Rural round-up

July 9, 2019

Uncertainty plus unique ownership structure drive Fonterra share volatility – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s shares have been on a steady downward slide for the last 18 months. In January 2018 they were selling at $6.60 dropping to $3.86 at closing on 30 June 2019.

Then this last week things suddenly turned volatile, dropping at one point on 4 July a further 10 percent to $3.45, before rising by six percent to $3.69 at close of trade on 5 July.

The causes of the long-term drop are well understood. Very simply, Fonterra made a loss of $196 million in financial year 2018 largely because of write-down on assets. Fonterra is also now in asset-selling mode to strengthen its balance sheet. Non-farmer investors are coming to understand that, with family silver having to be sold as well as some rubbish disposal, any turnaround is likely to be long-term rather than short-term. . .

One billion tree flawed says climate scientist :

The Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ one billion trees won’t reduce carbon emissions, as too few natives are being planted, climate scientist Jim Salinger says.

The government has allocated $120 million in grants to landowners to plant trees on their properties, and wants two-thirds of those planted to be natives.

Forestry New Zealand figures show in the first year, of the 91m trees planted, only 12 percent were native. . .

Falling log prices may make some woodlots unprofitable – ANZ -Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – In-market prices for logs in China – New Zealand’s largest export market – have fallen in recent weeks and ANZ Bank warns the drop will make the harvest of some woodlots unprofitable.

While some price softening is not unusual at this time of year as construction activity slows in the hot months, “the scale of the correction was unexpected,” said ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

The price of an A-grade log landed in China has fallen from US$130/JAS cubic-metre in early June to approximately US$105/JAS cubic-metre.. .

Vet behind Mycoplasma Bovis detection hopeful for eradication:

The Ōamaru vet, whose efforts led to the identification of cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis in New Zealand, says she is optimistic the disease can be eradicated.

Earlier this week, Dr Merlyn Hay was given the Outstanding Contribution to the Primary Industries Award, for her work to identify M Bovis in July 2017.

Dr Hay told Saturday Morning that the disease was very hard to diagnose, and in many other countries it was only detected after it had already been spreading for several decades . .

Group aims to help farmers improve M. Boris response – Daniel Birchfield:

Lines of communication between the Ministry for Primary Industries and farmers impacted by cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis have been muddied for too long, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Alongside Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley, he chaired the first meeting of the recently formed Waimate/Waitaki Mycoplasma Bovis Advisory Group held at the Waimate District Council on Wednesday.

The group, modelled on a similar Ashburton arrangement, was formed to support the ministry’s M. bovis eradication programme and assist with regional decision-making to benefit farmers. . .

Lamb contract rewards loyalty – Colin Williscroft:

A $9/kg fixed-price lamb contract for August is a reward for customer loyalty, Affco national livestock manager Tom Young says.

So, farmers generally should not raise their hopes it signals prices higher that they might usually expect as the season unfolds.

The contract has been the subject of much discussion at sale yards but Young said it is not an offer being made to every farmer.

It is only available to loyal clients, farmers who have shown Affco consistent support. . .

Dismantling free markets won’t solve biodiversity threat – Matt Ridley:

Driven perhaps by envy at the attention that climate change is getting, and ambition to set up a great new intergovernmental body that can fly scientists to mega-conferences, biologists have gone into overdrive on the subject of biodiversity this week.

They are right that there is a lot wrong with the world’s wildlife, that we can do much more to conserve, enhance and recover it, but much of the coverage in the media, and many of the pronouncements of Sir Bob Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), are frankly weird.

The threat to biodiversity is not new, not necessarily accelerating, mostly not caused by economic growth or prosperity, nor by climate change, and won’t be reversed by retreating into organic self-sufficiency. Here’s a few gentle correctives.

Much of the human destruction of biodiversity happened a long time ago . . .


Taxpayer paying business to compete with other business

November 16, 2018

An advanced Aviation Hub at Whanganui Airport is the latest beneficiary of taxpayer largesse through a donation from the Provincial Growth Fund.

The Taxpayers’ Union says the government is picking winners:

The Government should be delivering tax cuts to all businesses, not spending $48 million picking winners says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, responding to the Government’s announcement of Provincial Growth Fund spending in the region.

The Union’s Executive Director Jordan Williams says “Government should not be in the business of picking winners. Instead of spending $48 million on an array of projects in Manawatu-Whanganui, the Government should give all businesses tax relief.”

“If the business case for projects receiving funding from the Government stands up, they should be able to secure private finance. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidise businesses that cannot stand on their own two legs. Taxing more for Shane Jones to play Father Christmas is just a provincial merry-go-round.”

It’s worse than picking winners – it’s using taxpayers’ money to fund a business that is competing with another existing one.

An international flight school started operating at Oamaru airport a few months ago.

. . .Students from ”all over” would train in single-engine Tecnam aircraft, with one plane for every five students.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he was ”very pleased” the airline academy chose the Waitaki district ”to kick-start their operation”.

”As there’ll be a significant number of trainees and staff living and learning here, this is a win-win for everyone.”

Ten jobs would be created and up to 50 commercial pilot trainees would be in the Waitaki district over the next three years.

Council chief executive Fergus Power said each trainee would add an estimated $20,000 to Oamaru’s economy while living in the district for up to a year. . .

If a flight school can be established at Oamaru Airport without subsidies the Whanganui one shouldn’t need government assistance and it certainly shouldn’t be getting taxpayers’ money to compete with an existing business.

 

 


Put away begging bowl Auckland

October 11, 2017

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher tells Aucklanndd mayor Phil Goff the city must put away the begging bowl:

Auckland, Put Away The Begging Bowl and Deal With Your Problems.

The picture I used was about Queen St beggars, but I figured it was apt given that Auckland City Council has become the biggest beggar on Queen St… I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of hearing that every problem that Auckland has, can only be fixed with money from all of us! Housing crisis, transport crisis, waste water crisis, port crisis, fuel line crisis, teacher crisis… The list appears almost endless! And the solution? They go to the government and tell them they need money from the rest of New Zealand. The latest call by Mayor Phil Goff is to have the GST that is paid on Auckland rates to be given to them. That is as much their money as it is yours or mine. We all pay GST, we all contribute, but it is only Auckland which is so consistently putting out their hand to central government. Our Waitaki District Council has long been criticised for having high rates. Residential rates across Waitaki were recently measured by the Taxpayers Union as being about 29th highest out of 66. It has been higher but we are driving efficiency hard. Perhaps too hard in some areas. However, we are paying our way.

Waitaki has dealt with almost all of its water and waste water issues, it maintains an extensive roading network and needs to improve that, it has a reasonable number of very good facilities and amenities, and it is successfully delivering economic development. There’s not a lot of bells and whistles, but we do ok for a district our size. Importantly, we have no external debt, and instead have been able to invest in our future through loans to irrigation and the community-owned Observatory Retirement Village.

Contrast that with Auckland… Indebted up to its maximum limit, paying staff outrageously high salaries which are exceeding the private sector, suffering from a massive infrastructural deficit, and spending money like it’s going out of fashion so that they can become one of the world’s most liveable cities. The Auckland Council has 11,893 staff. Over 20% of them earn more than $100,000, and 194 staff earn more than $200,000. The city spills diluted sewage into its own harbour every time it rains, and that will cost $1,800,000,000 to fix it! NZTA is spending up large to deal with their road problems, and the bill for light rail grows higher and higher by the day. This infrastructural deficit is huge, and is a result of slack governance over a long time. A lot of central government money is going into Auckland now, but still they want more. Waitaki is compared to Auckland frequently when it comes to our rates, but if they’d paid what our ratepayers have had to over the years, they wouldn’t be as (literally) in the crap as they are now.

Usually Mayors are reticent to comment about the activities in other districts and cities, but when Auckland so often has its begging bowl out to central government asking for money that belongs to all of us, then I say enough is enough!

Phil Goff – put away the begging bowl for a while please. Put Auckland rates up to pay for the things yourself, in the same way that most of the country has been paying for itself for years. Sort out your staff salaries so they stop putting pressure on the private sector and the rest of local government across NZ; and take ownership of Auckland’s problems. I know you’re worried that borrowing more to deal with the issues will affect Auckland’s credit rating and possibly that of other Councils, but I can assure you that when you have put money aside responsibly as Waitaki has, you won’t have to worry about credit ratings. Bite the bullet, and get it sorted.

Auckland is proof that when it comes to councils, bigger isn’t necessarily better.

Some of its problems are an indictment on successive governments – local and central.

But the current council must accept responsibility for current problems and be prepared to make hard decisions about how to pay for solving them.

It could start by following the example of a smaller council like Waitaki which pretty much sticks to its knitting and looks after its core business rather than empire building.

It must look at ways it can fund solutions itself, including cutting costs and at least the partial sale of some of its assets, before it asks for yet more help from the taxpayer.


Rural-round-up

September 20, 2017

Concerned’ over water policy – Daniel Birchfield:

The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC) believes Labour’s water policy could lead to a growing rural-urban divide and the loss of millions of dollars from the Waitaki and Waimate districts.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher has also let rip at the policy, claiming Waitaki irrigators could lose $25 million to $40 million if there is a change of government on September 23. . .

Embracing old and new:

A North Otago sheep farm uses a mixture of the old-fashioned and new-fangled at lambing time.

Creedmoor is a 50ha block of rolling land at Incholme, west of Oamaru. Owners Julian and Sharyn Price also lease a neighbouring 20ha.

The couple have become lamb whisperers, breeding composite ewes with quiet temperaments that are not fazed by their human handlers in their midst.

Flightiness has been culled out, along with dags.

The Prices call their flock Creedmoor Supersheep – a moniker endorsed by their records. Since 2006 they have exceeded a 200% lambing rate and last year 25% of their surplus lambs were killed at three months. . . 

Tasty bait balls used to poison wallabies:

Waimate’s wily pests are about to be tempted with lethal treats

Green balls flavoured with peanut butter are being placed on stakes in remote Mackenzie district hill country, where they are likely to appeal to the Bennett’s wallaby population. The third batch, following two deliveries of non-toxic balls about a week apart, will contain cyanide that produces a quick death after being eaten by the marsupials.

The project is part of Environment Canterbury’s biosecurity work to reduce pest numbers. . .

Chopping out a career in the mostly male world of butchery – Christina Persico:

Think of a butcher and you generally think of a man – but Kayla Scott thinks it’s a job for anyone.

The 21-year-old is an apprentice at the Kiwi Butcher Shop in New Plymouth, where she has worked on and off for five years.

“It’s quite a full on, energetic kind of job…There’s never a dull moment,” she says.

“It’s usually more challenging because you don’t want it to be labelled as a male’s job, because anyone can do it.

“It is quite tricky trying not to be like, ‘I’m in a male’s job’.” . . .

First crop at New Zealand School of Winegrowing picked and ready – Oliver Lewis:

The first crop of students have signed up to the New Zealand School of Winegrowing, which had its official launch in Blenheim on Wednesday night.

The school, the first of its kind in New Zealand, was set up by Marlborough Boys’ and Marlborough Girls’ colleges with assistance from the wine industry.

About 40 people attended the launch event, which Boys’ College assistant principal James Ryan described as an opportunity to promote the school. . .

No automatic alt text available.

I’ve got mud in my blood.


Voting age women outnumber men

September 19, 2016

Statistics New Zealand has marked Suffrage Day with a media release which says voting-age women in New Zealand outnumbered men by about 137,000 at the 2013 Census, and women are more likely to vote.

In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. This year, Suffrage Day (September 19) comes just as local government voting papers go out on 16–21 September.

Census figures showed there were more than 1.66 million women in New Zealand aged 18 years and over (18+), compared with about 1.53 million men.

Women on average live longer than men which will account for some of the difference but just as women are more likely to vote, I wonder if they’re more likely to fill out census forms.

Women are more likely than men to vote in general and local government elections, according to past Statistics NZ General Social Surveys. In a survey after the 2011 general election more than 80 percent of women said they voted, compared with about 77 percent of men.

Almost 95 percent of women and men aged 65+ years said they voted in the 2011 general election, compared with just over half of those aged 18 to 24.

Voter turnout is lower for local government elections, at less than 65 percent for women and 62 percent for men. However, 87 percent of all those aged 65+ said they’d voted in local elections in a 2012 survey, compared with just 28 percent of people aged 18 to 24.

Census figures for 2013 showed there were 1.19 million European women in New Zealand aged 18+ years. There were about 193,000 Māori women in that age group, closely followed by almost 187,000 Asian women. Pacific women aged 18+ totalled about 90,000.

The candidates in my district and regional council wards have been elected unopposed which means the only decision I’ll have to make is whether to support the sitting mayor, Gary Kircher, or his challenger whose name escapes me.

The mayor is generally considered to have worked well in his first term so I’ll be voting to give him a second one.


Rural round-up

January 15, 2016

The year ahead for agri-food – Keith Woodford:

The year ahead is going to be challenging for many of New Zealand’s farmers. There are no quick solutions for either dairy or sheep. Amongst the bigger industries, only kiwifruit and beef have a positive outlook. The wine industry could go in either direction this year. Among the smaller industries, manuka honey could be the one to watch.

Dairy
The year has started badly for dairy, with whole milk powder down 4.4% at the early January auction. For me, this number came almost as a relief. It could have been a lot worse. . . 

More cows stolen in Mid-Canterbury – Audrey Malone:

More than 100 dairy cattle disappeared without a trace from three Mid Canterbury farms during December.

A farm in Alford Forrest has lost 52 Friesian bull calves, while a farm south of Hinds lost 17 grown dairy cows.

It followed news that 36 cows disappeared from Mayfield farm over a two week period in December.

The farm owners are puzzled 

Jill Quigley, who owns the Mayfield farm with husband David, said rural Mid Canterbury was not a good place anymore.

“It just looks a little suspicious,” she said. . . 

New A2O section opened

A group of 40 people celebrated another milestone in The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail in Duntroon yesterday afternoon.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher officially opened the 28km section from Kurow to Duntroon – now totally off-road – in a short ceremony in the Waitaki Valley town. Mr Kircher said the trail would be a boon for the town’s economy, but also allowed locals to show ‘‘how proud people are of their community”. . . 

Hat tip: Utopia

High country meets town in rural games – Jill Galloway:

How far can you throw and catch a raw egg, throw a gumboot or spit a cherry stone? For that matter, how fast can you put up a fence or shear a sheep?

These skills will be tested when country comes to town in the New Zealand Rural Games at Queenstown next month.

Games founder Steve Hollander was in Palmerston North on his way to help run the events.

He said rural people from this area would take part in shearing and fencing.

Hollander said the games were about entertaining people, and no event was more than two hours long. He expected 8000 people over the two day event.  . . 

Lewis Road Creamery eyes China as potential export market – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Lewis Road Creamery, the premium dairy brand company, will make a final decision this year whether to export, most likely fresh organic milk into China’s Shanghai. It’s also planning to release a number of product extensions and has already moved beyond dairy products into baked goods.

The Auckland-based brand saw 340 percent growth in retail sales to $40 million of its butter, cream, organic milk, and flavoured milk products during 2015, the year of what founder Peter Cullinane calls “the chocolate milk frenzy”.

His big decisions this year include whether to get serious about exporting and how far to extend the product range beyond dairy. For the past couple of months it has been trialling sales of Lewis Road Bakery premium kibbled grain bread in 12 Auckland retail outlets. . . 

Activity Steps up in 2016 Dairy Awards:

Those entrants who used their summer holiday to prepare for the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards could have an advantage, as activity gears up in this year’s competitions.

The awards, which oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions, received 452 entries prior to Christmas.

General Manager Chris Keeping says information events for entrants and sponsors are being held in some of the awards’ 11 regions over the next couple of weeks. . .

Wool Steady

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that this week’s auctions held in both centres saw slightly different price movements between them, however overall the local market remained firm.

Of the 16,500 bales on offer, 95.6 percent sold. . . .

NZ Tractor Trek:

A cavalcade of Vintage Tractors, Jeeps and Trucks trekking 2600km from Bluff to Cape Reinga over 26 days.

Raising funds for hospices throughout New Zealand. . .

 


Marching for Waitaki’s health services

July 5, 2015

Nearly 30 years ago around 13,000 people marched through Oamaru to protest against proposed cuts to health services.

This morning there’s another march for the same reason and it’s got political.

Dunedin North MP Dr David Clark has been accused of trying to ”hijack” tomorrow’s health march in Oamaru, and has been denied speaking rights after refusing to accept a condition not to criticise the Government.
National Party Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean will speak at the march because she had agreed to that condition, Waitaki Mayor and march organiser Gary Kircher said.

The event was ”not political”.

The focus was the Southern District Health Board and its funding priorities. . .

The Mayor says more in a Facebook post.

. . . As has been clear from the start, this march has been about the cuts to our hospital funding proposed by the Southern DHB. Instead, David wants to make it political by bringing in the much wider issue of government funding and he wants to use our march to make his political statement.
Now, we all would love for central government to put more money into health, but the SDHB has had increases and they’re simply not passing on our fair share to us in Waitaki. They haven’t done so for years. Instead, we had no increase last year and they want to cut 5% from our funding this year! They would rather make our people go to Dunedin for services which we can deliver far more efficiently in Oamaru! For example, we have excellent scanning equipment and services in Oamaru Hospital but we only get around $15,000 per year to run them. People complain that they have to go to Dunedin for scans when they could be done right here! However, David doesn’t want to focus on this. Perhaps it’s because many of the Dunedin Hospital staff who benefit from this wasteful spending live in his electorate?
I have made the offer to David that he can march alongside me and our Councillors at the front of the march, I’ve told him that I will acknowledge him and his support for the aim of our march in my speech, and I had intend to have him up on the stage with the speakers and our Councillors. And I had offered to let him speak if he focussed on the reason for the march. But if he really prefers to let the DHB off the hook by playing politics, I make no apology for declining his last-minute request to speak.  . .

There is a legitimate argument about whether the population based funding model is calculated correctly for large areas with smaller and older populations but that is an argument for another day.

Today is not about whether the south’s share of the health cake is big enough but because Waitaki is not getting it’s fair share of the south’s slice.

Waitaki District Health Services chair George Berry puts the board’s case here.

 


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