Reason to moan

May 16, 2019

Jamie McKay challenged Shane Jones on The Country yesterday and got this response:

“I grew up on a farm, my dad was a farmer, I know what farmers are like and if they’re not milking cows or chasing cows, they’re moaning.”

I don’t agree with that, but there is good reason for farmers to moan under the current government.

The Labour and Green parties don’t pretend to like farmers or farming but New Zealand First likes to call itself the champion of the provinces.

How can it champion the provinces when this is how it’s second most prominent MP regards farmers?

You can listen to the interview and the response from Don Nicolson and Craig Wiggins here.

 


Rural round-up

June 2, 2017

Differing water quality rules still an issue – Sally Rae:

Simon Williamson has been re-elected president of North Otago Federated Farmers.

Speaking at the branch’s annual meeting in Oamaru, Mr Williamson, who farms between Omarama and Twizel, said it had been a busy year ”on many fronts”.

It was apparent the two regional councils – Environment Canterbury and the Otago Regional Council – were still taking a very different approach to water quality. . .

Cows make a comeback – Neal Wallace and Mel Croad:

Buyers are chasing breeding cows and heifers in what could be the first sign of a revival in breeding cow numbers.

In-calf heifer and breeding cow fairs across the country in recent weeks have drawn large galleries of buyers paying prices akin to those paid in Australia where the herd was being rebuilt.

Prices for in-calf Angus heifers at Temuka exceeded $2400 a head in early May when a lack of numbers saw two fairs rolled into one. But prices were helped by farmers rebuilding breeding herds. . .

Decision ‘simple arithmetic – Maureen Bisop and John Keast:

They may have suspected it was coming, but the announcement of the proposed closure of Silver Fern Farm’s Fairton plant in Ashburton was still devastating for many of the 370 workers set to lose their jobs.

The proposal to close the 125-year-old plant was put to staff at a meeting in Ashburton last Wednesday. A two-week consultation period was to follow, although if there was significant feedback that this was too short or too long, that would be considered. It was hoped to have a final decision on May 31.

Most workers already knew the future of the plant was uncertain. The seasons were shorter and there was an ever dwindling supply of lambs. . .

NZ Binxi builds 20% stake in Blue Sky Meats, may revisit takeover after getting OIO sign-off – Rebecca Howard:

China’s Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co won’t rule out revisiting its takeover of Invercargill meat processor Blue Sky Meats now that the deal has Overseas Investment Office approval, having abandoned the bid in March when the OIO process missed a deadline.

“We don’t have any fixed position on what our next steps will be,” Richard Thorp, chief operating officer of Binxi Cattle’s local unit NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, told BusinessDesk after the OIO gave the deal a greenlight this week. . .

Principals fear visa change – John Lewis:

Proposed changes to New Zealand’s essential skills visa could result in some small rural Otago schools closing, principals say.
Many parents working in the region’s dairy industry are migrants, and their children make up a significant percentage of rural school rolls.

The proposed changes will limit essential skills visas to one year, and after a maximum of three years, immigrants would have to leave New Zealand for at least 12 months before applying for another work visa. . .

Honoured for advocacy role – Nicole Sharp:

Doug Fraser is a name well-known in the farming circle.
Dedicated to the sector and the people who work in it, for a long time Mr Fraser has been a strong voice in Federated Farmers.

His behind-the-scenes work and advocating for farmers was recognised recently at the Southland Federated Farmers AGM, when Mr Fraser was awarded life membership.

Former Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson presented Mr Fraser with the award, speaking of his time working with Mr Fraser. . .

Health hub has 25 exhibitors – Annette Scott:

Getting like-minded health organisations together to change how rural people think about health has been the driver for the inaugural Fieldays Health Hub.

Health issues affecting rural communities would be the focus as a whole host of relevant health professionals and organisations delivered interactive health care of the future messages, Mobile Health chief executive Mark Eager said. . .

 


Act list

July 13, 2014

Act has released it party list for the 2014 election:

. . . The top 20 list placings are:

  1. Dr Jamie Whyte
  2. Kenneth Wang
  3. Robin Grieve
  4. Beth Houlbrooke
  5. Don Nicolson
  6. Stephen Berry
  7. Dasha Kovalenko
  8. Gareth Veale
  9. Ian Cummings
  10. Sara Muti
  11. Toni Severin
  12. Max Whitehead
  13. Phelan Pirrie
  14. Stephen Fletcher
  15. David Olsen
  16. Nick Kearney
  17. Sean Fitzpatrick
  18. Richard Evans
  19. Michael Milne
  20. Dr Ron Smith . . .

Epsom candidate David Seymour is not on the list.


Has farming harmed salmon fishing?

November 19, 2011

Salmon farming hasn’t harmed angling, on the contrary it has helped it.

Why then are anglers so concerned about the prospect that trout farming might be permitted in New Zealand?

I haven’t found any policy from any party promoting this although Don Nicolson, then president of Federated Farmers and now an Act candidate, did talk of the benefits of trout farming.


Brash pot plan too timid

September 28, 2011

Federated Flamers say they are encouraged by Act leader Don Brash’s move towards decriminalising cannabis but it doesn’t go far enough.

“His pot plan is a good start but that’s all it is, he’s being far too timid,” the federation’s Alternative Revenue Stream Encouragement (ARSE) spokesman Blue Smoke said.

“Don has just dipped his toe in the drug water by initiating a discussion on decriminalising cannabis. He should leap right in and make it legal for the sake of the economy,” Mr Smoke said.

“If it’s legal we can grow it; if we can grow it we can make money from it and if we can make money from it the government can tax it.

“That is we would if we paid tax, but as Labour showed, we don’t, at least not the way they look at it.”

Mr Smoke said successive governments, consultants and economists had been talking about the need to broaden the economy and legalising cannabis would be a good way to do that.

“Dairy, meat and fibre are doing well at the moment but what goes up will one day come down. We need to diversify to enable us to weather the inevitable downturn and pot plantations would be a very good way of doing that.

“It wouldn’t be hard to find markets for medicinal and recreational products and there may well be opportunities for the fibre.”

Mr Smoke said he was sure it was no coincidence that a letter from Dr Brash and Act’s agricultural spokesman Don Nicolson had arrived in the mail this week, just days after the speech in which decriminalisation was mooted.

“It’s obvious this is part of the party’s economic policy that’s aimed at farmers.”

Mr Smoke said he thought the pot plan might also be a cunning strategy for Act to take over other wee parties the way United Future did.

“Who can remember how many different parties have been taken over and absorbed by the various manifestations of whatever Peter Dunne’s latest party is called? Act needs to do the same and this pot plan is the obvious way to open the door to the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.”

However, Mr Smoke said he was concerned at the way the plan had opened up the urban-rural divide.

“One Don grows kiwifruit, the other has stock, they understand farming. But that bloke Banks, he’s a townie and he can’t see the opportunities.

“Sure there could be a few health problems. They reckon it affects your memory and concentration but, um what was I saying? Oh wow, look at that flower, it’s soooo biiiig . . . .”

Hat tip: Jim Hopkins on the Farming Show


If I was ranking Act’s list . . . Updated

August 28, 2011

. . . it would be:

1. Don Brash.

2. Cathy Odgers.

3. John Bowscawen

It gets difficult after that. I don’t know enough about any of the other candidates to know if Don Nicolson should come next and I’m not sure his abrasive style would help foster the much-needed unity in Act’s caucus.

If John Banks can’t win Epsom he’ll have failed his party and its supporters and therefore should be well down the list or better still not on it at all.

The list will be announced at 3pm.

Update:

The list  has 27 places the top 10 are:

1.     Dr Don Brash

2.     Hon John Boscawen

3.     TBC

4.     Don Nicolson

5.     Hon John Banks

6.     David Seymour

7.     Chris Simmons

8.     Stephen Whittington

9.     Kath McCabe

10.   Robyn Stent

Kiwiblog has the percentage of party vote needed for each to get in. On current polling, if Banks wins Epsom they’d just get a couple.

The party usually does better in the election than polls and the yet to be confirmed #3 might be someone who can broaden the party’s appeal.

Roarprawn reckons the list shows Act of old.

Whaleoil has more from his tipline.


Farmers not a significant minority

August 17, 2011

A column in Federated farmers’ Farm review (not online) asks if former Feds’ president Don Nicloson will get a high place on Act’s list:

Act would be dumb to pass up the opportunity because who’d get the farmer vote in a choice between ‘Cactus Kate’ or Don Nicolson?

I’m not sure of the answer to that question but it doesn’t really matter because a party which thinks appealing to farmers will give it a significant boost can’t count.

Farmers are very much a minority, sadly, not a very significant one in terms of numbers of votes and within that small group of voters are many different views.

Don Nicolson might get a few votes from the rural sector but a younger, fiesty candidate who also happens to be female could well attract a lot more votes in total.

If I was ranking the Act list I’d also consider commitment and loyalty.

When Nicolson first mentioned he was thinking of getting political he didn’t seem sure which party he might favour with his candidacy:

He’s slightly cagey about the next step, saying people keep suggesting he moves into politics, but he’s waiting for an invitation first.

“I am hoping somewhere it’s either politics or business that I get into. I’m quite happy to get into politics but no-one is really asking. I’m being told I should be in politics by many people and under MMP the question is can I cut it and tolerate that?

“I’m prepared to give it a go – but I’ve got to be asked,” he says.

The link to the quote no longer works, but I blogged on it here, saying that politics is no place for shrinking violets.

Someone who is quite sure of which party they want to stand for and who has demonstrated loyalty and commitment is more deserving of a list place than someone who appeared equivocal about joining. 

I’d also want someone who would attract far more votes than farmers would provide.


Just a coincidence?

July 31, 2011

A  lot of farmers in the south have recently received a letter from Act MP John Boscawen seeking their views and support.

MPs have access to electoral rolls which give names, addresses and occupations but this letter doesn’t appear to have gone to all farmers.

All those I know have received the letter are members of Federated Farmers and I’ve yet to find any who isn’t a member of Feds who’s got the letter.

I’m not suggesting that the Federated Farmers’ data base has been used – Feds works with and keeps its distance from all political parties.

And my sample may not be representative. There could well be Feds members who haven’t got the letter and non-members who have.

But I did wonder if the announcement that former Feds president Don Nicolson was standing for Act and the apparent targeting of this letter is just a coincidence.

UPDATE: – Bulaman’s comment below shows at least one non-Feds member got the letter.


Two Dons, two Johns

July 13, 2011

It’s not easy for a wee party to cover all bases and since Gerry Eckhoff missed out on returning to parliament in 2005, Act has lacked a rural voice.

That could change with Southland farmer, and Federated Farmers’ immediate past president, Don Nicolson becoming an Act candidate.

He’s standing as a candidate in Clutha Southland but I don’t think that will trouble sitting MP who got a majority of more than 13,000 and attracted about 65% of the electorate vote in the last election.

The party will have to do better that its dismal poll ratings if he’s to get into parliament on the list too. Labour’s doing it’s best to put farmers off voting for them but Nicolson might be able to persuade some of those disgruntled with National to try Act.

The has yet to rank its list but Keeping Stock points out so far it’s looking like Don, John, John and Don.

If the party’s to counter John Ansell’s proposition that Act is a party for men or women who think like men, it will need to introduce a little gender diversity.


Politics no place for shrinking violets

July 4, 2011

The transition from top dog to one of the pack is never easy, even in a voluntary organisation like Federated Farmers.

The president’s role is important and demanding but it comes to a sudden end. One day you’re the chair, next you’re just another farmer looking for something to occupy yourself.

So why not try politics?

That’s what Don Nicolson is considering but he’s being unusually coy about it:

He’s slightly cagey about the next step, saying people keep suggesting he moves into politics, but he’s waiting for an invitation first.

“I am hoping somewhere it’s either politics or business that I get into. I’m quite happy to get into politics but no-one is really asking. I’m being told I should be in politics by many people and under MMP the question is can I cut it and tolerate that?

“I’m prepared to give it a go – but I’ve got to be asked,” he says.

Why wait to be asked?

Politics isn’t for shrinking violets. It’s for people with passion, dedication, a strong sense of what they believe in and commitment to a party.

The latter is particularly important because when the going gets tough as it ineveitably will, MPs have to know why they’re there and remain loyal to their party.

It’s not hard to see from Nicolson’s statements that it’s Act he’s thinking of and he has skills which could benefit the party. But if I was them, I’d be wary about someone who didn’t feel strongly enough about becoming an MP to be proactive about it.

Hat tip: Imperator Fish


Don’s final speech a vintage one

July 1, 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

June 22, 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.


Four candidates – sign of strength or division?

June 15, 2011

Four men are vying to become Federated Farmers’ president when Don Nicolson retires at the end of the month.

“This will be the first contested election for the position of President since the early 1990’s,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive and Returning Officer.

“It is believed to be the largest number of candidates seeking the office of President in Federated Farmers history.

When so many voluntary organisations are struggling for members and finding people willing to become office holders is increasingly difficult, this could be seen as a sign of the organisation’s strength.

But it could also be a sign of division in the Federation.

I hope it’s not the latter. Farmers and the wider rural community need a strong and united voice and that requires an organisation focussed on issues of concern to members not one side-tracked by internal manoeuvring.

The 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.


Rating DoC land shifts costs from ratepayer to taxpayer

June 7, 2011

Federated Farmers is asking for private land which is protected by covenants to be accorded zero-rating status  like DOC land:

Following World Environment Day, Federated Farmers is to ask the Government to put protected areas on private land, such as QEII National Trust type covenants and Significant Natural Areas, on the same footing as the Department of Conservation (DoC) for council rating purposes.

“Since 1977, when Federated Farmers was a driving force behind the QEII National Trust’s formation, well over 111,000 hectares have been voluntarily protected by farmers and landowners,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

“The scale and determination behind this is equivalent to around the area of Egmont and Tongariro National Park’s combined. It’s that significant and it’s completely voluntary.

A great deal of this land could have been surrendered back to the state under tenure review at cost to the taxpayer and benefit to the pastoral leaseholder. It would then not be rated and the cost of weed and pest control, fencing and maintenance would fall on the taxpayer. Since it is privately owned, landowners protect the areas under covenant, control weeds and pests and maintain fences around it to protect biodiversity at their own cost and the land is rated as it its productive.

While covenants are voluntary, councils, under the Resource Management Act, have been requiring landowners to do more or less the same with Significant Natural Areas, or SNA’s.“While many councils have policies for remitting rates on voluntarily protected land, it hinges on a successful case-by-case application and does not apply to SNA’s.

“Time has come to shed light on what landowners are doing and that could easily come by Government backing covenant holders and those landowners with SNA’s.

“That’s as easy as putting protected land on the same footing as DoC land for council rates. Alternatively, if DoC paid council rates on the same basis as everyone else, it would greatly help reduce the financial burden on the rest of the community.

While there is a case for not rating covenanted land as if it is productive, the cost of rates would just be spread over less land if its rating value was reduced or zero-rated.

Rating Doc Land might be a better idea.

Opponents to rating Doc land say that all that would do is shift the cost from ratepayers to taxpayers and it would. But generally the ratepayers are those of large but sparsely populated rural authorities and a lot of the pressure to keep high country land in public hands come from urban people.

If DoC land was rated the cost of looking after it would fall more on those who want it in public ownership than the neighbouring community and Feds would have a much weaker case for calling for zero rating of land under covenant on private property.


Much more than 1%

June 6, 2011

A sobering thought from Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers president:

There were 45,000 full-time farmers but they made up only 1 per cent of the population battling against 99 per cent of the population who, “don’t quite see it our way,” he said.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’re battling the 99% of people who aren’t farmers. You don’t have to be a farmer to know and appreciate that farmings’ contribution to the country is much more than 1%.

But MMP has made it harder for the rural voice to be heard.

At least when National is in power we know the government understands farming and its importance to the country. It  has several farmers in its ranks and holds all but one provincial seat so its MPs are well aware of the issues and concerns of people in rural and provincial  New Zealand.

Labour has only one seat outside the four main centres (Palmerston North) and its pronouncements show it has little understanding of or sympathy for farming.

Its leader Phil Goff has a lifestyle block. But the only farmer (now former?) in its ranks is Damien O’Connor and  the paddy he had about his party’s list ranking outcome shows he doesn’t have much influence.


Take market approach to green issues

March 16, 2011

Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers national president, said in his address to the Act conference:

. . . Some believe we ought to be the Rolls-Royce of agriculture. But having been on farms around the world, these artisan like Rolls-Royce’s already exist.

We should instead be the Toyota of agriculture. Trusted food and fibre with an integrity built from excellent animal health delivering safe, reliable and wholesome products. . .

. . . Let’s find out what truly motivates our consumers instead of overlaying the desires of local policy analysts upon them . .

This is why I believe there is scope for a political movement to tackle green issues from a disciplined market approach.

Do you know that led by farmers, 111,000 hectares have been voluntarily protected under QEII National Trust covenants since 1977. If that was a country, it’d be the 184th largest on earth. Who started it? Among others, Federated Farmers.

Being a Scot by descent I can’t abide waste. I know market principles and farming can vastly improve environmental and biodiversity outcomes.

Look at Roger Beattie, Mr Weka Weka Woo.

His weka programme massively out performs DoC’s because he uses farming principles. No farmed species I should add has ever become extinct.

You’d think he would get a trial license to sell weka to high end restaurants or at this weekend’s Hokitika Wildfoods Festival. No siree. Weka could be our turkey but is DoC interested in increasing its numbers by way of commercial farming? No siree.

How about trout? Sanfords has said to us that if the ban on commercial trout farming was lifted Monday, they’d start farming trout on Tuesday.

At US$5.00 a kilogram exported, it could be a US$50 million export within five or so seasons but are we farming trout? No siree, because the funding for a certain lobby group comes from a license ticket. Is its Chief Executive interested in exports? No siree.

This is despite faring would lead to much larger and exciting wild trout under catch and release. Farming salmon hasn’t stopped people from buying licenses to catch a wild one.

While trout is largely farmed in sea cages, it being a member of the salmon family, it can be farmed in artificial ponds that in turns demands water with nutrients. It’s about integrated farm management because our food export potential is vast. . .

Green initiatives and economic progress aren’t mutually exclusive. In general wealthier countries have better environmental standards.

Providing it’s done carefully, lifting the prohibition on farming some native species and introduced ones like trout could create jobs and contribute to economic growth without harming the environment.


Open farms welcome visitors for Farm Day

March 13, 2011

Today is Farm Day when farmers open their gates to visitors to introduce, or reintroduce, urban people to country life and work.

“Farm Day is about getting folk who live in our towns and cities to come out to a farm to experience the animals, the crops and other features that make up New Zealand’s most important industry,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

“South Canterbury and the Bay of Plenty will be holding their Farm Days one week later on Sunday 20 March 2011.

“This is the third annual Federated Farmers Farm Day and farmers hope people and families will take the opportunity to get on the paddocks to discover just what we do. . .

New Zealand boasts some of the highest urbanisation rates in the world and Federated Farmers Farm Day 2011 is a chance for those that have never been to a farm to pull on gumboots and get an insight into a working farm

“When I talk to non-farmers, I’m continually struck by how many don’t understand what it takes to farm animals or grow crops. So instead of wondering how, come onto a farm to ask, see and learn.

“We’ve had incredible support from our staff and volunteers this year and each Farm Day is different. You can go 4×4 off-roading at the Auckland Farm Day to pony riding in the Bay of Plenty. In Nelson we’re focussing on wool, even alpacas, while Rotorua/Taupo is looking at the dairy side of things.

“Our farms have some wonderful scenery and some even back on to bush or coastal areas with great views.

“The Stewart Farm, hosting the Manawatu/Rangitikei Farm Day won the Horizon’s Regional Council’s Region Ballance Farm Environment Award in 2009 for sustainability that will be their focus on the day.

“Depending on the farm, we’re offering everything from sheep shearing and sheepdog demonstrations, through to talks by Fonterra, Fish and Game and a range of others. . .

“This is a great chance for anyone interested to have a face to face chat with the farmers and learn something about their trade. Who knows, hopefully some may be inspired enough to look at farming as a career choice,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

More information on Farm Day, including directions to participating farms can be found here.


Would a Wool-X prize inspire winning idea?

January 30, 2011

I’m not a fan of the Sunday Star Times but one good thing it does do is provide space for a column by Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson.

That allows him to communicate with an audience which probably doesn’t read or listen to rural media and to promote good ideas like this week’s (which isn’t online).

It starts:

Imagine if we had a new green export that could generate more than $600 million a year – $100m more than The Hobbit’s economic contribution. Imagine if that export was 100% pure and derived from natural, renewable sources. That product exists – wool.

If ever there was a time to sell a product with those credentials it is now.

Maybe it’s also time for a “Wool-X prize” modelled on the X-Prize Foundation “making the impossible, possible”.

The word prize is key – Virgin Galactic is now in commercial evolution after Burt Rutan spent $25m to win a $10m prize to create a cheap and reusable space vehicle. Could a Wool-X prize similarly inspire enthusiasts in shed and the world’s biggest universities? If we retained the intellectual property, it could unlock new mass market products and industries.

Even if we didn’t retain the intellectual property it would help wool get to – and pass – the $2.8 billion industry it ought to be when adjusted for inflation.

Falling supply and rising demand are taking wool prices back to peaks last seen more than 20 years ago.

A Wool-X prize could inspire a winning idea, then imagine where prices could go if innovative new uses made high demand the norm.


Selling single better for all

December 23, 2010

The government has turned down Natural Dairy’s attempt to buy the Crafar Farms.

Hon Maurice Williamson and Hon Kate Wilkinson have today declined consent to Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings Limited to acquire the Crafar farms.

The Ministers’ decision covers the applications by Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings Limited to acquire UBNZ Assets Holdings Limited and 16 of the Crafar farms.

The Ministers also declined consent to UBNZ Assets Holdings Limited’s retrospective application to acquire the four Crafar farms it purchased in February 2010.

“We concur with the Overseas Investment Office’s recommendation that consent should be declined,” the Ministers said.

That’s not surprising, nor is the news that Landcorp isn’t putting in a fresh offer for the 16 farms, although it is intimating the existing one would stand should the receivers show any interest in it.

Landcorp says it would still be interested in the purchase but is unlikely to substantially increase its original offer.

The company makes a pitiful return on the capital it already has invested in farms, it shouldn’t take on any more, not even to sort them out then on-sell them individually.

That would mean the state taking on the risk and passing on the benefit to individuals.

Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson wants the farms back on the market to be sold individually. A view which Adolf has been promoting from the start.

That would increase the number of likely buyers and could well result in a better total price than if the farms were sold as a unit.


Heartbreak in the paddocks

September 21, 2010

Lambing is one of the most rewarding times in the sheep farmers’ calendar but it can also be one of the most heartbreaking.

Losing thousands of lambs has a high financial cost. It also has an emotional one.

Trying to help lambs and ewes in bad weather is hard physical work and it’s heartbreaking when in spite of your best efforts stock die.

On Nine to Noon this morning Lyn Freeman spoke about the trials  to Southland farmers David Rose, Federated Farmers Adverse Events spokesperson and Don Nicolson, Feds president.

One of the questions she asked was whether it would be better to lamb at another time. David gave a similar answer to one I wrote on yesterday’s post about the snow – you can get bad weather at any time and lambing has to be timed to meet the feed cycle.

Every time there’s a bad storm during lambing people who don’t understand farming ask why farmers don’t do more to protect their stock.

The simple answer is they do all they can but in really bad weather that’s not enough.

It’s not like overseas where they have smaller flocks and lamb inside. Here where we have much larger flocks and  it’s humanly impossible to give the nurturing required to beat nature’s worst.


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