Rural round-up

June 17, 2018

Infected cattle bring opportunity for study – Sally Rae:

It will not be possible to control Mycoplasma bovis if an eradication attempt fails, given the present lack of understanding of the infection and the “gross inadequacy” of existing diagnostics, Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says.

Otago-based Prof Griffin, whose career has focused on animal health research, described that as the “sad reality”.

He believed the Government’s decision to attempt eradication first was the correct one, even though it brought considerable public liability for taxpayer funding. . .

TB work will help fight M. Bovis:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis could be supported by the 25-year legacy of co-operation between OSPRI/TBfree and AgResearch in tracking and researching bovine tuberculosis.  Richard Rennie spoke to Dr Neil Wedlock, one of the country’s senior bTB researchers on what can be learned.

Collaboration between AgResearch scientists and disease control managers at OSPRI TBfree and its predecessor the Animal Health Board has led to important technical breakthroughs resulting in a drastic reduction in the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in livestock.

Eradication of TB from the national herd by 2026 will be hailed as a disease control success story but there are some challenges to deal with before that happens. . . .

Trio share their travels through hills and valleys – Toni Williams:

You can’t go from mountain to the next mountain without going in the valley,” says farmer and author Doug Avery.

Mr Avery, along with Paul ”Pup” Chamberlain and Struan Duthie, was guest speaker at a Rural Support Mid Canterbury session at the Mt Somers Rugby Club rooms.

Rural Mid Cantabrians were encouraged to ”take a break” with the trio as they spoke of their life experiences – the ups and the downs.

From front-line policing during the 1981 Springbok tour, reaching rock bottom farming in drought-stricken Marlborough to cracking open emotions, they shared it all.

All three spoke of the importance of having a mentor, or a support network of people to help when times were tough. . .

Pure taste sours :

Meat companies have asked Beef + Lamb New Zealand not to launch the Taste Pure Nature origin brand in North America fearing it will confuse consumers and give competitors a free ride.

The Lamb Company, a partnership between the country’s three largest lamb exporters Alliance, Anzco and Silver Fern Farms, has spent 54 years jointly developing the North American market.

Its chairman Trevor Burt fears the origin brand will clash with its Spring Lamb brand. . .

Climate change discussion ‘direction of travel’ is positive – Feds:

The National Party’s five principles on which it will base emission reduction policies, including science-based and taking into account economic impact, are spot on, Federated Farmers says.

The Opposition’s support for a bi-partisan approach to establishing an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission was outlined by Leader Simon Bridges in a speech at Fieldays this morning.  National’s three other emission reduction criteria are technology driven, long-term incentives and global response.

“We’re delighted that the Coalition Government, and now National, have both signaled their recognition that there’s a good case for treating short-lived greenhouse gases (such as methane) and long-lived (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) differently,” Katie says. . .

Different treatment of methane the right thing for global warming:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is pleased to see a differentiated approach, to treat methane differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, being given serious consideration in New Zealand’s climate change policy dialogue.

“Policy must be underpinned by robust science and be appropriate to the targeted outcome. If the outcome we want is climate stabilisation, then the science is telling us to treat long-lived gases differently to methane in policy frameworks” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther . . .

This generation of women not just farm wives anymore – Colleen Kottke:

For many generations, the heads of farm operations across America were likely to be men clad in overalls wearing a cap emblazoned with the logo of a local seed dealership or cooperative.

Back then, most women were viewed as homemakers who raised the children, kept the family fed and clothed, and were delegated as the indispensable “go-fer” who ran for spare parts, delivered meals out to the field and kept watch over sows during farrowing – all the while keeping hearth and home running efficiently

Although many of these duties were important to the success of the farm, they were often looked upon as secondary in nature. Today women are stepping into the forefront and playing more prominent roles on the farm and in careers in the agribusiness industry once dominated by their male counterparts. . .


Labour lurches further left with McCarten as CoS

February 26, 2014

Matt McCarten is Labour’s new chief of staff.

Former New Labour and Alliance party founder Matt McCarten has been appointed chief of staff for Labour Party leader David Cunliffe.

In a move likely to please Cunliffe’s backers on the left of the party and place further strain on relationships with centrist, senior members of his caucus, Cunliffe said McCarten’s proven track record as a political organiser and strategist over more than 30 years qualified him for the role.

“He has spent his life fighting for social justice and workers’ rights. His values are the values of the Labour Party and the values of the government I want to lead,” said Cunliffe.

McCarten’s early professional life was in the trade union movement. He split with the Labour Party in 1989 to help form the New Labour Party with dissident Labour MP Jim Anderton, then split with Anderton in 2002 over the Alliance’s coalition with the Labour-led government of Helen Clark.

Anderton went on to form the Progressive Party and the Alliance lost all its parliamentary seats that year.

McCarten most recently stood for Parliament in the Mana by-election in 2010 as a candidate for the far left-wing Mana Party, led by Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira, and has been an adviser to Mana.

That’s an interesting political journey -he started in the Labour Party, moved to New Labour, then Alliance,  Mana and now he’s back in Labour.

Do the values of the Labour Party Cunliffe says he shares, not paying tax?

Inland Revenue is chasing unionist Matt McCarten’s Unite Support Services Ltd. for $150,750 in unpaid taxes after the department forced the company into liquidation last month.

McCarten’s vehicle, which supplied administrative support services to the youth-orientated union Unite Inc., was put into liquidation by a High Court order last month after the tax department pursued it for “failure to provide for taxation,” according to the first liquidator’s report. . .

Whatever he’s done and wherever he’s been, there’s no question about where he wants to go and take Labour with him  – that’s to the far left.
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Meeting the candidates

October 17, 2011

A long serving MP told me that the incumbent in a safe seat was always at a disadvantage at pre-election meet-the-candidates-meetings.

The other would-be MPs could say almost anything ,secure in the knowledge they’d never get to parliament to be held to account. The incumbent had a much harder task of making no promises s/he couldn’t realistically deliver.

With MMP the MP might expect to have at least one other candidate on the same side of the political spectrum to balance the opposition but at North Otago Greypower’s meeting on Saturday it was five to one against the sitting MP.

However, National’s Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean was more than a match for the other five candidates representing the Alliance, Green, Labour and Democrats for Social Credit parties and an independent.

She presented the facts and figures on National’s term. This included the explanation that superannuation had gone up 18.9% since National came to power and the sobering reminder that around half of New Zealand households were net tax recipients and 71% of net tax was paid by the relatively small number of people earning more than $150,000.

She also explained the importance of continuing to rebalance the economy to move from high spending, taxing and borrowing to savings and export-led growth.

Unlike the other candidates Jacqui is actively campaigning for both the party and constituent votes and she gave examples which showed her knowledge of Waitaki, its people and their concerns; and the breadth and depth of her work across her 34,888 square kilometre electorate.

As for the other candidates?

Like Jacqui, the Green’s Sue Coutts was articulate and exuded warmth and conviction. She was clear about her party’s policies, though unlike Jacqui, was much stronger on aspirational goals than practicalities.

Labour’s Barry Monks began by saying he didn’t realise he was expected to make a five mintue speech. This showed he’d failed candidates 101: if invited to a meeting, ascertain date, time, venue and purpose and what’s required.

The independent, David Ford, told us he was an entrepreneur. Any positive impression this might have created was spoiled when he went on to say he’d returned to New Zealand after 38 years overseas with only $10,000 which suggests he wasn’t a particularly successful one.

The Alliance candidate, Norman MacRitchie, who received 93 votes in the last election, wanted to repeal the States Services Act.  The Democrat for Social Credit candidate, Hessel Van Wieren, who gained 140 votes in the last election, tried to convince us the Reserve Bank could solve all our problems by creating more money.

When the speakers finished the man two along from me accused the bloke between us of having made up his mind before he got there. I suspect that was true of most of the audience, but at least they’d made the effort to get to the meeting and listen to other points of view, even if it only confirmed preconceived ideas.

For less biased reports on the metting see: party candidates set out policies for voters in the ODT; and Waitaki Candidates grilled on asset sales in the Timaru Herald.


Is MMP good for wee parties?

February 8, 2011

One of the supposed virtues of MMP is that it give wee parties a far better opportunity to get into parliament than would be possible under FPP.

But there is little point just getting into parliament. To achieve much a party must get into government and how many of the wee parties that have got into government have survived?

New Zealand First splintered into bits which disappeared at the next election. NZ First came back only because its leader won his seat and in spite of bringing other MPs into parliament was, and still is, no more than a one-man vanity vehicle.

United Future has swallowed up several other parties to no good effect. It too survives on the strength of its leader’s now tenuous hold on a seat and when he goes the party will too.

Act has pulled itself together after nearly falling apart last year. But it struggles to articulate what it really stands for and survives only by virtue of the people of Epsom who voted for its leader.

Alliance imploded. Jim Anderton clung to his seat and pretence at leadership through various changes in party names. The current manifestation still exists only to provide him with a leader’s budget and will go at the next election.

I was pulled up for calling the Green Party wee when it is the third biggest in New Zealand politics.

But that is not so much a reflection on its success, as the failures of all but the two bigger parties. An organisation which can’t count its members in at least thousands, and for democracy’s sakes it should be 10s of thousands, is really only a lobby group not a party.

Call it what you like, a party which has managed to get into parliament in three successive elections but failed to get into government is effectively only a lobby group with public funding.

Now the Maori Party is facing the problem all wee parties face in government – the need to differentiate itself and claim kudos for its achievements without undermining the government or its own support base.

The party’s co-leaders and two of its other MPs have accepted the reality that it’s better to get something  than to stand on a high horse and get nothing. Hone Harawira hasn’t and his antics threaten the party.

If he becomes an independent or forms another party and stands again he might split the vote and allow the Labour candidate to get through. When the Maori Party loses its seats it will almost certainly disappear and the seats could well follow.

The National Party policy to get rid of the seats was set aside in coalition negotiations with the Maori Party. If the party allies itself with Labour or disappears that policy is almost certain to be resuscitated.

After five elections under MMP only three wee parties survive with more than a leader. One has never been in government. The other two are there only because they hold a seat or seats and neither could be regarded as being secure in the long term.

MMP gives wee parties the oxygen of representation in parliament but they risk suffocation when they get into government.


Fewer lambs but still enough chops for bbq

August 10, 2008

The t-shirt which proclaimed New Zealand’s ewenique – 60 million sheep can’t be wrong is well out of date with the national flock now down by more than a third from that number according to Meat and Wool New Zealand’s report on the year to June 2008. 

 

Breeding ewes dropped by 9.5% from 26.063m to 23.59m; and total sheep numbers declined 11.2% from 38.461m to 34.150m. This is the lowest number of breeding ewes since 1952 and the lowest total of sheep we’ve had since 1050.

 

The estimated lamb crop was 31.836m in June last year and declined by 13.4% to 27.599m.  Hogget numbers are estimated to have decreased 16.2% with a drop in the North Island of 7% and 26.6% in the South,

 

The sharp drop in numbers is attributed to concerns about the profitability of the sheep industry, last season’s drought and more attractive alternative land uses, especially dairy and dairy support.

 

Ewe condition at mating was poor because dry weather led to inadequate flushing feed and consequently lower rates of conception.

 

Scanning shows a lot of variability but the decline in ewe and hogget numbers mated and a lower expected lambing percentage is expected to lead to a decline in the total lamb crop of 4.2 million or 13.4%. 

 

Beef cattle are estimated to have decreased by between 0.3and 19.6 per cent although this was partially offset by herd rebuilding in Gisborne and of Hawke’s Bay.

 

These figures will be sobering reading for the meat industry. Kill numbers are expected to be down by 9 million in total throughout New Zealand. To put that into perspective a plant like Alliance’s Pukeuri works would kill about 2 million sheep a season.

 

That would indicate that closing of freezing works has not finished. However, Frogblog draws a long bow in concluding summer’s bbq chops are at risk because of dairy conversions. The 34 million sheep left will still provide enough chops and sausages.

 

The Frog is also wrong in asserting:

 

It’s funny how short term economic decisions, like the mad rush to industrial dairy, have long term economic, environmental and social consequences like climate change, water pollution and, it seems, diet.

 

There is nothing short term or purely economic about the decision to convert from sheep farming to dairy. It is a huge investment which is not undertaken lightly and has to be for the long term.

 

There are many positive social consequences from dairying which requires more staff and so leads to an increase in population, a boost in school rolls and the creation of jobs in servicing and support which flows on to rural towns.

 

Dairying doesn’t automatically lead to water pollution either. Regional Councils are taking a very strict approach to breaches of consent and the pollution of waterways and there are a lot of proactive approaches to safeguarding the environment from farmers, irrigation companies and dairy companies.

 


Alliance releases list

July 28, 2008

The Alliance must still be in existance because it has released its party list.

Co-leadersKay Murray and Andrew McKenzie have the top two palces. Murray, who is also Dunedin South candidate, is a programme manager for people with disabilities. McKenzie, who is standing in Port Hills, is a barrister specialising in employment law. 

Other top ten candidates include Victor Billot, communications officer for the Maritime Union, at number 3, Alliance Party president Paul Piesse at number 4, secondary teacher Richard Wallis at number 5, postgraduate student Sarah Campbell at number 6, truck driver Bob van Ruyssevelt at number 7, University of Otago emeritus professor of Politics Jim Flynn at number 8, union organizer and postgraduate student Sarita Divis at number 9, and merchandiser Amy Tubman at number 10.

Other candidates include Wellington publisher and branding expert Jack Yan (number 12), Alliance disabilities spokesperson Chris Ford (number 22), and a young New Zealander working in the mining industry in Pilbara, Western Australia, Justin Wilson (number 23).

This is the remnants of the party which got 7.74% of the party vote and 10 MPs in 1999. But the Greens pulled out then Jim Anderton left to form whatever the party what is now the Progressive Party, leaving Laila Harre to lead the Alliance until it was defeated at the 2002 election.

We’re pretty far apart on the political spectrum, but I admire the dedication of these volunteers who are prepared to stand for what they believe in when they have no hope of getting into parliament to implement it.


More SFF jobs lost

July 22, 2008

At least a couple of hundred people will lose their jobs when Silver Fern Farms closes its sheep and lamb slaughtering and processing plant at Belfast.

SFF chief executive Keith Cooper said the closure of the slaughter operations was the final instalment of its Project Rightsize for 2008, a programme which was designed to align processing capacity with supply, enhance financial performance, and re-position the business as a true marketing organisation under the Silver Fern brand.

It reflects the overall decline in South Island sheep and lamb numbers, which are expected to drop by an estimated 2.2 million units next year, as conversions in traditional sheep and lamb farming areas to dairy and alternate land uses translate into lower stock units.

Cooper said SFF projections were broadly aligned with Meat and Wool Economic Service forecasts that signal an overall reduction in livestock over at least the next three years.

There were also specific issues that make the slaughter processing operation at Canterbury less tenable. These include the requirement for capital investment in effluent management systems, environmental upgrading, and limited development options compared to other key sites.

“The proximity to residential zoning also contributed to the decision,” he said.

The processors boning room facilities would continue to operate as usual, as the company needed to retain its processing capability to meet increased demand for chilled product across the business, Cooper said.

Cooper said while no further closures are planned, all operations are subject to ongoing review based on site economics.

With this proposal, Silver Farm Farms would have reduced the number of full operating sites by six, with lamb capacity reduced by five chains.

Since February 2007 the company has reduced debt by $150 million.

“These decisive actions, coupled to the proposed partnership with PGG Wrightson and commitment of additional capital of $220 million, should now address the concerns Alliance had with a merger last year and create the opportunity for Alliance to recommence merger discussions,” Cooper said.

“This can only benefit suppliers to the two co-operatives.” 

The admission that Alliance’s concerns over last year’s proposed merger is interesting but it doesn’ explain why SFF spurned Alliance’s mega-merger proposal this year.

As for creating an opportunity for Alliance to recommence merger discussion, It’s possible I’m not talking to the right people, but those I am discussing the issue are strongly opposed to PGW’s involvement with SFF and that would make a merger with Alliance less likely not more.


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