Rural round-up

February 7, 2015

Landcorp Farming 2014/15 half year financial results:

Landcorp Farming has recorded operating revenue of $109.8 million for the six months to 31 December 2014 and a net operating profit of $1 million.

Landcorp Chief Executive, Steven Carden, said the first six months had been challenging and Landcorp is reviewing its full year profit forecast of between $1 -$6 million.

“A result like this will come as no surprise given the milk price and drought challenges. However we have cushioned the impact of these external factors by anticipating them early. One example is our support of the Fonterra Guaranteed Milk Price Scheme and another is our proactive livestock management around the country ahead of the drought.

“The fall in milk prices has significantly impacted our revenue, although we remain on track for a modest profit. . .

Responsible access theme of commission – Mark Neeson:

With summer here and New Zealanders embarking on their annual migration to the outdoors, it is an ideal time to reflect on the widespread access so many of us enjoy to our country’s lakes, beaches, rivers and mountains.

The outdoors provides opportunities to explore new places, and experience solitude, challenge, adventure, and a different perspective on life.

It is this image of New Zealand that is celebrated and promoted around the world, helping to create a thriving tourist industry. . .

Storm damages crops – Leith Huffadine:

A Dumbarton fruitgrower says a storm on Sunday afternoon has ”written off” most of the crops on his property.

The man, who did not want to be named, said his corn, pumpkins and peaches had been damaged in the downpour, which was localised to Dumbarton, between Roxburgh and Ettrick, and some surrounding areas.

”There might be a wee bit left but not much. [There’s] nothing there of any value.” . . .

Family affair keeps family farming dream alive – Sonita Chandar:

The dreams of a Taranaki farmer have become reality although he did not live to see them to fruition.

Duncan and Fiona Corrigan planned to expand their Hawera farm but when Duncan died in October 2012 his family continued what he started.

Josh, 22, the second eldest of 10 children, put his career on hold and took on the challenge of managing it. . .

 US fans raise their glasses to Kiwi wine – Gerard Hutching:

The United States is likely to become New Zealand’s leading wine destination this year.

Although more litres were shipped to Britain last year, the US is tipped to soon overtake that amount.

In terms of value, Australia is just ahead of the US, but that should also change this year.

For the year ended November 2014, wine exports to the US were worth $348 million, to Australia $360m and Britain $332m. . .

New Zealand Rural Games added 22 new photos to the album: The Running of the Wools — at Queenstown NZ

More than 350 merino sheep from Bendigo and Mt Nicholas stations in downtown Queenstown to preview the ‪#‎Hilux‬ New Zealand Rural Games 2015.

New Zealand Rural Games's photo.New Zealand Rural Games's photo.
New Zealand Rural Games's photo.

 The Farming Show added 3 new photos.
A great start to the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games as 350 merinos were herded through central Queenstown! Looking forward to all the rest of the events kicking off tomorrow morning from 8! The Farming Show's photo.
The Farming Show's photo.


The only way

September 15, 2014

As the election gets closer and polls get tighter some people are beginning to think about getting clever with their votes.

Bill English just told Jamie Mackay on the Farming Show that if people want a National-led government they should vote for National and leave the coalition permutations up to the politicians when the votes are counted.

It’s the party vote that counts and the only way to get a strong, stable government is to give National your party vote.

It’s also the only way to keep the country on course.

National’s clear economic plan and careful financial management is taking New Zealand in the right direction. ntnl.org.nz/1lQaKiR #Working4NZ


Rural round-up

September 11, 2014

Farming for the future – Patrick O’Boyle:

Agriculture is the national breadwinner, accounting for 12 per cent of our GDP. But, making up nearly half of our greenhouse gas emissions, it is also a major reason we have struggled to meet the challenge of bringing down our emissions. For Patrick O’Boyle, the way out of this tight spot is not to demonise our farming communities, but to recognise that progress comes when we work together.

Dairy, and meat and wool. These have been the livelihood of my family. Our history of living in the land spans a large part of the North Island and involves a significant contribution to these two industries. We now live on a sheep and beef farm in the Wairarapa, where we operate a successful farming business.

My connection with the land has always been deeply seated in certain values: a respect of the land and animals, personal responsibility, and an ambition to succeed. As farmers, we see ourselves as caretakers, and with this comes a responsibility to make effective use of the land and hand it on to the next generation. . . .

Patrick O'Boyle's photo.

South Island needs rain – Stephen Bell:

Many areas in the South Island are tracking towards record dry spells as relatively warm, dry weather that began in mid-August continues.

It had not got to the adverse event stage but farmers needed rain soon, Federated Farmers adverse events spokeswoman Katie Milne said.

Farmers on the West Coast were starting to get a bit desperate. Some had used up their winter feed reserves and weren’t looking too flash.

A few farmers were finding it tough with lower pasture cover after the Easter windstorm and a series of frosts. . .

Strong contenders for Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2014:

Seventeen exciting and innovative businesses are in the line up for the Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2014.

“This is the sixth year we’ve run the Enterprising Rural Women Awards,” says Rural Women National President, Wendy McGowan. “It’s encouraging to see the diversity of businesses being run by women in rural areas and the significant contribution they make to the wider economy.

“Each year we see an greater sophistication in the marketing and presentation of rural businesses that enter the awards.

“As broadband slowly rolls out into rural communities it is increasing business opportunities and levelling the playing field for rural enterprises, even when operating from remote locations. . .

 The glamorous face of farming – Genevieve Barlow:

THERE they were, two glamorous women in heels high enough to fall from, babbling about agriculture, and the power of art to promote farming.

The younger one, Hannah, wore silver shoes. Her mentor, Lynne, wore red ones. We were in the city so, yes, there was occasion to dress up but boy were these women relishing their glitzy shoe-wearing moment. Their sartorial chutzpah in the shoes department nearly blew me off my flat-heeled boots.

So what do farmers look like these days? Yesteryear’s straw-chewing, Akubra-wearing, down-on-his-luck laconic type, while romantic, no longer tells the story in full.

That’s what these glam gals were out to prove.

They walk into classrooms and public places sometimes looking more like they’re lining up for the red carpet (in the shoe department, at least) than a talk about cows and farms. . . .

 

 

Blanket Bay named in Andrew Harper’s Top 20 International Hideaways:

Luxury lodge Blanket Bay has again received a prestigious accolade – named as one of the world’s Top 20 International Hideaways in the famous Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report.

Blanket Bay, near Glenorchy, was ranked 16th in the just-released 2014 list of favourite hotels, resorts and lodges, as voted by Hideaway Report readers. The Hideaway Report is an internationally-recognised source of information about luxury travel.

The Andrew Harper website describes Blanket Bay as a “splendid sanctuary along the shores of Lake Wakatipu with a majestic backdrop of snowcapped peaks; a scenic 45-minute drive from Queenstown”.

New Blanket Bay General Manager Brent Hyde says the award rightfully belongs to the Blanket Bay team under the direction of previous General Manager Philip Jenkins, but he’s delighted with the continued recognition of the outstanding property. . .

 


Feds wary of Greens

September 10, 2014

I’d add Finance to that:


Eco-socialism replacing social-socialism

July 23, 2014

Jim Hopkins is a regular guest on The Farming Show to add levity but yesterday he got serious about Labour.

The party’s problem, he said, is that the social-socialism on which it was founded has been replaced with eco-socialism.

. . .If  you think about the labour movement globally and historically and socially it emerged out of the industrial revolution and out of the creation of a huge working class that was required to run all the factories and machinery that actually produced the goods that created the industrial revolution and made the world wealthy.

Well that’s past, unfortunately.  That workforce is now either robotic or lives off-shore in China or India and probably  increasingly in the next decade or so  Africa and in my view if you look at the left at the moment the whole thrust of the left has moved from social-socialism if you like to eco-socialism and I think actually that what you’re really seeing is that the Green Party is the new Labour Party and the old Labour Party doesn’t know where to go . . .

The Labour Party started losing its way when it became a vehicle for lots of disparate causes including feminism and gay rights.

It started with group of people who were in the party because they believed in its philosophy and principles and who were united behind those.

It became a collection of different lobby groups using the party to promote their various agenda.

These might not be conflicting but they’re not unifying either and it makes it difficult for the party to be clear about what it stands for.

It won’t advocate socialism . . .  it’s lost and in my view that it doesn’t help in New Zealand that it hasn’t worked out how to integrate the Lange -Douglas government . . . into their current thinking. . .

Ah yes, they still can’t accept those ‘failed’ policies of the 80s and 90s which the Labour-led governments of the noughties railed against but didn’t attempt to change in any substantial way.

Labour has lost its roots and disowns its most successful policies in recent history.

That’s left the party without a strong foundation on which to build – even if it could agree on what it wants to build and how, which it can’t.

That’s created a vacuum which the Green Party is doing its best to fill.

Unfortunately the green is only a shell sheltering red seeds.

Environmental causes are the cover for socialist social and economic agenda – the eco-socialism to which Hopkins referred.

That agenda used to be Labour’s but it’s now outflanked on the left and unable to put a credible case in the centre to attract the swing votes it would need if it’s to lead the next government.

The fertile ground on which is used to sow social socialism has gone and the Green Party has pre-empted its role in eco-socialism.

That does leave a place for a party which is strong on the environment and reasonable on economic and social issues but Labour isn’t likely to sit comfortably there.

Maybe that’s why so many of its policies are backward looking – it’s looked ahead and can’t see a future for itself.


NZer World Champion shearer

May 26, 2014

New Zealand has another world champion:

Twenty seven year old Rowland Smith from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand is the new World Champion Machine Sheep Shearer. Earlier this evening in Gorey, he fought off stiff competition from Scotland’s Gavin Mutch and Hamish Mitchell, who came second and third respectively. Gavin was the defending champion.

By common consent this week’s championships in Gorey have helped raise the profile of sheep shearing to a world-wide audience, given that 27 countries and 102 individual shearers took part.

Rowland was born on to a sheep farm, with the family enterprise extending to 1,500 breeding ewes. Twice a winner of the Golden Shears’ event in New Zealand, this was his first time competing in the world championships.

“I have been shearing since coming out of nappies,” Rowland told Agriland.

“And today’s victory is as much for my family back home as it is for me as an individual.”

Last year Rowland sheared 60,000 sheep in New Zealand. . .

Jamie Mackay interviewed Rowland on the Farming Show today.


Farming Show says no to Cunliffe

April 3, 2014

The Farming Show has interviewed the leaders of the National and labour parties each week for years.

When Jamie Mackay offered the spot to David Cunliffe he turned it down and Jamie wasn’t impressed.

Cunliffe has now had second thoughts:

CALLER PETER:   Good morning, Mr Cunliffe.
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Morning.
CALLER PETER:   I was just wondering if you could explain why you’ve refused to appear on the Farming Show.
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Actually, you know what? I’ll make an offer to you today. I’m happy to do that. I’ve changed my mind.
TIM FOOKES:     Why did you say no, though? This is…
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Because I was told before I became leader that the particular show used to ridicule my predecessor in a way that was grossly unfair. Now, that may or may not be true, but that’s what I was told. I accepted that advice, and I declined to appear. This is…
CALLER PETER:   Russel Norman appears on it.
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yes, and I’ll tell you what, I’m making a commitment today: if I get a call from Jamie Mackay, invite me on, I’ll do it. There you go.
TIM FOOKES:     There you go, Peter. Look, the problem is, if you’ve said no, do you expect Jamie Mackay to come knocking on your door and saying, look, if you’ve now said yes, will you come back?
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             It’s a good offer. It’s up to him. Doesn’t worry me either way.
TIM FOOKES:     I mean, this is the thing – and I was very surprised when you said no, or when your office said no, because you need, it appears, to get out there and to get among people, especially farmers and people who want – you know, want a bit of a…
DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yes, look, believe it or not, I actually kind of like farming. I grew up in a farming district, South Canterbury. I spent a year working on a shearing gang and on a cropping farm. And I got dirt under my fingernails. In fact, I spent a fair while mucking out pigpens as well, but that’s another story. Oh, I could tell you some stories about pigpens. But I won’t.

Mackay is a professional.

He sometimes asks tough questions and he is sometimes irreverent but I have never heard him treat a politician unfairly.

Cunliffe obviously realises he made a mistake and has had second thoughts but the Farming Show host has not.

Everyone makes mistakes and this one has come back to bite Cunliffe.

He’s missed an opportunity to speak to provincial New Zealand – and city people who tune into Radio Sport from 12 -1pm.

But worse for him, in the interests of balance and on the advice of Damien O’Connor, Mackay already invited Shane Jones to appear.


Greens biggest threat

December 19, 2013

Jamie Mackay asked Prime Minister John Key 20 quick-fire questions on the Farming Show today.

Asked about New Zealand’s greatest strength and/or opportunity, he said agriculture.

To the question of our biggest weakness or threat he answered the Green Party.

The questions and answers were mostly light-hearted but I think these last two were serious and he’s right about both.


Fonterra regrets . . .

August 6, 2013

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has expressed regret at a Chinese media conference for consumer anxiety caused by revelations that batches of whey protein had been contaminated.

“We regret the distress and anxiety which this issue could have caused,” Mr Spierings says. “Parents have the right to know that infant nutrition and other products are safe.”

The head of the world’s biggest dairy exporter says Fonterra has three key priorities: public health and food safety; working quickly with customers and regulators to resolve the issue; and working with customers and regulators to take corrective action.

The company’s commitment to China “is very high” and there is a “very strong relationship not only of Fonterra but also the New Zealand government”. . .

The distress and anxiety wouldn’t have been quite so bad if the company had handled the media briefings better, giving as much information as possible from the start rather than drip-feeding it.

Shareholders have been getting regular emails from board chair John Wilson but it was only yesterday that we got this explanation:

  • It is now more than 48 hours since we announced the serious situation we have with three batches of affected whey protein concentrate WPC80.
  • We continue to focus 100% on the health and safety of the public, working closely with our customers and regulators, and being as transparent as possible in the information we provide.
  • Our customers who have been impacted and local regulators have begun making public announcements about products that have been affected.
  • This is good for us as initially we were unable to provide details of our impacted customers.  I’d like to explain to you why this was the case.
  • When we sell commercial ingredients, like the affected whey protein concentrate, to our customers, we do not have visibility of how and where they use them. We are, of course, aware of exactly where product is in every step of Fonterra’s own supply chain, but once it leaves us, it is no longer in our control.
  • This means we did not know what customer products the affected whey protein concentrate had been used in and where these products were. Announcing the names of our international food and beverage customers without this information, could have caused even more uncertainty for consumers. 

Telling us, and the public, all this at the start would have been much more helpful than just saying they couldn’t say which products might be affected.

Explaining the testing regime, what happened, how it happened and what’s been done to ensure it won’t happen again would also have helped.

The 38 tonnes possibly contaminated is a tiny amount in the grand scheme of Fonterra’s production. Northland dairy farmer Grant McCallum, interviewed by Jamie McKay on the Farming Show yesterday, asked why it hadn’t been kept aside from the start.

He pointed out that if farmers know there’s a problem with their milk, they have to put a red padlock on the vat and asked why the processor doesn’t do something similar.

Prime Minister John Key said Fonterra will come under the microscope once the dust has settled.

Ministers have launched an all-of-government approach to Fonterra’s discovery of a bacteria that can cause botulism in some of its whey protein concentrate, and will review Fonterra’s role once it has dealt with the food safety issues, which are its primary concern, Key told reporters at today at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference.

Fonterra “will need to answer some questions which we can’t detail for you today, but they will be around the length of time it took for all of us to know, it will be about the processes it went through from when it first identified there could be an issue to one that was one that was brought into the public domain, and to the general approach to these issues,” Key said.

A second review will be into how the monitoring systems work, and Key said his “top-line assessment is that the bureaucracy-side of this issue has performed extremely well over the last 48 hours.” . . .

Once the health concerns are allayed it is essential that all these questions are answered.

But there wouldn’t be as many questions to be answered if Fonterra had had a much better protocol in place for handling the issue – or at least the publicity around it.


Drought “kind of snuck up on us”

March 18, 2013

It’s only Monday but it would be difficult to beat this from Dr Raymond Miller on Q+A yesterday for the stupidest comment of the week:

Admittedly, the drought kind of snuck up on us, to a certain extent, and I think the fact that the minister responsible for agriculture happened to be in Latin America for nearly two weeks when farmers were crying out for help suggests that the government may not have anticipated what was happening.

Droughts don’t sneak up.

Farmers, their advocacy groups, weather watchers, local, central government politicians and all the people who’ve noticed just how good summer has been for recreation and those with even a passing interest in current events are only too aware that there hasn’t been nearly enough rain for months.

As for the comment about the government and the Minister.

The government will be getting constant updates on the weather and will be in no doubt about its impacts on farmers and the people who service and supply them directly; provincial towns and cities and the economy as a whole.

He knew how dry it was before he went and that it was likely to get worse while he was away. He would have been only too well aware of what was happening – or when it comes to rain – not happening back in New Zealand and ensuring anything the Ministry of Primary Industries could have been doing was being done.

Jamie Mackay asked Barry Soper on the Farming Show whether the Minister should have stayed home.

He said he was far better occupied opening doors and making the most of opportunities in South America, that he was on top of what was happening in New Zealand bud didn’t need to be here.


Farming Show going urban

December 16, 2012

The Farming Show will be broadcast in Wellington and Auckland next year:

The country’s longest-running, daily, dedicated, farming radio programme broadcast between Midday and 1pm, Monday to Friday on Radio Sport will be heard on 1332AM in Auckland and 1503AM in Wellington.

“Making the programme available in both cities will open up Farming Show content to an even wider audience. There are many Aucklanders and Wellingtonians who have a rural association of some type and would find value in hearing the latest rural news, comment and opinion”, said Jamie Mackay, Farming Show host.

The Farming Show will now be heard in 25 markets from Northland to Southland as well as on the website launched earlier this year at http://www.farmingshow.com and on iPhone and Android, so farmers can keep up with the latest from the Farmingshow via their smartphone.

The Farming Show hour has some of the most expensive advertising spots on radio because it has a high target audience.

It started on Hokanui Gold in Southland, spread to provincial NewsTalk  ZB stations and has been on Radio Sport in bigger cities except Wellington and Auckland for the past few years.

Radio Sport listeners weren’t all enamoured of the programme at first but they must have grown to like it and the Radio Network must be confident it can win over listeners, and attract advertisers, in the big metropolitan markets.

I interviewed Jamie about his life and the show for ATS News (pages 14 and 15).

 

 


PM fronting Farming Show

November 2, 2012

Farming Show host Jamie Mackay is handing over the mic to Prime Minister John Key today.

Great show tomorrow - the PM takes the reins.

You can listen on NewsTalkZB provincial stations, Radio Sport (except in Auckland and maybe Wellington) and here.


Rural round-up

April 17, 2012

The Ploughman’s Lunch – Quote Unquote:

Yesterday we attended the 57th New Zealand Ploughing Championships, held nearby. Thirty-seven farmers had come from as far afield (geddit?) as Temuka, Winton, Asburton and Gore to demonstrate their skill in the conventional (i.e. with a modern tractor), reverse, vintage and horse ploughing (shown above) categories. Judging ploughing is a serious business, requiring assessment of the opening split (10 points), crown (20), main bodywork (40), finish (20), ins and outs (10), general appearance (10) and straightness (20. . .

Last week the Farming Show celebrated its 18th birthday – Farming Show Blog:

It seems only like yesterday two young blokes from Gore took a huge punt by purchasing 4ZG, the first, and only Radio New Zealand station sold to private enterprise.

Even our landlord to be, a delightful old farmer by the name of Bert Horrell, thought we were mad. But once we’d convinced him of our conviction to see this through, he gave us his blessing and some advice I’ve never forgotten. You don’t regret the things you do, you regret the things you don’t do.

What started as a five minute rural segment on a fledgling private radio station way back in 1994, has today grown to a one hour programme broadcast nationwide on a national network. . .

NZ sheep milk heads to Indonesia:

The Prime Minister is in Indonesia pushing New Zealand’s trade links there,  which includes the export of sheep milk there.

Indonesia already has plenty of interest in New   Zealand – in buying our  farm land.

An Indonesian billionaire with close links to former President Suharto’s  family has taken a 50 per cent share in a Southland farming operation based in  Brydon, Winton, and Hedge Hope.

It is a seemingly typical Southland dairy farm, but a closer look shows they  are milking sheep – a flock of 15,000.

Southlander Keith Neylon came up with the idea, saying they produce better  milk than cows. . .

AFFCO and meatworkers both holding firm – Allan Barber:

Getting on for two months into the lock out interspersed with strikes, both sides in this struggle are holding firm. There was a brief moment of hope of some degree of resolution at last week’s mediation, but it appears that after some progress in the morning, it all went downhill in the afternoon with some suggestion the union representatives weren’t all in agreement about what they were after.

At present the meat workers who are union members are in the middle of a seven day strike (or five day depending on your definition of a week) until Friday. However AFFCO says more than half its workforce are on individual employment agreements which means it can continue operating at something close to three quarter capacity. . .

Dexters smallest. oldest UK cattle – Sally Rae:

It’s a long way from Turiwhati to Fairlie.   

 But Dexter cattle enthusiasts Richard and Angela Stevens made  the journey from their West Coast home with their two heifers, Silk and Viyella, to the 114th Mackenzie Highland  Show on Easter Monday.   

 The Dexter breed is the smallest and also one of the oldest types of British cattle. It was the feature breed in the beef  cattle section at the show. . .

A2 signs supply agreement with Synlait Milk:

A2 Corp, the NZAX-listed alternative milk company, has signed a supply agreement with Canterbury processor Synlait Milk as it seeks to launch its infant formula into Asian markets.

The deal will see Synlait Milk source A2 milk from accredited Canterbury suppliers, and manufacture A2 brand nutritional powders for A2 Corp to sell in international markets. With the supply agreement sealed, A2 Corp said it will press on with negotiations to enter into marketing and distribution partnerships. . .

Drive and passion earns upreme title in Otago:

An “enthusiastic and incredibly driven” couple has been named Supreme winners of the 2012 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Blair and Jane Smith run Newhaven Farms Ltd – a North Otago sheep, beef, forestry and dairy support operation that spans three family-owned properties totalling 1528ha.

Their win was announced at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 13. As well as the Supreme award, the Smiths also collected the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Nutrient Management Award, the Massey University Discovery Award, PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award and the Otago Regional Council Sustainable Resource Management Award. . .


Farming Show’s 18th birthday

April 11, 2012

The Farming Show began broadcasting 18 years ago today.

It has come a long way from very modest beginnings on Hokanui Gold. It’s now broadcast nationwide on Newstalk ZB’s provincial stations and Radio Sport (except in Wellington and Auckland). It’s also streamed live and you can listen to anything you’ve missed from links on the website.

I interviewed the man behind the mic, Jamie Mackay, for ATS magazine last year. You can read the story of him and the show in from farm to Farming Show  on pages 14 & 15 of the magazine.


The other David Shearer interview

February 5, 2012

Live radio doesn’t always go as planned and on Wednesday Jamie Mackay couldn’t get hold of two of his interviewees.

One was me. I was at a meeting in Wellington, turned  on my phone at the start of the lunch break but forgot it was on silent and missed Jamie’s call.

The second was  Labour leader David Shearer. When Jamie couldn’t get hold of him he invited West Coast dairy farmer and National’s West Coast-Tasman electorate chair to take off his right-wing hat and put a red cloth cap on instead.

You can hear Andy as himself and as David Shearer here.

Highlights from the latter include an attempt to explain Labour’s policy on no land sales to foreigners:

“We think the Chinese are left, a little bit red like us so I think we’ll be able to sit down and explain this to them. I think they’ll understand our position nicely I mean we’re all on the left hand side of the fence here so I don’t think there’s any problem with that, Jamie . . . “

And in answer to Jamie’s question about media training:

“. . . but I think the best media training I could probably get would be Trevor Mallard, definitely.”

If you want to hear Jamie’s interview with the real Shearer, he caught up with him on Thursday and the interview is here.


More than enough

December 23, 2011

On the Farming Show yesterday Bob McDavitt went through a list of weather nasties which had hit New Zealand in the past 12 months.

He started with Tropical Cyclone Norma in January which resulted in insurance payouts of $20 million in insurance payouts.

Most of us not affected by that would have forgotten about it after it was overshadowed in February by the Christchurch earthquake.

That and the physical, financial and emotional aftershocks which followed have dominated the year and just as everyone was beginning to relax there’s been another sizable shock:

Information about this earthquake:

Reference Number 3631359 [View event in Google Maps][View Felt Reports in Google Maps]
Universal Time December 23 2011 at 0:58
NZ Daylight Time Friday, December 23 2011 at 1:58 pm
Latitude, Longitude 43.49°S, 172.90°E
Focal Depth 8 km
Richter magnitude 5.8
Region Canterbury
Location
  • 20 km north-east of Lyttelton
  • 20 km north-east of Diamond Harbour
  • 20 km east of Christchurch

We’re more than 200 kilometres south of there and we felt the shake and a reasonable aftershock.

RadioNZ National says there has been only one report of anyone injured, and we can be grateful for that but there is more liquification.

If we’re thinking there’s been more than enough from Mother Nature, particularly when it comes to shaking, this year, how much worse it must be for the people in Christchurch.


Hopkins hanging up mic after 21 years as voice of Young Farmer Contest

July 2, 2011

The grand final of the National Bank Young Farmer contest tonight will be the last one for Jim Hopkins who’s been the voice of the contest for 21 years.

If you only ever watch the show on television you would have only got a glimpse of or a few words from Jim who commentates the practical day. It’s quite a challenge, requiring good knowledge of the contestants and what they’re doing as well as a sense of humour and quick wit.

Jim’s had to show a more serious side compeering the regional finals and he’s needed all his skills to warm up the audience before the filming of the grand final and keep them warmed up during sometimes long pauses in filming.

Jim’s left big gumboots to fill and the man tasked with filling them is Craig Wiggins  who has been  attending Regional Finals.

“I’m really looking forward to stepping into the role; it’s going to be great watching the Contestants improve over the years and to see our youth being further educated in agriculture.”

Craig, a former mechanic by trade, brings a long history of announcing to the role; he’s the main announcer for New Zealand Rodeo and travels the country announcing around 35 rodeos a year. Craig has also been a jet sprints commentator and has acted as Master of Ceremonies at many different events during his announcing career. He has television and radio experience as a result of his career too.

Originally off a 300 hectare sheep and beef unit in Raetihi, Craig now lives near Ashburton in Mid Canterbury on a 28 hectare horse training and dairy grazing property. Craig’s background in agriculture meant he jumped at the chance to be a part of the iconic Contest.

“I’ve always been an avid follower of The National Bank Young Farmer Contest, my farming background means it’s something that has always appealed to me.”

Hopkins fans will still be able to tune into his regular Monday chats with Jamie Mackay on the Farming Show.

The grand final is being held in Masterton. RivettingKate Taylor has progress reports here,  here and here.


Goff sticks gumbooted foot in mouth

June 17, 2011

Jamie Mackay dubbed West Coast dairy farmer Andy Thompson a National Party lackey on the farming Show on Wednesday.

But he later went on to speak about Andy’s quest to find a Labour voter at the Fieldays and said it would be difficult.

He was joking but if ever there was a time for farmers and the wider rural community to support the National Party it is now both because of what it has done in government and what Labour is threatening to do should it win the election.

Sadly, from my point of view, not all farmers understand that. Although many are more likely to support National than members of some other groups, not all of them do.

However, Phil Goff would have helped National’s cause and harmed his own when he stuck his gumbooted-foot in his mouth :

Labour leader Phil Goff has angered industry leaders at the National Agricultural Fieldays by suggesting that Federated Farmers were considered the National Party in gumboots.

The comment was in response to being asked how important the agricultural vote was to Labour, in election year, during his Fieldays visit yesterday.

“In financial terms agriculture is hugely important, in political terms someone once said that Federated Farmers is the National Party in gumboots, it’s always been that way and we have to accept that,” Mr Goff told Waikato Times.

Feds took understandable exception to that:

However that comment hasn’t gone down well with Federated Farmers dairy chairman Lachlan McKenzie who said the organisation was staunchly apolitical.

“We have always said that we will work with whoever is in power it’s very simple,” Mr McKenzie said. “I spoke at a Labour Party conference two years ago and held two workshops which were both full.”

Unlike some unions which are affiliated to and have special, undemocratic privileges in, the Labour Party, Feds is an advocacy group which keeps a respectable distance from party politics.

It works to advance the interests of its members in the knowledge that governments come and governments go and its voice is stronger for not favouring or attaching itself to any party.

Goff could have mended a bridge or two with farmers and got some positive publicity at the Fieldays. Instead he gaffed again with a defensive, and ill-judged quip.


The bad old days

June 13, 2011

Jamie Mackay introduced last Thursday’s Farming Show with a reminder it was the anniversary New Zealand’s bloodiest farming protest (from 4:31).

June 9, 1978 was the day 250 farmers frustrated by on-going strikes at the freezing works drove 1500 sheep into the main street of Invercargill and slaughtered them.

Those were the bad old days when unions ruled and the rest of us paid for it in frustration, inconvenience and lost productivity, wages and opportunity.

My father had retired by 1978 but he’d been a carpenter at the freezing works. As a tradesman he was usually able to continue working when the freezing workers struck but he used to come home with stories about the stupidity of many of the strikes, called for little on no reason, sometimes over an issue somewhere else.

They had a propensity to call strikes at the most inconvenient time when stock were prime or feed was short and delays were costly in both financial and animal welfare terms.

Repeated strikes weren’t peculiar to the freezing industry, but on the wharves, railways, ferries and anywhere else where unions held sway.

Changes to employment law in the 1990s by National curtailed much of the union silliness. Labour reversed some of the changes, giving more power to unions which isn’t always to the benefit of workers.

Unions aren’t all bad. Businesses with large workforces often prefer to deal with one bargaining agent than lots of individuals. Unions can often achieve more for workers collectively than they’d be able to get for themselves individually; they can be a strong advocate for a worker with a grievance and they can bring about improvements in workplace safety and conditions.

But their actions sometimes appear to be more about flexing union muscle than doing what’s in the best interests of their members. Prolonged strikes are an example of that when wages lost through time off end up costing more than the wage rise over which a strike is called.

National has moved the employment pendulum back towards the centre with improvements to the law since 2008 and is now intimating it will campaign on making more progress:

Prime Minister John Key has indicated National will campaign on further changes to labour laws – and will not rule out reinstating a youth minimum wage or changes to collective bargaining.

At the Seafood Industry Council conference yesterday, Mr Key said making the labour market more flexible was a priority as the economy began to grow and National intended to unveil further changes in the election campaign.

There is debate about youth rates but there is no doubt that youth unemployment has gone up much more than that for other ages since youth rates were removed.

Offsetting Behaviour has several posts on the issue including youth rates revisited with graphs which clearly show youth unemployment has been worse than general unemployment since the removal of youth rates. Check My Sources explians how young workers are being priced out of the labour market.

In an interview with Sean Plunket on The Nation yesterday John Key said:

We know that there are people that are 18 years of age on an unemployment benefit and I think as a country most of us would sit around and say that’s crazy, they should be in work, they should be in training, or they should be back at school.

It would be much easier for young people to get work if employers weren’t forced to pay them the same rates as they pay more mature workers.

A little more flexibility in labour relations which won’t be welcomed by unions but will be better for employers and their staff would also be welcome.

We’ve come a long way from the bad old days when unions held the country to ransom but there’s still room for improvement.


Bid for Meads’ jersey $33,000

March 15, 2011

The highest bid for Colin Meads’ No 8 All Black jersey is $33,000.

He wore the jersey in 1957 when the All Blacks lost to Canterbury at Lancaster Park and donated it to be auctioned on The Farming Show with all money raised going to the Christchurch earthquake appeal.

AllFlex Platinum Primary Producers Group which has more than 50 members representing m any of the largest farming operations in New Zealand and Australia made the bid last week.

All Flex general manager Shane McManaway said the highest bid for the jersey before the group began raising funds last Thursday evening was just over $5,000. When the amount got to $10,000, one of the group’s members pledged another $10,000 and many others committed to pledges of more than $1000 each during the evening and the following morning before the conference closed.

There was no mention of the jersey on the Farming Show yesterday so I think bids are still being accepted.

To bid: Text 5009.  Put FS [space] your bid, name and where you’re from.


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