Here are the jobs

31/03/2013

Positive signs of economic growth have yet to filter through to a substantial drop in unemployment but there are jobs available on farms:

With 14 unfilled vacancies on Federated Farmers’ own ruraljobs.co.nz website and with almost 150 more listed on other websites, things may be tough on-farm but farmers are still recruiting.

“Federated Farmers’ ruraljobs.co.nz website has 14 unfilled vacancies on it right now,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive Officer.

“You can definitely see a North/South split with just two of these 14 roles in the North Island. Whatever the environment and whatever the economy, Kiwi farmers will always need good keen workers.

“I had a quick look at TradeMe and 79 of their 126 farming jobs are in the South Island and of those 126 roles, 72 were paying $50-100,000 with four over $100,000.

“We need to knock a myth that farming roles are low-skilled and low paid.

“Federated Farmers will soon be able to flesh out the pay and benefits farm workers receive with our 2013 Farm Remuneration report nearing release.

“We have been motivated to raise our head above the parapet because we have heard of several hundred Aucklanders queuing for a couple of jobs packing shelves. Federated Farmers wants to say loudly and proudly; have a look at farming. . . “

The jobs are advertised on Feds’ website ruraljobs.co.nz

 

 


Rural round-up

29/01/2013

NZ food is safe and our systems work:

Federated Farmers says New Zealand’s continual testing for impurities and open disclosure is why New Zealand primary exports are of the highest quality.

“We are aware some media reporting seems to have moved beyond facts and into uninformed opinion,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on food safety.

“Residues of DCD (Dicyandiamide) nitrification inhibitors were detected but the levels recorded were in the order of parts per million. These residues only came to light because New Zealand continually tests for and refines testing for impurities.

“I doubt many countries test to the level we do but once DCD was verified our consumers and trading partners were notified. We take this seriously, very seriously and any suggestion otherwise is scurrilous. . .

DCD scare will ‘enhance’ NZ’s reputation:

The head of Federated Farmers says Fonterra only had to report the presence of agricultural chemical dicyandiamide in its milk because of a “technicality”.

Both the Government and Fonterra have reassured the public and our trading partners that there is nothing to fear from dicyandiamide, also known as DCD, which is used to prevent nitrogen seeping into waterways.
Fonterra says the traces of the substance – found four months ago – were so small they were not worth mentioning. Federated Farmers CEO Conor English agrees, saying there has been a “massive overreaction”.

Red Meat PGP Collaboration Programme for Greater Farmer Profitability

The red meat industry has agreed to work together to promote and assist in the adoption of best practice by sheep and beef farmers, as part of a new $65 million dollar sector development project with Government co-funding.

Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), has just approved a commitment of up to $32.4 million from MPI’s Primary Growth Partnership Fund (PGP) for the red meat sector’s new Collaboration for Sustainable Growth programme.

This seven-year programme will bring together a number of participants in New Zealand’s red meat sector including co-operatively owned and privately owned processing companies that together account for a substantial majority of New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports, two banks and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Government Support For PGP Programme

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen has welcomed the announcement by Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), of the Ministry’s commitment of up to $32.4 million from the Primary Growth Partnership Fund (PGP) for the red meat sector’s proposed $65 million, seven year, Collaboration for Sustainable Growth programme.

“This will be a huge boost for the sector and will accelerate progress in an increasingly collaborative approach across a range of issues that are important for sheep and beef farmers,” Mr Petersen said.

The Collaboration programme involves industry participants AFFCO, Alliance Group Ltd, ANZCO Foods, ANZ Bank, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Blue Sky Meats, Deloitte, Progressive Meats, Rabobank and Silver Fern Farms, who following approval and contracting processes will match MPI’s investment and establish a joint venture entity to undertake the programme. The programme is open to new investors who can join once the programme starts. . .

Start networking with the farming world don’t become isolated – Pasture to Profit:

There is a new opportunity to network with the farming world. Farming can be a very isolated profession. Farms can be remote. The very nature of the profession means that you are often working alone. It’s that same feature which of course attracts people to farming. Farming gives you the ability to be your own boss and to make your own decisions. Running your own business can be both exhilarating & very stressful.

You don’t have to farm alone or in isolation! Today there are some very good online farming Discussion Groups. Social media won’t ever replace face to face talking with other farmers. However on for example; Twitter forums like #AgchatNZ, #AgchatOZ, #Agchat, #AgrichatUK provide an opportunity for talking to likeminded farming professionals. . .

 

2013 – Tipping Point Year for the ‘Blackcurrant Renaissance’:

Over the last 500 years the blackcurrant has gone from being one of the most respected health foods of the medieval era to a staple household beverage, to being overshadowed by trendy new berries in recent times. But a Renaissance is underway and 2013 looks set to be a pivotal year for the blackcurrant industry, says global blackcurrant industry leader, Svend Jensen.

“For hundreds of years the blackcurrant has been a staple of the berry basket in European civilisation, as a health tonic and as a food. But over the last 30 years scientists have started to unveil the true health potential of the “king of berries”. New generation research started in Japan in the 1980’s and then the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Now exciting projects are also being undertaken by research teams in Scandinavia, France, Eastern Europe, and the USA,” says Jensen, President of the 5-year old industry group, the International Blackcurrant Association. . .

And from a new-found blog, The Farming Game, which aims to give an insight into the real world of farming in Australia, a bit of variety:

Wednesday night was the last night of this irrigation cycle with day shift wrapping up the final field Thursday afternoon, so it was an early start on Friday to go chipping. Volunteer cotton from last season was coming up in one of the refugee crops and needed to be removed, the only way to remove it is to chip it out so we had to walk up and down the rows and chip out the volunteer cotton and weeds with a hoe. Its not the best job to do but it needs to be done. . . .

And from the northern hemisphere – life of the farmer in January from the Peterson Farm Bros:


Up vs out

31/12/2012

New Zealand cities should go up rather than out, Federated Farmers’ chief executive Conor English says:

Manhattan-type cities that accommodate more people and stop urban sprawl is New Zealand’s farming leader’s latest vision for a prosperous economy.

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English says New Zealand needs to lose its small-country mindset and get smart about growth.

That included “taking the lid off our cities”.

“Human capability is critical to all parts of our community and economy. In most parts of New Zealand, except Auckland, the population is flat or in decline. There are not enough people to produce the exports, provide the services, pay the taxes and build a future at first-world income levels. We simply need more people.”

Auckland needed to stop building out and start building up. . .

I was in Auckland three times this month.

Each trip required the long, slow journey from the airport to the central city and back.

It’s such a waste of time and fuel.

Could going up rather than out help solve the city’s transport problems and would Aucklanders want to live in high-rise apartments rather than houses with sections?

 

 


Regional councils out of balance?

08/11/2012

Local Body and Primary Industries Minister David Carter has criticised the analysis about the economic impact of the Horizons Regional Council’s One Plan:

. . . A case study for the Manawatu catchment indicates farm profits could fall by 22% to 43% as a result of land use changes needed to meet water quality targets in the plan.

Mr Carter said he will wait for the outcome of High Court appeals from farming and horticulture bodies against the Environment Court ruling, but he’s concerned about the restrictions proposed in the One Plan.

Federated Farmers says it will be challenge the regional council’s cost-benefit analysis under the Resource Management Act.

Chief executive Conor English says the impact would go well beyond farming, causing income cuts and job losses right through the supply chain.

Balancing economic and environmental concerns isn’t easy but the consequences  of getting it wrong  has serious consequences.

The One Plan has been greeted enthusiastically by some people but with serious concerns by others who think it has gone too far in the environmental direction without giving sufficient weight to the economic and social impact it would have.

Horizons isn’t the only council upsetting its constituents.

Farmers are concerned about the Southland and Otago Regional Councils too:

. . . There had been an alarming increase in effluent-related prosecutions over the last year relating to incidents which were mostly unintentional, extremely minor and fixed immediately by farmers, the letter said.

Farmers, who in most cases asked the councils for help, got no support and were instead prosecuted.

“Why is it not possible for farmers and the councils to work together to improve farming practices on a consultative basis without the need to resort to prosecutions for the first time or minor offences?” the letter said.

Inspectors have been seen taking photos and flying over properties “looking for any breach possible,” the letter said.

Local councils had moved from being a pragmatic, solutions-focused body to a vindictive, prosecutorial body, it said.

The farmers asked that the focus of local councils be shifted to help them comply, rather than be prosecuted. . .

This could be a consequence of having one body set and enforce rules and also collect the fines for those who breach them.

The object should be improved practices on farms and cleaner waterways. That is far more likely to be achieved by co-operation and eduction than prosecution.

Prosecution might be reasonable for people who deliberately offend and cause serious pollution. But there needs to be tolerance and advice for minor offences and accidents with the aim of compliance, rather than punishment.


Water quality concern for all

19/10/2012

The Ministry of Environment report on water quality shows most of our popular coastal swimming spots are fine for swimming most of the time but there are many freshwater swimming spots which should be avoided.

The immediate response to this was criticism of farmers and “dirty dairying” in particular.

But farmingin genreal and dairying in particular are not the only culprits.

The New Zealand Herald editorial calls for more action from farmers but also points out:

. . . Oil and brake fluid released onto roads is carried by rains into stormwater drains and end up in streams. Too often in heavy rain wastewater systems overflow and add to the contamination. . .

I make no excuses for people who pollute waterways but some of the criticism levelled at farmers is unfair and where farming can be blamed, it’s not necessarily dairying that is causing problems.

The MfE data summary shows the Kakanui River at Clifton Falls as having poor water quality.

This is very near the intake for the rural water scheme which supplies the water we drink but it is upstream of any dairy farms.

Further down the Kakanui from Clifton Falls, below several sheep and dairy farms and some intensive horticulture,  at the estuary the water quality is fair.

We’ve been working with the regional council to ensure we’re doing all we can on our farm to protect waterways. Tests showed high E-coli below a dam and it wasn’t our stock or farming practices which were to blame, it was water fowl.

Some water issues can be laid at the feet of human visitors too  Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesman notes:

“Being a representative farmers’ organisation, we know our members cannot duck or hide that a number of these sites do fall in rural areas. Federated Farmers is aware of this and is why we are working across industry and with our own members to lift agriculture’s game.

“I know farmers ‘get it’ and this is why it is wrong to blame farming for everything. Doing that masks the reality there are very poor sites around settlements and near camp sites. . . 

Some farmers still need to improve their practices but most recognise the need to protect waterways. Feds chief executive Conor English says:

. . . The focus needs to be on finding solutions, based on sound science and profitable and sustainable farming.

Farmers are custodians of the land and water, harvesting for the benefit of today and future generations. They want to leave it better than they found it.

While some still need to pull their socks up, farmers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars putting in effluent systems, excluding stock from waterways, measuring fertiliser and investing in more efficient irrigation. That investment has allowed export growth, earning money to pay the bills for hospitals, schools and other services. It provides jobs and has improved the environment.

Water-quality measures must include all those whose discharge into rivers . . .

Water quality concerns us all and improving it requires improvements in both rural and urban practices.


Ag entry to ETS postponed to 2015

03/07/2012

Changes to the ETS announced by the government are designed to maintain incentives for emission reductions, without loading large extra costs onto households, employers and exporters.

“Today’s decisions are a reflection of the balanced and responsible approach this Government has taken to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  They offer Kiwi exporters, employers and households certainty in a challenging and changing world economy,” Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser says. . .

“We have considered in-depth the recommendations of the ETS Review Panel, listened to what those affected by the ETS are saying, and reviewed what our trading partners are doing.  We also considered feedback through community consultation, including written submissions, a series of regional meetings, and hui.

“The National-led Government remains committed to doing its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it is worth noting that we are the only country outside Europe with a comprehensive ETS.  In these times of uncertainty, the Government has opted not to pile further costs on to households and the productive sector.

“The Government remains an active and engaged participant in the on-going discussions focused on global agreements, and the changes announced today offer us useful flexibility to adapt in the future, while still demonstrating our commitment to doing our fair share,” says Mr Groser.

Not surprisingly the left reckon this is disastrous.

However, Business NZ says the government has taken a reasonably balanced approach to carbon pricing in its amendments.

The protections – companies having to surrender carbon units for only half the carbon they emit, and a cap of $25 per tonne in the price of emissions –recognise the fact that New Zealand is ahead of most of the world in accepting a price on carbon.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says the changes will maintain incentives for emissions reduction while shoring up New Zealand companies’ ability to compete against companies in other countries.

“The move recognises the financial constraints not only on businesses but also on consumers.  It guards against increases in the price of electricity and fuel that would otherwise occur because of an unequal international playing field.

“This is not a softening of the ETS.  The changes announced today will not reduce the costs currently faced by New Zealand business and consumers.

“We should remember that the current cost of carbon, although relatively low, is still more than is being faced by our trade competitors, and will doubtless increase as the global economy recovers.

“While these amendments do not make the environment harder for business, neither do they make it easier.  Moreover the frequent reviewing of the scheme’s design also loads uncertainty costs onto New Zealand business.

 Federated Farmers says the changes, which include delaying the entry of agriculture into the scheme, are one step towards reality:

The New Zealand Emissions Trading scheme (ETS) has taken a big step towards forward, yet remains the harshest treatment of any agricultural production system on earth.

“The Government realises even tougher measures would hurt not just agriculture but the wider economy,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President and climate change spokesperson.

“Both our Chief Executive, Conor English, at the Rio+20 Earth Summit  and our President, Bruce Wills, at the World Farmers Organisation, got the same message; targeting primary food production in ETS-type policies is anathema to sustainable primary food production.

“In a world preoccupied with the survival of their economies and with food security, there is no point in trying to lead where others will not follow.

“Yes biological emissions account for some 47 percent of New Zealand’s emissions profile.  They also represent 68.1 percent of our merchandise exports and indeed, 100 percent of the food we eat. 

“New Zealand is able to not only feed itself, but produces enough food to feed populations equivalent of Sri Lanka. 

“This is why it is positive the Government has listened to Federated Farmers and will keep agricultural biological emissions out of the ETS until at least 2015. 

“We have retained the one-for-two surrender obligation we asked for, along with the $25 fixed price option. Federated Farmers also wanted offsetting for pre-1990 forests and opposed the reduction of pre-1990 forest allocations. The Government has listened to that too, but those who do offset will be penalised. 

“We are pleased the Government has chosen not to further complicate matters by imposing additional restrictions on the importation of overseas emissions units.

“Despite what some Opposition parties are likely to say following these changes, our ETS remains the harshest on any agricultural production system, anywhere in the world. 

“Unlike other countries where agriculture is given special treatment, farmers here, just like every other business and family, pay the ETS on the fuel and energy we use.  This not only impacts a farm’s bottom line, but the cost of turning what we produce into finished goods for export.   

“Australia’s new Carbon Tax is really aimed at Australia’s 300 largest companies.  Meanwhile, Australian farmers are being financially rewarded for boosting soil carbon levels on-farm. 

“Since 1 January, all agricultural processors in New Zealand have been filing emission returns accounting for agricultural biological emissions.  We are still counting emissions no other government is contemplating, including our cousins across the Tasman.

“While agriculture emissions here grew 9.4 percent between 1990 and 2010, the dollar value these generated for NZ Inc exploded almost five-fold.  Our sector’s emission growth needs to be put into context alongside a 59 percent increase in electricity emissions and 60 percent for transport.

“What’s more former Labour Cabinet Minister, the Hon David Caygill, found emissions in every single unit of agricultural product have fallen some 1.3 percent each year, for the past 20 years. 

“We do not need an ETS to improve our productivity.  Global competition has done that for us. 

“That New Zealand’s farmers are among the world’s most carbon efficient, is an inconvenient truth New Zealanders are not hearing from Opposition politicians. 

“We can do more but that will be through productivity gains and research leadership exemplified by the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.

“In a world of increasing food deficit, our hope is for Opposition parties to realise being a carbon efficient food exporter is global leadership,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

The Kyoto Protocol was the triumph of politics and bureaucracy over science and negotiations have yet to reach agreement on its successor.

There is nothing to be gained for the environment and a lot to be lost from the economy if agriculture is forced into the scheme when none of our competitors faces similar costs.


Attitude matters – Conor English

10/07/2011

Quote of the week from Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English:

If we want to remain a first world country, someone has to make some money somewhere in this country to pay the bills. The attitudes of those who contribute to make that money, and of others towards them, is critical. Wealth creators are like children – there is no future without them. Everyone has their part to play, but someone has to start the money go round.

A first world country has first world services, infrastructure and environment.

But it needs first world incomes to sustain them.

The motivation for economic growth isn’t wealth for its own sake but for what can be achieved with it and that depends on successful individuals and businesses.

New Zealanders usually have no trouble appreciating sporting success but we’re not nearly as good at appreciating the hard work and skills required for financial success.

We need a change of attitude from envy and suspicion to appreciation and aspiration.


Don’s final speech a vintage one

01/07/2011

Don Nicolson made his final conference address as Federated Farmers president a vintage one.

Farming is the sunrise is worth reading in full. It highlights the contribution farming makes to the country, deals with some issues and also gives praise where it’s due:

I wish to acknowledge and publicly thank our Minister, the Hon David Carter.

At times I will admit there has been tension. As a lobby group we want things ‘our way’ while the Minister has to negotiate a byzantine Yes Ministerworld.

I’ve known the Minister for a number of years and he is an honourable man and a fine farmer.

I can honestly say that we agree many more times with the Minister than we disagree

We share the same view that agriculture is the sunrise and I value what he says and does for us all. He has pushed water storage up the political agenda and is leading the re-merger of MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries.

With 71 percent of New Zealand’s merchandise trade behind it, this Ministry for Primary Industries is the policy partner we seek. One that will have the swagger in Government to get what we need to build a future for New Zealand and all New Zealanders.

Can I also thank Tim Groser who is doing frankly an outstanding job on the trade front as well as Kate Wilkinson, who is realigning the Department of Conservation while looking hard at things that block sensible outcomes.

And of course, there is the dynamic duo of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance.

These two see agriculture as the sunrise. As the key to prosperity while unlocking the door to related industries and exports. Given pastoral imagery is used to sell New Zealand as a tourist destination, farming I can say, is a tourism ace too.

There are still outstanding issues and of course, the notion that the world’s gaze is on New Zealand single handily saving the planet by slashing a fraction off the 0.2 percent of the global emissions attributed to us.

At this point I can almost see Phil Goff re-tweeting his gibe that we’re the “Nats in blue gumboots”. At the time he said that, John Hartnell was meeting with Christchurch City Council for a combined Farmy Army and Student Volunteer Army effort in that battered city.

Mr Goff, it was an ill-timed, insensitive and frankly rude. Federated Farmers has not only invested huge amounts of resources in Christchurch and Canterbury, but meat and fibre farmers, meat processors and meat company workers have donated $325,000 to Christchurch in recent weeks.

Federated Farmers has been far more effective on agricultural issues than the opposition because we are apolitical. Or as our CEO Conor English rightly puts it, “we don’t care who is in power so long as they agree with us!”

I know Phil Goff and I like him but sir, you are a much better person than those comments.

Labour will one day form government so we must keep the lines of communication open as we did speaking at its 2009 conference in this city. As well as being the only major business organisation to participate in its shadow banking enquiry.

Today’s Opposition is tomorrow’s Government and we must play with a straight bat.

In case the message that Feds is apolitical, was missed here it is again:

Federated Farmers has been far more effective on agricultural issues than the opposition because we are apolitical. Or as our CEO Conor English rightly puts it, “we don’t care who is in power so long as they agree with us!”

That is how any lobby group should be. Working on behalf of and advocating for its members with all parties; doing its best to get governments, local and central, and other peole and agencies to agree with them – and accepting that won’t always be the case.


Three seek Feds’ vice-presidency

22/06/2011

Four men announced last week they are competing to replace retiring Federated Farmers’ president Don Nicolson and now three are vying for the vice-presidency:

“It is somewhat unprecedented to have four presidential nominations and now three for Vice-President,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive and Returning Officer.

“There is a considerable amount of interest in all elected positions. Given the Federation is a membership based organisation, this is a tangible demonstration of vitality and our strong democratic basis.

“It is believed to be the largest number of candidates seeking the two most senior elected offices in over 66 years of Federated Farmers modern history.

I hope that it is a demonstration of vitality because as I wrote last week this many people competing for the top jobs could also be a sign of division.

That wouldn’t be good for the Federation, its members and the wider rural sector who all need a united voice.

Presidential nominees are: Donald Aubrey of Ben McLeod Station, who is vice-president; Frank Brenmuhl of Christchurch, a former Federated Farmers dairy section chair; Lachlan McKenzie of Rotorua who is dairy spokesman; and Bruce Wills of Napier, current meat and fibre spokesman.

The three seeking the vice-presidency are Dr William Rolleston of Timaru, David Rose from Invercargill and Matamata’s Stewart Wadey.


Tough tax talk fail – updated

18/05/2011

Are farmers paying enough tax? the headline asks.

The answer Labour’s revenue spokesman Stuart Nash wants is no but his tough tax talk just shows how little he understands business and tax.

The average dairy farmer pays less tax than a couple on the pension – raising questions about whether the sector touted as the backbone of the economy is paying its fair share.

A couple on a pension doesn’t usually employ several people, produce anything incurring the costs associated with that and earn export income as farmers do, all of which make a positive contribution to the economy in addition to any tax paid.

As the Government prepares one of the tightest Budgets in recent years, cutting into middle-class family benefits and KiwiSaver subsidies, new figures suggest the cuts will hit those also shouldering the greatest tax burden – wage and salary earners.

Inland Revenue Department figures provided to Labour revenue spokesman Stuart Nash show that, in the latest full year for which figures were available, the average tax paid by dairy farms was $1506 a year, despite an average Fonterra payout understood to be well over $500,000.

 The payout is a gross figure, tax is paid on income after expenses which include wages, repairs, maintenance, power, fuel and interest. If you’re heavily indebted as many dairy farmers are there’s little if anything left after all that on which tax is due.

The figures also show that more than half – 9014 – reported a loss for the 2009 year and 2635 reported trading income of between $1 and $20,000.

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English said he was not surprised by the figures.

“The reason why there’s not much tax being paid is because there hasn’t been much money made. The average dairy farmer … made a cash loss of $50,000.”

This is why most farmers are using this year’s good returns to pay down debt. Too many took advantage of relatively easy credit, found costs rose faster than income and made little if any profit.

The sensible ones have learned from this and are taking a more Presbyterian approach to their businesses. 

Of the nearly 72,000 companies in the primary sector, nearly 40,000 were unprofitable.

This  includes sheep and beef farmers who’ve have had a series of very bad years. But making a loss in one, or even a few years, doesn’t make a business unprofitable. Most businesses in the establishment and development stages make losses. That’s even more likely in primary industries which are subject to so much variation in climate and markets.

“Either we have a sector in dire financial trouble or the sector is simply writing off a lot of income against expense and not paying tax,” Mr Nash said. “I hope it’s the latter. If they are facing dire financial trouble then we as a nation are in the poo.”

When you’re in business you  are legally allowed to write income off against expenses – providing they’re business related ones and anyone who tries to get away with non-business related claims won’t get far.

Mr English said the primary sector was responsible for 66 per cent of exports but, for each dollar earned overseas, only 6c went to the farmer. “So the other 94c goes in rates to the local councils, road user charges … all the cost structures around getting that kilo of meat from the farmgate to the shore …”

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said the figures released by Mr Nash did not raise any policy issues. The $26m tax mentioned came from those who identified themselves as in dairying, he said.

Those not classified by industry paid another $1.5b in tax and a significant number would be dairy farmers.

“We don’t think the [tax] figure is as low as $26m by any stretch of the imagination.”

There has been a problem of low profitability in the last few years. But most farmers have got the message the government is sending – consumption fuelled by borrowing isn’t sustainable. They’re containing costs, paying off debt and most will be paying a lot more tax on this season’s income.

Busienss NZ says the claims are misleading:

Operating costs and business debt shouldered not only by farms but all businesses are reflected in their level of taxes paid, says BusinessNZ.

Commenting on claims by Labour revenue spokesman Stuart Nash that dairy farmers pay less tax than a salary earner earning $50,000 a year, BusinessNZ said the comparison was misleading.

“Businesses have income structures that take into account the cost of doing business. This is a cost not borne by a salary earner.

“Farm businesses face capital investment and depreciation servicing costs, debt costs, feed costs and labour costs, in the context of fluctuating cash flows often affected by weather, necessitating further debt for operating costs before receiving end of year payouts.

“This means that many businesses would not have the $50,000 income that is being used as a comparison.

“Comparing this situation to an employed person’s $50,000 income – that does not have to account for operating and business debt costs – is not a valid comparison.”

Peter Dunne says dairy farmer tax headlines simply wrong:

Media headlines today comparing dairy farmers’ tax bills with those of the average wage earner were based on “an inexcusable fudging of turnover and income”, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said today.

“This is a classic case of comparing apples and oranges – the media and the Opposition have conveniently ignored the fact that businesses, including farmers, are not taxed on turnover, they are taxed on the income they have as profit,” Mr Dunne said.

“The particular instance cited was for 2008-2009, when dairy farmers received significantly lowered Fonterra pay-outs, and were servicing very high debt levels across the sector at high interest rates.

“Federated Farmers has stated that the average dairy farmer made a $50,000 cash loss in that year. In that case, pointing to $500,000 incomes is patently ridiculous. Again it is the difference between turnover and profit,” Mr Dunne said.

He said that suggestions of the Government going soft on any businesssector did not fit with the $119.3 million allocated over four years in Budget 2010 to clamp down on tax evasion.

Turnover, income- what’s the difference when you’re chasing headlines?


Water makes us lucky

10/05/2011

When our average rainfall is about 20 inches and that can get down to not more than half that in a dry year we’re loathe to say we’ve had too much rain.

After an unusually wet start to the year and with something like May’s total rainfall coming in 12 hours last Saturday, we’re beginning to think we’ve had enough.

However, although a wet autumn happens now and then we know dry years are more common. We’ve enjoyed the respite from irrigation but it hasn’t stopped the work that’s going on further irrigation development which we know will be needed to insure against the worst effects of the next drought.

In light of this the government’s water policy package,  announced by Environment Minister Nick Smith and Agriculture Minister David Carter is very welcome.

It includes:

• A National Policy Statement on fresh water management to set a consistent, nationwide regulatory framework for setting water quantity and quality limits to govern the allocation and use of freshwater
• An Irrigation Acceleration Fund of $35 million over five years to support the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the ‘investment-ready’ prospectus stage which could unlock the economic growth potential of our primary sectors through the development of more efficient and effective water infrastructure, such as storage and distribution
• A Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean Up Fund to assist councils with historic pollution problems with reprioritised funding of $15 million over two years, and a total clean-up programme commitment of $264.8 million
• The Government will also consider in a future Budget investing up to $400 million of equity in water infrastructure schemes.

Federated Farmers says the water policy, including storage, will cement New Zealand as the ‘lucky country’.

“This Government is serious about playing to New Zealand’s natural competitive advantage and that’s agriculture,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers co-spokesperson on water.

While Australia digs themselves up, we’re hard at work to convert our rainfall into renewable and sustainable food and fibre exports.  Water is behind everything we export and these exports directly pay for policing, doctors, nurses and teachers. 

“The $35 million investment in the Irrigation Acceleration Fund over five years shows how a modest investment in agriculture will yield long term results. 

“The Opuha Study showed that for every dollar invested in water storage, eight dollars was generated through the economy.  If you take that and add it to today’s announcement and future plans, you are talking about a multi-billion dollar uplift.

“The $35 million for the Irrigation Acceleration Fund is easily as significant for New Zealand’s economic development as the Government’s $40 million underwrite of the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund last August.  Except every dollar invested in agriculture goes a long, long way.

“It’s also a major vindication for Federated Farmers pushing water storage well before the Prime Minister’s 2009 jobs summit.  What we are talking about is a boost for jobs and a boost for the regional and national economy.

“The 2007/08 El Nino influenced drought cost the economy $2.8 billion and is now seen as the probable cause of the last recession.  Water storage provides a way to smooth out periods of low rainfall because what we are talking about, is storing from what naturally falls from the sky.

“But we are excited to see the Government openly talking about a potential $400 million worth of equity for the construction of regional-scale schemes that will encourage third-party capital investment.

“This is the first time in years we have seen Government grasp the enormous opportunity to future proof not just our agricultural industries but our towns and cities as well. 

“It’s significant because Government is willing to get off the side-lines given it’s an ideal form of a private-public partnership,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

Feds chief executive Conor English issued a statement earlier on the importance of water storage :

Water storage will enable “more fish and less drought” and build resilience into our economy and environment. In the city you don’t have to wait for the rain to fall before you have a cup of tea. In the city, we have access to water at the right place at the right time. In the city we store water, we bank it, we save it on a rainy day so we can use it when it isn’t raining. So why not do more of the same in the country?

It’s not that New Zealand is running out of water, it’s that water is running out of New Zealand.

The Greeks, Romans and Egyptians built their civilisations on water. We know from the Opua dam that the environment, recreational values, the economy and community spirit are all enhanced by using smart water storage strategies. I’ve yet to meet a fish that doesn’t like water 365 days a year.

Government studies of that project tell us that every 1000ha irrigated creates 27 jobs and injects $7.7 million into the local economy. With 30 potential projects covering around 1 million Ha up the eastern seaboard that’s about $7.5 billion extra revenue for the country each year, and 27,000 new jobs. Over a decade that’s $75 billion extra cash for the country, if all potential projects came to 100% fruition, which is unlikely however.

Irrigation has made a significant difference to the economic and social life in North Otago. Strict requirements for environmental farm plans, which are independently audited each year, help ensure that this doesn’t come at the cost of the environment.


Feds seek funniest farm video

02/04/2011

Federated Farmers has launched a funniest farm video competition with an iPad  2 for the winner.

“This competition is a chance for Kiwis, from both the city and the country, to showcase the humorous side of New Zealand’s farming world,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers chief executive.

“Farming is critical to New Zealand’s success, but our rural areas are also the source of many light hearted events. For example, our recent Federated Farmers Farm day was an opportunity for our city cousins to visit a farm.

“Now we want Kiwis to upload some videos to celebrate the lighter side of farming life. 

The funny thing is that funny on the farm is often only funny in hindsight and even then it’s usually funnier to the observers than the participant.

And when we have those moments that are funny at the time everyone’s usually too busy laughing to record the hilarity.

If you have a funny farm film, a click on the link above will take you to details on how to enter the competition which closes on May 31.


Who’s going to pay for lunch?

17/11/2010

New Zealand has some fantastic opportunities in the food production and agricultural technology space. It is one of the few areas that we are recognised as world best. We can make a significant contribution to humanity. We should be proud of this. But rather than celebrate and support that success and champion the exciting opportunities, we have people marching against them. They want to inhibit just the possibility of carefully and environmentally harvesting just some of our resources, inhibit our film production, inhibit our food production. What’s left?

If these marching groups don’t want our fantastic primary exports to be allowed to pay for the country’s lunch, who do they suggest will?

Conor English, Federated Farmers chief executive asks a very good question.

Sustainability is supposed to balance economic, environmental and social considerations.

Too often economic and social factors come a very poor second and third to environmental ones based on emotion rather than science.


All NZers are farmers

06/07/2009

Every New Zealander is a farmer, Federated Farmers’ president Don Nicolson said in his address to the organisation’s annual conference.

It’s just a question of whether you have your hands in the soil, like us, or if you depend on those who have their hands in the soil. 

From the cabby who got you here, to the hotel staff helping run this event to the media covering our conference, they all depend on what we do.

That makes them farmers….of us.

Yet we in turn, depend on them for our healthcare, our education and our information.

That means even our most vocal critics are farmers too. 

Everyone in this country has a direct stake in our success. 

Everyone in this country depends upon us to bring dollars into this economy.

The interdependence is an important point because as the planks on the bridge between rural and urban New Zealanders grow weaker, we need to be reminded we need each other.

It’s a long speech with many other good points. You can follow the link above to read it.

Other conference speeches on line include those from:

Feds chief executive Conor English; dairy section chair Lachlan McKenzie;    and meat & fibre chair Bruce Wills;


English New Feds Head

15/06/2008

Conor English has been appointed CEO of Federated Farmers.

He started his career as a sheep, cattle, crop and forestry farmer and has also worked in business, lobby groups and the Beehive.

All very helpful for his new role, but what will the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Theorists, who like to think Feds is just the National Party in gumboots, make of the fact he’s Bill English’s brother?

Hat Tip: The Hive


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