Before the luck runs out

29/01/2021

Each time there’s news about shortcomings with our Covid-19 response it looks more and more as if the success is due more to good luck than good management.

The latest shemozzle adds to that suspicion and the need for improvements which several health professionals have suggested.

Writing kast year after the release of the Simpson-Roche report which showed just how bad management had been, Eric Crampton wrote that we had to block the border holes :

The University of Otago’s epidemiologists listed a series of measures that would obviously help to reduce the risk of future outbreaks. Many are simple; some would take more work. But when outbreaks cost billions of dollars, in addition to obvious health costs and distress, even a percentage point reduction in the risk of an outbreak can be worth millions.

The epidemiologists’ suggested measures work to reduce the risk of transmission, to reduce the risk of missed cases, and to reduce the costs of any missed case that does make it through.

They suggest adjusting the intensity of border control measures to the risk involved in travel from different places. It makes little sense, for example, that travellers from places where Covid is widespread and transmission is uncontrolled are treated the same way as travellers from places without Covid, like the Covid-free islands, Taiwan, and parts of Australia.

A traffic-light system, designating more stringent controls for travellers from risky places, could help.

On the simple and obvious range of the spectrum, the epidemiologists recommend reviewing testing regimes for incoming travellers.

Currently, travellers are subject to two PCR tests while in MIQ. The tests are costly and invasive, and accurate. Rapid antigen-based saliva tests have been available for months but are not as accurate as PCR tests. Good testing protocols can consider trade-offs between frequent tests that are cheaper and less accurate, and less frequent tests that are more accurate.

But, since August, accurate PCR saliva-based testing following the University of Illinois’ SHIELD system protocols have been possible. The tests provide faster results, are accurate, provide less risk of transmission during testing, and are much less expensive to process. Where a regular nasal swab test can induce sneezing, the Illinois test only requires saliva collection.

Shifting from one test per week to near-daily testing would have obvious advantages.

Faster identification of positive cases would mean that those who were infected would be more quickly shuttled to dedicated facilities where they would be less likely to pass the virus to others.

And extending near-daily testing to border staff would make it far more likely any infections would be caught more quickly, reducing transmission risk.

Border staff are now offered daily tests but they aren’t required to have them.

Other obvious and relatively inexpensive measures recommended by the Otago epidemiologists included enhanced monitoring of close contacts of border workers, wastewater testing at border facilities and in areas near border facilities, and pre-departure testing for travellers coming from risky places.

In the heat of an election campaign, National’s proposals for mandatory testing before travelling were portrayed as impracticable, ineffective, or both. But saliva-based antigen tests, like the Abbott BinaxNOW test which recently received FDA Emergency Use Authorisation, could be used right at the airport departure gate. Testing at the gate would reduce the risk that infectious people board the plane and infect their fellow passengers. It certainly would not substitute for a stay in MIQ, but it would reduce the number of arriving cases.

A negative result form a test within 72 hours of departure is now required but a test at the airport immediately before departure would be even better.

Reducing the number of arriving Covid cases, or at least preventing that number from increasing, matters. New Zealand’s health system can only handle so many positive cases, and that constraint seems to guide much of how MIQ operates.

There are many opportunities for the MIQ system to expand to handle more arrivals, safely. People arriving from low-risk places could stay in facilities that had been ruled out because they were too far from hospitals, for example, leaving more room in other facilities for travellers from riskier places.

The MIQ system has been exceptionally reluctant to consider those kinds of options. It makes little sense, unless measures that would allow more people into MIQ from risky places would mean more positive cases than officials believe the health system can safely handle.

Preventing those who are infected from boarding the plane reduces the number of positive cases arriving here, which means that more travellers overall could be accommodated. More Kiwis could safely return home, and more people could safely join us, if those with Covid were less likely to board flights here in the first place.

And that brings us to the Otago epidemiologists’ more difficult option – but one that is well worth considering. They suggest running MIQ facilities in high-risk jurisdictions; they had made similar suggestion in October. The government could set a pilot programme providing MIQ facilities in a country that is the source of many positive cases found in our MIQ system. Travellers could isolate before travel to New Zealand, reducing the risk of transmission.

MIQ in New Zealand would still be required if there were risk that passengers could contract the virus at the airport. But it would reduce the number of positive cases arriving here, enabling more Kiwis to come home safely. And an MIQ facility in the UK would also reduce the risk presented by the more contagious form of Covid now prevalent there.

It would be impossible to bolt every possible door against future outbreaks. But Otago’s epidemiologists point out several opportunities for making our borders safer. Far better to bolt those particular doors now, rather than read about them again in a future Simpson-Roche report.

Mike Hosking has a few more suggestions:

A few ideas on how MIQ should be working. Currently, not only is it run badly, it’s not run to its full potential.

It’s run with fear as a driving force and fear limits your ability to think, excel and expand.

Firstly, the experts the Bakers and the Gormans are right. The fact they are virtually all in major centres is insanity, especially with the new strains.

More of New Zealand needs to be used. More military facilities need to be used

Flights from certain countries for now need to be stopped. Tests on day 0, 3 and 12 work well, but isolation post-MIQ is now necessary.

Everyone is in the room and stays in the room for 14 days, full stop – Australia has it right.

I would carve out sections for business. I would allow a small number or perhaps a group of businesses to provide private facilities overseen by the government. This would allow workers and students to re-enter the country into isolation without the numbers jam we currently have

I would allow an exemption system for private isolation. It would cost and the fines would be gargantuan, Australia has it and it works. It allows people with job opportunities and money to come and go.

Yes, there is an egalitarian backlash, but this is about moving forward, not being bogged down with whinging.

At the best of times life isn’t fair. If allowing some who can afford it to pay more for private isolation, with very strict guidelines and very, very expensive consequences for not adhering to them, allows more people to come in safely, let the whingers whinge while the rest of us get on with our lives.

The bubble with Australia would be up and running and running. The key here is MIQ: if MIQ worked and was run properly, we wouldn’t have the leaks.

If we didn’t have the leaks we wouldn’t be constantly chasing our tail running nine hour queues for testing and generally having fear run rampant in various communities.

And when MIQ works, you can travel with confidence. You’ve been able to travel with confidence to Australia for months now, it’s just our fear that’s held us back.

And in traveling freely to Australia, you’ve just freed up a significant portion of MIQ spaces, thus allowing yet more New Zealanders to return home.

None of this is rocket science. None of its new, it’s all been suggested, a lot of its been done elsewhere. . . 

We can be grateful that we can enjoy the freedom to move and congregate around New Zealand that people in very few other countries have. But if, as it increasingly appears, it’s due more to good luck than good management the management must improve and improve quickly before the luck runs out.

And not only must the systems and processes for existing MIQ improve, they need to do so in a way that enables more people to come in safely for the sake of people needing to return and for the boost it could provide to the businesses which are short of workers.


Rural round-up

10/12/2020

Getting offset, not offside, about native forests:

September 2020 saw the publication of Native Forests: Resetting the Balance, a report by the Aotearoa Circle that explores ways in which we can accelerate the regeneration of native biodiversity at scale while optimising the use of New Zealand’s land assets.

There is little to argue with here: “Protecting and enhancing the biodiversity of New Zealand is central to supporting our unique natural environment, which is fundamental to our very existence, our culture, our way of living, international brand and key sectors of our economy.” There is broad consensus on this – from primary industry, from government ministries and agencies, from the science sector, and from iwi.

But what is our collective best shot, given climate change, accelerating biodiversity decline, and business and economic drivers that largely favour land-use intensification? The report offers one audacious but attainable solution: to plant or regenerate native forests as carbon sinks across as much of the country as possible.

Audacious, because economic short-termism must be replaced by longer-term mindsets informed by environmental priorities. Attainable, because the economic payoffs of natives vs exotics are already costed in the report to be greater over the longer term, and because New Zealand has the space and the natural resources to enable the switch to be made. As Manaaki Whenua’s Land Resources Inventory shows, there is plenty of agriculturally marginal land across the country that could support native forests. . .

Cherry picking the RSE evidence – Eric Crampton:

Decades ago, sociologist Joel Best wrote about how to lie with statistics. The best tricks are those where a statement is word-for-word true but has nothing to do with reality, writes Eric Crampton.

Last week, the Productivity Commission released a draft report on companies pushing the boundaries, or “frontier firms.” It’s an important area for study. Low rates of productivity growth mean lower living standards.

But the report’s section on immigration and productivity, and on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) programme in particular, is a case study in misleading evidence.

The Productivity Commission writes: “While the scheme has clearly provided benefits for both employers and workers, two recent studies have also shown negative impacts on some RSE workers and their communities (Bailey, 2019; Bedford et al., 2020).” . . 

Fruit picking’s fresh faces : it’s a good way to motivate myself – Tess Brunton:

Central Otago orchard owners say the push for workers is not over as they prepare for harvest season.

Today Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi and Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni visited an apple orchard near Alexandra to speak with workers and growers.

Luke Condon, 23, relocated from Christchurch to work in orchards in Central Otago and has been thinning apple trees at CAJ Hollandia.

It all started with a Ministry of Social Development programme aimed to encourage people to pick up seasonal work. . . 

 

 

Quality over quantity – Gerard Hutching:

A Canterbury couple who make top quality buffalo cheese faced a tough time during the covid-19 lockdown but now that their market is back, it’s stronger than ever. 

Everyone has their covid-19 story, but that of Lucy Appleton and Christo Keijzer is arguably more dramatic than most.

As the March lockdown hit, Lucy was still dealing with the aftermath of her mother’s recent death. But as well as mourning her mum, she was having to focus on the future of the couple’s buffalo dairy business, which largely hinged on supplying the restaurant trade with specialty cheeses such as mozzarella.

The gravity of the situation only became apparent as she did the rounds of their regular clients in Christchurch in late March. . . 

Pest that targets several vegetables, roses here to stay – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries says it’s unlikely a plant pest recently detected in New Zealand will be able to be eradicated.

Two populations of the tomato red spider mite were found near Auckland Airport in late May.

That prompted a biosecurity response which has since led to the mite being found in other parts of the city.

The tiny mite feeds on plants in the Solanaceae family, including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants, as well as beans, kumara and some ornamentals – roses and orchids. In large groups, they can mummify plants, wrapping them up in silk webbing and feeding on the plant until it dies. . . 

Tranquil rural homestead as an add-value opportunity:

A luxurious country homestead operating as a popular event venue just north of Invercargill has been placed on the market for sale.

The rustic four-bedroom family home and events venue at 201 Lochiel Branxholme Road in Southland is offered for sale by tender closing 4pm Thursday 28 January 2021.

Locally known as ‘The Hideaway 201’; idyllic garden-set function venues occupy more than 11.5 hectares of landscaped grounds, attracting local and out of town visitors, say Bayleys Southland salespeople, Linda Riordan and Paula Johnstone. . . 


Govt hasn’t learned

04/06/2020

The government hasn’t learned from mistakes it made in deciding which businesses could operate at alert level 4:

Dozens of marine engineering jobs in Nelson are at risk over a Government policy to refuse entry to ships during the Covid-19 pandemic, delivering a hammer blow to the international repair and refit industry.

Aimex Service Group managing director Steve Sullivan said about 40 jobs were under threat at the Port Nelson-based company he founded in 2009.

“Forty per cent of our revenue comes from the international refit business,” Sullivan said. “It’s all under threat.”

Two major contracts were cancelled just before the alert level 4 lockdown, leading to a loss of about $4 million to the wider Nelson economy, Sullivan said.

“We … will have to put more people out of work if the policy does not change,” Sullivan said, referring to the 40 jobs at risk.

Both he and Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith urged the Government to lift the blanket ban and consider the entry of each ship on a case-by-case basis.

The catalyst for prompting Sullivan to speak out publicly was the Government refusal to allow entry to the Captain Vincent Gann, a tuna boat now at sea in the eastern Pacific and in need of urgent repair.

A fault with the Captain Vincent Gann’s reduction gear that provides propulsion meant it was able to travel at half its usual speed only. It was also at risk of further damage. The repair work was expected to take about six weeks and would deliver about $600,000 to the wider Nelson economy – $400,000 to Aimex and $200,000 to associated businesses.

The Captain Vincent Gann’s last port of call was American Samoa, which had no reported cases of Covid-19 and had closed its borders in late March.

TNL International shipping agent John Lowden said the American-owned Captain Vincent Gann had been fishing out of Pago Pago for the past 18 months.

“The crew has been at sea since … 15th May and by the time it gets down here, they would have been at sea for a month,” Lowden said. “They don’t pose any threat at all.”

Sullivan said the crew members could easily be tested for Covid-19 and were prepared to be quarantined on arrival, if necessary. . . 

This exchange in parliament yesterday gives no hope that common sense will prevail:

 Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of Customs: Does she agree with the statement by Steve Sullivan from Nelson’s marine engineering company AIMEX that “The Government’s policy to refuse entry of vessels for engineering and maintenance work is costing jobs and millions of dollars in work”, and does she stand by her department’s decision to refuse entry to the fishing vessel the Captain Vincent Gann?

Hon JENNY SALESA (Minister of Customs): I do stand by Customs’ decision to give effect to immigration rules. This Government’s position has continued to be that the best economic response is a strong public health response. While I appreciate this is an incredibly difficult time for many businesses in New Zealand, our Government has made unprecedented support available for businesses like AIMEX. I encourage them to take up any and all support that they are eligible for from the Government during this unprecedented time.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the Minister saying it’s better for New Zealand for companies like AIMEX to take a wage subsidy rather than actually letting them do the work that earns the company and the country income.

Hon JENNY SALESA: The question is mainly about whether or not we allow a fishing vessel like this to come through. The decision made by the Government has not been to open up our border. We are 12 days into having zero COVID-19 cases, with only one active case. In terms of foreign ships, on 26 May a foreign fishing boat emerged as one of the points of transmission where a foreign-flagged, foreign-crewed vessel with 29 members of its crew being COVID-19 positive was heading towards the Pacific. A vaccine is not yet available for COVID-19, so the fact is that we are focused on saving lives and focused on public health. We are now looking at the recovery of our economy, but I stand by our Government and our response.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Why did she state yesterday in this House that the Customs refusal to allow entry of the Capt. Vincent Gann from American Samoa to New Zealand was based on advice of the ministry and Director-General of Health, when her department has admitted it never sought any advice from the Ministry of Health or the director-general on that vessel from American Samoa. . . 

Hon JENNY SALESA: The question that the honourable member asked me yesterday was whether I stand by Customs’ policies and actions—a very general question. Then he followed up with the question about this particular vessel. Had he put down a specific question like that, I would have been able to answer in specific ways.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does she accept that the COVID-19 risks for the fishing crew from American Samoa are far less than from the film crew that’s been allowed in by the Government from California, when American Samoa has had zero cases and zero deaths, and California has had 115,000 cases and 4,200 deaths?

Hon JENNY SALESA: I reiterate that this particular ship was a foreign-flagged, foreign-crewed ship. They were not all Americans or American Samoans on that particular ship. Customs enforces the rules and laws that Parliament and Cabinet set. The exemptions for visas are by the Minister of Immigration and the exemptions for jobs are by the Minister for Economic Development. The honourable member who has been a member for many, many decades—more than me—should know if he was to put down this kind of question who the right Minister is to ask about these sorts of issues. . . 

The government’s insistence on its own arbitrary and inconsistent definition of essential during the alert level 4 cost more jobs and did much more damage to the economy than had any business that could operate safely been permitted to do so.

Its refusal to let this boat when the crew has been isolated at sea for more than two weeks, are prepared to be tested and if necessary quarantined, shows it hasn’t learned from that.

There are plenty of other examples of the immigration lottery:

The Avatar film crew has been allowed in but there’s still no certainty over whether America’s Cup crews will be.

Dairy farmers are desperate for migrant staff to return:

. . . Ryan Baricuatro has worked on McFarlane’s 550-cow family farm near Carew, west of Ashburton, for seven years.

In early March, with no cows on the farm following the cull and Baricuatro’s wife due to have a baby in the Philippines, McFarlane encouraged him take some leave and return to his home country.

“We didn’t expect him to be gone for two months and not knowing when he’ll be back is tough,” McFarlane said.

“With his knowledge of the farm and the way we operate, he’ll be integral to getting us back and running after Mycoplasma bovis and at calving. He’s virtually irreplaceable for us, we’re desperate to get him back.” . . 

Geraldine farmer Tom Hargreaves shares McFarlane’s concerns.

Last May, his sheep and beef farming family bought the property next door and hired two staff, including Uruguayan Patricia Grilli, to run a 420-cow dairy operation.

After a successful first season on the farm, Grilli took time off to return to Uruguay for her father’s surprise birthday celebrations. . . 

Despite their best efforts, including providing Grilli with a letter from her employer and a lawyer, she was turned away by customs officials at the airport in Uruguay.

That’s left Hargreaves worried and his team stretched thin to cover Grilli’s role through winter.

“We don’t really know what’s happening. Nothing has been shown to us, so we’re really in the dark and getting more and more nervous,” he said.

“The dairy farm should start up from August 1, but we really needed her over winter as well. Our dairy farm manager didn’t have a day off and the sheep and beef guys would help out but only he and Patricia know the milking shed.” . . 

As of Wednesday, DairyNZ was aware of at least 40 skilled workers who had taken ill-timed holidays and are now unable to get back into New Zealand. 

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle agreed it could become a human and animal welfare issue if dairy farms were understaffed or had staff with the wrong skill-sets come calving.

As well as the workers stuck offshore, the industry was facing a much bigger problem if lower skilled workers already in the country couldn’t get their visa extended, he said. . . 

It’s not just workers who can’t get in.

Schools and universities could be attracting foreign fee-paying pupils and students from the northern hemisphere to start study in July but they too have yet to gain permission for entry.

Eric Crampton discussed why getting safe entry at the border matters:

The government seems to have everything backwards currently. It results in horrible inequities and the usual amounts of muppetry because they’re starting at the thing from the wrong end.

Right now, if you want to enter New Zealand and you’re not a returning resident or citizen, you have to convince the Minister that you’re important enough to be let in. That kind of regime was hard to avoid during the worst part of lockdown because you also needed exemptions from piles of other mobility restrictions if you were coming in as an essential worker to fix Wellington’s sewer pipes. But it’s got things the wrong way around now that lockdown is over. Instead, the principle should be that if you can enter safely, you’re allowed in – with no sign off from the Minister unless that were somehow already required for whatever visa you’d be coming in on.

Starting from the economic necessity of getting particular people in has the government picking winners – it’s the aristocracy of pull all over again. James Cameron has pull; some poor guy whose pregnant wife is here in New Zealand while he’s in Australia doesn’t. Because being allowed in is a function of their having the Seal Of Approval, safety gets less consideration than it should. Tom Hunt’s story from yesterday of quarantine-bound Avatar film crews mingling in hotel reception with regular guests – that kind of muppetry absolutely cannot be allowed to happen. And maybe it didn’t – the story relied on a non-quarantined guest’s reckon that the crowd she went through at reception was that film crew. But it is the kind of thing that’s more likely to happen if the guiding principle is “Movies are important and Avatar Sequels about that main Avatar and the other Avatar – that’s what matters and it matters so much that we’ll pay them tons of money to make those movies here”

You need to flip it.

If people can come in safely, they should be allowed in. . . 

The government was too slow to close the borders before the lockdown and too slow to insist on quarantine for anyone who came in.

Now it’s gone to the opposite extreme with arbitrary and inconsistent exemptions instead of working on the safety principle.

There would be a slight risk of someone bringing Covid-19 with them but providing everyone who comes in was required to quarantine at their own expense, the risk and cost would be minimal when compared with the benefits of businesses and jobs saved.

It would also give us some hope that it was able, and willing, to learn from its mistakes.


Chipping away at property rights

20/11/2019

Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi has announced changes aimed at protecting tenants:

  • limiting rent increases to once every 12 months and banning the solicitation of rental bids by landlords
  • improving tenants’ security by removing a landlord’s right to use no-cause terminations to end a periodic tenancy agreement
  • making rental properties safer and more liveable by letting tenants add minor fittings such as brackets to secure furniture against earthquake risk, to baby-proof the property, install visual fire alarms and doorbells, and hang pictures
  • improving compliance with the law by increasing financial penalties and introducing new tools to take direct action against parties who are not meeting their obligations. . .

What looks like gains for tenants add costs and difficulties for landlords.

Every change Labour has made so far in this area has restricted supply and pushed up rents,” said National Party leader Simon Bridges. “These changes will be no different, hurting those they say they want to help.”

Baby and earthquake proofing measures could be justified on the grounds of safety but anything else which could leave holes in or marks on walls like putting up pictures ought to be left to negotiations between tenants and landlords.

That and no longer permitting no-cause terminations are chipping away at the home owners’ property rights and, as Eric Crampton points out, do nothing to fix the underlying problem of poor rentals which is a housing shortage.

If you really care about protecting tenants, you need to have massive increases in housing supply. You need to have landlords competing for tenants. You need to have the run-down, damp, grotty dungers left vacant because people have other places that they can afford to live instead. When you’re in a massive housing shortage and the alternative to a crappy house is a garage or a car, crappy houses get rented out. If we instead had a surplus of housing, those places would be left vacant and their owners would have to decide whether to refurbish or tear down. . .

Tenancy regulation will not build more houses. It can only address some of the current symptoms of a fundamentally broken housing market.

Worse, it is the kind of move that makes the most sense if the Government is pessimistic about its chances of fixing the real underlying problem – making it easier to get new housing built. . . 

Not only will regulation not build more houses, it will add to the costs and compliance which make leasing homes even more unattractive to landlords.

These ones do further damage by putting tenants right to occupy above those of the property rights of the house owners.

 


If can’t count the concrete . . .

11/04/2019

Statistics NZ has finally come out with the number of partial responses to the census:

Stats NZ’s confirmation that the problems with Census 2018 is not just with the record low response rate, but a doubling in the partial response rate compounds the problems for the State Sector, says National’s State Services Spokesperson Nick Smith.

“We now know over 700,000 people or one in seven New Zealanders did not complete Census 2018. This leaves a huge data hole that will create problems for years in allocating tens of billions of dollars in funding for central state services like health and education, as well as affecting electorate numbers and boundaries for Election 2020.

“Stats NZ needs to accept responsibility for the 2018 Census shambles. It cannot blame the funding when it was 36 per cent greater than Census 2013 and when this budget was underspent. It cannot blame the digital strategy when Australia successfully delivered its 2016 Census with a 95 per cent response rate using a similar strategy.

“Stats NZ botched the delivery of Census 2018 by excessively relying on online responses and providing insufficient neighbourhood backup for others. It compounded the problem by dismissing concerns expressed by Census field offices, commentators and the National opposition when the Census could have been retrieved. . . 

The census shambles hasn’t stopped the department coming out with more things to measure:

Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand is being developed by Stats NZ as a source of measures for New Zealand’s wellbeing. The set of indicators will go beyond economic measures, such as gross domestic product (GDP), to include wellbeing and sustainable development.

The wellbeing indicators will build on international best practice, and will be tailored to New Zealand.  . . 

The indicators cover New Zealand’s current wellbeing, future wellbeing (what we are leaving behind for future generations), and the impact New Zealand is having on the rest of the world. Under these dimensions are a list of topics and indicators developed to measure wellbeing.

You’ll find a link to the suite  of indicators if you click on the link above.  Among them are abstract things like spiritual health,  sense of belonging, ability to be yourself, locus of control and sense of purpose.

If Stats NZ hasn’t managed to properly count concrete things through the census, how on earth is it going to measure these abstract things?

Even if it can, when did spiritual health, a sense of belonging, the ability to be yourself, locus of control (whatever that is) and sense of purpose become the government’s business?

Stats NZ isn’t the only state entity getting touchy-feely.

Eric Crampton reports on a Treasury initiative:

There’s a $35 registration fee for this event at Treasury. . .

I have no clue whether the money goes to the folks running the session or what; I suspect it covers a cost of the deck of cards provided. But they recommend that attendees buy a deck of their cards in advance as practice as well, so attendees would wind up with double the compassion. It’s wonderful how Treasury is helping to promote a small business by hosting it and encouraging folks to buy its products.

Minister Jones would approve, if Heartwork were based in the Provinces.

Here’s the pitch. Treasury is Love.

Imagine surprising Aotearoa with a strain of compassion so delightful that it re-wires our collective consciousness!

COME TO THIS SOCIAL LAB TO CONNECT AND CREATE TOGETHER.

We’ve created a “compassion starter culture” – a network of people who want to create a more compassionate culture in Aotearoa, starting where we are – in our workplaces.
We’ve been playing and rapidly prototyping with the Heartwork Wellbeing Card Game* – now available publicly. 
We know that the intention for what we want to create has a huge power.
We don’t have all the answers. And we can’t do this mahi alone.

So we’d like to invite you into this social lab.

So we can grow an even more beautiful, and more resilient strain together.
We’ll share what we’re learning while we’re still metabolising. . . 

Crampton concludes:

I, for one, love that this is a priority both for Operations and for Strategy and Performance at Treasury, as indicated by the attendance and presumed endorsement of the Chief Operating Officer and the Manager for Strategy and Performance.

Just imagine how better Treasury would have been prepared for the currency crisis after Muldoon lost election if they had thought to consult both their sun feelings and their moon feelings. I don’t know how New Zealand came through it without that. But we will be far better prepared for the next crisis. Treasury may have few remaining economists, but every single person who remains there will care deeply.

And surely that matters more than anything else.

You can watch a video of the card game here.

Not surprisingly the Taxpayers’ Union isn’t impressed:

Treasury’s ‘well-being’ focus is leading it to replace economic rigor with buzzword culture, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, as top department officials host a ‘social lab’ centered around a ‘Heartwork Wellbeing Card Game’.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The purpose of Treasury is to provide the Government with economic analysis and monitor the success of the wider civil service. It seems this has been abandoned in favour of feel-good card games.”

“It’s no wonder we need a taxpayers’ union when the agency responsible for monitoring public spending is busy trying to ‘surprise Aotearoa with a strain of compassion so delightful that it re-wires our collective consciousness!’”

“Treasury was once a proud institution, a key cog in the vital economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. It’s a bleak vision of the future when you see adult civil servants consulting with their ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ feelings.” . . 

Do the government, and it’s agencies, know about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. . . 

 

Image result for maslow hierarchy of need

The government has a role in ensuring some of its citizens’ basic physiological and safety needs are met.

The abstract concepts in the indicators come under psychological and self-fulfilment needs. Most of these aren’t the business of government and those which are won’t be met unless the government and its agencies get the basics – health, education, welfare, housing, infrastructure . . .  right.

 


Rural round-up

24/04/2018

Precious arable land – Eric Crampton:

I just don’t get the fixation with making sure that nobody builds a house on agricultural land.

The government plans to make it harder for councils to approve new homes and lifestyle blocks on productive land near urban areas.

A report out today, called Our Land 2018, shows New Zealand’s urban sprawl is eating up some of the country’s most versatile land.

It highlights that between 1990 and 2008, 29 percent of new urban areas were built on some of the country’s most versatile land. . . 

We are growing houses instead of food – Feds:

We are losing our most productive land to houses – that’s the most significant point Federated Farmers takes from the ‘Our Land 2018’ report released today.

The Ministry for the Environment report shows the pressure New Zealand agriculture is under from the loss of highly productive and versatile land due to urbanisation.

There was a 10% increase in urban areas from 2002 to 2012 and the loss would be even more now with the pressure on housing in the last few years. . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . .

 A2 shifts from a brand to a category, with Nestle and Mengniu now on board – Keith Woodford:

It is only six weeks since mega-sized Fonterra in New Zealand and medium-sized Freedom Foods in Australia announced their intention to produce A2 dairy products, these being products free of A1 beta-casein.  Since then, both Nestle and Mengniu have stepped up to announce that they too are developing brands for A2 infant nutrition products.

To place this in perspective, and as reported by Rabobank, Nestle is easily the largest global dairy company by turnover, followed by Lactalis, Danone, Dairy Farmers of America and then Fonterra. Further down comes Mengniu at number 11 globally, but number 2 in China.

It is now evident that dairy products free of A1 beta-casein are shifting from being a niche brand belonging to The a2 Milk Company (A2M) to becoming a broader dairy category. This was always going to happen, but the speed at which it is now occurring is taking most people by surprise. . . 

Livestock Improvement buys back $5.3M of shares to simplify structure – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Farmer-owned cooperative Livestock Improvement Corp will buy back $5.3 million of its shares as part of its move to simplify its share structure.

In March the company’s shareholders voted to reclassify all cooperative control shares and investment shares into a single class of ordinary shares. Livestock Improvement said today that a small number of shareholders had elected to exercise their minority buy-out rights under the proposal. . . 

#SustainabilitySunday: A tale of two farms – Uptown Farms:

What you see above is crazy exciting for our family!

These two pictures are from two fields, only separated by an old fence row. The photos were taken about 4 foot apart. 

The farm in the bottom photo has been traditionally managed for north Missouri row crop farms. You see larger and more compacted soil clods, fairly typical of dirt in the area. 

On the farm in the top photo we have been using no-till and cover crop practices for three growing seasons. What you see, and would feel if you were here, is a light and loose soil. It’s full of organic matter without any compaction. (Think of potting soil compared to dirt from your backyard.) 

We have actually added soil to this farm by allowing crop residue and cover crops to decompose and turn to dirt. In only three years, we have changed the soil makeup of our farm.  . . 

Scales hunts for NZ agribusiness acquisitions to fit with apple export business – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Scales Corp is eyeing potential agribusiness acquisitions that would fit well with its export apple business as the country’s largest apple grower aims to become the foremost investor in and grower of New Zealand agribusiness.

“We think New Zealand agribusinesses are in a good space, they make good products, and sell them to Asia,” chief executive Andy Borland told BusinessDesk. “We have over the years developed our skills around exporting and dealing with Asia, particularly China, and we are looking at businesses within New Zealand that would work with those sort of dynamics and be complementary to our apple business. We are really looking for those sort of New Zealand opportunities.” . . 

Good Idea! Feds Likes NZX Primary Sector Index Concept:

Federated Farmers congratulates the New Zealand Stock Exchange for coming up with the idea of creating a ‘primary sector index’ for investors.

The NZX intends to launch the new primary sector index later this year, where it will sit alongside the existing indices for other sectors such as energy, healthcare and real estate.

The index will include 15 companies, including Fonterra and A2 Milk. . . 

China begins to challenge multinationals in domestic infant formula market, says GlobalData :

CITIC Agri Fund Management, backed by Chinese state-owned CITIC Group, has recently agreed to buy a 25.18% stake in Hong Kong-based Ausnutria Dairy, one of the leading local suppliers of infant formula in the Chinese market. This clearly marks a change in direction for the government, which has hitherto been focusing its efforts on regulation in this sector, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.

Local suppliers in China are yet to recover from the melamine contamination scandal in 2008, with parents continuing to put their faith in foreign-made milks even after a decade. . . 


Winners losers, losers winners?

12/10/2017

Karl du Fresne is right – this is all arse-about-face:

. . . In any half-rational political system, it would be the parties which between them won more than 81 percent of the vote, not Peters with his measly share, that determined the course of negotiations. A minor player such as New Zealand First, if it had genuine respect for democracy, would accept that its negotiating strength should be proportionate with its level of popular support. But again, this is Peters we’re talking about. And sadly he’s encouraged in his delusions by both the media, which can’t resist stroking his ego (for example, by calling him the kingmaker), and by the major parties, whose attempts to appease Peters come perilously close to grovelling.

Pardon the expression, but this is all arse-about-face. It’s demeaning to democracy. We’ve heard a lot over the years about the tail-wagging-the-dog scenario under MMP. Well, here it is writ large, and unfolding before our very eyes.

It’s a situation rich in irony. We voted for the introduction of MMP primarily to punish our politicians and bring them to heal. We were fed up with their broken promises. We wanted to make them more accountable.

Only now are New Zealanders realising that we achieved the exact reverse. Voters have no control whatsoever over whatever’s going on right now behind closed doors at Parliament. In effect, we have placed still more power in the hands of the political elites. This is the antithesis of what the promoters of MMP promised (and perhaps naively believed themselves). . . 

The situation is made even worse because whatever decision Peters and his negotiating team make has to be approved by serious consensus from the party board – the members of which have not been made public.

Frustrating as the protracted negotiations  and the secrecy over the board membership are, my fear is that the government that eventuates might be even worse.

It is possible Winston Peters and New Zealand First have learned from previous failures and will be determined to ensure strong and stable government in the best long term interests of  New Zealand.

But it is at least as likely that they haven’t and that both they and any coalition partners will be damaged by whatever permutation of government is foisted on us.

I dearly want Bill English to continue as Prime Minister but not at any price.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association warns that the country will come to a grinding halt if there are drastic changes to immigration; NZ First’s anti-trade and foreign investment rhetoric contradicts its assertion it wants what’s best for the regions and mining the misery of the Pike River families is simply despicable.

Like David Farrar, I think it will be better for the country to have National leading the government, but it might be better for the party to be a formidable opposition – what Emma Espiner calls the opposition from hell – instead.

I have a lot of confidence in the ability of Bill English and his team. Nine years leading the country through financial and natural disasters has proved they are more than capable. But they will need all their skill and experience, and more than a little luck to govern in coalition with, or the support of, Peters and his party.

Even then, there is a risk that whoever wins in the short  term might become the losers and the losers might turn out to be the winners in the medium to longer term.

P.S. Apropos of foreign investment – Eric Crampton gives some context:

 New Zealand is the most restrictive country in the entire OECD. It is the seventh most restrictive country of the 62 countries they surveyed.


Rural round-up

17/06/2017

Riding the dairy rollercoaster – Ian Telfer:

Head just west from Riverton, Southland, turn inland from stony Colac Bay and the wilder waters of Foveaux Strait, and you reach the Mathieson family farm.

Sandwiched between the sea and the bush-covered slopes of Longwood Forest, it’s where Ewen Mathieson was born, and has remained ever since.

“It’s a pretty special place.”

For most of its history, the 650-hectare farm ran mainly sheep and beef, but in 2008 – the year the National-led government was elected – the family decided to convert to dairy.

It turned out to be interesting timing. . . 

Researchers confident of pāua comeback after quake:

Researchers studying how pāua have been impacted by the Kaikōura earthquake say it is not yet clear how long it will take the species to recover.

November’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake lifted parts of coastline up by several metres in places, dehydrating and killing thousands of exposed pāua.

Last year the government announced a $2 million research package to look at how marine life was coping after the disaster.

Pāua are one of the species thought to have fared worst in the Kaikōura earthquake. A ban on collecting them and all other shellfish and seaweed in the area, excluding crayfish, is in place until November this year – when it will be reviewed. . . 

Green Ribbon Awards showcase farmers’ environmental work:

Federated Farmers is delighted to see farmers’ environmental work being showcased and celebrated at the annual Green Ribbon Awards in Wellington last night.

The Ministers for Environment and Conservation who hosted the event announced two farmer led initiatives as winners; The Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust was honoured in the community leadership category, while Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu was winner of the Kaitiaki Leadership category.

In all, there were five farmer led initiatives which were 2017 finalists, underlining kiwi farmers’ commitment to the environment and biodiversity. . . 

Grow large with milk – Eric Crampton:

It would be tempting to take these results and make a case for ending Canadian dairy supply management, but there are better reasons for ending Canadian supply management.

A new paper out in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows there’s an association between children drinking non-dairy milk, as opposed to cow’s milk, and lower heights. 

The press release doesn’t link to the paper. Here’s the link to the paper if you’re interested. 

The press release talks about associations but doesn’t say anything about causality. Nevertheless, the author goes on about the lack of regulation of protein content in non-dairy milk. 

And hey, maybe that’s what’s going on. Reduced protein intake could be doing it. . . 

Global demand fueling forestry export growth:

Strong demand from key markets is driving up export growth in forestry products, Associate Primary Industries Minister Louise Upston says.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) shows strong growth in the forestry sector.

“Forestry exports are expected to grow 6.4 per cent to $5.5 billion in 2017, before increasing further to $6.3 billion by 2021 as increased volumes of wood become available for harvest,” Ms Upston says. . . 

Proud moment as New Zealand farmers take their wool to the world stage:

Seeing their product presented to the North American market was an emotional and triumphant experience for a group of New Zealand wool growers last month.

Just Shorn®, Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool)’s range of premium New Zealand wool carpets and rugs, was launched in New York City on May 18 at an event attended by New Zealand Trade Commissioner – Consul General, Beatrice Faumuina.

Craig Carr, managing director of Carrfields, said the farmers who attended the event were immensely proud to see the finished carpets and rugs, which are now available from US luxury flooring specialist Carlisle, presented at the event. . . 

Soybeans: Missouri’s Super Crop! Planting #My60Acres – Uptown farms:

It’s ‘s growing day 10 already and I am just now telling the story of planting #My60Acres!  Many of you will remember from last year that my farmer husband gave me full access to take over one, 60 acre  field on our home farm.
 
Last year #My60Acres was planted to corn (you can read that story here).  I delayed planting a few days (because I didn’t want to take time off from my day job) and it cost me in yield at harvest time because I hit some wet, cold weather right after planting. . . 

Sileni Estates wins Platinum at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards in London:

Hawke’s Bay producer, Sileni Estates, has been awarded Platinum at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) for its 2014 Estate Selection Peak Syrah.

The Decanter World Wine Awards is one of the world’s largest and most influential international wine competitions judged by the top wine experts, Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers from around the world. . . 

Xero urges agri sector to Improve glacial invoicing:

Xero announces new app developments, agri-specific reporting templates and benchmarking capability

As Fieldays is in full swing and businesses have been spending up large, Xero is urging agri businesses to proactively manage their finances.

Craig Hudson, New Zealand Country Manager at Xero, says the agri sector has some of the longest payment terms Xero sees across New Zealand.

“The concept of monthly invoicing is outdated for the agri sector. If you aren’t invoicing as you complete work, you are missing a trick. The sector will be losing out on millions due to the unnecessary cost of financing negative cashflow. . . 


Rural round-up

16/06/2017

Mānuka genes could help fight myrtle rust – scientist:

Mānuka tree genetics has the potential to help the myrtle plant family develop resistance to myrtle rust, a scientist says.

The airborne disease has spread to Te Puke, meaning there are 46 infected properties across Northland, Waikato, Taranaki and the Bay of Plenty.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said it was no closer to containing the spread, which affects all members of the myrtle plant family – including pōhutakawa and mānuka. . .

Steady progress with Primary Growth projects – Allan Barber:

It is eight years since the Primary Growth Partnership programme was announced by the then recently elected National Government. At the end of 2016 there were 20 projects under way and just two completed, but 30th June sees the completion of FarmIQ, the largest of the red meat sector programmes. This seems to be an appropriate point to evaluate the success of PGP, in particular the six meat and two wool programmes which have been allocated total Crown and industry funding of $342 million.

The key point about PGP is its funding structure, with the taxpayer and industry putting up approximately half each, thus ensuring industry commitment to a better than even chance of a successful outcome. Nevertheless, as a general principle, the larger the amount of money invested, the greater the difficulty of measurement and the wider the potential for missing the target. . . 

Impassioned plea for rural health research funding:

The head of the national rural health group today made an impassioned plea for the government to consider much-needed rural research.

Michelle Thompson, chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) says there is a strong feeling that rural health outcomes are poorer than urban health outcomes but until they have the hard data they can’t be sure whether there is a difference or understand the scale of the difference.

Earlier this year the RHAANZ presented its five most urgent priorities to government, one of which included comprehensive rural health research support. . . 

Cartel’s gonna cartel – Eric Crampton:

Canada’s dairy cartel continues to impress. After Canada negotiated increased access to Canadian markets for European cheesemakers, the dairy cartel managed to do this:

Under the terms of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), Canada has agreed to allow nearly 18,000 additional tonnes of European cheese to be imported tariff free.

But CBC News has learned that when Canadian officials briefed their European counterparts on how they would allocate the quota for importing this new cheese, not everyone around Europe’s cabinet table felt Canada’s approach lived up to the spirit of the negotiations.

A European official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, characterized the state of things as a “row.” . . 

Beef and Sheep sector outline key priorities in their 2017 Manifesto: “Blueprint for partnership with the New Zealand Government”:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) are presenting the sector’s priorities to all political parties ahead of this year’s General Election.

The two organisations, who represent New Zealand sheep and beef farmers and meat processors, marketers and exporters have outlined in a manifesto a set of key priority policy areas on which to base a stronger partnership with government. 

MIA Chief Executive Tim Ritchie said the sheep and beef sector is our second largest goods exporter and a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. . . 

Launch of Māori Kiwifruit Growers Forum an industry first:

The Māori Kiwifruit Growers Forum was officially launched yesterday in Tauranga, representing a first for the kiwifruit industry.

The forum has been created to advocate for the interests of Māori growers in the sector and is a partnership between Māori kiwifruit growers, Te Puni Kōkiri and Zespri.

Minister for Māori Development, Hon Te Ururoa Flavell attended the launch at Te Hua Whenua Orchard in Welcome Bay. . . 

Finalists selected in NZ Sheep Industry Awards:

Leading farmers, scientists, a retired sheep breeder and a ground-breaking stock trading company are among the finalists selected in this year’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards.

This year’s Awards feature five people-related categories in which finalists were selected by a team of judges representing the farming and agribusiness industries.

These “people” awards sit alongside the Supplier of Year Award, where processing companies nominate a top supplier and four genetics awards, in which the top three animals in each category are selected through the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics evaluation. . . 

Kiwi entrepreneurial spirit on show at Fieldays:

From dairy to blueberries and from milk to beer, agribusiness diversification is the hot topic at this year’s National Fieldays according to ANZ’s Managing Director Commercial & Agri Mark Hiddleston.

Visiting Fieldays this week, Mr Hiddleston said many producers were looking outside their main business for ways to make their operations more profitable and resilient.

“In just half an hour I met three different dairy farmers who either have, or are in the process of, looking at other forms of milking. That might be diversifying to milking sheep or goats, or moving into something entirely different, such as hops to support the craft beer industry,” Mr Hiddleston said. . . 

Resurgent New Zealand Dollar Lowers Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Nathan Arthur advises that the rise in the New Zealand dollar generally saw corresponding lowering of local wool prices in most areas apart from fine crossbred fleece and some targeted coarser types.

Of the 7,930 bales on offer 56 percent sold. . . 

The value of a good rural school:

The integral role that a school plays in a local community is heightened in rural locations where it becomes a focal point for social activity and where a real sense of ownership is instilled among parents.

With more people seeking out lifestyle properties where they can raise their families away from the pressures of a fast-paced city, the educational opportunities on offer are very much part of the decision-making process. A good rural school is a key driver for a tree change lifestyle.

It’s not just a matter of reading, writing and arithmetic. The small country school takes on a life of its own. It’s usually a Civil Defence base, often its swimming pool is available to families after-hours via a key system, the principal will know all the children by name and will sometimes be teaching, and pet days are part of the school calendar. . . 

Image may contain: one or more people and text

A farmer’s tan from Agri 67


Rural round-up

26/05/2017

Funding boost to strengthen biosecurity:

A boost of $18.4 million of operating funding over four years from Budget 2017 will help further strengthen the biosecurity system and protect our borders, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“Biosecurity has always been my number one priority as Minister because the primary sector is the backbone of our economy. Unwanted pests and diseases have the potential to cause major damage to our producers,” Mr Guy says. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand welcomes Budget biosecurity investment:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), on behalf of sheep and beef farmers, has welcomed the Government’s additional investment in biosecurity, announced in the Budget today.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Sam McIvor said the additional $18.4 million recognised that biosecurity was a risk to primary production and a threat to the wider New Zealand economy.

“We’re pleased the Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon Nathan Guy has made this commitment to biosecurity. . . 

Zespri 2016/17 season results: record sales by volume and value:

A remarkable season of increased yields and the largest-ever New Zealand crop helped lift total Zespri sales volume from New Zealand to a record 137.7 million trays, 18 percent up on the previous year. Sales of kiwifruit from Zespri’s Northern Hemisphere supplying locations also grew by 14 percent to 16.6 million trays, driven mainly by SunGold vines coming into production in Italy.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride says Zespri sold more fruit faster than ever before during the 2016/17 season, with global fruit sales revenue rising by 19 percent to $2.26 billion. . . 

$30.5m boost to fisheries management:

A significant boost of $30.5 million of operating funding over the next four years in Budget 2017 will upgrade and modernise the fisheries management system, including the roll-out of cameras, monitoring, and electronic reporting on all commercial vessels, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“This funding will help introduce the world-leading Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS), which will give us arguably the most transparent and accountable commercial fishery anywhere in the world,” Mr Guy says. . . .

Sanford lifts first-half profit 25% as higher value product offsets lower prices for frozen fish – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed seafood company, lifted first-half profit 25 percent as the benefits from selling more higher value fresh seafood offset the impact of lower prices for frozen commodity products and disruption from adverse weather.

Profit rose to $19 million, or 20.4 cents per share, in the six months ended March 31, from $15.3 million, or 16.3 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue from continuing operations advanced 5 percent to $230.4 million. . . 

Fairton closure inevitable – Allan Barber:

Wednesday’s announcement by Silver Fern Farms of the proposal to close the company’s Fairton plant was in many ways inevitable. Even the workforce appears to have been resigned to the probability for several years. Sad as it is for workers and the Ashburton community, it is better to front up to the certainty than to have to wait for the axe to fall.

The upgrading of Pareora an hour to the south as a modern multi-species meat works, combined with the loss of sheep in the catchment area had effectively sealed Fairton’s fate. The agonised shrieks from politicians of all the opposition parties railing against last year’s approval of the Shanghai Maling investment in SFF were equally inevitable, but completely missed the mark – I am certain the company’s board would have made exactly the same decision without the new shareholding structure, provided the undercapitalised business could have afforded the costs of closure . . 

Sheep and Beef sector welcomes the recent agreement to move forward with the TPP agreement:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) welcome the recent statement by the Trade Ministers of the eleven Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries in Hanoi to work towards bringing the trade agreement into force expeditiously.

The TPP agreement has significant value for the New Zealand sheep and beef sector, particular improved access into Japan for New Zealand beef exports, say B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor and MIA CEO Tim Ritchie. . . 

Momentum building for mandatory CoOL:

The New Zealand public is clearly showing their desire to have mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) Horticulture New Zealand told the Primary Production Select Committee at Parliament today.

The Select Committee is hearing submissions on the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill before Parliament.

“Firstly, our recent survey showed that more than 70 percent of New Zealanders want mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) for fresh fruit and vegetables,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says. . . 

The rice industry is furious at the existence of “cauliflower rice” – Chase Purdy:

The fight over the US government’s definitions for certain foods has flared up again. It’s no longer just a fight for milk farmers, who’ve grown increasingly angry about plant-based food companies (think soy, almond, and cashews) calling their liquid products “milk.”

For the first time, vegetables are being roped into the debate—all because of the arrival and popularization of “cauliflower rice.”

“Only rice is rice, and calling ‘riced vegetables’ ‘rice,’ is misleading and confusing to consumers,” Betsy Ward, president of industry lobby USA Rice, said in a statement earlier this month. . .  Hat Tip: Eric Crampton


Rural round-up

12/05/2017

Canterbury director and shareholder is Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year

A Canterbury woman who has dedicated her career as a rural professional to New Zealand’s dairy industry is 2017’s Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor, won the coveted title out of a group of three finalists which included CEO of Sirona Animal Health Claire Nicholson and agribusiness consultant Jolene Germann. The awards ceremony was held tonight in Queenstown as part of a gala dinner at the Dairy Women’s Network’s annual conference. . . 

Farmers set to benefit from new high-tech weather stations:

Fonterra farmers will come together to trial innovative technology that will allow them to take insights from the weather and bring greater precision to New Zealand dairy farms.

Fonterra is playing its part in fuelling the revolution of on-farm weather forecasting by working with MetService and BloomSky – a smart weather camera station that delivers hyperlocal weather information in real-time to any laptop, tablet or smartphone. . . .

Rebel with a cause – Eric Crampton:

I love Roger Beattie.

Weka are endangered, but they breed easily on his farm at Banks Peninsula. He’s just prohibited, by dumb rules, against breeding them for profit. Whether this is DoC bloodymindedness, Vogonity, or refusal to be shown up by somebody doing a better job of conservation that DoC is – that’s anybody’s guess.

And so, annoyed with silly DoC rules around farming weka, Roger’s making a point. He’s adding weka feathers to some hats and selling them. . .

UK supermarkets ban fresh NZ lamb – Alexa Cook:

A decision by UK supermarkets to ban fresh New Zealand lamb is bad news for the industry and could turn consumers away from the meat, says Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

Supermarket chain Co-op Food, which is the UK’s fifth largest retailer, is banning fresh New Zealand lamb in response to lobbying from the British Sheep Association. . .

Dairy herd up in North Island but down in South Island:

After a decrease in 2015, the dairy cattle number increased 2 percent in 2016 to reach 6.6 million, Stats NZ said today. However, this was not back to the 2014 level (6.7 million).

The North Island dairy herd increased by almost 250,000 cows last year, led by a rise in Waikato. In contrast, the number of dairy cattle in the South Island fell more than 100,000 in the year to 30 June 2016.
The results also show continuing declines for sheep and deer numbers, with beef cattle being relatively unchanged
. . .

Call to action to save threatened species:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has issued a “call to action” for the nation to get behind efforts to protect New Zealand’s threatened native plants and animals.

Minister Barry launched the Department of Conservation’s draft Threatened Species Strategy at the Threatened Species Summit in Wellington this morning.

“Our unique plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth and help to define who we are as New Zealanders, adding immeasurable value to our culture, our identity and our landscapes,” Minister Barry says. . .

Cutting nitrogen loss in winter – Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter’s a much riskier season for nitrogen leaching from urine patches on pasture to waterways.

Milking cows will excrete, in urine, about 70 per cent of the nitrogen they consume. The chance of nitrogen leaching from urine patches is much higher in winter due to weather conditions.

Also, farmers should be particularly cautious when applying nitrogen fertilisers to pasture or crops during winter due to the extra risks winter weather poses for nutrient loss. . .


Rural round-up

27/04/2017

Door-to-door farm visits welcomed as floodwaters recede and costs become clearer:

Teams from the local Rural Support Trust and Red Cross have been documenting destroyed pastures, damaged homes and inundated orchards, as they carry out assessment visits to flood-affected farms and orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

“Our farming and growing families have been very stoic in getting through the flooding, and now our visit is a chance for them to sit down, have a cup of tea, and see what they need to move forwards with recovery,” says Igor Gerritson from the Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust.

“What’s immediately clear is the extra cost associated with the evacuations of about 5000 cows, and the pressing need to buy feed for stock whose grazing is destroyed by floodwaters. The cost of transporting stock out alone is estimated to be $75,000 in the first week of the event.” . . 

Fifty years of Canterbury farming revolution – Keith Woodford,

The ideas for this article were triggered by a recent reunion of former Ministry of Agriculture Canterbury farm advisers. There were about 45 of us who got together to tell tales of former years. Our collective experiences that day went back to 1946 when Austin Ebert joined what was then the Department of Agriculture, followed by Les Bennetts in 1947, and then Lyndsay Galloway and Dave Reynolds a few years later.

I was one of the later recruits, joining as a fresh-faced and very ‘wet behind the ears’ 22-year old at the end of 1969, having just completed a four-year agricultural science degree at Lincoln University. Compared to many, my farm adviser career was short.  I only lasted two years, one year either side of two years back at Lincoln for a Master of Agricultural Science degree, before heading off to South America for mountain-climbing and other adventures. But those two years as a farm adviser were enough to create many memories, and also to learn many lessons, both from colleagues and some very experienced farmers.  . . 

Wet autumn weather a ‘big shake-up’ for crop farmers:

Cropping farmers throughout New Zealand are feeling the impact of a wet autumn, with two cyclones this month leaving many crops underwater or too wet to get machinery in to harvest it.

New Zealand has been drenched in recent weeks, with the remnants of Cyclones Cook and Debbie causing widespread flooding.

Federated Farmers spokesperson Katie Milne said farmers across the country had been hit in different ways by the storms and while some areas had plenty of feed, others were struggling. . . 

Pumped Dry – Central Otago farmers’ fight for water – Ian Telfer:

Alarm is growing in the farms and orchards in the country’s driest region as irrigation rights granted during the Otago Gold Rush expire, and new environmentally sustainable allocations loom.  

More than 400 so-called deemed permits, which underpin Central Otago’s economy, have to be replaced with modern water permits within five years, and large cracks are appearing in the process.

The Carrick Water Race has run for 140 years, and survived, but its users might now have to dig deep to save it.

The historical hand-dug water channel has snaked its way downhill since the gold rush days, carrying water from Coal Creek high up in the mountains to the water-short land of Bannockburn. . . 

A2 Milk posts third-quarter sales that beat its projection, lifts annual guidance – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s third-quarter sales beat expectations as Chinese and Australian demand outstripped the milk marketer’s projections and the company sees annual revenue jumping by almost 49 percent.

The Auckland-based, Sydney-headquartered company forecasts revenue of $525 million in the year ending June 30, up from $352.8 million a year earlier, it said in a statement. A2 generated sales of $388.1 million in the nine months ended March 31, with the third quarter infant formula sales exceeding expectations.  . . 

Canadian Milkroad trilogy – Eric Crampton:

Three great reads on the insanity of Canada’s dairy supply management system:

Trevor Tombe explains the consequences of supply management:

According to recent estimates from the OECD, the artificially high agricultural prices in Canada transfer $3.5 billion from consumers to producers annually — nearly $3 billion from milk alone. Spread over the 8 billion litres of annual production, it’s effectively a hidden milk tax of 37 cents per litre.

For producers, this is a big deal. At the end of 2015, there were just under 11,500 dairy farms in Canada. The $3 billion that supply management allows them to extract each year is equivalent to $260,000 per farm. Much of this is capitalized into the value of the quotas they are required to hold. A single one in BC and Alberta, for example, is currently worth roughly $40,000; in Ontario and Quebec, they go for $24,000. With nearly one million dairy cows in Canada, quotas are collectively worth tens of billions of dollars, an important cause of our country’s higher production costs. . . 

Earth Day isn’t relevant here – Uptown Farms:

The last few days social media has been blowing up with Earth Day celebrations. Earth Day was born in 1970 by protestors in response to “the deterioration of the environment,” according to EarthDay.org.

This morning on our farm, we will get up and go to work like we always do.

We will check cows that are grazing our crop fields, currently seeded with turnips, radishes, and cereal rye. We refer to that mixture as cover crops, which we’ve been using on the farm for the last eight years or so, and they provide immeasurable environmental benefit. They reduce our chemical usage, runoff and erosion while increasing our soil organic matter and soil microbes. That means healthier fields and healthier environment surrounding our fields. . . 

Canterbury’s leading agritech companies showcase their solutions to increase productivity and profitability in agriculture:

Canterbury’s leading agritech companies, who contribute to the country’s $3 billion agtech sector, will be showcasing their solutions to increase productivity and profitability in agriculture, at a TechWeek event on 10 May 2017.

Robotics, software, pasture mapping and management are some of the solutions being integrated into on-farm practices across New Zealand, and will be exhibited at Lincoln Hub’s ‘Showcasing Agtech’ event in Lincoln.

For the first time in Tech Week’s history, events are being held outside Auckland, including the showcase, which has been developed to raise the profile of Canterbury Agtech companies, as well as create a conversation around sustainability and growth in the agriculture industry. . . 

NZ’s largest logging industry event planned for June:

The New Zealand forestry industry set a new record last year for the annual forest harvest. There is no denying the fact that the sector is on a high right now. On the back of booming log exports to China, low shipping rates and strong domestic demand, wood harvesting has reached record levels.

This year forestry export revenues are forecast to rise even further. For the year ending June of this year, they’re forecast to increase by 5.8% to NZ$5.4 billion, and climb a further 8.8% to NZ$5.9 billion in the year to June 2018. With the supply of harvestable wood also forecast to rise even higher over the next five years, logging contractors and transport operators from around the country will continue to be extremely busy. . . 


Quote of the day

18/03/2015

In self-proclaimed intellectual circles, it has long been fashionable to belittle the idea of economic growth. “GDP is not the same as happiness”, some critics of growth will explain. Others will warn that excessive growth could destroy the environment and leave our planet uninhabitable. Others still will warn that the finite nature of our resources does not allow continuous growth in any case.

This kind of critique has become a pastime of the chattering classes. It is now part of polite conversation in the better suburbs of developed world cities. To question the value of growth at dinner parties in air-conditioned or heated houses while sipping French champagne and eating Italian prosciutto presumably adds a sense of intellectual gravitas to one’s physical well-being. These people probably do not even realise the self-contradiction in condemning economic growth while enjoying its blessings.  . .

Economic growth is no silver bullet to all the world’s problems. But it comes close. There is overwhelming evidence that the unprecedented economic expansion humanity has experienced roughly over the past three centuries has been a great force for good. It has made our lives better in ways that would have been unimaginable to previous generations.

This should also be the response to the aforementioned critics of growth. At which stage in history do they believe we should have proclaimed the end of economic development? Certainly not in Plato’s time (4th century BC) since that would have prevented the invention of the canal lock (3rd century BC) and paper (2nd century BC). Development should not have stopped at the time the Gospels were written either since otherwise we would not even have invented the wheelbarrow (2nd century AD).

To move to more modern times, had economic development stopped when Ernst F. Schumacher suggested it should (Small is Beautiful was published in 1973), we would have never seen CD-ROMs, the Internet or the first vaccine for meningitis. And even if we had only stopped to grow and develop when Pope Francis told us to in November 2013, we would have never seen the first human clinical trials in the United States for a wearable artificial kidney – or the new iPhone 6.

Economic growth is the driver behind all of these developments because at its core, economic growth is not mainly about the production of more but about the discovery of better (though often it is both). Economic growth helps us to find new and improved ways of combining resources. The outcomes could be a new medicine, a faster way of travelling, a healthier way of eating or a better way of learning. . . Dr Oliver Hartwich

This is an extract from the New Zealand Initiative’s report The Case for Economic Growth by Eric Crampton and Jenesa Jeram.

 


Latta vs rich List

04/08/2014

Nigel Latta’s TV programme on the New Haves and Have Nots has reignited the debate on inequality.

Eric Crampton counters the assertion inequality is growing:

. . . First, as noted last night, inequality has not been increasing. There was an increase from the mid 1980s through the early 1990s, and it’s been flat since then. Last night I put up the Gini time series, but that’s hardly the only measure of inequality. Let me here quote the Ministry of Social Development report:

Overall, there is no evidence of any sustained rise or fall in inequality in the last two decades. The level of household disposable income inequality in New Zealand is a little above the OECD median. The share of total income received by the top 1% of individuals is at the low end of the OECD rankings.

That’s one of their big bolded summary findings. Inequality is flat, we’re hardly out of line for the OECD, and whatever you think about inequality in NZ, it’s not being driven by the top 1%. . . .

Whether or not he read that, Latta added to the debate with a Facebook post:

And… for all those people out there who dispute the fact that inequality has been steadily increasing in this country… and who argue the ins and outs of the statistics from the most recent Household incomes survey… and even the man on Newstalk ZB who just said the episode was all just “socialist propaganda”… well, all those people might be interested in the fact that in the latest National Business Review Rich List Survey the collective wealth of our rich-listers has more than doubled since 2004 from $22.3 billion to $51.2 billion in 2014.

You can call that any one of a number of things, but I don’t think you can look at those numbers and say that inequality has been “stable” since the 1990’s.

So, you know, there’s that.

To which responds:

. . . Meantime, is the Rich List 2014 exhibit A for growing inequality?

It’s worth noting the Rich List isn’t stuffed with cigar-chomping bankers or sweat shop owners or other Dickensanian characters.

Take the wealthiest new entrant, Ian McCrae (Orion Health) or Rod Drury (Xero) who had one of the biggest jumps in personal wealth this year.

Both of these sell-made CEOs have roughly doubled their software companies’ workforces from around 400 to more than 800 a piece over the past 12 months. 

Those are high quality jobs. As are the 1500+ employed by Rich Lister John Holdsworth at Datacom, which has shot up the TIN100 rankings to become our second largest high tech exporter (just ahead of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, founded by the Rich List Paykel family).

Companies on the TIN100 (and NZTE/Callgahan Innovation-backed list of our largest high tech companies) piled on staff last year — and would have added more if not for a skills shortage. The TIN100 is stuffed with NBR Rich Listers too numerous to name, but it includes Sir Peter Jackson, and the Gallagher Family.

Many make a broader contribution. Xero has fostered a shoal of smaller NZ software companies that support its platform. Holdswoth and Morgan each invest in dozes of startups, as does another Rich Lister Sir Stephen Tindall (and there are many other examples of investing in new businesses; I’m just pulling a handful from the tech scene). Morgan is also investing further afield including multiple projects in Africa aimed at creating sustainable businesses. 

It’s also worth noting that Drury and McCrae’s companies are barely gouging and exploitive by nature. Xero will only succeed against rivals if it makes it easier for small businesses to do their books. Orion Health has had wins around the world for its software, which among other things makes it easier for healthcare providers to put patient records online and share them others who need access. But its biggest success as been in the US on the back of the Obama reforms which have made healthcare more accessible. Orion is helping to make our hospital system work better too. That’s a good thing.

It’s true Rod Drury’s wealth has increased four-fold over the past couple of years, but it’s not like he got there by reaching into workers’ back pockets. It reflects the value that NZ, Australian, US and other investors have ascribed to his company’s shares.

Drury and McCrae have also made useful contributions to the debate around ICT infrastructure and public education., among other areas.

Not all Rich Listers have made such active investments in terms of employment or otherwise contributing to the economy. Some have merely seen the value of properties increase over the past year, with mixed results for middle and working class NZ. And not ever retailer on the Rich List is about to get a medal from the CTU. But it’s notable that the largest retailer, Sir Stephen Tindall’s The Warehouse, introduced a living wage programme over the past year (or Career Retailer Wage as the chain calls it). There are counter examples, but across the Rich List there are lots of examples of good jobs being created and even, like Sir Stephen, a few examples of closing the gaps.

Most wealthy people are wealthy because they have worked hard and taken risks.

They have earned their wealth and most have made a positive contribution to both the economy and society in doing it.

A very few might have got ahead at the expense of others but most get ahead by creating wealth which not only helps them it also helps others, by creating jobs and providing goods or services.

There is no doubt there are people in dire circumstances in New Zealand but the statistics on how many and comparisons with others don’t matter nearly as much as the people who are in need.

The easiest way to reduce inequality is to make the rich poorer but that won’t help the poor.

The real problem isn’t the gap between rich and poor but whether those at the bottom have enough and how easy, or difficult, it is for them to improve.

Some in immediate need require immediate direct help.

The key to helping the rest is improvements in their education, health, and helping those who could work but aren’t to move from welfare to work.


Living wage will cost jobs, kill businesses

05/09/2013

A “living wage” is one of many expensive policies based on emotion rather than research which Labour’s aspiring leaders are promising to implement.

Prime Minister John Key said the policy would cost about $2.6 billion and predicts 26,000 jobs would be lost.

The Motel Association said the introduction of a living wage will cost jobs in the motel sector, with some owner-operators indicating they do not have the capacity to pay more in wages, and would instead lay off staff.

. . . While it’s all well and good for politicians to talk about raising wages, but thought needs to be given to the businesses that end-up footing the bill, MANZ Chief Executive Michael Baines says.

“It’s a simple equation, raising the minimum wage to the so-called ‘living wage’ level of $18.40 will cost jobs. That is a fact,” Mr Baines says.

“Motels are being hit on one side with sharply increasing costs, often in the form of rating and compliance costs that are forever being cranked higher by greedy local government. On the other side we are facing competition from the likes of B&Bs and holiday homes which are untaxed, unregulated and can dodge these compliance costs.”

The majority of motels are owner-operated, so when costs increase but revenue does not, usually the only option is for the owner to lay off staff and do more of the work themselves. This is what will happen under the living-wage scenario.

“If politicians wanted small business owners such as in the motel sector to have the capacity to raise wages then they should cut the red tape, reduce compliance costs and create an even playing field across accommodation providers,” Mr Baines says.

 

“If you create an environment where quality businesses can flourish, especially small businesses, then the rewards will flow for everyone.”

Max Whitehead, CEO of the Small Business Voice said the policy would cause economic disaster for working New Zealanders:

Mr. Whitehead says that 97% of New Zealand enterprises employ less than 20 people — mum and dad businesses struggling to keep afloat.

“These are Kiwis who mortgage their homes to have a go at running a small business. They give people in the dole queue a job and hope for the future. If their businesses go well, then you’ll find that employees’ wages, along with job security, will increase too.”

Mr. Whitehead says a 34% wage increase will hit these business’ hard. David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson’s over-generous declaration with “other people’s money” will most certainly bring many of the small businesses down and, ironically, cost jobs.”

The costs will be put back to the consumer; inflation will go up; the Reserve Bank will respond by raising interest rates and, in turn, mortgage rates will go up.

“ The very people this bribe is designed to please will be the ones who suffer. Is this what Labour wants?

Eric Crampton at Offsetting Behaviour runs an economists eye over the proposal:

. . . Were the government promising an $18.40 minimum wage across the board, things would be rather worse. The median hourly wage in the 2012 NZ Income Survey was $20.86. A minimum wage that’s 88% of the median wage would be rather, well, breathtaking. Recall the median wage is the one where half of all wage earners earn more and half earn less. Workers vary in ability; a minimum wage at 88% of the median would disemploy anyone who cannot produce value equal to just a bit less than the median worker. This would obviously be very bad. Recall that unemployment weighs far more heavily in disutility than do wages. . .

The proposal here isn’t for an $18.40 minimum wage but rather for a living wage mandate for government workers. The effects then are more minor. . .

The main effect will be an increase in the cost of providing some government services. At the margin, this should mean that we have a few fewer things done by government, albeit within the context of an expansion in the size of government under a future Labour government. There would also then need to be an increase in taxes to fund it, or reduced spending in other areas to compensate, or higher deficits. I suspect Labour would bridge the gap via tax.
Bereft of ideas which would foster economic growth and so increase the tax take, one of few tools it has to fund its wild spending is to increase tax rates.
There will be some transitional unemployment as marginal jobs undertaken by government get shifted away from the government sector. If some of these workers were earning substantial rents in the government sector and are not employable above the legal minimum wage in the private sector, there could be some increased longer-term unemployment from that. . .
Another important effect: contractors will enjoy less of a cost advantage relative to government departments; we could easily read the policy as a way of trying to knock out contracted services to benefit public sector unions.. .
A policy that benefits unions but costs jobs – where’s the economic and moral argument for that?
If you want to increase the wages of the working poor, you hardly should be starting with government workers, who earn more on average than those in the private sector and who typically also enjoy greater job security and flexibility. And if you want to run transfers to the working poor, generalised wage subsidies are the least distortionary way of doing it. Labour’s proposed mechanism would be likely to reduce the efficiency of government services by pushing away from contracting out, and to skew the optimal balance between government services and other goods and services by increasing public sector costs. . .

That would increase the burden of government and  make it more difficult for businesses outside government to compete for staff.

Improving incomes is a laudable aim but imposing a “living wage” is not the way to do it.

Sustainable wage increases must be based on productivity and profitability, not government dictate.


Exclusive use can benefit environment

12/01/2011

Federated Farmers makes a stand for landowners in saying that fishing rights shouldn’t trample property rights:

Federated Farmers will defend a fundamental principle of land ownership – the right to exclude access – even if some anglers may have to choose to pay for convenient access.

“Federated Farmers agrees that selling river fishing rights is against the law,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers game and pest animal management spokesperson.

“Yet all landowners have the right to exclude access to their land by people who are uninvited, whether you live in the town or the country.

Few people would expect to have open access to a section in town, it doesn’t make any difference in the country just because the property is bigger.

“What this boils down to is common courtesy and respect for the property of others.  I know many farmers who freely grant access for recreational hunting or fishing but it’s based on the common courtesy of asking permission first. 

“A farm may be open ground but its also private property like someone’s house in-town.  Importantly it’s also a working environment that may contain sensitive areas or hazards.  Taking rather than securing permission is not only illegal but may have unintended adverse consequences.

“Anglers need to respect the right of the landowner to grant or refuse access.  After all, if you’ve had your gates left open, fences damaged or discarded fishing line left behind, then you’re probably less inclined to say yes. . .

We have never had any problems with people who’ve asked permission to cross or property but we have had problems with those who don’t – including theft of fuel, illegal hunting and damage to a security camera.

Donald was responding to comments from anglers criticising landowners who grant exclusive access to fishing guides which was the subject of a post on Monday.

Over at Offsetting Behaviour, Eric Crampton points out there can be environmental benefits from exclusive access:

One of my favourite Kiwi enviropreneurs is Elm Wildlife Tours down in Dunedin. I always recommend that folks visiting the Department book in with them if heading that way. Elm partnered with a local farmer whose land had Yellow-Eyed Penguin habitat: Elm gets exclusive access for its tour groups and works to improve the habitat. Making the resource excludable encourages conservation.

Maintaining and enhancing natural resources takes money and this is an excellent way to control access, for the sake of the landowner and the penguins, and ensure the habitat is looked after.

Landowners are charging for access, not for fishing, although if the only way to the river is through a farm it’s a distinction which makes no difference. Those complaining about that ought to remember it’s not only private landowners who charge. DoC sells concessions to tourist operators who use  land under their control and they also sell the right to hunt on it.

We neighbour a DoC block and the easiest access is through our property. We’ve never charged anyone who’s asked to cross our land although that increases the need for maintenance on our tracks.

But charging by DoC is a sensible form of user pays – those who make money from others or enjoy hunting  on DoC  land pay for the privilege which helps offset the cost of maintenance and enhancement.


Ignorance leads to left wing governments

07/03/2009

I’ve always had my tongue in my cheek when I’ve suggested that we ought to pass a comprehension test before we’re allowed to vote, now I’ve read Offsetting Behaviour I’m not sure it’s so funny.

Offsetting Behaviour is a welcome addition to the blogosphere by Eric Crampton who has some fascinating posts defining political ignornace , measuring ignorance, measuring economic thinking and  asking who’s ignorant?

Hat Tip: Anti Dismal


Dismal stats

31/10/2008

Eric Crampton’s has analysed voting odds at iPredict and concludes:

So, National’s chances of getting more seats than Labour look more like 57% than like 70%. And those chances get much worse in the 26% probability case that Peters returns to Parliament.

Anti Dismal  says:

Don’t you just love economists and statisitics?! But what this says is that either Eric has gotten his calculation very wrong or the iPredict market has gotten something wrong. If it is the latter then there is money to be made. Go to it!


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