Rural round-up

December 26, 2018

One half of New Zealand’s kūmara-saving couple dies – Harrison Christian:

At the age of 85, Fay Gock was still driving a tractor and tending to her market garden.

The woman who, with her husband Joe, is credited with saving New Zealand’s kūmara, died peacefully last week after a sudden illness.

Her daughter, Jayne Gock, recalls her mother’s generous spirit. Fay Gock was a “loving, caring, and giving person,” with a strong desire to contribute to her community — and country. . . 

Kiwi shearing industry is heading for a crash as Aus beckons – Pat Deavoll:

Its 7.45am in a North Canterbury shearing shed and the day is in full swing. The walls vibrate with the hum and rattle of the machines; the air is pungent with the sweet-sour smell of sheep and sweat, and the radio blares.

Four men take sweeping blows with their handpieces across the sheep they grip between their knees. The wool cascades to the floor. The shearers tattooed arms shine with sweat, even though it is still early morning and chilly. . . 

‘Small city’ of Lake Dunstan summer visitors leads to camping changes:

Authorities in Central Otago have introduced a new regime to tackle freedom campers as “a small city” of visitors descends on the area.

Land Information NZ (LINZ) and Central Otago District Council have teamed up to ensure visitors to Lake Dunstan respect the area.

Self-contained vehicles are a must at most camping sites in the area and a three-day maximum stay is being enforced.

LINZ deputy chief executive for crown property Jerome Sheppard said the new approach was in response to a massive increase in visitor numbers. . . 

Nurses’ accord concerns rural hospitals – Mike Houlahan:

Otago rural hospitals are bracing for possible industrial action next year, as the implications of the Government’s much heralded nursing safe staffing accord begin to affect them.

Under the accord, signed in July as part of the deal to settle the nurse’s pay dispute, DHBs and the Government committed to safe staffing levels in all hospitals.

All DHBs have been scrambling to hire more nurses – the Otago Daily Times last week reported that the Southern DHB had hired 16 nurses and was looking for more staff. . . 

Farmers’ champion gives up desk – Annette Scott:

People have kept Kevin Geddes associated with Federated Farmers for 60 years but at 80 he’s decided it’s time to call it a day.

Clutching a personalised Federated Farmers life membership certificate presented to him at the national council meeting in Wellington on November 29 Geddes feels very honoured to have worked so long with such amazing people.

He was speechless when given the recognition for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the business and sustainability of agriculture through innovation, determination and practical leadership. . . 

Outlook for lamb looks fair for farmers – Sally Rae:

International lamb prices might soften a little, but tight supplies in New Zealand and Australia and a weakening New Zealand dollar should ensure any slippage at the farm gate is modest.

That was the message from Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface in the latest Agri Update where she outlined the outlook for lamb, which has experienced bumper prices.

On balance, international prices were expected to slip a little from current levels as growth in China slowed and Brexit continued to weigh on the UK economy.

But back at the farm gate, . . 


Rural round-up

January 1, 2018

Former Federated Farmers president William Rolleston heads agricultural honours list – Gerard Hutching

Farming leaders who made a contribution touching many New Zealanders’ lives have been recognised in the New Year honours list.

Receiving an award was humbling on a personal level, said former Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston, but real recognition needed to go to the thousands of farmers who “continue to produce the food which feeds us three times a day and sustains our economy.”

Farming and science advocate Dr William Rolleston

Feds leader from 2014-17, Rolleston has been awarded with a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM). He said during his tenure farmers had “started on a journey which will be to the environment what the 1980s reforms were to the economy”. . . 

Sheep and beef farmers buoyed by strong prices and demand – Gerard Hutching:

Sheep and beef farmers are more upbeat about prospects than at any time since November 2014, the latest Beef+Lamb NZ confidence survey shows.

Confidence has risen to 59 per cent, up 16 per cent, since the last survey in August and has been attributed to strong product prices, growing demand for meat from an increasing population and belief in the quality of the product farmers are producing.

All regions showed a positive sentiment, with the strongest in the eastern North Island and central South Island. . . 

Govt gives to trusts to help drought-stricken farmers:

Little showers of rain over the last week have not been enough to end the drought that is getting its grip on coastal farmland, Brian Doughty says.

He’s a trustee of the Ruapehu/Wanganui Rural Support Trust, which will get a share of $160,000 announced by Government on December 23.

The money will go to trusts supporting farmers afflicted by drought along the lower North Island’s west coast. The dry spell has been called a “medium scale adverse event”. . .

Fonterra Revises Milk Collection Forecast:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised the forecast for its New Zealand milk collections for the current 2017/2018 season to 1,480 million kilograms of milk solids (kgMS), down from its forecast in November 2017 of 1,525 million kgMS.

Fonterra’s revised forecast of 1,480 million kgMS is down around 4 per cent on the 2016/2017 season which itself was negatively impacted by weather conditions. . . 

Disagreement over stock truck effluent disposal site– Pam Jones:

The Central Otago District Council (CODC) and Otago Regional Council (ORC) are at odds over the siting of one of two proposed stock truck effluent disposal sites in Central Otago.CODC roading committee chairman Dr Barrie Wills told councillors at a committee meeting in Alexandra recently that the ORC was “bulldozing” the CODC into accepting its proposal.

The ORC proposed new sites on State Highway 6, near the Highlands Park corner, near Cromwell, and on SH85, near Brassknocker Rd, between Alexandra and Chatto Creek, Dr Wills said.

Councillors supported the SH85 site, but thought it was “entirely inappropriate” to have a site on SH6, just before the Kawarau Gorge. . .

Fighting in Italy for the freedom to farm – Giorgio Fidenato:

I may be the world’s most embattled farmer.

My goal is simple: I want to grow good crops on my small farm in the northeast corner of Italy. This includes a variety of GMO corn that European regulators approved for commercial use nearly 20 years ago.

Yet Italian government officials and political activists keep getting in the way, blocking me with new regulations and violent attacks on my land. . . 


Price crashes and higher taxes don’t build houses

August 2, 2016

Green co-leader Metiria Turei’s suggestion of dropping house prices by 50% was described by Prime Minister John Key as ‘barking mad’.

It would make some houses less unaffordable but it wouldn’t build more houses which is the only way to solve the problem of too few houses for the number of people wanting to rent or buy.

Crashing prices, no matter how slowly it was done, would reduce existing homeowners’ equity.

That would only be a paper loss for people who had a low or no mortgage. They’d still have their homes they just wouldn’t be worth as much.

For people with large mortgages, whether they borrowed to buy their home, set up a business or to buy other things, a price crash could leave them with no equity at all, or worse still owing more than the value of what they owned.

If they were forced to sell their houses those properties would be more affordable for some people but the sellers would have nothing with which to buy another house. All that would be have been achieved would be previous owners losing to new owners with major damage to the economy and no increase in the supply of housing.

Greens are also keen on a capital gains tax.

I’m not opposed to that in principle, as long as it was comprehensive and other taxes were lowered so the net tax take remained much the same.

But capital gains taxes don’t build houses and in other countries which have them they have done nothing to make houses more affordable.

Meanwhile schools in Auckland are finding it difficult to recruit teachers.

A survey of Auckland’s primary schools paints a picture of severe teacher shortages across the city and at every school decile level.

The struggle to recruit teachers is being described as “a nightmare” by principals who blame it largely on the high cost of housing in the city. . . 

In a statement, the Ministry of Education told RNZ News that it met regularly with Auckland’s principals to respond to their concerns about teacher supply.

A range of potential solutions were being explored, but in the meantime the ministry was working to smooth the way for overseas teachers to work in New Zealand and helping schools which had hard to fill vacancies.

Diane Manners has talked through possible solution with ministry officials said they would help, but only around the edges.

She wanted greater urgency in dealing with the problem, especially with a growing population that will mean more children needing more teachers. . . 

One solution that won’t work is to get an Auckland differential in the pay scale.

Teachers are paid the same wherever they teach. Paying Auckland teachers more would help those who already own a house but it won’t increase the housing supply. What it will do is give teachers more to spend and therefore, like any other measure which increases buying power without addressing supply, further inflate prices.

The housing problem is simply one of supply and demand.

The solution is equally simple – increase supply and/or lower demand.

The easiest way to do that is to build more houses and for some people living in areas of high demand and low supply to move to areas where demand is lower and supply is higher.

That will get supply and demand back into kilter without the collateral damage which crashing prices and increasing taxes would inflict.

P.S.

A Cromwell man has come up with an affordable, albeit compact, answer to more affordable homes:

They are warm, quiet, easily moveable and cost a fraction of a regular house to buy and Cromwell’s master of small spaces, Darryl Taylor, reckons his tiny shipping container homes could help solve Central Otago’s temporary accommodation woes. 

Taylor does admit it requires a mental leap in many people’s thinking to see a big metal box as a desirable home but following much research and experimentation, he says his converted containers are as comfortable to live in as a regular house. . . 

The containers have a “warrant-of-fitness” and are all still cargo-worthy. . . 

Some people wanted new, others liked the rustic look, Taylor said.  Built inside a warehouse, they are issued with a code of compliance from the Central Otago District Council before they go on site.

Considerable research and trial and error had gone into fitting the units out so some details would remain trade secrets, Taylor says.  He had consulted experts in engineering and other fields to help perfect the conversions, particularly in relation to ventilation. Bernice is in charge of painting the units and the pair continue to fine-tuning the finishings.

“We can now fit out a twenty footer in around six weeks and they go out the door fully code compliant. There is no condensation, they’re all double-glazed, insulated and ventilated.  They actually exceed council requirements but you do still need a building consent for your foundations.”

Ship containers were already watertight, bulletproof and resistant to earthquakes and extreme weather.  Inside Taylor added sound-deadening insulation, wooden lining, tiny bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms of all specifications.  Drop-down decking using an electric winch could be added, or normal decking built on, once the container was in place. . . 

Taylor says he sells the 6m containers for about $42,000 fully converted for small-space living.  

A 12m would cost closer to $75,000 and two this size can be bolted together to form a four bedroom home. . . 


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