Rural round-up

24/06/2014

Optimistic over farming sector’s future – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills stands down next month after three years in the role. He talks to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about his tenure and his optimism for the agricultural industry’s future.

His desk might have been cleared in Wellington but New Zealand’s farming community can be assured they have not seen the last of Bruce Wills.

After three years at the governance helm of Federated Farmers and a prior three-year tenure as meat and fibre chairman, his involvement, following the organisation’s annual meeting on July 4, will only be as a ”very loyal” member. . .

Why a carbon tax is udderly useless to us – William Rolleston:

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activity, including agriculture, plays a significant role in climate change.

Yet the Green Party’s proposal to tax biological emissions is bad policy for climate change and the economy.

Along with every other New Zealander, farmers already pay for their carbon-dioxide emissions in the current Emissions Trading Scheme. The issue, the Greens argue, boils down to biological emissions in the form of methane and nitrous oxide.

Methane is a powerful but short-lived greenhouse gas generated by bacteria in the stomach of farm animals. It lasts around seven years before being converted back to carbon dioxide which is taken up by plants. The methane cycle is complete when animals eat those plants in turn. Methane is measured as kilograms of carbon dioxide based on a 100-year time frame.

This time frame has been chosen by international agreement but any period could have been chosen. . .

Harriet takes on shepherds challenge – Sally Rae:

Harriet Gardner admits she might not be the ”fastest in the world” at it – but she can shear a sheep.

That skill will be crucial when Miss Gardner (20) takes part in the preliminary round of competition at the World Young Shepherds Challenge at Lincoln from July 3-5.

The competition will be held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest grand final events. It will consist of shearing, condition scoring, a quad bike obstacle course, identifying sheep breeds, feet trimming, drenching, counting sheep and demonstrating knowledge ofthe sheep industry. . .

$75m for NZ-Singapore ‘Foods for Health’ projects:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced that the Government will invest NZ$1.75 million to fund New Zealand-Singapore collaborative research projects on the development of food products with validated health benefits. 

New Zealand’s investment will be matched by Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), bringing the total investment amount to approximately NZ$3.5 million over two years.

“One of the goals of the Business Growth Agenda is to grow exports from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of GDP by 2025. Continuing to develop our innovation in the food science and technology industry will be a key contributor to achieving this,” Mr Joyce says. . . .

A champion for farming :

Fiona Hancox’s father was Colin Richardson, a man who started life as a townie, before eventually owning 12 West Otago farms as well as being extensively involved in farming politics.

Although the son of a tailor, he decided at an early age he wanted to be a farmer.

His first agricultural job was on a property at Crookston, before moving to Gimmerburn to work for the Paterson family and to be a fencing contractor.

Jim Paterson helped him into his first farm – Avalon – at Heriot, when he was 24. . .

Former chair appointed to deer board:

Clive Jermy OMNZ, a well-known red deer stud breeder, has been appointed to the board of Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) for a three-year term. He is one of four producer board members, replacing Tim Aitken, Hawkes Bay.

Mr Jermy is a former board chair, standing down in 2007. Before that he was chair of the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association.

NZDFA selection and appointments panel chair David Stevens said the panel had interviewed three skilled and talented candidates and the decision process was extremely challenging. The unsuccessful candidates were Tim Aitken, who stood for re-election and Otago-based businessman and deer farmer Grant Cochrane. . .

 


Natural resources at heart of regional economies

07/06/2014

The importance of the natural resources sector to New Zealand’s regional economies is highlighted in the 2014 Regional Economic Activity Report, released by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

The report, produced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, brings together comprehensive economic data on New Zealand’s 16 regions in one place. It also identifies specific initiatives under way in each region through the Government’s Business Growth Agenda. It is the second report in an annual series.

“The 2014 Regional Economic Activity Report highlights the diversity of our regions, with each making a different contribution to the national economy,” Mr Joyce says. “It also shows examples of both larger urban centres and smaller rural economies that are doing well.

“The report shows that the natural resource industries are the foundation for economic activity in most of our regional economies. What is clear is that policymakers at all levels need to be careful about policy changes that would hurt these sectors and impact on jobs and growth in regional New Zealand.

This is a very deliberate shot across the bows of opposition parties which are anti-farming, anti-resource extraction and anti-development.

“Over the last decade, agricultural regions have benefited from rising commodity prices for dairy products and, more recently, meat. However, signs of recovery from the Global Financial Crisis are obvious across the board, with employment numbers increasing in all regions over the last year.

“The report highlights the strengths and challenges each region faces and the opportunities they have to further contribute to New Zealand’s economic growth. It is a useful tool to support planning at all levels and I expect it to encourage public debate about how each region can be more successful.”

This year’s Regional Economic Activity Report includes for the first time the official measure of regional gross domestic product, more comprehensive figures on employment and incomes, and new sections on population and Māori economic development.

To complement the report, an interactive website has been developed that contains information on 66 sub-regional areas. This finer detail is available online or can be accessed on the go, through a download for tablets.

To further support economic growth, the Government is also working with local stakeholders on a series of more in-depth studies on the East Coast, Northland, Manawatu-Wanganui and Bay of Plenty regions. These will provide a more detailed assessment of the particular strengths and challenges that these regions face and how their economies can be developed.

“Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth and investment,” says Mr Joyce. “For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need all of our regions to achieve to their potential.

“Each region has advantages which it can build upon and diversify from. The problem is not a lack of opportunities – it’s how we continue to do better at creating wealth and jobs from the opportunities we have.”

You can access the full report here.

The housing crisis is one of the issues de jour although it isn’t a problem in most of the country.

Recognising the strengths of the regions and realising their potential would bring economic and social benefits for them and could take some of the pressure off housing demand and other population pressures in Auckland and Christchurch.


Boost to apprenticeships

08/05/2014

A generation ago thousands of people left school and took up apprenticeships.

In the intervening years changes to the system led to a drop in numbers of apprentices which has led to a shortage of skilled trades people.

A pre-Budget announcement provides a welcome boost to help solve that problem:

Continuing high demand for the Apprenticeship Reboot means the Government has decided to spend up to $20 million in Budget 2014 for an extra 6,000 places as part of its Business Growth Agenda, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

The Apprenticeship Reboot was announced in January 2013 by Prime Minister John Key alongside an overhaul of the apprenticeship scheme to get more apprentices qualified, especially in construction trades.

Eligible apprentices or trainees who sign up for training have been able to apply for a subsidy of $1,000 towards the cost of tools and off-job course costs, or $2,000 for those in priority trades. Employers are also eligible for an equal payment.

“The Government extended the available places from 10,000 to 14,000 in December last year to keep up with demand,” Mr Joyce says.

”We’re now committing additional funding in Budget 2014 of up to $20 million for 6,000 more places. That brings total funding for the scheme to $69.4 million and the total number of places to 20,000.

“The Apprenticeship Reboot is proving very successful in getting more apprentices underway, especially in the priority trades we need for the rebuilding of Christchurch and the housing construction boom in Auckland. It is giving more Kiwis vital vocational skills that will set them up for their working lives, while meeting the needs of the growing economy.

“When we introduced the Reboot and New Zealand Apprenticeships, we anticipated that a total of 14,000 new apprentices would start training over the following five years, over and above the 7,000 who would normally enrol. However, demand for places continues to outpace this forecast.

“The Government’s ongoing investment in the Apprenticeship Reboot will benefit Christchurch, the wider economy, and thousands of New Zealanders whose training will lead to higher wages and better living standards for them and their families.”

More training opportunities will contribute to higher wages and better living standards: http://bit.ly/1ikno5l


National’s plan is working

12/02/2014

National’s plan for a brighter future is working – and as a consequence so are more young people:

The latest HLFS employment figures show the Government’s focus on young people is paying off, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett say.

“An increase of 28,500 (9.3 per cent) 15 to 24 year-olds in work over the past year and the lowest number of young people not being in employment, education, or training since 2008 is promising news for them and their families,” Mr Joyce says.

“Through our Business Growth Agenda the Government has been investing heavily in education and training to lift the skills and qualifications of our young people while matching the needs of employers.

“Initiatives such as Youth Guarantee, the Apprenticeship Reboot and Maori and Pasifika Trades Training are proving very successful in providing young people with important skills they will have for life.”

Mrs Bennett says the Government’s investment in youth services as part of the welfare reforms was also having a big impact in reducing the number of NEETs.

“Government funded youth providers are actively supporting 9,602 NEETs to get enrolled and remain in education, training or work based learning,” Mrs Bennett says.

“The Government’s Job Streams subsidies are encouraging more employers to give young people a go in good jobs with training. Thanks to these subsidies 2,578 young people got jobs.

“The Government is proud of what we are achieving in making a real difference for young people to get work and to get on with a bright future ahead of them.”

Employment has been lagging other positive indicators so this improvement is very encouraging.

Youth who go from school to a benefit are likely to stay on it for longer at a huge cost to them and the country financially and in terms of social outcomes like poorer health and a greater likelihood of committing crimes.

Keeping young people in education or getting them into training or work has both social and economic benefits for them and the rest of us.
>National’s focus on young people is paying off and making a real difference: www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43060


Need to grow all specialties

07/01/2014

Tweets of the day:


Perverse Midas touch

20/11/2013

Labour is trying to pretend its rediscovered the regions and has been showing the love by talking them down.

Once more the facts don’t support their rhetoric:

New Zealand’s economic recovery continues to be led by the regions, the latest ANZ Regional Trends report released today shows.

The report highlights that 12 out of 14 regions recorded a rise in economic activity in the September quarter and year-on year this was the strongest rate of increase since December 2004.

According to ANZ, the North Island, led by Taranaki, expanded 4 per cent in the year to September – a nine year high – while the South Island’s annual increase was higher at 4.6 per cent. Canterbury again recorded the strongest annual average rate of economic growth, increasing 6.2 per cent in the 12 months to September.

“ANZ’s report follows other recent positive economic indicators with business confidence at its highest level since 1994, the manufacturing sector in expansion for the last 11 months, and the net inflow of migrants in September being strongest since July 2003.

“The latest Regional Trends report makes a nonsense of the Opposition’s claims that New Zealand’s regions and towns are being ‘gutted’. The reality is it’s our regions that are leading New Zealand out of the Global Financial Crisis.

“This data will embarrass the Labour Party and comes on the back of other recent gaffes such as the “manufacturing crisis’ and the bizarre claim of a regional exodus the day before the Census results came out. Labour leader David Cunliffe was left red-faced when official statistics showed all but one region grew in size from 2006 to 2013 and he should be red-faced again.

“If it wants to Labour can keep talking down our regions and the performance of our economy. But only the National Government’s comprehensive Business Growth Agenda is creating jobs and lifting business confidence and growth in our regions and right across New Zealand.”

The report on the Business Growth Agenda is here.
The ANZ Regional Trends report shows that good economic news is translating into jobs:

Employment posted its strongest increase in 6½ years, led by a large lift in Otago.
The unemployment rate improved in all regions from the central North Island and
southwards.

Labour tried to manufacture a manufacturing crisis and manufacturing has improved.

It’s been spreading gloom about the regions when they’re doing well.

It’s a bit like a perverse Midas touch – whatever it says is bad is really as good as gold.

#gigatownoamaru is going for gold in its quest to be the southern hemisphere’s first giagtown.


SMEs prefer National

01/10/2013

Research released by research released today by MYOB,  shows the National Government enjoys the trust of the majority of SMEs when it comes to the economy and it’s the preferred party of a significant majority.

myob

The MYOB Business Monitor Report found 60% of the 1000+ SME business operators surveyed trust National the most to manage the economy, while only 10% trust Labour the most, 3% trust New Zealand First and 2% trust the Greens. 18% of operators don’t trust any party more than the other to manage the economy.

When it comes to policy management, the clear vote-winning initiatives are those focused on making it easier to meet the numerous compliance needs of running a business. 74% of operators said that in an election they would vote for the party who proposed to simplify taxation rules and red tape, with this ranking at the top of the list. 56% would vote for the party who proposed to simplify PAYE rules and processes, with this ranking second.

MYOB NZ General Manager, Business Division, James Scollay says the new research clearly highlights increasing confidence in an improving economy accompanied by a desire for government to reduce barriers to productivity.

“SMEs’ economic sentiment is clearly good news for the Government and is translating into trust in their current handling of the economy,” he says. “There is still improvement to be made, though, with almost one fifth of all SME operators saying they don’t trust any party over another to manage New Zealand’s economic future.

Most businesses in New Zealand are small to medium ones.

They are the ones least able to absorb the costs of compliance costs and deal with unnecessary regulations.

“Our research findings give clear evidence that SMEs are imploring government to reassess the need for particular regulations and processes involved with operating a business in New Zealand. They want their compliance load reduced wherever possible. This will no doubt assist in increasing their confidence in and satisfaction with Government. While there is of course a need to play by the rules, business owners don’t become their own boss to spend hours each month doing paperwork and ensuring they tick every box in the many compliance checklists.

“We urge Government to consider the impact of making business life a little easier, via reducing red tape, on local business owners’ ability to invest more time in planning, innovating and up-skilling themselves and their teams.”

The government’s Ausiness Growth Agenda is addressing many of the issues which concern SMEs.

LabourGreen policies including less flexible employment laws, more and higher taxes will make it much tougher for SMEs to operate and will be a disincentive to business growth.

Back to the survey:

Issues around the management of the Christchurch rebuild, which have been very public over the last three years, have not dented business operators’ confidence in the Government. National enjoys its strongest level of SME support in the city, with 66% of business operators signalling their trust in the Government on the economy. The Greens also has its highest level of support in the city, on 5%. Labour, on the other hand, has its lowest, also on 5%.

It will be interesting to see if this is reflected in the Christchurch east by-election.

The odds are against a National win. It ought to be a safe Labour seat and a sitting government has never taken a seat in a by-election. But this survey shows stronger support in the city for National which has a local candidate while Labour has parachuted in someone from Auckland.

In Wellington, Labour enjoys its best performance, with 17% of Wellington SMEs most confident in the party’s economic management. 58% in the Capital hold the most trust in National, and 3% do so with the Greens. In our largest population centre, Auckland, 59% trust National the most, as do 11% Labour, 2% Greens and 2% New Zealand First.

In the sectors, National enjoys its highest level of confidence among manufacturing businesses (68%), possibly reflecting the strong revenue results and expectations of the industry, also uncovered by the research. Nationals’ lowest level of support is amongst transport and warehousing businesses (48%). Labour has its highest level of trust in handling the economy among ‘other’ industries (17%), and lowest in the finance and insurance sector (5%).

The higher level of support for National among manufacturing businesses suggests they’re not buying into the opposition’s manufactured manufacturing crisis.

. . . The top three vote-winning initiatives were weighted towards SMEs’ desire to reduce the compliance load:
1. Simplification of provisional tax rules and processes – 74% would vote for the party proposing this
2. Simplification of the PAYE rules and processes – 56%
3. Development of one-stop online access to all government advice and support for business – 55%

The top three vote-losing initiatives were related to significant tax policy and superannuation:
1. Introduction of a Capital Gains Tax – 64% would vote against the party proposing this
2. Moves to raise the superannuation entitlement age – 52%
3. Extension of the fringe benefit tax to productivity tools such as mobile communication devices like mobile phones, tablets and laptops – 46%

Other policy favourites included tighter controls on foreign purchases of New Zealand land and infrastructure, which was supported by 54% and opposed by 14%, and Government-backed loans for small business start-ups, which was supported by 52% and opposed by just 6%.

“New Zealand’s business community is clearly keen for money that’s made in the country to stay in the country where possible, and for more funding to be provided to support the newest members of the business community,” says James Scollay.

The left like to portray themselves as champions of workers.

Their policies too often show they don’t understand the value and concern of the businesses which employ them, especially the SMEs which have less capacity to absorb compliance costs and deal with red tape.

This survey clearly shows that National’s policies are better for business, and the staff they employ, and the LabourGreen policies would not be.


Let’s not be petty

14/03/2013

A reading often used at weddings concludes with the words, in marriage the little things are the big things.

This also applies to politics.

Petty issues become more important than major ones.

So it is with the suggestion that car parks provided for employers be subject to fringe benefit tax.

A tax system should be fair and there is no doubt that a free car park is a fringe benefit.

But would the costs, to the IRD and employers, justify the money raised?

I doubt it and  Finance Minister Bill English says that if compliance costs prove too onerous the Government may reconsider the proposal.

The government got rid of gift duty in its first term because the costs didn’t justify the revenue it brought in. It would be silly to impose other taxes where the benefit isn’t worth the cost in this term.

National has an ambitious Business Growth Agenda, it shouldn’t be sabotaged by petty taxes.

Rural Women NZ”s creed begins:

Keep us, O God, from pettiness;
Let us be large in thought, in word, and deed. . .

That’s good advice for governments too.


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