Rural round-up

August 20, 2015

Dairy diversification opportunities in SE Asia:

Growing consumer demand in South East Asia offers plenty of opportunity for the New Zealand dairy industry to increase its exports of consumer-ready products into the region, a new report shows.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today released Opportunities for New Zealand Dairy Products in South East Asia,which assesses possible “build”, “buy” and “niche” strategies across seven dairy consumer product categories in six South East Asian countries.

New Zealand is this year commemorating 40 years of ties with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and ASEAN is New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner, Mr Joyce says. . . 

First Milk through New High-Efficiency Dryer at Pahiatua:

The new high-efficiency milk powder plant at Fonterra’s Pahiatua site has kicked into gear, processing its first milk from the Co-op’s lower North Island farmers.

Whole milk powder from the new plant will soon head to customers in more than 20 markets worldwide including South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Fonterra Managing Director Global Operations Robert Spurway says the new dryer at Pahiatua is part of the Co-operative’s strategy to drive greater efficiency and value in its product mix. . . 

Profound ignorance or is that too kind – Gravedodger:

The chatterati fixation on the current lower prices for NZ Dairy exports reveals a need to find a process to turn the daily garbage produced by almost all those pontificating  into fertilizer, at least that would create something useful

Fonterra is a highly visible, high profile corporate in NZ, they suffer slings and arrows because of that fact and with so many included in the wide spread total scene as suppliers, process workers, tanker drivers, then add in the massive numbers involved in Dairy support farming, maintenance, construction and upgrading of farms, factories and freight down stream nearly everybody has some connection to someone involved.
That makes for many armchair experts, however their knowledge is based on more accurate information than much of the sheer guesswork and making stuff up that emanates from the aforementioned Chatterati

That however is the local scene and has so very little to do with what has been creating headlines for the media and attack lines for politicians both relying on the significant lack of understanding of that which goes to make the present trading price what it is. World dairy trade perhaps one of the most volatile and protected commodities that has storage and shelf life challenges. . . 

Russia repeals Fonterra import ban

Russia has lifted two-year-old import bans on products from some of Fonterra’s dairy factories.

In the midst of the 2013 botulism scare, which testing later revealed to be a false alarm, Russia temporarily revoked some of Fonterra’s export licences.

This week, the Russian veterinary service Rosselkhoznadzor reinstated the licences for 29 of Fonterra’s plants. . . .

Speech to the Seafood New Zealand 2015 conference – Nathan Guy:

Thank you for the invitation to open the 2015 New Zealand Seafood Industry Conference.

Your industry is vital to the economy, especially regional economies, directly providing 8000 jobs and earning more than $1.5 billion in export revenue each year.

This year’s conference has a great theme. “Sustainable Seafood – Adding Value” is a perfect summary of where the wider primary sector – not just seafood – needs to head, and matches with our priorities as a Government.

Sustainability and adding value are two of the keys to unlocking new growth in the primary sector.

Our ability to increase the amount of seafood we harvest is limited, so we need to find new and innovative ways to increase our earnings. . . 

Caution evident in rural sector:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 79 fewer farm sales (-15.4%) for the three months ended July 2015 than for the three months ended July 2014. Overall, there were 433 farm sales in the three months ended July 2015, compared to 479 farm sales for the three months ended June 2015 (-9.6%), and 512 farm sales for the three months ended July 2014. 1,719 farms were sold in the year to July 2015, 10.6% fewer than were sold in the year to July 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to July 2015 was $27,796 compared to $26,680 recorded for three months ended July 2014 (+4.2%). The median price per hectare fell 4.6% compared to June.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index fell 2.9% in the three months to July compared to the three months to June. Compared to July 2014 the REINZ All Farm Price Index rose by 3.9%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . . 

 Alice Mabin: Riding the long paddock – Pat Deavoll:

It’s quite the journey … from high country shepherd to winner of a national business award.

But it’s a journey Alice Mabin completed this year when she won the 2015 Asia Pacific Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the self-publishing of her book, The Drover.

Mabin’s book tells the historic story of the Great Brinkworth Cattle Drive of 2013, when 18,000 head of cattle were moved 2500km down the “long paddock;” the stock routes of inland Queensland and New South Wales. . . .

New Zealand potatoes bound for Vietnam:

Fresh potatoes from New Zealand have been approved for export to Vietnam, providing a new export opportunity for growers.

Champak Mehta, chief executive of Potatoes New Zealand Inc, says the development, which follows four years’ of negotiations, would absorb excess potatoes in good growing seasons and provide better export prices for growers in less abundant years.

“We currently export about $100m of potatoes each year,“ says Mehta.  “Most of that is frozen, with about $15m worth – about 30,000 tonnes – exported as fresh produce.” . . .

Helping science students find their way:

A new mentoring programme that pairs plant science students with experienced researchers has been launched by the New Zealand Plant Protection Society (NZPPS).

The programme aims to teach students about the use of science in protecting New Zealand’s plant resources and give them a better understanding of the career options available in the sector.

“Ensuring the New Zealand environment is safe from the threat of invasive pests and diseases is vital, in protecting both our horticultural exports and for conservation of our native environment,” says Lisa Jamieson, NZPPs president. . . .

New Zealand National Party's photo.

Naming, blaming shaming

July 13, 2015

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford did some numbers on names and leapt to the conclusion that Auckland’s housing woes are caused by Chinese buyers.

(The transcript is here).

Thomas Lumley, Professor of Biostatistics counters his assertion in a post headlined what’s in a name?

. . . So, there is fairly good evidence that people of Chinese ethnicity are buying houses in Auckland at a higher rate than their proportion of the population.

The Labour claim extends this by saying that many of the buyers must be foreign. The data say nothing one way or the other about this, and it’s not obvious that it’s true. More precisely, since the existence of foreign investors is not really in doubt, it’s not obvious how far it’s true. The simple numbers don’t imply much, because relatively few people are housing buyers: for example, house buyers named “Wang” in the data set are less than 4% of Auckland residents named “Wang.” There are at least three other competing explanations, and probably more.

First, recent migrants are more likely to buy houses. I bought a house three years ago. I hadn’t previously bought one in Auckland. I bought it because I had moved to Auckland and I wanted somewhere to live. Consistent with this explanation, people with Korean and Indian names, while not over-represented to the same extent are also more likely to be buying than selling houses, by about the same ratio as Chinese.

Second, it could be that (some subset of) Chinese New Zealanders prefer real estate as an investment to, say, stocks (to an even greater extent than Aucklanders in general).  Third, it could easily be that (some subset of) Chinese New Zealanders have a higher savings rate than other New Zealanders, and so have more money to invest in houses.

Personally, I’d guess that all these explanations are true: that Chinese New Zealanders (on average) buy both homes and investment properties more than other New Zealanders, and that there are foreign property investors of Chinese ethnicity. But that’s a guess: these data don’t tell us — as the Herald explicitly points out.

One of the repeated points I  make on StatsChat is that you need to distinguish between what you measured and what you wanted to measure.  Using ‘Chinese’ as a surrogate for ‘foreign’ will capture many New Zealanders and miss out on many foreigners.

The misclassifications aren’t just unavoidable bad luck, either. If you have a measure of ‘foreign real estate ownership’ that includes my next-door neighbours and excludes James Cameron, you’re doing it wrong, and in a way that has a long and reprehensible political history.

Property Institute of New Zealand Chief Executive, Ashley Church also uses the term  ‘reprehensible’ and calls the claims ‘an exercise in unveiled racism’.

Mr Church describes the data used by Mr Twyford as ‘shonky’ and says ‘it has so many holes in it that it would be marked with an ‘f’ if it was submitted as a High School Economics project’.

“Mr Twyford uses ‘Asian sounding’ surnames as his means to identify which buyers are ‘Asian Investors’ – without any way of knowing whether the buyer is a New Zealand immigrant who lives here, or an investor based in China”.

“On that basis Mr Twyford should be blowing the whistle on Scottish foreign investment in this country – because a large number of kiwi homes are owned by people who have names starting with ‘Mc’ or ‘Mac’”.

“This is the sort of racist sideshow we’d expect from NZ First – not a serious political party with pretensions to hold the reins of power”.

Mr Church says that Mr Twyfords claims that the Auckland property market is being skewed by non-resident investors may prove to be correct – but he says that any action taken should be based on hard data and facts – and that the race of the buyer shouldn’t be a factor.

“We might be surprised to learn who the major investors really are. Work done by the Overseas Investment Office, in 2012, suggested that the biggest buyers were Americans, Brits, Canadians and Aussies – with the Chinese a long way behind”.

Mr Church says the Property Institute supports the recent move, by the Government, to create a foreign buyer register by requiring investors to have a New Zealand tax number.

“This will provide good, accurate, information and it will help us to determine whether we need to be taking steps to ban foreign investment in kiwi homes – or direct it into the construction of new houses, as is the case in Australia”.

If there is an issue with non-resident foreigners buying houses it’s not one of people from any particular country.

But in light of Twyford’s comments, who could blame anyone with a foreign-sounding name if, as Gravedodger suggests, they start buying property under some variation of The Smith Family Trust numbered whatever.

However, let’s not forget the real problem is not who’s buying houses but that there’s not enough of them in some areas nor who’s responsible for the imbalance between supply and demand:

Hugh Pavletich co-author of the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey says blame the incompetent council:

If Auckland was a normal housing market, like most in North America, house prices would be at or below $300,000 for those on $100,000-a-year household incomes.

Thanks to the incompetent Auckland Council, an Auckland family with a household income of $100,000 is forced to pay $820,000 for a house.

The council is forcing them to pay an extra $520,000 for the house and this new study calling for more apartments in the suburbs is no solution to the crisis.

That money for an Auckland house must come from a grossly excessive mortgage, crippling the city’s residents for the remainder of their working life.

Add the interest over the life of this inflated mortgage and this $100,000-a-year household is forced to pay over $1 million in excessive mortgage costs, and all because the Auckland Council is incompetent.

The council is being deliberately misleading because it has lost control of its costs and has lost the capacity to meet its infrastructure responsibilities to its community

Land supply, infrastructure financing and processing for new housing are issues councils must tackle – and no council more than Auckland needs to deal with this.

Back to Professor Lumley:

But on top of that, if there is substantial foreign investment and if it is driving up prices, that’s only because of the artificial restrictions on the supply of Auckland houses. If Auckland could get its consent and zoning right, so that more money meant more homes, foreign investment wouldn’t be a problem for people trying to find somewhere to live. That’s a real problem, and it’s one that lies within the power of governments to solve.

It’s not difficult for people with a better grasp of statistics and without the political desperation that’s driving  Labour down this divisive path to counter the claims.

But let’s not forget that the naming, blaming and shaming by numbers can hurt people.

I received an email from a Young Nat, Melissa Hu, who wrote:

. . . I was born here, I study here, I work here and I’m a New Zealand citizen but because my last name sounds Chinese I’m apparently a big part of the housing affordability problem – (I’m actually of Mongolian descent but would Labour care about that?

Labour chose to make racially inflammatory comments based on half-baked data from an anonymous real estate agent in Auckland. They chose to say that there are too many Chinese buyers in the Auckland housing market based on whether your last name was Wang, Lee – or even like mine.

 The problem is, this data doesn’t actually prove whether the buyers are foreigners or not. Even NZIER’s Principal Economist said Labour’s comments were “very damaging for a multi-cultural, welcoming place like New Zealand”.

 I’ve lived here all my life, and I’m proud to call myself Kiwi. Young New Zealanders like me are ambitious, excited and open about New Zealand’s future. I don’t think my last name, or yours, has anything to do with trying to buy a house. 

 We need to be encouraging all Kiwis – young, old, European, Maori, Chinese, whatever – to aim high, work hard, create wealth and continue to raise our living standards. We also need the Government to keep taking common sense steps with councils to make more land available for housing. That’s why I support National they know there’s a problem and they have a real plan to fix it.

 We don’t need to start a “pick on the Chinese” attitude which could create more problems than it solves. Auckland’s housing problem is a supply issue – not a Chinese issue. We’re a multicultural, ambitious and prosperous country – I hope we stay that way.

There’s nothing new about this naming, blaming and shaming.

My father-in-law was the butt of some because his name was German, even though he’d though he’d not long returned from serving overseas with the New Zealand army.

How sad that nearly  70 years later it’s still a political tactic.


Rural round-up

May 19, 2015

Spare a thought –  Gravedodger:

While Greater Wellington is being rinsed a pocket of Eastern North Canterbury remains in the grip of a crippling drought. Now accepting I have railed against over egging a summer dry as drought and asked for such adverse weather events to be viewed against much more serious world events, what is happening in an area centred on Cheviot is now very serious.

The affected area is quite local from around  the Waipara river to the Conway and extending from the coast variably extending inland approximately 50 kms this land has been able to miss out on autumn rains. A friend who visited Cheviot to play golf from a more favoured area of the region was gobsmacked a week ago. Any land not subject to irrigation is a depressing grey colour with nothing growing even weeds are in trouble. . .

Farmers despondent in Canterbury drought – Jemma Brackebush:

A stock transporter in north Canterbury says he has trucked nearly 20,000 sheep out of the area to date because of the drought, and claims he has never seen anything like it before.

North Canterbury, particularly Cheviot, is suffering from an ongoing drought, and farmers are having to choose between culling capital stock or sending them to graze in other regions, at quite an expense.

Cheviot Transport owner Barry Hanna, who has been driving trucks for 45 years, said he had not seen a drought as bad as this in a long time. . . .

Keep kids off quad bikes experts urge:

A new study into quad bike use among children has added weight to calls for a law change.

The review, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal today, shows over a seven-year period nearly 30 youngsters were taken to Starship Hospital with injuries from bikes. Two of them died.

Dr Rebecca Pearce, who co-authored the study, wants under-16s banned from using them.

“A lot of children’s groups are advocating against children riding quad bikes, but there’s actually no legislation,” she told RadioLIVE. . .

Some relief for pressured Otago farmers –  Jemma Brackebush:

Farmers in north Otago are welcoming the rain that is slowly bringing life to grass and winter feed crops, though they say there is a way to go before they are out of a green drought.

Parts of Otago are recovering from the effects of the drought that also gripped the Canterbury and Marlborough regions earlier this year.

Farmers in north Canterbury, particularly Cheviot, are still without relief, however, resulting in tens of thousands of sheep and cattle being culled or sent to other regions because of the extremely dry conditions. . .

Opportunities for farmers in lower livestock values:

The release of the National Average Market Values (NAMV) for livestock this week presents an opportunity for dairy farmers to reassess the valuation method they are using for their livestock.

This according to Crowe Horwath’s Tony Marshall who says the valuation highlights the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different industry sectors.

“The release of the 2015 values has seen a substantial fall in the market value of dairy cattle, a slight dip in the value of sheep and a significant increase in the value of beef cattle. These changes mirror closely the changes in the associated commodity prices,” Marshall says. . .

Commerce Commission to hold conference on wool scouring authorisation:

The Commission will hold a one day conference on Wednesday 10 June 2015 to discuss matters relating to Cavalier Wool Holding Limited’s application for authorisation to acquire New Zealand Wool Services International’s wool scouring business.

The conference will be held at The Majestic Centre, 100 Willis Street in Wellington.

The notification and agenda of the Conference as well as all other relevant information relating to the application for authorisation can be found on the Commission’s website at . .

Cuts both ways – ASB lowers milk price forecast and predicts OCR to drop:

ASB cuts its 2015/16 milk price forecast
At the same time, ASB predicts OCR cuts later this year
NZ dollar predicted to hit US 67 cents by year-end
Dairy prices are low and likely to stay that way a while longer, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“After a drought-driven false dawn earlier this year, prices are at their lowest in five years,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. “This is driven by a potent mix of domestic production getting a second wind and demand remaining weak. However, we still expect production to slow down to the point where demand can catch up, just later than previously expected.”

“As a result, we have cut our forecast for the 2015/16 season to $5.70/kg as well as adopting Fonterra’s lowered 2014/15 milk price forecast of $4.50/kg.” . . .

Lewis Road Creamery supports new organic dairy co-operative:

Lewis Road Creamery is supporting a new initiative to grow the organic dairy sector in New Zealand and sure up organic milk supply for its growing customer base.

The popular dairy brand is a founding customer of the newly launched Organic Dairy Hub Co-operative of New Zealand. The Hub links organic dairy farms with dairy producers providing certainty of sale for farmers and certainty of supply for purchasers like Lewis Road Creamery.

Peter Cullinane, Lewis Road Creamery founder and one of two independent directors of the Organic Dairy Hub welcomes the initiative. . .

Rural round-up

April 14, 2015

That is indeed a beautiful sound – Gravedodger:

Since around 0645 we have had the sound of rain on the roof,  steady and after two hours, around 13mm.

Here in Akaroa we were not as desperate as many pockets  around North Canterbury, a friend from Cheviot next door to where we spent three years in the mid 60s, is saying it is so parched there is not even any green in gully floors where there is normally some hope of a lunch for a rabbit.

Another comment in Farmers Weekly said their bit of unirrigated country has moved from brown to white. . .

Uneven rules costly – Neal Wallace:

Steps to control agricultural nutrient discharge could add 10c a litre to the cost of producing milk and impose wide-ranging restrictions on land management.

But there is little uniformity in regional council rules.

Most of the county’s 16 regional authorities are still to complete their regional plans but early indications are that each council has its own approach.

Rabobank sustainable farm systems manager Blake Holgate has been following the development and release of environmental regulations and said even neighbouring regional councils such as Otago and Southland have differing rules, creating uncertainty for owners of multiple properties and unknown costs. . .

Heartland Forum shaping up as South Island farming event of the year:

A speakers’ lineup of the who’s who in the primary sector makes this month’s ‘The Future of Heartland Forum’ near Cheviot in North Canterbury, a must attend.

A farmer discussion in Cheviot late last year about the spread of Chilean Needlegrass has since grown into staging a premier forum on the future of agriculture industries in New Zealand.

The event will be held at Te Mania Angus Stud, Conway Flat, Friday, April 17.

Other than Government speakers, the lineup includes; Dame Margaret Bazley from Environment Canterbury, Winton Dalley the Hurunui Mayor, Peter Townsend the Chief Executive of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, Craige and Roz Mackenzie and Sam and Mark Zino, award winning farmers, Nicole Masters of the New Zealand Biological Farmers Association and Dr William Rolleston the National President of Federated Farmers New Zealand. . .

 Robotic milking can revive kids’ interest:

Robotic milking is coming of age in New Zealand and interest has surged in the last six months, DeLaval’s Grant Vickers says.

“I think it’s because a number of installations in New Zealand are working well,” he told Dairy News. “The perception of risk has probably lessened.”

The current inquiries, for robotics and barns, are from all sizes of farms and will result in installations in the North and South Island. 

Vickers spoke about robotic milking during a Dairy Women’s Network field trip to a 600-cow wintering barn as part of the organisation’s ‘Entering Tomorrow’s World’ conference. . .

What’s behind the longevity of Country Calendar? – Julian O’Brien:

Soon after I started producing Country Calendar, we had a minor crisis.

We thought we’d found a simple and elegant way to make new opening titles – but it quickly turned into a nightmare. 

We needed footage of people involved in typical rural activities, but to integrate the shots into our titles, they had to be shot against a neutral background – ideally a green-screen set up in a studio. 

Sheep in a studio? Achievable, but someone needs to be ready with a broom afterwards.

New Zealand’s top shearers in a studio? Impossible, if you want to keep the feel of a shearing competition – but we desperately wanted the shot.

As we pondered this, we had a crew shooting part of a story at the Taumarunui Shears – but there was no neutral background at the event to do a titles shot. . .

NZPork Annual Report 2014:

The NZPork Annual Report 2014, released today, reflects on the importance of the New Zealand consumer to the future of its business.

NZPork Chairman Ian Carter points out that it’s important to remember that our consumer is our neighbour and that we are touch with what consumers want and believe.

“We need to provoke interest in our product and our industry. We need to invoke confidence in our production standards and systems. And we need to evoke desire for our product,” said Ian Carter.

The report states the industry recognises that little is understood about pig farming in general amongst many New Zealanders, particularly the requirements of caring for its animals. In light of this, it is taking steps to be more transparent and advocate confidence to its consumers via its production systems and standards. . .

 Silage smells and what they mean – Ian Williams:

I grew up in town and one of my distinct memories of summer and autumn when we went to visit our farming friends was the smell of silage. 

As a kid, silage always seemed to stink and it is a smell which has been imprinted on my brain.

Now I work with the stuff. I even have a personalised number plate with the word SILAGE on it! Whenever I  introduce myself to people from town and they ask me what I do and I mention the word silage, they instantly screw up their noses and say something like “How can you work with that stuff, it stinks?” or they ask “Are you still married?” . .  .

How to install a ready-made food making business on your farm:

Making the transition from being a primary producer to processing and selling your own produce has become considerably cheaper, easier and less stressful thanks to an Anglo-French company that has created a new process that effectively builds a ‘barn inside a barn’.
Create-a-cabin has led a revolution in French farming by rapidly installing food-safe, highly flexible, and technically sophisticated food preparation rooms without the need for planning permission.
Across the Channel, Create-a-cabin’s custom-made, modular building shells have been erected quickly and cheaply for cheese-makers, poultry abattoirs, jam kitchens, meat packers, fish smokers and many more, allowing farmers to control at least one more link in the food production chain, as well as adding value to their product and thus  commanding a higher price. . .

Rural round-up

January 19, 2015

Water not just a pipe dream – Tim Fulton:

The latest Canterbury drought is reinforcing a message in farming: irrigation is valuable, stored supply is better and an alpine water source is best of all. TIM FULTON reports.

When the norwesters keep blowing rain on the Southern Alps and drying out the plains, even irrigators with the most advanced water networks can feel anxious.

Farmer shareholders on the $115 million Rangitata South irrigation scheme are facing tight storage conditions, even though they have access to periodic floodwater.

The network has been “just squeaking along with a rain here, a little fresh there” since it started supplying last spring, chairman Ian Morten says.

More water cannot be delivered from the main pond to farms on the scheme until the Rangitata River flows at 110 cubic metres. . .

Drought fears grow as dry spell continues:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is expected to visit the parched South Canterbury area in the next few weeks as concern mounts that it and some other regions may be heading for a serious drought.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is monitoring the conditions in South Canterbury, as well as North Otago, Wairarapa and southern Hawke’s Bay.

MPI director of resource policy David Wansbrough said it had been talking with farmers and rural support trusts on a weekly basis.

However, he said farmers and communities appeared to be coping so far and the Government was not planning to step in with any support measures at this stage. . .

Drought!!!? – Gravedodger:

Drought is widely regarded in agricultural terms as a prolonged period of low rainfall when pastures and crops become seriously degraded by dehydration.

Yes last spring was one of low precipitation in many districts and having traveled the East coast from North Otago to The Bay of Plenty in the last 50 days there are now pockets with fodder insufficiency from “The Dry” but drought it aint.

Large Parts of Australia have been in that situation for several years and many rural properties are in a savage drought. With livestock having lost a serious degree of body weight, water supplies gone burger and absolutely zero opportunity to remove stock as buyers do not exist, increasing numbers of Aussie Farmers are taking their lives as despair overcomes their will to continue. . .

Big dry affects dairy production – Dene Mackenzie:

Dairy production is likely to slow below previous forecasts as parts of Canterbury and Otago dry off and water restrictions kick in, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

”As we get further into the New Zealand summer, attention is turning to agricultural production. In the case of dairy, production has been good to date this season – albeit uneven across the regions.” . . .

Storage gives power to farmers – William C. Bailey:

United States corn and soybean farmers have a clear understanding that bad markets and low prices will reverse themselves to good times, just as good times will, eventually, fade into bad times.

The challenge, when these high or low points appear, is to prepare for the phase that will follow.

US corn and soybean farmers have enjoyed, over the past three to five seasons, really, really good prices. . .

 Sheep help drive tribe’s farm performance:

Ngati Porou has turned around its farming fortunes, reporting a surplus of $324,000 in its last financial year.

The figure compares to the previous period’s deficit of $1.46 million.

The Tairawhiti tribe said performance of its sheep division had improved, with sheep values and prices increasing.

Ngati Porou also said its lamb crop nearly doubled over two years, reaching 12,224 last year. . .

Rural gig good for peace-lovers – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Possibly every generation throughout history reckons things are getting worse and we are all going to hell in a hand basket.

That’s a little how I’m feeling at the moment.

However, there are great things happening here at the beginning of the 21st century which we should be grateful for.

For much of the world’s population improved healthcare and better food have led to the longest life expectancy humans have ever experienced. . .


Rural round-up

December 14, 2014

Sweet success for bee team:

A group of Whangarei high school students has won the top award in the Enterprising Primary Industries Career challenge on how to attract young people into working with bees.

The competition requires students to identify different careers within the primary industry sector and market them to their peers.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy presented the Year 10 students from Huanui College the award for their entry ‘Bee in the Scene’. . .

Designer genes on show:

Designer genes will be the focus of a field day in Central Otago today for fine wool growers on the hunt to find the perfect fit.

The event is organised by the New Zealand Merino Company.

Production science manager Mark Ferguson said as well as animal health and forage being discussed, 40 groups of sheep would be on show in Cromwell to highlight genetic differences. . .

Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders Council is “broadly supportive” of plans for the cooperative to start sourcing milk from South Island suppliers who are not also shareholders, with a couple of caveats.

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, yesterday announced a new milk sourcing subsidiary, mymilk, which would try to get milk in the Canterbury, Otago, and Southland regions where competition for milk supply is most intense from new suppliers on contracts on up to five years without the obligation to purchase shares. The feedback, particularly from new farmers who have recently spent a large amount of money converting farms to dairy, is that they can’t currently afford to now buy shares in the cooperative but would do so at a later date. . .


Who owns the rain? – Gravedodger:

Well apparently in Oregon State of the US, not the land owner whose land it falls on.

Gary Harrington 64, owns 170 acres and has constructed three ponds that accumulate and store around three million liters of snow melt and rain runoff. One of the ponds has been stocked with large mouth bass and the whole resource is available for fire fighting.
My understanding is Harrington did not dam waterways in his water conservation scheme.
Poor old Gary is or has recently spent 30 days in the clink for continuing his storage of water falling on his acreage.
Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan
What  in Oregon State has done, is common across NZ farmland where stock water is a restraint on production. There are countless Dams across NZ pastoral lands and the most efficient and longer lasting are built to collect rainfall from very small catchments and not from damming waterways. . .

CRV Ambreed opens new bovine semen production and distribution facility:

Primary Industries Minister Hon. Nathan Guy officially opened CRV Ambreed’s new world-class domestic and export-approved bovine semen production and logistics centre today.

The CRV Bellevue Production and Logistics Centre, based on the outskirts of Hamilton, is a purpose-built facility which future-proofs the company with additional capacity to meet the market’s growing demand for its bovine semen products.

The Centre houses a semen collection facility, a semen processing laboratory, storage space for export and domestic products, a warehouse with farmer AI banks, and 38 hectares of grazing paddocks. . .


Leading farm automation businesses to merge:

LIC is merging its farm automation and milking sensor businesses to deliver more integrated technology and meet demand from farmers.

The co-op’s Protrack business will transfer into subsidiary Dairy Automation Limited (DAL) in 2015.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said the move follows the co-op’s acquisition of DAL in February, and a lot of discussion between both businesses on how they would work together as one.

“Since the acquisition of DAL we have witnessed a number of key market developments that we will be better placed to leverage as one entity. . . .

Back to failed policies of the 70s

March 20, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe made an announcement of forestry yesterday which would take us back to the failed policies of the 70s:

The Labour Party’s desire to turn the clock back to the 1970s is once again highlighted with their grab-bag of ideas for the forestry industry, says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

“Subsidised loans, expensive tax concessions, preferential treatment, and make-work schemes for young people are all a flashback to a time when governments decided which industries succeeded based solely on political whim rather than competitiveness,” Mr Joyce says.

“This is classic 70s ‘government knows best’ interventionism and we all know how badly that ended.  What next, supplementary minimum prices for wood?

“Why should the forestry industry receive preferential treatment over the high tech manufacturing industry, ICT, the services industries, the construction industry or the farming industry? Or is it Labour’s plan to provide subsidies for everyone so we can subsidise our way to success?

“About the only thing they have got right is suggesting a focus on innovation. However it’s like they have been asleep since 2008 and now woken up ‘Rip van Winkle’ like to say we should do some innovation.
“While Labour has been asleep this Government has massively lifted its investment in innovation and helped grow private sector R & D across the economy by 23 per cent in just two years. Total government funding since 2010 for forestry-related science, research and product development alone amounts to over $160 million.

“The only sensible way to run a modern successful economy is to provide a strong macroeconomic base, supported by polices that lift the competitiveness of all firms. Our comprehensive Business Growth Agenda, which Labour has still not bothered itself to read, systematically improves access to markets, innovation, natural resources, capital, skills, and infrastructure.

“The results of our policies so far are reflected in strong growth, lowering unemployment, a much improved trade balance, stronger productivity growth, and real wages rising faster than the cost of living. Turning the clock back to the 70s is an amazingly out-of-touch response to some of the strongest economic data New Zealand has produced in many years.

“New Zealanders know they are just starting to see the positive results of five years of sensible modern economic policies and hard work by New Zealand companies. Turning the clock back 40 years would send New Zealand back to the bad old days of sluggish performance, high current account deficits, low productivity, and high inflation that the Labour Party knows so well.”

Acting Prime Minister Bill English highlighted the flaws in the policy too:

Hon David Cunliffe: In relation to the economics of forestry, is he comfortable that the rate of unprocessed log exports has grown at 10 times the rate of processed logs, given that the export of raw logs is really exporting jobs?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I would need to check the member’s figures, but he may also be interested to know that around 60 percent of all forestry production is currently value-added. It may well be that in the light of a rise in prices for export logs there are more logs being exported, but anyone who has been in the industry knows that those prices can drop as fast as they rise. I am sure that there are many people in the forestry industry taking a longer view and keeping that in mind. . .

Hon Dr Nick Smith: My question is to the Prime Minister and it asks what reports has he received on the recent developments in forest processing in Tasmania, where its Labour-Green Government has fallen apart over the very issues of forest processing and where there has been a huge loss of jobs and confidence in that sector because the—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! You have made the point with your question.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have received the same—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: The question was what reports has he received.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister have received the same reports, obviously, which have been to the effect that the Government in Tasmania has overseen the destruction of the forestry industry by trying to get involved in it.

Hon David Cunliffe: Would the Prime Minister support an accelerated depreciation tax including for forestry processing?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, we are not entertaining that. Those kinds of policies were tried consistently, I think, from the 1970s when they were a bright idea, and they lead to unsustainable industries and unsustainable jobs as a whole lot of Australian workers are now finding out, where industries that were subsidised by the Government there are now closing down. . .

Hon David Cunliffe: Does the Prime Minister support a pro-wood Government procurement strategy to assist jobs and value added in New Zealand, including in those South Otago sawmills; if not, why not?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. The member should have more confidence in the forestry industry. It has evolved from the time in the late 1980s when sawmillers used to be able to get very cheap logs from Government-owned forests through to a modern processing industry that is internationally competitive and makes very sophisticated decisions about the balance of financial risk, different types of product, and exchange rate and price risk in export markets. The idea that Labour would do a better job of that is wrong, and it would end up destroying the forestry industry if it gets that involved in it. . . 

Criticism of the policy isn’t confined to parliament:

Labour’s “pro-wood” government procurement strategy will create an inappropriate commercial advantage for one construction sector over another, according to the New Zealand cement and concrete industries.

Announced today by David Cunliffe at the ForestWood conference in Wellington, the policy would mandate that “all government-funded project proposals for new buildings up to four storeys high shall require a build-in-wood option at the initial concept / request-for-proposals stage (with indicative sketches and price estimates).”

Rob Gaimster, CEO of the Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ), believes that policies which appear to be giving preferential treatment to one construction material are misguided.

“It is inappropriate to mandate that those designing new government buildings consider wood as a structural option, and then require an explanation if an alternative material is chosen,” says Mr Gaimster.

“Government should not be picking winners when it comes to the selection of construction materials, which should stand or fall on their own technical, cost, aesthetic and sustainability credentials.

“In addition, the policy does a huge dis-service to the hardworking men and women in the cement and concrete industries. Favouring a single construction material during the design phase of a new government building could seriously impact on their livelihoods and jobs.

“This policy does not create a level playing field for the use of construction materials in government buildings. In fact, materials other than wood will be considerably disadvantaged.

“We are concerned about the wide-reaching implications of this policy and believe it should in no circumstances be adopted.”

Labour’s policy is designed to help one sector but would hurt another.

Gravedodger illustrates other shortcomings in the policy.


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