & Safety appreciated:

Extra investment in workplace injury prevention, with a focus on small to medium businesses, will pay dividends not only in reducing pain and suffering but also in economic terms, Federated Farmers says.

“We see the announcement by ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway this morning of a $22 million, five-year programme to incentivise SMEs to boost Health & Safety efforts as very useful,” Feds President Katie Milne says. . . 

Te Pa Family Vineyards & Cloudy Bay Clams team up for Marlborough Wine & Food Festival 2019:

Two award-winning, family-owned local Marlborough producers, te Pa Family Vineyards and Cloudy Bay Clams, are teaming up for the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival for 2019 and the companies are celebrating their collaboration with a series of exciting events, competitions and food pairings.

The two flourishing Marlborough companies, will be selling award-winning wine and sustainably harvested clams, marking their collaboration at the much-loved festival, which attracts around 8000 guests each year. Attendees can expect to see beautiful fresh clams on the half shell, paired with lively and expressive Marlborough te Pa Sauvignon Blanc, and crispy and decadent fried popcorn clams served with light and effervescent Pa Road Sparkling Rosé. . . 


Rural round-up

15/06/2016

New regulations for bobby calves:

New regulations to strengthen the law around the management and treatment of bobby calves are planned to be in place before the 2016 spring calving season, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Most farmers care for their animals and do a good job of looking after them. However it’s important we have clear rules and enforcement in place. Animal welfare is important not just to animals, but to consumers and our export markets,” says Mr Guy.

“The new, strengthened regulations will go to Cabinet for final approval shortly. I want to give farmers, transport operators and processors advance warning of these changes before the start of the calving season.” . . 

New Regulations Part of Wider Initiative to Strengthen Bobby Calf Welfare:

Details announced today for new regulations for the management and treatment of young calves are part of a wider programme of work by farmers, industry and government to strengthen bobby calf welfare.

The eight organisations that formed the Bobby Calf Action Group at the end of 2015 have accelerated and added to existing measures aimed at ensuring everyone involved with bobby calves applies best practice in their handling and care. . . 

Updated tool-kit to help farmers improve health and safety:

An updated tool-kit designed to help farmers better manage risks on their farms will be distributed at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

The tool-kit, which provides practical advice and resources to help farmers improve health and safety on their farms, has been developed by Safer Farms, ACC and WorkSafe New Zealand’s health and safety programme designed with farmers and the wider agricultural sector.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers were among the groups which provided input to the tool-kit. Beef + Lamb New Zealand, in addition to working with WorkSafe on the new tool-kit, is working with sheep and beef farmers to help them meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Sam McIvor, says that by the end of June, the organisation will have run over 70 health and safety workshops for more than 2,100 attendees around the country. . . 

Nominations & entries open for South Island Farmer of the Year:

Nominations and entries are open for the 2016 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition, and organisers are expecting wide interest.

Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter says, “Last year we had excellent entries which resulted in a tie, with Omarama Station and Clearwater Mussels sharing the honours. This substantially boosted public interest and we had excellent attendance at all of our events. We anticipate this level of interest will continue in 2016.” . . .

Genetic base cow change brings breeding worth back:

The genetic base cow – the genetic reference point for all dairy cattle in New Zealand – will be updated this month when it will become younger, moving from a 2000 to a 2005-born base cow.

New Zealand Animal Evaluation Limited (NZAEL) manager Jeremy Bryant says the genetic base is updated every five years and will be again on June 19, 2016.

Jeremy says the base cow update reflects genetic progress and prevents the gap between today’s animals and the genetic base becoming too large. This keeps the scale of genetic predictions relevant. . . 

Asia-Pacific’s Growing Appetite For NZ Blueberries Produces Record Industry Sales:

Huge demand for New Zealand blueberries is being welcomed by local growers who have exported a record 1.37 million kilograms of fruit this season.

Blueberries New Zealand (BBNZ) today announced over 10 million punnets of berries (worth an estimated $30 million FOB) were shipped to the end of March – a 40 per cent increase on the season before.

“Demand is continuing to grow, especially in Asia-Pacific where a ‘food-as-a-medicine’ culture prevails,” explains Blueberries NZ Chairman Dan Peach. “Asian markets have demonstrated a clear and voracious appetite for blueberries thanks to the wide range of amazing health benefits they offer.” . . 

DairyNZ announces new associate directors:

Two dairy farmers from Canterbury and south Auckland will join the DairyNZ Board of Directors this year.

New associate directors Jessie Chan-Dorman and Stu Muir have been selected to join the DairyNZ board for successive six month terms. Jessie begins this month and Stu from January 2017.

DairyNZ chair Michael Spaans says Jessie and Stu bring great industry experience to the roles, which are about providing experience to future leaders, showing first-hand how a board works and what goes into making key decisions. . . 


Rural round-up

30/05/2016

Dairy farmers not  looking for handouts – Jamie Gray:

Farmers want better infrastructure, roads and greater access to broadband, but are not looking for any handouts from the Government in Thursday’s Budget.

Dairy farmers across the Tasman are looking to politicians to support them through the current milk price slump but their New Zealand counterparts do not expect any such treatment from the Budget.

Deputy Australian Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, after a three-day trip to Victoria, last week called for a bipartisan approach to develop a dairy industry support package to help dairy farmers struggling with milk price downgrades from the two biggest players in that market – Murray Goulburn and Fonterra.

But New Zealand dairy farmers, many with memories going back to the farm subsidy days of the 1970s and early 1980s, don’t expect any special treatment from the Budget. . . 

Guy looks to trim access to Fonterra’s raw milk for big processors in DIRA review – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk)Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is seeking feedback on proposals to reduce the amount of raw milk Fonterra Cooperative Group has to sell to large independent processors in the latest step towards full deregulation of the dairy sector.

The minister’s discussion paper on proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act was triggered last year when independent processors in the South Island passed the threshold needed to review the law. Guy’s preferred options would amend regulations for raw milk so Fonterra didn’t have to sell to large, export focused processors and reduce the volume of raw milk available to other processors by 60 percent over three years. Submissions close on June 29. . . 

New Zealand hoki fisheries meet international best practice standard for sustainability:

Following a report from the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has confirmed that the New Zealand hoki fisheries meet the high requirements of the MSC Fisheries Standard, widely recognised as the world’s most credible assessment of the sustainability of wild-caught seafood.

In 2001, New Zealand’s hoki fisheries became the first large-scale whitefish fisheries to achieve MSC certification, and have since been re-certified twice in 2007 and 2012. To achieve certification, fisheries must demonstrate to a third party certifier that they: ensure the long-term sustainability of fish stocks; minimise impacts on the marine environment; and are well managed, with effective governance and enforcement systems. Certification requires robust evidence to demonstrate that requirements are met. . . 

It  all started at school for beef ambassador – Kate Taylor:

A high school careers expo led Gisborne’s Emma Pollitt into an agricultural career and a love of working with cattle.

The 23-year-old was named the Allflex Senior Beef Ambassador at the Future Beef event held during the 2016 Beef Expo in Feilding. Wellsford 16-year-old Cara Doggett is the new Allflex Intermediate Beef Ambassador.

Pollitt grew up in Gisborne city and attended Gisborne Girls’ High School, where a careers expo opened her eyes to the possibility of farming.  Pollitt says she was into horses at high school, in terms of local shows and pony club, but hadn’t thought about any career options. She was accepted into Taratahi in Masterton and completed a Certificate of Agriculture (Levels 1-3) in the first year, staying an extra six months to complete Level 4. 

Her first job was on high country station Loch Linnhe at Kingston, near Queenstown, for a couple of months. . . 

NZ Yarn targets high fliers with the ‘Viagra’ of carpet – Amanda Cropp:

A high tech process to make the “Viagra” of carpet that doesn’t mat down is helping NZ Yarn carve out a niche market for custom-made floor coverings among the jet set. 

The Christchurch company recently sent samples to two American companies that carpeted the oval office and presidential plane, Airforce One, and executive chair Ross Callon said getting NZ Yarn product into the White House would be quite a coup.

The company, which exports its entire output, is also targeting the specialist carpet market for private jets, super yachts and high end apartments.  . . 

Manawatu stock buyer is about  to retire after 45 years on the job – Jill Galloway:

Kerry Lewis has been a prime stock buyer for 45 years. Jill Galloway talks to him about the changes he has seen from the 1970s to today.

In the 1970s there was only one phone in the Kerry Lewis’ household. These days there are two phones, a fax and Lewis always has a cellphone at his side.

Keeping pace with technology has been part of the job for Lewis who is retiring after 45 years in the business as a “fat” stock buyer in Manawatu.

The buying veteran has been through a few companies in his time. . .. 

Seeka’s avocado policy pays off for its growers with improved returns:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries’ commitment to its avocado growers has paid off with average export returns of $26.86 per export tray for the 2015-16 season, well up on last season’s $16.64 per export tray.

“Our growers have done a great job in producing really good quality fruit,” said Simon Wells, Seeka General Manager Grower Services.

“And because Seeka is fully integrated, we are able to control our supply chain and manage the quality of the fruit all the way through from orchard to market.” . . 

Sanford almost doubles first-half profit; shares rise to month high – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, the country’s largest listed fishing group, almost doubled its first-half profit as it focused on lifting values over volumes and benefited from lower fuel costs and a weaker New Zealand dollar.

Profit jumped to $18.8 million, or 20.1 cents per share, in the six months ended March 31, from $9.6 million, or 10.2 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue from continuing operations edged up 1.3 percent to $215.6 million even as sales volumes sank abut 20 percent as the company extracted more value from its catch. . . 

Fonterra Co-operative wins major health and safety award:

Two innovative employee health and wellness initiatives from Fonterra Co-operative Limited brought the company the WorkSafe New Zealand and ACC sponsored Supreme Award at last night’s Safeguard Workplace Health and Safety Awards in Auckland.

The company won WorkSafe’s category award for the best initiative to address a workplace health risk with a programme addressing milk tanker driver fatigue. Fonterra also won another category award for its employee wellbeing initiative which created a village concept where facilities for all contractors and subcontractors on site were centralised in one spot. . . 


Rural round-up

28/05/2015

Surveyor believes in power of cooperative model, but says it’s up to farmers – Allan Barber:

Four months into his new job as CEO of Alliance, David Surveyor is really loving the challenge of heading a global business which is so crucial to farmers, consumers and New Zealand as a whole. He has always been interested in the agrifood space, as he terms it, and enjoys getting to know New Zealand through its agricultural producers.

In contrast with his previous roles in steel and building materials, the biggest difference in the meat industry is the question of livestock supply with so many factors outside the company’s control. Variable climatic conditions and land use change are just two of the main ones. At Alliance its cooperative status demands a lot of time seeing things from the supplier perspective which is not such a major factor in manufacturing industries, while all meat companies need to spend more time focused on the market. . .

Positive Signs Ahead as Farmers Look to Put Season Behind Them:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said Farmers will be cautiously optimistic following today’s announcement by Fonterra of an opening forecast Milk Price for the 2015/16 season of $5.25 per kg/MS, including an opening advance rate of $3.66 per kg/MS.

Mr Brown: “Farmers will view next season’s forecast as a positive given the situation we have experienced this past season.

“They will also see the announcement as a signal from their Board that the market should start to move in a positive direction in the near future, which is welcome news. . .

Fonterra Announces Board Change:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Sir Ralph Norris has indicated he will not seek to continue his term on the Fonterra Board, following the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 25 November 2015.

Sir Ralph joined the Board in May 2012 as an Independent Director, and made this decision because of his other commitments.

Sir Ralph is also resigning from the Board of the Manager of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, from 25 November 2015. . . 

Funding bost for Irrigation Acceleration Fund:

Irrigation projects will receive a kick-start of $25 million in operating funding for five years from 2016/17 through the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This funding will help to complete the investigation and development of new regional scale irrigation proposals,” says Mr Guy.

“The need for more water storage projects is obvious given that nearly every part of the country has suffered through drought at some stage over the past three years.

“Providing a reliable water supply for farmers and growers has massive potential to boost growth, creating jobs and exports in provincial regions.” . . .

New Zealand National Party's photo.

Call for more water storage heard by Government – more funding allocated:

IrrigationNZ today welcomed the post budget announcement by Primary Industries Minister, Nathan Guy, of a $25 million allocation of new funding to the Irrigation Acceleration Fund.

“This will boost the development stages of water storage and irrigation distribution infrastructure, which is desperately needed in our summer dry east coast regions. Reliable water supply will sustain communities and maintain the environmental health of their rivers,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Chair.

“With additional IAF funds contributing to the early stages of this infrastructure development, it will be essential that RMA process reforms that empower collaboration also occur so that the funds do not go to waste,” says Mrs Hyslop. . .

Choice of chair underlines importance of forest safety:

A safety council has been set-up, chaired by Dame Alison Paterson, to make forests safer places to work. Establishing the council was a key recommendation of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel that reviewed forest safety in 2014.

The Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) was launched tonight at a function at parliament. Its board includes representatives of forest owners, contractors, workers, unions and Worksafe New Zealand. Funding will come from the Forest Grower Levy and from government – ACC and Worksafe. . .

Kanuka right at home on winning farm – Kate Taylor:

Kanuka is very much part of our landscape, says Simon Beamish, who with wife Josi was named the 2015 Pan Pac Hawke’s Bay Farm Forester of the Year in April.

They farm alongside the Ngaruroro River that slices between the Kaweka and Ruahine ranges in Hawke’s Bay, west of Hastings, with the farm rising to 690 metres above sea level.

Their 1121ha Awapai and 992ha Waitata properties have been owned by the Beamish family for almost 130 years. They were both part of the original Whanawhana block leased and then freeholded by Simon’s great great grandfather Nathaniel Beamish in 1886. Nathaniel’s son George was sent up to manage the block of land at the young age of 18. . .

Cervena venison piloted in Europe:

New Zealand venison exporters have started a trial to test the appetite of European consumers for Cervena venison in the summer grilling season.

The trial, which began in April, is part of the Passion2Profit initiative that was formally launched today at the Deer Industry Conference in Napier. P2P is a joint venture between the deer industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership programme.

“We are really excited that this pilot is underway. Launching Cervena in Europe has been talked about in the deer industry for many years, but it needs careful branding and substantial promotional support to make it a sales success,” says DINZ venison manager Innes Moffat. . .

Horticulture’s future may lay with city slickers:

Increasing urbanisation means more support for initiatives like the ‘NZ Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’ is needed to encourage fresh talent into primary industries, like horticulture, to sustain this country’s edge as a top quality food producer.

The horticultural industry has a bright future and is fundamentally important to New Zealand’s economy, but the fact that more than 85 per cent of kids under 15* now live in urban areas is prompting some of the country’s top companies to throw their weight behind career awareness and development initiatives in the sector. . .

Rural Connectivity Symposium 2015 gets underway today:

After months of planning TUANZ and RHAANZ are delighted to announce that the Rural Connectivity Symposium kicks off in Wellington today.

“The event has sold out with over 150 people attending. The Symposium will be opened by the Communications Minister, The Hon. Amy Adams and has been well supported by sponsors across the health and ICT spectrum” said Craig Young, CEO of TUANZ.

“Rural satellite service provider, Wireless Nation, is the premier sponsor for our one-day event, which is a mixture of presentations and workshops.” . .

New dairy mineral blend ticks all the boxes:

As mineral deficiencies continue to cost dairy farmers time, money, livestock and lost production, a unique new mineral blend is offering a comprehensive, cost-effective solution.

Developed specifically for New Zealand dairying by BEC Feed Solutions, Main Stay Macro Minerals, delivers key nutritional minerals in a convenient, palatable, accurate and dust-free blend. And, because it incorporates the revolutionary Bolifor Mag 33 and MGP+ Magnesium products, farmers won’t have to worry about pasture dusting again, consequently saving valuable time and labour costs. . .


Rural round-up

10/02/2015

Watt family all pulling together – Sally Rae:

They say many hands make light work.

At Waitaki Orchard, near Kurow, there are many hands, although the workload is not always light, particularly over the busy harvest season.

But the remarkable Watt family, who own and run the summerfruit operation, take it all in their stride.

Justin and Julie Watt, along with their eight children, aged between 9 and 20, do not consider themselves anything out of the ordinary.

But their story is anything but ordinary as the close-knit family work together and the children step up to take on more responsibility, due to their parents’ serious health issues. . .

Challenge for A&P Shows to satisfy demands of new public – Allan Barber:

The 148th Warkworth A&P Show was held on the Saturday of Auckland Anniversary Weekend on a very warm day with no fear of rain which at least alleviated the committee’s first concern. In the north at least feed is still plentiful, although rain would be welcome, but there is as yet no major worry of drought; so we were able to plan the event and welcome the weather forecast without a guilty conscience.

Two years ago there were rather more serious concerns the Show wouldn’t reach its 150th anniversary, but a few things have happened since then which have pushed this undesirable outcome into the background. . .

– Allan Barber:

Ever since the Korean War over sixty years ago the price of wool has been in decline with a few upturns along the way. Over the period the fortunes of wool growers have suffered from massive lifestyle changes leading to reduced demand for woollen textiles and fibres and the rise of synthetics with properties capable of imitating, if not matching, those of wool at a lower price. Wool is not the only natural fibre to be affected, with cotton being hit even harder.

There are a remarkable number of parallels between the red meat and wool industries in the reactions to the situation which is not surprising given the respective price trends and the fact many of the farmers are the same individuals. Sheep and beef farmers’ opinions of the deficiencies of the meat industry are virtually identical to those of the wool trade, while proposed solutions are also remarkably similar. . .

Smoke-tainted grapes could be an issue:

The fire which burned through almost 600 hectares of forest and farmland in Marlborough in the past week could be costly for some grape growers as well.

Vineyards in the vicinity of the fire which burned over five days in the Onamalutu Valley near Renwick, may now have a problem on their hands with smoke-tainted grapes.

Wine Marlborough’s general manager Marcus Pickens said they did not know yet how many vineyards may have been affected by smoke from the fire, on the edge of one of Marlborough’s main wine producing areas.

But they were acting on advice from the Australian wine industry and its experience in dealing with the impact of bush fires on grape production. . . .

Minister welcomes launch of Safer Farms:

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse today welcomed the launch of the government’s Safer Farms programme.

Safer Farms is a multi-year programme designed by farmers and the wider agricultural sector, WorkSafe New Zealand and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

“The death and injury rate behind the farm gate is simply unacceptable. Someone is killed nearly every fortnight – this needs to change,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Safer Farms is a new way of tackling a long standing problem hurting rural New Zealand. It’s about education, awareness and support for rural communities.” . . .

Sharing a passion for smart farming – Diane Bishop:

All eyes will soon be on Brian and Kristine Russell’s deer farming operation.

The large-scale deer farmers are the new Southland deer focus farmers. Their first field day will be held later this month, with Browns farmer Dave Lawrence as facilitator.

“We wanted a farmer with the right attitude and who is prepared to change. Brian is extremely positive and extremely passionate about the deer industry,” Lawrence said.

The Russells farm almost 10,000 stock units on two properties totalling 2165 hectares in central and northern Southland.

The 845ha Dipton West block, where the couple live with their three children, is used mainly for finishing, while the 1320ha Kowhai hill block, 20 kilometres away, is primarily used for breeding. . . 

 Attention to deer health can boost farm profits:

Deer farmers are being encouraged to have a close look at their animal health as part of the Passion2Profit initiative.

P2P aims to improve deer farm profits by developing new high-value markets for venison and removing barriers to performance on the farm. The initiative, which has just won funding support from the government’s Primary Growth Partnership, already has several activities underway.

“Animal health, feeding and genetics are the three big areas where farmers can influence the profits they make from deer,” says Deer Industry NZ chief executive Dan Coup. . . 


ACC fees dropping

06/08/2014

The government is delivering a $480m reduction in ACC fees:

ACC Minister Judith Collins today announced reductions to motor vehicle levies in 2015/16 meaning the average New Zealand vehicle owner will be $135 better off each year.

“Earlier this year the Government signalled our intention to reduce ACC levies as part of Budget 2014 – today’s announcement delivers on this,” Ms Collins says.

“ACC continues to improve its financial situation, transforming the way it supports injured New Zealanders and building on its investment returns.”

In the last levy round significant reductions were made to the Work and Earners’ Accounts. This year’s focus is on reductions to the Motor Vehicle Account. The average levy will fall from around $330 to $195. This includes reductions to the licence fee and a drop of 3 cents per litre off the petrol levy.

In addition, the average levy paid by employers and self-employed people into the Work Account will fall to 90 cents per $100 of liable earnings, down from 95 cents.

“These reductions to Work and Motor Vehicle levies represent an annual saving of $480 million to New Zealand households and businesses in the 2015/16 levy year,” Ms Collins says.

“This year’s reductions, which come on top of reductions over recent years, have meant that New Zealand households and businesses will keep almost $1.5 billion, since 2011/12.

“The Government will also introduce risk rating for light passenger vehicles (cars). This will place vehicles into bands, based on their crash safety ratings, from most safe to least safe and charge each band a levy based on the cost to the scheme of different vehicles.

Pricing based on safety ratings matches the costs with the risks.

“While all vehicle owners will receive considerable reductions in their ACC levies, we want to ensure the amount people are paying reflects the cost to the Scheme.”

As an example, the introduction of risk rating for cars, together with the overall reduction of motor vehicle levies, owners of petrol-driven cars in the safest grouping will see the ACC component of their annual vehicle licence fee fall by 66 per cent.

Ms Collins says while the Government remains on track for further levy cuts across all accounts in 2016/17, it’s important levies continue to be set in a way that is fair, fiscally responsible and maintains ACC’s ability to fund entitlements in the future.

“We are working through the exact amounts and timing of those levy reductions and a review of the residual levy – whose role is effectively completed – is part of that consideration,” Ms Collins says.

The new ACC levy rates for motor vehicles will come into effect on 1 July 2015. The lower Work Account levy rate takes effect on 1 April 2015.

 

Today we announced $480 million in levy cuts for 2015/16 which will include the average motor vehicle registration being $135 cheaper from July next year. This is wonderful news for households and businesses and is a testament to ACC’s fantastic performance. Well done! http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/government-delivers-480-million-reduction-acc-levies


ACC proposes across board cuts next year

20/05/2014

ACC is proposing significant cuts to motor vehicle levies, including the ACC petrol levy, next year, as well as further reductions to work and earner levies.

The corporation is seeking feedback on these and other proposed changes as part of its annual levy consultation process, which starts today. . .

“On average, we’re proposing a forty per cent cut to motor vehicle levies, which are paid when relicensing a vehicle and through the petrol levy paid at the pump,” says ACC Chair Paula Rebstock.

“We’re also proposing an average twenty-one per cent cut to work levies, and a five per cent cut to the earners’ levy in 2015.”

This would have a similar effect to tax cuts, leaving more money in the pockets of workers and motorists.

This follows the significant reductions to work and earner levies which took effect in April this year.

Ms Rebstock says “This is a significant package of proposed levy cuts, made possible by the fact that the Scheme has achieved its goal of being fully funded.”

Full funding means ACC has sufficient financial assets to meet the lifetime costs of all existing claims.

That is the only way to ensure the scheme is sustainable.

As well as reducing motor vehicle and petrol levies, ACC is also proposing the introduction of ‘risk rating’ for cars in 2015.

Risk rating would see the levy paid by car owners reflect how their vehicle’s design affects injury outcomes in a crash.

Motor vehicle levies already reflect the different risk and cost of injury associated with different classes of vehicle. Risk rating would enable a more sophisticated classification of risk, based on real life crash data, within the ‘light passenger’ classes, which essentially comprise cars.

“Risk rating would mean owners of safer cars pay lower levies, to reflect the fact their vehicle is less likely to cause injury if involved in a crash.

This means the cost would reflect the risk.

The alternative is people with safer vehicles subsidising those whose vehicles are more dangerous.

Wait for the uproar from the usual suspects pointing out that poorer people are likely to have less safe cars and therefore will be paying more.

“While owners of the safest cars may receive the largest levy cut, I’d like to emphasise that all car owners will pay lower levies under our proposed changes.”

Ms Rebstock says ACC is not proposing levy reductions for motorcycles next year. This is because motorcycle-related injuries continue to generate disproportionately high costs for the scheme, and motorcycle levies are already heavily subsidised by owners of other types of motor vehicle.

Proposed changes to levies in 2015/16
• combined average motor vehicle levy reduced from $330.68 to $200 (40% reduction)
• petrol levy reduced from 9.9 cents to 5.9 cents per litre (40% reduction)
• average work levy reduced from $0.95 to $0.75 per $100 of liable earnings (21% reduction)
• earners’ levy reduced from $1.26 to $1.20 per $100 of liable earnings (5% reduction)

Other changes that ACC is proposing for 2015/16 include:
• increasing the minimum and maximum liable earnings limits for work and earners’ levies. . . 

There’s more on the proposed changes here.


Rural round-up

10/04/2014

Personal tragedy drives ‘worker representative’ on ACC forestry sector injury prevention committee:

ACC announced today that following a nationwide ballot of forestry workers, Wiremu Edmonds and Neil Thomas will be the worker representatives on its new injury prevention programme, aimed at encouraging safer practices in the forestry sector.

Both are experienced forestry workers and passionate, experienced health and safety advocates – and in Wiremu’s case, his passion is strengthened by the personal tragedy of having lost a son to the industry.
The ‘ACC Forestry Sector Injury Prevention Programme’ is being developed and implemented in collaboration with WorkSafe NZ, the NZ Forest Owners Association (FOA), the Forestry Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the Council of Trade Unions (CTU). . .

Aquaduct NZ wins IrrigationNZ Innovation Award:

Aquaduct NZ and its entrepreneurial founder Gerard van den Bosch took out the highly-sought-after 2014 IrrigationNZ Innovation Award at its biennial conference in Napier last night.

Aquaduct’s entry (alongside associate company Bosch Irrigation Ltd) included its ground-breaking solution for the manufacture of irrigation pipe for Valetta Irrigation Scheme’s new 84km underground pipe network.

A factory to produce pipe on-site was created in a paddock within the scheme’s boundaries slashing welding requirements by 80% and reducing installation time and costs. The company supplied over 80km of pipe in sizes from 1.6m diameter to 200mm – in lengths up to 250 metres. The factory is New Zealand’s largest capacity plant pumping out 5800 tonnes of pipe in 60 days. . . .

Irrigation champions share 2014 Ron Cocks Memorial Award:

For the first time ever, IrrigationNZ has awarded its Ron Cocks Memorial Award to two individuals at its national conference.

Retired MAF Policy Manager Grant McFadden and farm business consultant and rural valuer Bob Engelbrecht were jointly awarded the prestigious title at last night’s IrrigationNZ conference dinner in Napier.

McFadden from Christchurch and Ashburton-based Engelbrecht have together more than a century of involvement in advocating for agriculture and irrigation interests, said IrrigationNZ chairman John Donkers who presented the awards.

Grant McFadden began his career as a farm advisor with MAF in the mid 1960s and was a key support for farmers in the Lower Waitaki as they initiated their irrigation scheme in the 1970s. From the early 80s, McFadden worked with farmers going through deregulation and drought experiences and later moved into MAF Policy “as I realised there were opportunities in the policy area to make a real difference to people.” . . .

Minister welcomes first investment by Crown Irrigation company:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the first investment by Crown Irrigation Investment Ltd, with draft terms agreed for $6.5 million towards the Central Plains Water scheme in Canterbury announced today.

“Last year the Government put $80 million towards creating Crown Irrigation as an independent investor to help kick-start regional water infrastructure projects.

“It’s great to see the first investment decision made. Central Plains Water will help irrigate around 60,000 hectares of land on the Canterbury plains once all three stages are complete, giving a real boost to the region’s economy.

“Without this funding, it’s unlikely the scheme would be developed to the size and scale required. . . .

Proactive Mindset Helps Tihoi Farmers Win Supreme in 2014 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A unique and innovative approach to farming in an environmentally sensitive area has earned Tihoi beef farmers Mike and Sharon Barton the Supreme title in the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 8, the Bartons, who farm 142ha Glen Emmreth Farm on the western side of Lake Taupo, were also presented with the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award and the Massey University Innovation Award.

Mike and Sharon bought the Tihoi farm in 2004 at a time when strict environmental legislation to protect the health of the lake was looming. They faced this challenge head-on, determined to make their farm as environmentally sustainable as possible.

BFEA judges said the business “has been built from its inception with the understanding that it must be made environmentally sustainable in an extremely difficult location”. . . .

Busy winter ahead for contestant – Sally Rae:

Winter is shaping up to be a memorable season for Glenham farmer Dean Rabbidge.

Mr Rabbidge (28), a member of the Wyndham Young Farmers Club, is Otago-Southland’s representative in the grand final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Christchurch on July 3-5.

He and his wife Sarah are also expecting the arrival of their first child on June 18.

”It’s just going to be busy enough this winter,” he quipped. . . .

Central Otago wineries “delighted” to showcase the region’s wines to Duke and Duchess of Cambridge:

Central Otago wineries are gearing up for what could be the most important wine tasting of the century ahead of the Duke and Duchess’s visit to Queenstown this Sunday April 13.

A handful of local wineries and staff have been selected to present their Central Otago wines to the young Royals at a private wine and food event to be held at host winery Amisfield.

Central Otago Winegrowers Association president James Dicey is the lucky man who will escort the Duke through the tasting, while Central Otago Pinot Noir Chairwoman Lucie Lawrence will accompany the Duchess. . .

Final call for applications – leading farm business management program:

Applications are to close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program, Australasia’s leading agricultural business management course for the next generation of farm leaders.

Now in its ninth year, the prestigious Rabobank program offers young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia, and a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank business programs manager Nerida Sweetapple says the Farm Managers Program is constantly evolving to reflect the changing challenges and opportunities in agriculture.  . . .

Steer and dog BFFs – Thomas Mead:

They’re usually each other’s worst enemy, but down south in Ranfurly a farm dog and steer have found a forbidden love.

Scotty, a jersey cross steer, and Bo, a purebred kelpie, have been inseparable after meeting on the job late last year. The unlikely duo often sneak away to play together, wrestling, licking and jumping around the farm.

Owner Jan MacKenzie says they’d spend all day together if they could.

“[Bo’s] not allowed to be out there by himself – he does sneak over the fence when no one’s looking,” she says.

“He tries to play with everybody but they’re cows and he’s a dog. Everybody else, [except Scotty], understands it’s meant to work that way.”

But Bo, who is a working farm dog, knows the difference between work and play. . .


Respect’s the key

22/03/2014

ACC Minister Judith Collins says respect is the key to tackling sexual violence.

She was announcing a new school-based pilot project funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) as part of its new focus on preventing sexual violence.

“Sexual violence has a significant effect on victims and families, resulting in substantial physical and mental health issues as well as social problems like poverty, addiction and suicide,” Ms Collins says.

“Encouraging a culture of respect is one of the most effective ways we can help to prevent sexual and dating violence. This pilot programme will teach young people the value of having healthy relationships based on respect, negotiation and consent.”

Recently ACC has made sexual violence prevention part of its core business focus and its first initiative in this area is a school-based pilot programme focussed on fostering healthy and respectful relationships.

In 2012/13, ACC spent $44 million on services for about 15,000 sensitive claims – the majority of which are related to sexual violence.

“There is some great work already being done by the sexual violence sector in schools but there is also recognition that we need to ensure these programmes have better national coordination, are consistent in content and ensure the best coverage possible,” Ms Collins says.

The school based programme is being developed with an Advisory Group made up of sexual violence sector representatives, interested community groups, government agencies and specialist academics, with input from students, parents and teachers. The programme will be a part of a wider programme of work led by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

The programme is still in its early stages of development and there will be further announcements on the specific content, providers, and schools that will be piloted in the third school term this year.

This programme will have to work hard to combat the many media messages which teach people to neither respect themselves nor others.

It is designed to help prevent violence. Legislation is also underway to protect people after a crime has been committed with a Bill creating a new order to protect victims of serious violent and sexual offences passing its second reading in Parliament this week.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill creates a new non-contact order to help reduce the likelihood of serious violent and sexual offenders coming into contact with their victims.

“This Government has made perfectly clear its commitment to putting victims at the heart of our criminal justice system. This Bill is one more way to ensure victims feel safe and protected from further offending,” Ms Collins says. 

The order would prohibit the offender from contacting the victim in any way and could ban the offender from living, or working in a particular area.

“This Bill recognises that victims are forced to relive these serious ordeals and suffer on-going effects when they come into contact with their offenders. The proposed new order will help to safeguard and give peace of mind to victims and where necessary, place more restrictive conditions on an offender.”

The provisions added to the Bill today include:

  • orders can be applied to a person who has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for a specified violent or sexual offence (rather than the five year threshold proposed in the original Bill)
  • non-contact orders can be extended to cover an offender’s associates, where the offender encourages the associate to engage in prohibited behaviour that would harm the victim’s recovery
  • victims can apply for an order at any time after sentencing.

Ms Collins acknowledges the Law and Order Committee and thanked those who made submissions on the Bill.

The Government expects to pass the Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill by the end of 2014.

Photo: National is delivering on its promise to put victims at the heart of our justice system - www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43384


Rural round-up

10/03/2014

This land of milk & honey of ours: – Willy Leferink:

The former U.S president, Ronald Reagan, was well known for his turn of phrase. At one farmer meeting Reagan delivered this advice on politicians peddling a plan: “the 10 most dangerous words in the English language are, “Hi, I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help”.

I was reminded of what Reagan said when, by chance, I caught Parliament a few weeks ago just as the MP Andrew Little let rip:  “This is a Government obsessed with mucking around in the same puddle of water we have been in, frankly, for far too long – more primary production, more mining, more commodity goods to be sold at commodity prices. The challenge for this country is to make the shift in our economy into totally new productive enterprises and into the new economy…”

It’s some puddle when ‘primary production’ will be worth $36bn this 2013/14 season!  It is even more of a puddle when dairying has helped New Zealand to a record trade surplus in January, or, as Statistics NZ’s Chris Pike put it, “dairy export prices helped lift the terms of trade to their highest level since 1973.” . . .

Sheep do most harm to farmers – Neil Ratley:

Southland and Otago farmers have been flocking to ACC with farm animal-related injury claims.

And sheep top the list of most dangerous animals.

Across the south, there were more than 1000 farm animal- related injury claims made to ACC in 2013. Sheep were responsible for 473 of those, with cattle being blamed for 367 injuries and horses coming in with 131.

However, in Southland where dairy cows command the paddocks, cattle inflicted the most pain on farmers with 123 injury claims last year.

But the district’s sheep also got in on the act, with 116 incidents reported to ACC. . .

Gorse attacked to halt nitrogen runoff:

A plan to eradicate gorse in the Lake Rotorua catchment as a way of stopping nitrogen runoff into the lake has been launched by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Council general manager of natural resources Warwick Murray says gorse can contribute as much nitrogen as a dairy farm but because it’s so widely spread, the control of it rests with landowners.

He says it’s a very difficult task to accomplish because the gorse is often on steep, difficult country and comes back quickly after being cleared unless some alternative vegetation cover is established. . .

Day a chance to give it a go – Sally Rae:

Sarah O’Connell says she did not choose agriculture as a career – it chose her.

Ms O’Connell, now an extension officer for Beef and Lamb New Zealand, was addressing a Get Ahead career experience day at Totara Estate, just south of Oamaru, last week.

More than 130 pupils from John McGlashan College, Taieri College, East Otago High, Otago Boys’, Timaru Boys’, Craighead Diocesan, Mackenzie College, St Kevin’s College, Waitaki Girls’ and Waitaki Boys’ High School attended the day, while just over 140 attended a similar day in Gore earlier in the week. . . .

Winton newlyweds’ winning form  – Sally Rae:

March will go down as a memorable month for Winton 50% sharemilkers Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale.

Not only did they win the 2014 Southland Otago sharemilker/equity farmer of the year title, but they also got married.

Mr Henderson (27) and Ms Heale (28) met at Lincoln University, where they completed agriculture degrees before starting in the dairy industry in 2007.

Both came from farming backgrounds, with Mr Henderson brought up on a dairy farm and Ms Heale on a sheep and beef farm in the North Island. . . .

Tractor pulling gains popularity – Sonita Chandar:

Wheels will be spinning and the dirt flying when the big rigs roll in to Feilding for the annual Norwood Tractor Pull competition.

All leading tractor manufacturers will be represented at the event which runs as part of the Central Districts Field Days from this Thursday and put through their paces by the Tractor Pull New Zealand tractor pull sledge.

Modified tractors will be running daily – providing all the noise-making, smoke-generating and wheelie- popping action you can handle. . . .


Rural round-up

28/02/2014

It’s ‘Good Times’ following record dairy forecast:

While the dry summer is starting to bite in parts of Waikato and Northland, Fonterra has delivered excellent news for New Zealand by upping its 2013/14 forecast Farmgate Milk Price to a record $8.65 per kilogram of Milk Solids (kg/MS).

“You can say New Zealand is truly a land of milk and honey with the two being at record highs,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson, speaking from Federated Farmers Dairy Council in Wellington.

“I also think this will put a huge smile on Minister Guy’s face when he speaks to us later this morning.  If the forecast sticks this represents ‘good times’ for all Kiwis.

“In 2010, the NZIER said a $1 kg/MS rise in Fonterra’s payout makes every New Zealander nearly $300 better off.  Given this latest 35 cent kg/MS uplift, every New Zealander could be $100 better off as a result of what we do. . .

Forefront of farming’s great journey – Annette Scott:

Sarah Crofoot is a young woman with a clear vision, who is advocating passionately for farmers in the modern New Zealand economy. She talked to Annette Scott.

Sarah Crofoot grew up on a farm 45 minutes from New York City.

She treasures her rural upbringing and at just 23 she is clear on what she wants for her children and future generations.

“Because I grew up in New York it has made me appreciate how lucky we are in New Zealand, with the amazing opportunities we have in agriculture,” she said.  .  .

More than 5300 farmers to benefit from TB changes:

From 1 March 2014, more than 5300 herdowners across some 1.7 million hectares will benefit from reductions in both Movement Control Areas (MCA) and cattle and deer bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests.

Herds throughout parts of the Central North Island, Southern North Island and Northern South Island will no longer require pre-movement TB testing, but will continue to be tested annually.

Farmer and Wellington TBfree Committee Chairman Peter Gaskin no longer has to pre-movement test his cattle. He said the progress made by the TB control programme through movement restrictions and wild animal control has been particularly satisfying.

“It’s been very pleasing for farmers to be able to enjoy another on-farm benefit, resulting from the sustained pressure applied by TBfree New Zealand, as it implements the national TB control plan,” said Peter. . .

Growing Dynamic Leaders with Rural Women NZ:

Eleven women from around New Zealand arrive in Wellington today for the start of a three day leadership course co-ordinated by Rural Women NZ and sponsored by Landcorp.

The women – all Rural Women NZ members – are active in their communities and are now looking to grow their communications skills, enhance their networks, and learn more of the work of our organisation at a national level.

“The women will explore what makes an effective leader, how to influence others and the importance of networks both within the organisation and in the broader rural sector,” says Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan. . . .

ACC announces new forestry sector injury prevention initiative:

ACC announced today that work has begun developing a new injury prevention programme, aimed at encouraging safer practices in the forestry sector.

The ‘ACC Forestry Sector Injury Prevention Programme’ will be developed and implemented in collaboration with WorkSafe NZ, the NZ Forest Owners Association (FOA), the Forestry Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the Council of Trade Unions (CTU).

ACC’s Head of Insurance Products and Injury Prevention, David Simpson, says “For the past eighteen months, the safety record of New Zealand’s forestry industry has lagged behind other New Zealand industries, as well as forestry sectors globally. Recent fatalities, eleven since January 2013, have highlighted ongoing safety concerns. . .

Online tool compares energy efficiency of dairy sheds across NZ:

Dairy farmers could save $42 million through electricity efficiency measures in the dairy shed, and now an online tool is available that gives individual farmers an idea of how well they are making use of the electricity they pay for.

EECA BUSINESS has launched the Dairy Farm Energy Efficiency tool, which compares a dairy farm’s electricity use to other dairy farms in New Zealand, and to best practice.

The average New Zealand dairy farm spends over $20,000 a year on electricity, but dairy sheds vary a lot in how efficiently they use their electricity, says Kirk Archibald, EECA projects and relationship manager.

“Some dairy farms are using three times as much electricity as others for the same milk-solids production.” . . .

Federated Farmers’ Executive an environmental leader:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Executive member, Sandra Faulkner, along with her family business partners, husband Rob and brother and sister in laws, Bruce and Jo Graham, have won the Supreme Award at the East Coast Balance Farm Environment Awards last night, taking them through to the national finals on 24 June.

“We are incredibly proud of Sandra, who is both a national and provincial executive for Federated Farmers, and her business partners for taking out this award. This meat and fibre farm is as diverse as it is environmentally friendly,” says Peter Jex-Blake, Federated Farmers provincial president for Gisborne-Wairoa. . .


Rural round-up

15/02/2014

Blind cows find love:

Two blind, aging cows were 350 miles apart, distressed and facing a dark future.

What happened next is a love story starring, not cows, but rescuers who worked across international borders for nearly a month to bring the bovines together.

It started when Sweety, an 8-year-old Canadian cow with a hoof infection, was rescued from the slaughterhouse by a horse sanctuary in Ontario. Workers at Refuge RR put out the word to the small legion of folks devoted to saving aging farm animals that she needed a permanent home.

Farm Sanctuary in New York is just such a place and they had a 12-year-old Holstein named Tricia, who seemed lonely and anxious after losing her cow companion to cancer a year ago. Cattle are herd animals and she was the only one at the shelter without a partner. . .

Synlait Milk commits to state of the art full service laboratory:

Synlait Milk has committed to building a state of the art full service quality testing laboratory to further support its position as a supplier of high quality value added ingredients, and infant formula and nutritional products.

The Company’s quality strategy has been to build in-house capabilities to support the testing requirements for the products it produces, however it has now significantly expanded the scope of the proposed laboratory from chemical and physical property testing to include full microbiological testing using the latest technologies.

In addition to the quality testing function there will now also be integrated facilities to support new product development, including the ability to conduct pilot scale trials, as well as allowing for sensory analysis to ensure the needs of the Company’s customers are met. . .

Farm toll on the decline:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that on farm deaths are on the decline, with both WorkSafe NZ and ACC statistics showing a declining trend in fatalities since 2008.

“We are seeing some positive results from industry efforts with WorkSafe statistics, released to us yesterday, showing that on farm fatalities for the Christmas New Year period have declined from four in 2010 to just one in 2014,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety Spokesperson.

“Coinciding with that, ACC’s statistics, on annual farm fatalities, show a 17.5 percent reduction (decline of 32) in deaths since 2008. We have also seen growth in farmers using Health and Safety plans on farm with a 48 percent increase in purchases of our Occupational Health & Safety Policy, and a 13.5 percent increase in purchases of our Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policy, since 2012. . .

Environmental champions sought:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced that entries are open for the Government’s premier environmental awards, which honour those dedicated to protecting and improving our environment.

The Green Ribbon Awards recognise outstanding contributions by individuals, organisations or businesses to addressing New Zealand’s environmental problems.

“There are so many people, communities and businesses who work hard to improve our environment in their own quiet way, but it is often without thanks,” Ms Adams says.

“The awards are a fitting occasion to show the human face of environmental issues, and promote the fantastic work that is happening in our communities.

Upskilling for horticulture workers:

A training scheme for horticultural workers in Hawke’s Bay has led to permanent jobs for some people who were relying on seasonal work and the dole.

The scheme, which began last year, is a partnership between grower John Bostock, the Eastern Institute of Technology, Work & Income and community groups.

Ten students from the first course graduated on Wednesday at Te Aranga Marae near Hastings.

Mr Bostock heads a group of companies that grow, pack and market squash, onions, grain, organic apples and ice cream. . . 

Agrantec Launches Farmango Animal Management for Sheep:

Agrantec, the British agri-food supply chain management service company, today announced the launch of a version of its animal management system, Farmango, for sheep.

Farmango offers a full range of animal management functions. This covers everything from recording the full genetic history through multiple generations to recording sales information when the sheep are eventually sold on. The service offers two specific new functions designed for the management of sheep.

One is the system capability to manage groups of animals. Groups can be defined using a scanning “wand” to collect a list of individuals. Data can be directly connected as the wand is being used out and about on the farm. There is no need to return to the farmhouse to upload information onto a computer. This makes it quick and easy to record things such as treatments and movements. The second function is a direct automatic link to the ARAMS movement reporting system. Movements can be reported with few clicks of the mouse. . .

Hamilton’s manuka honey producers SummerGlow Apiaries sets up base in Taranaki region:

A LARGE quantity of quality manuka plants and an ideal landscape to produce pure manuka honey are the reasons why Te Kowhai-based SummerGlow Apiaries has decided to expand its operation into the Taranaki region.

SummerGlow Apiaries owners Bill and Margaret Bennett have recently purchased 900 acres of marginal farmland in the area, says company director, beekeeper and office administrator James Jeffery.

“We haven’t had a lot of experience with [the Taranaki manuka] yet given that it’s only our first season down there but the quality, density and amount of it is amazing,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

29/01/2014

Cattle top NZ’s most dangerous farm animal list – Chris Hyde:

Cattle are New Zealand’s most dangerous farm animals according to ACC.

Figures obtained by Fairfax Media under the Official Information Act show that in 2013 there were 2262 cattle-related injuries requiring ACC funding.

Sheep were in second, inflicting 1612 injuries, while the horse also had a hoof in the payout of 1285 claims.

Cattle were not, however, the most dangerous farm animal in all areas of the country.

For example, in the Manawatu district, Manawatu District farmers in particular flocked to ACC in 2013, claiming 43 sheep-related injuries in the calendar year, a number that earned the sheep the title of Manawatu’s most dangerous farm animal – beating out cattle on 40. . .

End of an era as breeders downsize and head to town – Jill Galloway:

Steph Holloway and Hamish Hawker are getting out of their breeding farm at Hunterville, after a long family association with the property.

Five generations of Holloway’s family, including her, have worked on the hill country farm.

She said she and Hawker sold 600 two-tooth ewes at last week’s Feilding ewe fair. A further 1300 mixed-age ewes were sold at the sale on Friday.

Holloway said that while they could stay on the farm until May, they were already looking for a smaller finishing farm closer to town.

“Our breeding unit was 800 acres [324 hectares], and it was 50 minutes to Feilding, where I work. We want 200 acres [80ha], and it will mean a day or two a week on the farm.” . . .

Synlait ups the milk price ante:

Canterbury milk processor Synlait has fired the dairy equivalent of a full broadside by upping its forecast milk price for 2013/14 to a range of $8.30 to $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS).

“Before Christmas, the coop Westland Milk Products lifted its in-season forecast to $7.90-$8.30 kg/MS. Now we see Synlait joining the fray to be in the same ballpark as Fonterra,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Of course, Open Country operates a continuous payout while we know Miraka will be highly competitive as will be that darling of value-add, Tatua.

“For farmers, this level of farm gate competition is positive with other processors getting closer to joining the market. . .

Decline in dairy cow fertility may have halted:

New dairy industry data indicates a long-term decline in dairy cow fertility may have been halted.

It’s an issue that’s been challenging dairy scientists and farmers in New Zealand and overseas, because cow fertility is fundamental to dairy farm productivity and profitability.

Dairy New Zealand strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says the lower fertility was linked to the import of American Holstein cows into the country in the late 1990s. . .

“Importantly, we are getting advance rates that will help cashflow following the train wreck drought hit season that was 2012/13. . . .

What it takes to compete in the global dairy industry – Dr Jon Hauser,

The dairy industry is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, a prized dairy asset in southwest Victoria, is up for grabs. There is currently a 3 way bidding war between local publicly listed dairy company Bega, farmer co-operative Murray Goulburn, and the Canadian dairy giant Saputo.

This week United Dairyfarmers Victoria organised a meeting of farmers in Warrnambool. The UDV is a farmer representative group charged with lobbying government and industry on behalf of Victorian dairy farmers. They invited me to talk about the global dairy market – what it takes to compete, and what industry capital and marketing structures are best suited to serving farmer interests. This article reproduces the main content of the presentation. . .

Going the distance to get to school – Shane Gilchrist:

As another school year looms so, too, does the weekday routine of actually getting children to class. For some, that means going the distance, as Shane Gilchrist discovers.

Off to school on a sunny morning into the farm truck and heading to the boat. Open the gate, out of the truck and into the boat. Lifejackets on and we are heading to Camp Creek. That is where we meet the school bus to get to school …

”If it is a smooth lake we play and you can move or guess what we are going to do for the day. But on a rough lake we have to sit in our seats for the whole way. When we get there I race to the bus. I get on and one of my friends said, `You are early – it was only 8.20 when you should be there at 8.30′. But it doesn’t really matter …”

Eight-year-old Alice Wallis’ story might be relatively short, but her weekday journey is a wee bit longer than that typically taken by the many thousands of New Zealand children who return to school next week.

Even though Makarora School can be seen from Minaret Station, on the western shore of Lake Wanaka, it still takes 45 minutes to make the one-way trip by (as Alice has explained) farm truck, boat then bus. . .


Cosy deal continuing to end of year

15/01/2014

The Taxpayers’ Union blew the whistle on the $19m wasted on contracts for workplace safety training:

Material released by the Taxpayers’ Union show a cosy deal between Business New Zealand, the Council of Trade Unions (“CTU”) and ACC has cost ACC-levy payers $19 million since 2003.

The documents, available and summarised below show ACC knew that millions paid to Business NZ and the CTU to provide health and safety training did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents.

Recent ACC analysis concludes that, even with optimistic assumptions, for every dollar spent on the training 84 cents is wasted. 

A 2013 briefing to the Minister for ACC, Judith Collins, states that the CTU has found it “challenging” to meet its performance obligations even though it has been contracted for service since 2003. 

The documents show that Business NZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture and doubts about the value of the scheme have existed since at least 2008.

It appears that Business NZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves. But we think it’s a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash. We think members of Business NZ and the CTU should be asking hard questions of their respective management teams.

Even the report in 2008 shows that that whole scheme was achieving little more than ‘engagement’. While ACC, Business NZ and the CTU must have known the scheme was worthless, they all allowed further millions to be spent.

This is the worst example of government waste the Taxpayers’ Union has seen to date. It involves two quasi-political organisations from the left and the right complacent in receiving taxpayer funds, likely knowing that the benefit was a small fraction of the amount being spent.

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on Ms Collins to put an end to this hand out to Business NZ and the CTU.

ACC Minister Judith Collins says this has all the markings of a taxpayer rort:

. . . Ms Collins told Radio New Zealand’s Summer Report programme on Wednesday the scheme is clearly not working and she does not intend to waste more money on it by taking further action, since the contracts are unlikely to be renewed.

The minister said the programme looked like a very cosy deal set up in 2003, leaving the people it aimed to help with nothing.

“I think it’s pretty clear what happened and the review that’s been undertaken by ACC has already shown that it has been a waste of money,” she said.

“I actually think it has all the hallmarks of a rort.” . . .

There’s nothing new in cosy deals which give unions public funds for programmes which may or may not be value for money.

Business New Zealand members should be asking very serious questions of the organisation to find out why it too has been wasting money in this way.

Yesterday it looked like ACC was canning the scheme but today the Taxpayers’ Union says the schemes have been extended to the end of this year.

Despite the ACC telling media yesterday that it decided ‘late last year’ to can the programme, we learned this morning that the contracts were renewed in December. The end date is now 31 December 2014.

It appears that ACC only changed its tune since the Taxpayers’ Union publicly exposed the rort.

Remember, it’s not the Taxpayers’ Union who labelled the training scheme a waste of money, it’s ACC’s own experts. Telling the public that they will scrap the scheme but waiting for the new contracts to expire is not good enough. They conveniently failed to mention that the contracts have just been renewed…

The Taxpayers’ Union is also backing the Minister for ACC’s reported comments that Business NZ and the CTU should pay the wasted money back to ACC. With such clear evidence that the money did little if anything to improve workplace safety, we think Business NZ and the CTU are morally obliged to stop wasting this money and compensate ACC levy payers.

ACC fees are being reduced for most workers and businesses.

If it wasn’t wasting money on useless training it might be able to make further cuts.

Workplace safety is a serious business, it shouldn’t be a vehicle for a rort by unions and the group which is supposed to work in businesses’ best interests.


ACC levies down 21-29% for farmers

05/12/2013

Reductions in ACC levies will result in significant savings for farmers.

Farmers are delighted the Government has confirmed ACC levies for 2014/15, which will see between 21 and 29 percent, shaved off work levy rates for farming ‘risk groups’.  This reflects an improving safety record on-farm and should go lower as this trend continues.

“While farmers may work in one of the highest risk groups, we are finally seeing our improving safety record translate into the levies paid by pastoral farmers,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers ACC spokesperson.

“If there is ever an advertisement for why good safety is good for business then this is it.  Work levy rates for pastoral farming categories in 2014/15 are being shaved between 21 and as high as 29 percent.

“From the macro sense this will save all businesses, not just farming ones, $151 million this financial year in the Work Levy alone.  As farmers are self-employed they will get a share of what is a $151 million safety dividend.

“Employees will also be paying $236 million less in the Earners’ Levy too.

“While Federated Farmers is very happy with this that comes as a result of ACC consultation, one thing we will be watching out for is to ensure any cut to levies does not shift the goal posts of entitlement when farmers need to claim.

“We trust the levy cuts reflect a far more efficient and focused ACC, rather than chalking up accidental injuries as part of the ‘wear and tear’ of being alive.

“Given what Minister Collins said earlier in the week, we remain very hopeful that a safer vehicle fleet including farm road going farm vehicles, will see a cut next year in the motor vehicle account average levy.

“Overall this is a very good result for employers and employees alike but we now wonder if the time has come to give ACC its political independence from levy setting, much like the Reserve Bank has with the Official Cash Rate,” Mrs Milne concluded.

Farms are full of hazards – animals, vehicles, machinery, insects . . .

But taking account of individual business’s safety records when setting levies rewards safer workplaces which is good.

A table on the link above shows reduction varying from 40 cents (from $1.40 to $1 per hundred dollars earned) for grain and crop growing to $1.06 (from $4.26 – $3.20) for shearing.

These are significant amounts which will leave more money in the pockets of businesses and employees.

The table below shows the finalised 2014/15 Work Levy rates (current portion) for employers and self-employed people compared to last year’s rates payable on each $100 of wages or earnings from self-employment (all rates shown exclude GST):

Farming occupations

Previous Levy (2013/14)

 New Levy (2014/15)

Grain growing $               1.40  $           1.00
Crop growing (not elsewhere classified) $               1.40  $           1.00
Grain (and sheep or beef) $               2.56  $           1.94
Sheep/Beef $               2.56  $           1.93
Sheep $               2.56  $           1.93
Beef $               2.55  $           1.93
Beekeeping $               2.61  $           2.01
Dairy $               2.61  $           2.07
Deer $               2.61  $           2.01
Pig $               2.61  $           2.01
Other livestock $               2.62  $           2.02
Shearing $               4.26  $           3.20

$387m drop in employer, worker ACC levies

02/12/2013

ACC Minister Judith Collins has announced changes to ACC levies which will leave $387m in the pockets of employers and workers.

“This Government is committed to the long-term sustainability of the ACC scheme so that it is working for the benefit of both levy payers and claimants,” Ms Collins says.

“Workers and employers will be paying less thanks to the Corporation’s astute financial management, outstanding investment performance and dedication to effective rehabilitation.

“The average New Zealand household can expect to keep just over $200 each year. Small businesses will also be around $180 better off annually and larger employers will receive, on average, a $6000 reduction.”

Ms Collins says the cuts largely reflect the Earners Account (paid by workers) and the Work Account (paid by employers) being fully funded. This means there is enough money in those accounts to cover the ongoing cost of claims.

Motor Vehicle Account levies, incorporated into car registration and petrol prices, will remain the same as that account is not yet fully-funded. The Government expects to introduce cuts for motor vehicle owners from 1 July 2015.

Ms Collins says the Government is on track for further levy cuts in 2015/16 as signalled in the Government’s budget this year.

“It’s important New Zealand maintains its fiscal credibility by reducing pressure on the exchange rate and interest rates to ensure private sector growth and investment are supported. This is especially important as the Canterbury rebuild gathers pace.”

The new rates will be in place for the levy year which starts 1 April 2014.

 

Work Account
Average levy per $100 of liable earnings

Earners’ Account
Levy per $100 of liable earnings (incl. GST)

2014/15 levy rates

$0.95

$1.45

2013/14 levy rates

$1.15

$1.70


More warning on danger of LabourGreen power play

01/11/2013

Meridian Energy’s partial float was given an initial thumbs up by analysts but they warn the share price is likely to be volatile heading into next year’s general election.

One fund manager said the difference in share price between Labour and National could be as much as 90 cents. . . 

Analysts agreed that day one of the float was successful and the closing share price was in line with expectations.

Devon Funds Management equity analyst Phillip Anderson said new investors would be pleased. “It’s enough for the new investors to be happy – they are feeling good about it – but not so much that it looks like the seller left a lot on the table.”

The general feeling among analysts was that institutions which had their share quotas scaled back had created strong demand for Meridian shares.

But the analysts warned that the general election could affect the share prices of both Meridian and Mighty River Power, which was partly privatised this year.

“My valuation for . . . [Meridian] as a whole is . . . around $1.10 if the Labour Party wins, but business as usual under National at around two bucks,” Anderson said. . .

That loss in value isn’t just for the wealthy for whom the left show no concern.

It is loss in value for ACC, Kiwi Saver accounts, the New Zealand Superfund, other pension and savings funds, and of course in the 51% of the company the state still owns.

The best way to keep the value up is to get National back into government.

The #gigatownoamaru campaign doesn’t hold political views.


Collins questions ACC funding of CTU

02/10/2013

ACC Minister Judith Collins is questioning ACC funding the CTU to provide injury prevention training:

“The Council of Trade Unions’ (CTU) published annual accounts show the CTU has been paid up to $1.3 million (highest year was 2009) each year by ACC. In 2012 the total paid to CTU under three contracts was $669,000,” Ms Collins says.

“In the biggest contract shown in CTU accounts, ACC pays the CTU to provide training to health and safety representatives that large employers (over 30 staff) are legally obliged to have.

“Currently this is free-of-charge to these large businesses – it remains to be seen why ACC and levy payers should have to pay for this.

“It is not clear to me whether the provision of free training services for big business to carry out their legal obligation, is a good or fair use of levy payers’ money.”

The CTU and two other entities have similarly arranged contracts getting paid by ACC per person trained. The current fee is around $360 per person trained but the CTU has a higher maximum earning potential.

“ACC is investing up to $40 million a year on injury prevention. I’m advised all injury prevention investment is being reviewed to ensure it is evidence based and achieves results,” Ms Collins says.

It is perfectly reasonable to ask why businesses are funded for something they are legally obliged to have and a review to ensure that money spent on injury prevention is evidence based and achieves results is sensible.

ACC is back on a sound financial footing and its annual report annual report, released yesterday, shows a net surplus of $4.9 billion, which was $3.6 billion ahead of budget.

Chair Paula Rebstock said:

. . . the surplus would allow ACC to reduce the deficit between its assets and the lifetime cost of every claim on the books by $4.9 billion to $2.3 billion.

“The scheme is well on track to meet its objective of being financially sustainable – the point at which assets match forward costs – by 2019.

“More importantly, ACC’s strong performance has given the Government the confidence to signal that it believes decreases in ACC levies in 2014-15, and again in 2015-16, are sustainable. That is great news for all New Zealanders, particularly as it follows a $630 million reduction in levies for households and businesses in 2012-13.” . . .

“To ensure we maintain sustainability we will continue to evolve the Corporation. We will greatly increase our spending on injury prevention, and we will embark on a programme designed to improve outcomes for our clients through better case management and rehabilitation services. . .

Increasing spending on injury prevention is commendable but it provides an even stronger argument for a review which ensures that money currently being spent is well spent.


ACC consulting on levy reduction

18/09/2013

ACC Minister Judith Collins is welcoming the announcement that the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is looking into dropping its average levy rates.

Today ACC starts its public consultation on levy rates for levies in the upcoming 2014/15 year.

Earlier this year, Ms Collins signalled $300 million worth of levy cuts for taxpayers for 2014/15. 

“These levy cuts reflect positive gains made by the corporation across all its activities,” Ms Collins says. 

“ACC’s role is to reduce injuries and to help the injured back to independence after their injury as this is best for them, their families and their communities. The Corporation’s investment team has been in place for 17 years and has a long record of returns above benchmarks.

“Earners, employers and motorists may pay less in levies in 2014/15 as a result of ACC’s solid performance.

“ACC also protects New Zealanders by placing a greater focus on evidence based injury prevention.

“When teamed with progress in client services, the possibility of lower levies shows excellent improvement in the balance between the quality of services and the price New Zealanders pay for it.”

Answers to FAQs on the proposals are here.

Submissions close on October 15th. Details on the proposals are here and include:

  • 17% decrease in the average Work levy, paid by employers and self-employed people
  • 15% decrease in the Earners’ levy, paid by everyone in the paid workforce
  • 15% decrease in the average Motor Vehicle levy, paid by motor vehicle owners.

These would mean significant savings for individuals and businesses, leaving more money in people’s pockets.

Federated Farmers is welcoming the proposals but also asking if it’s time decisions on ACC were removed from politicians:

“The proposed levies for 2014/15 is potentially good news for farmers and should save them hundreds of dollars each year, especially if they are employers as well,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers ACC spokesperson.

“From our perspective, the performance of ACC has jumped up a few notches over recent years. From the performance of its investments to getting people fit for work, it seems to be getting the mix right.

“While we farmers may work in one of the highest risk groups, at last, we are seeing an improved safety record over the past five years for dairy, beef and sheep farmers translate into lower proposed levies.

“One thing we will be watching closely is to ensure any cut to levies doesn’t shift the goal posts of entitlement when farmers need to claim. This must be from a more efficient ACC rather than chalking up accidental injuries as just the ‘wear and tear’ of being alive.

“Admittedly 2012/13 did see an increase in farming claims and costs of claims, but the levies are based on a five year rolling average and that measure is more stable. It is good that ACC is sending farmers the solid message that improved safety is good for the bottom line.

“That will lock in good behaviour because if our safety record does go south, then higher levies will be the result. It is in our hands as an industry to guard against this.

“So if the politicians do tick off ACC’s proposed levies the work account levies for pastoral farming should be cut by around 20 percent. The earner account levy is also proposed to be cut by 15 percent.

“Having politicians ultimately saying yay or nay sticks in my craw. You must ask why ACC is required to go first by the Minister and then Cabinet to get its levies signed-off when we don’t do that with the Official Cash Rate, medicines or even the price of a stamp.

“All Kiwis benefit from a well run and focused ACC; just look at the proposed 15 percent cut in the motor vehicle account average levy that will save $50.68.

“ACC is now researching the safety performance of car makes and models with a view to bringing in different levy rates based on four ‘bands’. It is this kind of innovation that tells me the time has come for it to have political independence for levy setting,” Ms Milne concluded.

Incentives work.

Initiatives which provide a relationship between risks and costs are a good idea.


Wide approval for workplace safety reform

08/08/2013

Labour Minister Simon Bridges has announced the most significant reform of New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system in 20 years.

“The Working Safer package represents a major step change in New Zealand’s approach to meet our target of reducing the workplace injury and death toll by 25 percent by 2020,” says Mr Bridges.

“The reforms recalibrate our approach so we are working smarter, targeting risk and working together to improve performance in workplace health and safety.

“This is the legacy we owe to the Pike River families, the families of the 75 people who are killed each year in New Zealand workplaces, and the estimated 600 to 900 who die annually from the long-term effects of occupational disease.”

Mr Bridges says Working Safer addresses the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety which provided Government with a solid foundation to work from.

“We will improve the legislation and back it up with clear guidelines and enforcement, and investment in a strong new regulator WorkSafe New Zealand.

“But achieving the target is not something we can do alone. It also requires leadership and action from business and workers, working with government, sharing the responsibility and driving the solutions on the ground.

“Good health and safety makes good business sense.  It is an investment in improved productivity, staff engagement and in an organisation’s reputation in the community,” Mr Bridges says.

The rabid anti-business sector doesn’t get this.

Safe businesses are better businesses for people, productivity and profits.

Included in the reform package are:

  • an overhaul of the law, supported by clear, consistent guidelines and information for business on their requirements
  • more funding for WorkSafe New Zealand to strengthen enforcement and education and implement the changes
  • a focus on high risk areas
  • stronger focus on occupational harm and hazardous substances
  • better coordination between government agencies
  • improved worker participation
  • stronger penalties, enforcement tools and court powers.

More details on the package here.

BusinessNZ welcomes the changes:

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said it was a significant step in the right direction.

“Moving to a principles-based regime in which health and safety responses are tailored to the business rather than the current one-size-fits-all approach will be a real help to many businesses, as will a simpler approach to levy setting and other costs.

“We are also pleased to see a heavy emphasis on clarifying responsibilities and on providing information and guidance to businesses and their employees.” 

Mr O’Reilly urged that care be taken in finalising the law to avoid unintended consequences. . .

ACC is supportive:

ACC’s Chief Executive, Scott Pickering, says ACC is looking forward to working closely with the new Crown agent ‘WorkSafe New Zealand’. The agency forms the cornerstone of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Health and Safety.

“WorkSafe New Zealand will bring a new, sharper focus to the importance of workplace safety, and ACC will provide all the support we can to ensure more Kiwis go home safe and sound at the end of their working day.”

Mr Pickering says he’s very mindful of the important role ACC plays in injury prevention, but he also looks forward to seeing what can be achieved with a more collaborative approach.

“There’s a growing awareness that New Zealand’s high work-related injury rates require united action, with Government agencies, businesses and workers all working together towards the same goal. . .

Forest Owners Association supports the reforms:

“The government has a vital role to play in improving safety in the workplace,” says president Bill McCallum. “It has the power to pull a range of levers that will influence attitudes, understandings and behaviours of all involved.”

He says lax attitudes to safety are prevalent in New Zealand and even with the best will in the world, it is a battle to get safety to be seen as the number one priority by every individual in the workplace.

“What we desperately need is a change in culture at all levels of our society, so that unsafe work practices are rejected as being socially unacceptable. We have seen huge changes in social attitudes to drink driving and tobacco smoking, thanks largely to government support for campaigns addressing those issues.

“We now need the same focus brought to bear on cultural attitudes that portray risk-taking as being acceptable.

“The real game changer will be when we get acceptance from everyone involved – from the boardroom through to the worker in the forest – that we have a collective and personal responsibility for health and safety. This is a responsibility to and by the worker, as well as to their workmates, their families and the businesses they work for.”

The package has also been welcomed by the CTU:

Helen Kelly, CTU President said “the announcements today acknowledge that our health and safety system is in need of an overhaul, and we welcome the direction taken by the Government with these proposed changes.”

“Moves to strengthen worker participation at the workplace are particularly positive and will help keep Kiwi workers safer at work. The inclusion of a general duty to involve and consult with workers on health and safety matters, and strengthen the role of H&S representatives will give workers a voice in how health and safety is handled in their workplace”.

Her only complaint is no worker representative on the Worksafe New Zealand Board.

Even the  the Public Service Association: welcomes the reforms, though it too complains that there’s no representative for workers on the Worksafe board.

Work safety is the responsibility of employers and employees, wide support for the reforms from representatives of both is a good start.


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