Rural round-up

January 10, 2018

Tests confirm cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis on Ashburton farm:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present on a farm in the Ashburton area.

The Ministry’s response incident controller David Yard says milk sampling carried out by the dairy industry just before Christmas revealed a suspected positive result and MPI’s Animal Health Laboratory testing has just confirmed this.

“The affected farm and an associated property have been under controls since Christmas Eve as a precautionary measure. No animals or other risk goods such as used farm equipment have been allowed on or off the property during this time and these controls stand,” Mr Yard says. . . 

Water taxi arrives in North Otago

It’s been a funny old year on Gareth and Sarah Isbister’s farm, Balruddery, near Five Forks.

Swamped by rain, the cattle farmers finished 2017 beside the Kakanui River with new irrigation and options.

The Isbisters are happy to have the extra water on hand after a difficult 12 months for an irrigation rollout in their area.

Their supplier, the farmer-owned North Otago Irrigation Company, was meant to be pumping high-pressure flow to downland farmers like them in late 2016. Joint faults in pipes put paid to that idea, costing shareholders as the contractor fixed its faulty workmanship. . .

Ruawai farmer survives being trampled by stampeding herd:

Dairy farmer Chris Baker says he is “hellishly lucky” to have survived a stampede by his 180 cows that left him trampled, unconscious and with broken bones.

The 61-year old Ruawai man has been a dairy farmer for 40 years, and has never before been in such a life threatening situation.

He does admit to being kicked in the chest and elsewhere a few times by cows, “but that’s just day to day farming.”

Baker said he did nothing different or wrong last Tuesday but the freak occurrence could have left him dead. He now has a cautionary tale for anyone working on their own on a farm, and with animals. . . 

Pastures imperiled by seawater flooding – Jessie Chiang:

Seawater flooding of rural properties in Kaiaua is going to have a serious impact on farmers, Federated Farmers says.

Wild weather and a king tide last week caused widespread flooding in the coastal region on the western side of the Firth of Thames, leaving behind soaked properties filled with debris.

The federation’s Hauraki-Coromandel president Kevin Robinson said saltwater destroys pastures.

He said farmers would now have to wait for rain to wash away the salt before they could replant grass.

“It’s become evident that there are quite a few farmers there who [have been] significantly affected by the tidal inundation – one farmer 100 percent and others to a lesser degree,” said Mr Robinson. . . 

MyFarm sees dairy farm investments waning, eyes growth in horticulture – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – MyFarm Investments, New Zealand’s largest rural investment syndicator, is moving its focus away from its dairy farming origins and expects future growth to come from smaller overlooked investments such as fruit.

The rural investment firm was set up in 1990, initially investing in dairy farms which it syndicated to investors. It has since diversified into sheep and beef farms, horticulture and mussel farming and has more than $500 million of rural assets under management. About half its assets are dairy farms, with some 30 percent in sheep and beef farms and 20 percent in other investments, and the company expects its dairy investments to shrink as farms are sold when investments mature while the proportion in other areas grows. . . 

Have banks signalled they’ve had enough of funding the dairy industry? If funding is closed off, the new Govt’s obligations for the industry are likely to be expensive and even more stressful– David Chaston:

Rural borrowers currently owe banks in New Zealand $60.4 bln, according to the Reserve Bank.

With banks over the past decade rushing to support the capital needs of the growing dairy sector, two thirds of this rural debt is held by dairy farmers.

All rural debt represents just 14% of the debt held by banks in New Zealand and pales in comparison to the 56% of all debt banks hold over urban residences ($240 bln). These numbers don’t include another $4.9 bln lent to the rural support sector or the forestry or fishing sectors. . . 

Young Taranaki local wins Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year Award:

Henry Miles is a busy young man who is about to become even busier. Next month, the 21-year-old New Plymouth resident, who is currently Assistant Manager of a Tegel meat chicken farm, will step up to manage a large new free-range farm – which will expand to a total of eight sheds by adding a shed every seven weeks.

It is a role that Henry is well prepared for, having gained a thorough grounding in poultry farming since leaving school in 2014. . . 


Green’s not for growth

May 3, 2013

The Green party is soliciting funds for its election campaign with an email that says:

 . . . National’s policies of more mining, weakening environmental protections, poor economic management and growing inequality are not the recipe for a fair society and a better future.

 In contrast to National, we have the ideas to deliver a richer New Zealand. . .

Green is supposed to be the colour of growth but these Greens are really reds promoting the policies that have failed in the past.

Take their plan to bring down the exchange rate. Prime Minister John Key says currency intervention and printing money won’t work:

. . . “It didn’t work very well for Argentina, or Venezuela or Zimbabwe and it could never be done in New Zealand at the sort of magnitude we’ve seen in the United States,” said Key.

As for the New Zealand dollar versus its United States counterpart, Key used a seesaw analogy.

“It’s a bit like being a seesaw and if I weigh 85 kilos and you weigh 170 kilos, I’m going to go up when you sit on the seesaw and you’re going to go down. And that’s really the situation we’ve got at the moment.”

“We kind of weigh 85 kilos and the United States weights 850 tonnes. Right up to this point it (the US) has been very unwell. It has got everything from aids to bird flu. It has really been pretty unwell so the market’s just massively adjusting what they’re doing.”

When people say the Reserve Bank should be printing money, Key said you wouldn’t do that with base rates – the Official Cash Rate – at 2.5%.

“All you do is cut interest rates for a start off. The second thing was even if you printed money, it’s never going to work. I think they’ve printed US$5.5 trillion in the US. I mean it’s massive. So what would we print? NZ$50 billion or something? It wouldn’t make an iota of difference.”

“So my view would be I know we want to get the exchange rate down and I know it’s hurting a lot of companies. But it’s a cycle you’re going to have to ride through and all the Government can do is control the things that are in our control. So get out there and reform the Resource Management Act, make sure we don’t spend too much money, make sure we keep pressure off interest rates, manage the place well,” Key said. . . .

The reds want to increase the burden of government, their policies will lead to higher interest rates and they haven’t a clue about good economic management.

. . . Furthermore, he said intervention in the currency markets never works.

Here Key cited an example from his previous career at Merrill Lynch, where at one time he was head of global foreign exchange. One of Merrill Lynch’s biggest clients was the Bank of Japan, which used to intervene in the currency markets through Merrill Lynch.

“To tell you how bad it got, one night we were sitting there and the Bank of Japan rang up and the US$-yen was about 90 or something and they didn’t want it to go down lower. And the guy said to me ‘I want you to start buying dollars at 90’. And I said ‘how many do you want me to buy’, and he said ‘well, I’m going out for three hours so I’ll give you a yell when I get home.’ And I said ‘yeah, but how many do you want me to buy?’ And he said ‘I’m going out for three hours, don’t you understand the conversation?’

“I bought US$4.5 billion in three hours. He said ‘where is it (the US dollar-yen exchange rate)’ and I said ‘it’s 90, you bought US$4.5 billion. And he said ‘ah, well I’m off to bed now give me a ring in the morning’,” said Key.

“It never worked, it just never worked. I don’t know how much money they lost on intervention but it was massive.” . . .

Who do you believe – someone who has worked in international finance and has managed the country through the global financial crisis or people who want to print money and whose power policy would have a chilling effect on on private investment? Rob Hosking writes:

. . . There is something essentially frivolous about anyone who would cheerfully rip up the value of some of the country’s largest firms, and the value of the investment in those firms, simply for a political positioning exercise.

This is why the exchange caught by TV3 between Green energy spokesman Gareth Hughes and party spin zambuck Clint Smith was so telling.

For those who missed it, Mr Hughes was asked if the party was pleased at the reaction: Mr Hughes paused, turned to Mr Smith and asked “Hey, Clint – are we pleased?”

It was telling that he even had to ask.

But the almost palpable glee coming out of the Green and Labour camps at the destructive impact of their policy is highly revealing. 

It underlines – not for the first time – the problem with the makeup of both parties. They are dominated at the MP and the staff level by the sub-genus homo politicus.

That is, they are full of people who have done nothing in their lives apart from politics. All parties have a complement of this group, but with Labour and the Greens the group has reached critical mass.

This group has been involved in politics at university, moved from there to various political/union offices and then into parliament. 

There is little real world experience and everything is viewed through a very narrow prism of political advantage.

It’s the sort of attitude which means the value destruction seen this week can be just laughed off.

There will, unless we are careful, be more such frivolous policies to come.

I would use a far stronger word than frivolous and the business community certainly isn’t taking it lightly.

In an open letter to LabourGreen they say the policy would harm jobs, growth and investment, causing interest rates to rise, reducing KiwiSaver retirement savings and making people less well off.

. . .Business shares your concerns about constantly rising power prices and their impact on our global competitiveness. Businesses and consumers work hard every day to minimise their spending on electricity in order to stay in business and

to make their household budgets stretch further.
However, we do not think that electricity policies based on subsidies and greater state control are the right answers. Such policies have been tried in the past and have been shown to be incapable of meeting the challenges of a modern economy
with a complex, real-time electricity market.
 
Putting aside the sheer complexity of their implementation, policies that protect businesses from the full costs of the inputs they use ultimately dull the incentive to innovate and make them less, not more internationally competitive. Reducing retail
prices below the full marginal cost of production encourages households to use more than they should.
Of particular concern with the policies announced is their chilling effect on investment across the entire economy.
 
We are especially concerned at investment analyst reports noting the potential for $1.4 billion of shareholder value to be wiped off the books of the private power companies. A similar amount, if not more, will come off the value of the public power companies.
 
 
Capital destruction on such a scale will severely undermine business confidence.
It sends signals to investors, on whom the New Zealand economy relies, that their wealth and the benefits it provides are not welcome.
 
Investment plans and job creation opportunities are foregone.
 
Rather than remote and intangible, this dampening of investment intentions will have a direct and real economic impact on those of all walks of life who seek to accumulate wealth by working hard to save, invest and grow. It causes interest rates
to rise, depletes retirement savings held in KiwiSaver accounts and means that other economic opportunities such as first homes are foregone and new business ventures as savings are unexpectedly reduced.
 
Individuals are less well-off as a result.
 
With the good of all New Zealanders in mind we ask you to withdraw these damaging policies. We offer to work with you in increasing public understanding of the operation of the electricity market and in ensuring consumers, both small and large,
have better choice from one of the increasingly competitive electricity markets in the world.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 Phil O’Reilly Chief Executive BusinessNZ
 
Ken Shirley Chief Executive Officer Road Transport Forum
 
Catherine Beard Executive Director Manufacturing NZ
 
Ralph Matthes Executive Director Major Electricity Users Group
Chris Baker Chief Executive Straterra

John Scandrett Chief Executive Officer Otago Southland  Employers’ Association

Raewyn Bleakley Chief Executive  Business Central–Wellington

Kim Campbell Chief Executive EMA

Peter Townsend Chief Executive CECC

Michael Barnett Director  New Zealand Chambers of Commerce

These people represent people who employ people, the ones who need certainty and confidence to make investment that creates jobs, earn export income and pay taxes.

These are people who work in the real world.

They know there’s nothing funny about bad policy that would take the country backwards, cost jobs and make us all poorer.

They know that Green isn’t for growth and it doesn’t mean go.

Green economic policy is bright red and it will mean stop to economic growth and job creation.


Are they reading the same report?

November 28, 2012

Parliamentary Commissioenr for the Environment Jan Wright,  says that fracking can be done safely if well managed but raises concerns about the rules and safeguards surrounding the practice New Zealand.

“During the course of this investigation I have come to a similar conclusion to the Royal Society which is that fracking is safe if it is properly regulated and managed.

“However I have significant concerns about how fragmented and complicated the regulatory environment for fracking is and about how these rules are being applied.

“If fracking is not done well it can have significant environmental impacts including polluting water and triggering earthquakes.

“I am also concerned that regulation may be too light-handed, particularly if fracking opens the door to a large-scale and widespread oil and gas boom with a lot of different companies involved.

“These concerns form the basis of the next stage of my investigation into fracking which I hope to conclude before the middle of next year.”

That seems reasoned and reasonable but the responses make me wonder if people are reading the same report.

An alliance of 16 environmental groups, hapu and businesses have signed onto a joint statement, demanding a nationwide ban or moratorium on fracking.

The Environmental Defence Society says the report isn’t green light for fracking but is a timely wake-up call for early reform of fracking consenting and monitoring.

“This report reveals the complexities of fracking, the reliance on high quality environmental management to prevent pollution and the gaps in the present regulatory settings,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor. . .

Forest and Bird backs the commissioner’s caution:

Forest & Bird is urging the authorities to adopt a precautionary approach to fracking because much more needs to be known about its environmental impacts and how New Zealand should regulate the practice before approval for more fracking operations can be considered. . .

Straterra, the representative group for the minerals and mining industry, says Dr Wright has provided a much-needed common-sense approach to the debate:

“The minerals and mining sector – like all other industries – fully embraces the need to look after New Zealand water resources and our environment. Examples of fracking so far in New Zealand provide a pretty good track record of having done that.

“The industry deserves to be given the opportunity to submit on work carried out in New Zealand to show how they are protecting New Zealand’s environment as part of their everyday activities, and that is what the Commissioner is allowing to happen,” Mr Baker says.

“It is important that fracking, like any resource sector activity that impacts on the environment, is carried out to a high standard, and that we have good regulations in place for that activity. That said, fracking and new technologies have made a major positive impact on the availability and cost of energy elsewhere in the world.

“Economically, New Zealand can ill afford to turn its back on the opportunities fracking offers in energy security and increased wealth,” Mr Baker says. . .

Todd Energy also welcomes the report:

Todd Energy notes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) high level conclusion that the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively provided operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.

Todd Energy Chief Executive Paul Moore said the company welcomes the Commissioner’s report. “We would like to assure the public that Todd’s hydraulic fracturing operations are effectively designed and executed. . .

Federated Farmers says:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) hydraulic fracturing investigation could reduce unease over the technique.

“Federated Farmers has kept an eye on the PCE investigation given land-based minerals exploration can often occur on or near to farmland,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers energy spokesperson.

“From what I have seen in the PCE’s interim report, she has taken a considered look at fracking. While hydraulic fracturing has been used in New Zealand since 1989, controversy has really only ignited over the past two years, if you excuse the pun.

“From agriculture’s perspective, we are most interested in land access issues and compensation. As well as what risks the technique may pose to ground and surface water.

“The PCE found the distance between where fracking occurs and aquifers can be as much as one to two kilometres. There are shallower fracks and I guess this underscores why the PCE recommends a watching brief.

“The PCE however believes that while contamination of ground or surface water is possible, the probability “is very unlikely”.

“After reading the PCE’s report, I can say that Federated Farmers feels more comfortable with the technique.

“The PCE stresses we frack well in New Zealand but describes regulation and oversight as “labyrinthine“. Clearly, there is a role for Government to ensure regulations are fit for purpose.

“Mining and minerals are important contributors to the economy and employment. Along with agriculture and utilities, mining is one of the few areas where we outperform Australia in terms of productivity,” Mr Crofoot concluded.

Caution and further investigation to ensure that best practice is required and adhered to is sensible.

But the report is clear there is not a case for a moratorium, although that hasn’t stopped those of a dark green and far left persuasion calling for one.


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