Did you see the one about . . .


Milk and health: there aren’t always two (equal) sides to a story – what Alison Campbell at Sciblogs  learned at the gym; she also had a trip to the optometrists because of flashes in the eye.

John Freeman on Shrinking the World – Quote Unquote learned about slow communication at Writers and Readers.

Finger tutting – Ozy Mandias Warning on geometircal dexterity.

Heritage Irises – a blog celebrating irises which gives a promise of spring to brighten winter.

Four essential questions for government – Inquiring Mind on the need to focus on benefit and value.

Murphy’s Law – RivettingKateTaylor had one of those moments when Toyota isn’t strong enough.

At the risk of stirring old broth – Laughy Kate has a number joke which leads to a number of others in the comments.

Book sales, frumpy readers and mental rotation of book titles – Grant Jacobs from Sciblogs went to the Regent Theatre 24 hour book sale.

Congratulations to the Visible Hand in Economics on 1000 posts .

And an announcement that Agridata has moved to interest.co.nz

Top rural websites


Scoop reports  the top 10 New Zealand rural websites for domestic traffic from Nielsen NZ Market Intelligence in September:

1. metservice.co.nz/rural 70, 683.

2. stuff.co.nz/farming         38,805.

3. rd1.com                                 13,125.

4. farmtrader.co.nz               11,504.

5. dealsonwheels.co.nz            8,927.

6. country-wide.co.nz             4,772.

7. ruraltrader.co.nz                3,276.

8. agridata.co.nz                      3,216.

9. nzfarmersweekly.co.nz      2,686.

10. ruralliving.co.nz               1,707.

It doesn’t surprise me that the Met Service is so popular. When you work outside and so much you do is affected by the weather forecasts are very important. I helped one of our staff set up a new laptop recently and he has the Met Service site as his homepage.

Stuff includes most of the provinical papers and has good rural news and features.

Countrywide and NZ Farmers Weekly are the most highly regarded of the give away papers which turn up in rural mail boxes. The popularity of the papers and dial up or slow broad band for internet conncetion might explain why their websites don’t get more hits.

Rural voices in the blogosphere


Agriculture Minister David Carter has joined the blogosphere at Over The Fence  ,  it’s good to not only have a blogging minister but another rural voice.

I’ve recently discovered another rural blogs: Kismet Farm.

Others who give a rural perspective on the blogosphere are:


Alf Grumble MP

Bull Pen 

RivettingKate Taylor

2B Sophora

I’ve also just discovered Half Pie who isn’t rural, but he was a country boy.

If you write, or know of, any other rural blogs, I’d appreciate you leaving the web address in the comments.

Hat Tips: Kiwiblog & Lindsay Mitchell.

Recession deepens milk surplus climbs


If the demand for widgets drops it’s not difficult for the factories producing them to reduce production.

It’s much harder with plants and animals so although the demand for dairy products has fallen farmers can’t turn off the milk tap and as the New York Times reports  that’s leading to stockpiles of milk powder.

As a breakneck expansion in the global dairy industry turns to bust, Roger Van Groningen must deal with the consequences. In a warehouse that his company runs here, 8 to 20 trucks pull up every day to unload milk powder. Bags of the stuff — surplus that nobody will buy, at least not at a price the dairy industry regards as acceptable — are unloaded and stacked into towering rows that nearly fill the warehouse.

Mr. Van Groningen’s company does not own the surplus milk powder, but merely stores it for the new owners: the taxpayers of the United States. To date, the government has agreed to buy about $91 million worth of milk powder.

. . .  Government price supports provide a price floor for agricultural products as a way of keeping farmers afloat during hard times and ensuring an adequate food supply.

. . . Some critics of farm subsidies argue that price support programs are antiquated and allow farmers to continue producing even when the economics make no sense, as taxpayers will always buy up the excess production.

The USA isn’t along in stockpiling milk powder. The EU is too and  it’s also happening in New Zealand although here it’s the farmer owned company Fonterra and not the government doing it.

Roarprawn asks whether Fonterra shareholders are getting the true picture when Agridata points out that stock piles mean milk isn’t selling.

I was at a meeting in December where we got a frank account of the state of the industry and while whitegold has lost the lustre it had just months ago, the long term outlook is positive.

That doesn’t mean the short to medium term will be easy, especially for those who converted recently when land, stock and building prices were at their peak.  And if dairy farmers are tightening their belts their employees and those who service and supply them will feel the pinch too.

In light of this, farmers who’ve put their efforts, and money, into expensive supplementary feeding systems designed to increase production would do well to remember New Zealand’s competitive advantage is the ability to grow grass which gives us a low cost, pasture based dairy industry.

As for Fonterra, the measure of a company is not how it handles a rising market but how well it does when prices fall and it will be some months until we can judge them on that.

White gold loses lustre


Dairy prices last season were at record highs, well above the long term average so a drop isn’ t unexpected.

However, it is concerning that international prices for butter, chedder, skim and whole milk are heading back to 2006 levels.

Cicero  found these charts from agridata.co.nz which show the drops in international dairy prices:

Photobucket PhotobucketPhotobucket Photobucket

The fall in the value of the dollar will compensate for some of the fall in prices, but that’s a two edge sword because a lower dollar increases the prices of two of the biggest budget items – fuel and fertiliser.

The other concern for farmers is that while income will drop the costs of production never go down as far or as fast as product prices.

There is also a wider concern for the New Zealand economy. Dairy produce accounts for around quarter of our exports so a significant drop in returns for butter, milk and cheese has a significant impact on the national income and balance of payments.

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