Rural round-up

08/12/2019

The changing face of the dairy farm – Gerald Piddock:

It wasn’t easy for Doug and Tracey Chappell to get onto their own land.

But their entry-level Pukeatua dairy farm means more than just what the 60 hectares and its relatively small 150 cow herd add to their long-term business plan.

“It’s our place and it’s something for our kids as well and they have even talked about running the farm in the future,” said Doug. . . 

Shortsighted? – Annette Scott:

Experts fear high ewe prices are encouraging farmers to sell breeding stock to processors at such a rate New Zealand exports might in a few years not have enough product.

That would provide an opening for Australia to grab market share from NZ. There is also a worry a shortage of stock could lead to a single desk seller, thus eliminating procurement competition.

The problem is compounded by the falling number of farmers willing to breed the lambs. Many young farmers are not interested and instead buy in store lambs to fatten. . . 

Striped dairy cows – a rare breed :

Opunake farmer Andy Whitehead milks eight different breeds of cattle, but Lakenvelders are his favourite. They hail from the Netherlands and are easy to spot in the dark.

If you drive past Andy Whitehead’s Taranaki farm at night, his favourite cows are easy to spot.

They look as though they’ve been draped with a white blanket.

“Lakenvelder simply means ‘white blanket’ or ‘white sheet’ which describes the cow with a stripe over her back,” Andy says. . . 

50 avocado trees completely stripped in Hawke’s Bay orchard – Georgia May Gilbertson:

“Stupidity and desperation” are the only reasons a police officer can think of after 50 avocado trees were completely stripped of their fruit in Hawke’s Bay. 

Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan said the theft happened at an orchard belonging to Crab Farm Winery in Bay View and was reported to police last weekend. 

He said the thieves cut through a fence near a group of beehives and it was  estimated they took an apple crate worth of fruit. . . 

Xmas cheer from Fonterra as the bosses at the dairy co-op get back to basics – Point of Order:

Dairy   farmers  had  some   Xmas cheer  this   week,  as  dairy  giant  Fonterra told them  the  forecast  payout  would  be the fourth-highest-ever,  at the mid-point of its farmgate milk price range.

The  $7.30kg/ms means   the cash payout  for the season  will  reach $11.2bn, a rise of about $400m from the earlier  forecast.

There  could  even  be  a  clap  from the cowsheds for the  new bosses of   Fonterra  who are  turning around the co-op’s  financial  performance, as they apply  a back-to-basics  approach  to  recovering from last year’s  horrendous  $605m  loss.  The first  quarter of the  new financial  year has  gone  well. . . 

Canterbury running out of water??? – Gravedodger:

I have returned to the world after another time of peace and calm at “The Gorge”.

Rakaia Gorge that is and it was somewhat different this time. The river that ruled Mona Anderson’s life inspired her to write of her time married to the then manager of Mt Algidus Station, which lies above the confluence of the Rakaia and Wilberforce rivers, the story related in her first book of nine, “A River Rules my Life”. That river was in flood for many recent days peaking at over three thousand cumecs at least twice.

A cumec is a cubic meter of water flowing past a point each second. Just absorb that figure,  three thousand cubic meters every second!

Do the maths. . . 


Rural round-up

20/11/2019

Small dog helping with big message – Sally Rae:

Poppy might be a miniature dachshund but the message the diminutive dog is helping spread is a big one.

Poppy is the constant companion of Harriet Bremner, a North Canterbury-based teacher-turned-author who is focused on making the most out of life.

Miss Bremner’s partner, James “Bob” Hayman, was killed in a farm machinery accident in the Hakataramea Valley in January 2017.

Following his death, she launched the brand Gurt and Pops and released her first children’s book Bob `n Pops, which was a tale of the special relationship between Mr Hayman and the couple’s dog Poppy. . . 

How banks peddled a product that killed farmers – Nikki Mandow:

The disastrous impact of banks selling risky financial derivatives to farmers is still being felt in rural communities more than a decade later. How did it happen and how can we stop banks doing it again?

Rural advocate Janette Walker has a storage box at her house. She calls it her “suicide box”. In it are letters from farmers – mostly men, mostly in late middle age – who tell her about the impact on their lives of the events surrounding the global financial crisis (GFC) back in 2007-2008. 

The letters came to Walker as part of a research project she worked on in 2010 with Massey University banking specialist Dr Claire Matthews. . . 

Spooked insurers walking away from agriculture – Ean Higgins:

Farmers face potential ruin as insurers spooked by climate change, drought and bushfires ­refuse to cover crops worth billions of dollars.

Plantation crops such as ­bananas and pineapples, some of which were destroyed in the latest Queensland bushfires, could be the next to be uninsurable, a ­report published on Monday by global insurance broker Gallagher warns.

“Plantation insurance will be one of the first casualties of climate change,” the report says. Other crops including grapes, citrus and almonds could be not far behind, with insurers pulling cover altogether or raising premiums to the point where they become unaffordable for most growers. . .

Research to help rural health – Pam Jones:

A Central Otago health professional hopes her upcoming research will help address some of the inequities faced in the rural health sector. Pam Jones talks to Sarah Walker about a national fellowship she has received that will help her look into the challenges and complexities faced by rural allied health professionals.

A Central Otago physiotherapist will notch up a national first following health research she hopes will help all rural communities.

Sarah Walker has just been named a recipient of a Health Research Council of New Zealand Clinical Research Training Fellowship.

The $204,000 fellowship will allow Mrs Walker, who is a physiotherapist for Central Otago Health Services (Cohsl), which operates from Dunstan Hospital, to begin a doctorate at the University of Otago next year. . . 

Who should take up the challenge? – Gravedodger:

Many people who spend their time in cities with occasional trips to popular places for relief, often  have little idea how much of NZ landscape is bereft of communications as they have evolved to in the closing second decade of century 21.

We store our mobile home around five Kms from the northern end of CHC main runway. A site we used as a “Town House ” during our time in Akaroa.
It has zero access to the Spark network and is marginal for Vodafone.

We also have a site at a small camp just south of the two bridges that cross the Rakaia where it emerges from its gorge. That site has even more precarious phone links and our site has a luvly old Cabbage Tree,  ‘ti kouka’,   that completely blocks line of site to Optus. . .

ClearTech a gamechanger for Canterbury dairy farmer:

A revolutionary dairy effluent treatment system is delivering enormous environmental benefits for Lincoln dairy farmer Tom Mason.

Ravensdown’s ClearTech system, developed in conjunction with Lincoln University, uses a coagulant to bind effluent particles together to settle them out from the water. This clarifying process reduces freshwater use, helps existing effluent storage go further and reduces the environmental and safety risks linked with farm dairy effluent (FDE). . .


Rural round-up

30/05/2018
Collective responsibility tough – ODT editorial:

The Government and farming leaders have made one of the hardest decisions imaginable in deciding to attempt the eradication of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand.

The decision has been made to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.

Farming leaders have thrown their support behind the eradication attempt, but it is the actual farmers with the infected herds who will now be facing the reality of losing cows they may have bred into milk-producing animals. . . 

Mycolplasma bovis – focusing on the immediate – Keith Woodford:

[This is an open letter to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, sent on the evening of 29 May 2018, as part of an ongoing dialogue.]

Dear Damien

Mycoplasma bovis: focusing on the immediate

This is a further open letter. It is an open letter because it contains information that I believe both you and others need to hear.

First of all, I want to acknowledge phone and email interactions we have had in recent days. I note in particular that you emailed me at 3am this morning which surely tells its own story. Farmers too are emailing me at that time, indicative of the stress they are under.

Now that the eradication decision has been made, then I do not wish to debate that here. Instead I want to focus on maximising the chances that it will work and minimising the pain to the affected farmers.

On the Newshub AM show this morning I focused among other things on the need for MPI to ‘up its game’. Response Director Geoff Gwyn subsequently acknowledged that there may well be lessons to learn, but did not name any when asked by the presenter, and said that he thought that MPI had done many things well. . . 

Mental health fears for farmers over mass cow cull – Tim Brown:

The people at ground zero of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak are warning that the eradication bid could have disastrous knock-on effects.

Others in the small Southland town of Winton are backing the government cull of 150,000 cows.

Yesterday, the government announced it was committed to eradicating the illness with a ten year plan that would cost about $886 million.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease.

It was discovered in July last year and since then 41 farms have been confirmed as infected. That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis rated ‘low risk’ by health officials – Gerard Hutching:

The possibility of humans contracting Mycoplasma bovis from eating meat or drinking milk from infected cattle has been dismissed by officials and food safety experts as a “low risk”.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said the disease was not a food safety risk. Concerns have again been raised over the culling of 152,000 cattle and whether their meat or milk might threaten human health.

“There is no issue with eating beef or drinking milk from infected herds. This disease is in every other farming nation and people have been consuming products from cattle with Mycoplasma bovis for decades,” MPI said. . . 

Good on-farm management essential for eradication plan to succeed:

Good on-farm animal management will be essential if plans to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) are to succeed, the New Zealand Veterinary Association says.

“This will be essential to stop the infection spreading and to ensure M. bovis isn’t re-introduced into New Zealand,” NZVA President Dr. Peter Blaikie said.

The industry and government today announced a phased eradication plan to attempt to get rid of M. bovis. . . 

M, bovis: how did we get here?:

Everyone’s been playing catch-up since the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak – and everyone’s blamed each other.

On Monday, the government announced a 10-year plan to eradicate the disease, saying about 150,000 cows would have to be slaughtered.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease, at a cost of about $886 million to government and industry bodies.

The news is devastating for many farmers who have devoted their lives to the industry. Some fear their livelihoods will be destroyed.

But how did we get here? . . 

In a word from Sir Humphrey – courageous – Gravedodger:

During my life spent in primary production one of the most stressful segments arose around the determination to eradicate TB. Bovine Tuberculosis is one insidious little beastie with a remarkable ability to thwart detection.

Once every  year all bovine stock were mustered and put up a race where a MAF person would inject a small dose of reagent  in the soft skin  between the tail and the rump, three days later that crat would return and scan by feel for a lump at that injection site and if a reactor (a palpable lump) was discovered that beast would be slaughtered asap where TB would be confirmed  post mortem but alas sometimes the animal would be a “clear”.
One reactor and the whole heard would be placed on ‘movement control’ requiring any cattle for sale to carry a “white ear tag” and receive  a discounted price.

We farmed in an area of the Wairarapa where our eight neighbours all went on and off “movement control” over the twenty years yet surprisingly  we managed to remain “Clear” throughout the two decades we operated there.
It did not come easy, I wish to forget how many nights were spent sometimes more than five hours on an open quad bike seeking the dreaded Possum, an uninvited guest that could become infected with Bovine TB but before inevitable death could infect pasture from suppurating lesions, leaving infected grass to be ingested by a grazing beast and a “reactor”  created. . .

Olive Oil 
the New Zealand Way: –

David Walshaw 

“I have a lot invested in each drop of this gorgeous, golden liquid. There is the time and money, of course, but there is far more than that, too. It is the distillation of a dream and the physical and emotional effort required to realise that dream. The flavours and the aromas of the oil are like a story — the story of the tree’s experience of a year, itself a chapter in the life of the tree, and the tree’s life a volume in the ages long story of the cultivation of the olive. My own story is in there, too, intertwined with the gnarled wood of the olive tree.” 

When, after a successful career in banking and finance, David Walshaw decided it was time for a change, he settled on growing olives for oil as his new direction. Neither he nor his wife Helen had any previous experience, but by doing the research, by seeking the advice of other growers, by putting in the work, by trial and not a few errors, they made a go of it. . . 

The build of Synlait’s liquid packaging facility is on track:

Synlait Milk is pleased with the progress made on the building of its advanced liquid dairy packaging facility by Tetra Pak.

The two companies have worked together for over ten years, beginning with the building of Synlait’s anhydrous milkfat (AMF) plant in 2007.

The new facility will produce fresh milk and cream for Foodstuffs South Island’s private label brands from early 2019, and will be a platform for Synlait to pursue a range of dairy-based products for export markets. . . 

Milk NZ Holding surprised by Fonterra’s $7 payout for 2019 given outlook for global demand Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Milk New Zealand Holding, which owns and manages dairy operations controlled by Shanghai Pengxin, says it didn’t expect such a bullish forecast from Fonterra Cooperative Group for its 2019 milk payout.

Last week Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for 2019 of $7 per kilogram of milk solids from the $6.75 /kgMS projected for the current season, while cutting its projected dividends for 2018, saying rising global dairy prices were squeezing margins. . .

Federated Farmers appoints Terry Copeland as its new CEO:

The man who helped transform NZ Young Farmers has been appointed to lead the country’s most influential rural lobby group.

Terry Copeland, 50, has been named the next chief executive of Federated Farmers. He replaces Graham Smith.

Mr Copeland has been the chief executive of NZ Young Farmers since 2013 and is looking forward to a new challenge. . . 

Butchers ‘living in fear’ as vegan attacks on the rise, says Countryside Alliance – Helena Horton:

Attacks on small businesses by vegan activists are on the rise, according to the Countryside Alliance.

Death threats, stoked by social media and encouraged by international groups of activists, have caused butchers and farmers to “live in fear.”

Marlow Butchers, in, Ashford, Kent, was targeted earlier this month by activists who daubed red paint on the doors and windows of the shop . .

Organic vs conventional food fight: Focus on pesticides distracts from real environmental problems – Marc Brazeau :

A quick note in my news feed highlighted a new data set from the World Bank that shows that while the US has one of the most productive agriculture sectors in the world, it also has some of the lowest rates of pesticide and fertilizer use. Good news. The author’s title, however, stuck me as unfortunate: World’s Model for Sustainability in Food Production. His write up was about pesticide and fertilizer use, and while high yields, with low pesticide and fertilizer rates are very commendable (and surprising to many), pesticide and fertilizer use is hardly the last word in sustainability in agriculture. And among the biggest impacts of agriculture: land use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution; pesticides hardly rate. And yet…

One of the things that has really begun to stand out in the debate between advocates of technologically progressive agriculture and the critics of technological agriculture is the persistence of the idea that the use of pesticides is still a major problem, if not the central environmental impact of agriculture, that needs to be addressed. This is unfortunate. It’s just not accurate. It’s a cul-de-sac in the discussion about how to improve the environmental footprint of agriculture. It’s a distraction from the addressing the major environmental impacts. . .


Rural round-up

26/01/2016

Westland Milk’s man-on-the-ground in China says the anxiety over China has been exaggerated – especially as it relates to their dairy appetite – Gregg Wafelbakker:

In recent weeks there has been a lot of negative media about economic conditions in China.

In particular the slowing growth, a volatile share market and a decrease in dairy imports.

The potential impact of much of this has been exaggerated. Given the value of China to Westland, indeed the whole of the New Zealand dairy industry,  it is important that we understand what is happening. . . 

Volume,not value, gets record red meat returns – Sally Rae:

Total red meat export revenue might have reached a record high in the first quarter of the 2015-16 meat export season, but average per-tonne values were down.

More shipments were responsible for the increased revenue in beef and veal, lamb and mutton, analysis by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service showed.

Beef and veal exports generated $682 million in the first quarter, up 14% compared with the same period last season. . . 

Comvita’s share price soars as more honey equals more money – Fiona Rotherham:

BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey and health products maker, is riding the crest of a consumer push for health and wellness products with its share price having risen 124 percent in the past year.

The Te Puke-based company attributes the soaring share price to its improved financial performance and a big surge in demand for manuka honey products. Australia’s Capilano Honey and vitamin and health supplement company Blackmores have also seen their share prices go through the roof in the past year – 151 percent and 424 percent respectively, on the back of rising sales in China in particular.

Comvita now derives half of its revenue from China for its overall range, which includes products from manuka honey, olive leaf, and fish oil. . .

Economic terrorism, count the cost and weep – Gravedodger:

Lake Sumner.

Not many of us have been there, possibly most would not even know where it is.

Plenty of us have an image that fresh water in this bountiful country is under serious threat due to the massive growth in irrigation.

The East coast of the South Island has gazillions of acres of flat to rolling arable land that has for ever suffered summer dry that inhibits productive activity. . . 

Ashburton Zone Water Management Committee focuses on proposed land-use rules:

The Ashburton Water Management Zone Committee will meet for the first time this year on Tuesday 26 January to discuss how new land-use rules will affect local land-users.

The committee will receive a report from Environment Canterbury on the Nutrient Management and Waitaki Plan Change to the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The proposed Plan Change includes new region-wide nutrient management rules relating to land used for farming, and the zone committee will consider how it affects land-users in the Ashburton zone.

It requires land-users to implement Good Management Practices, and farming activities requiring resource consent will need Farm Environment Plans. The Plan Change also addresses phosphorus management and is expected to be notified for public consultation in February. . . 

A new food resolution for 2016:  Support family farmers! – Uptown Farms:

Statistics show that over 30% of all new year’s resolutions have to do with food – most often, eating less of it. Stats also indicate that by this time of year 1 out of 3 have already given up on those resolutions

So let me challenge you to a new kind of food resolution for 2016. Instead of just worrying about how much of it and what types of it you consume, I challenge you to also start caring about the people who are raising it – the family farmers. Below is a list of things you can do to support family farmers!

1. Stop determining the quality of farmer by the size of the farm! . . .

What farmers wish you knew about farmers – Pink Tractor:

From ‘farming is easy’ to ‘farmers are rich,’ there are a million things consumers think they know about farmers. We asked our amazing farm community what the one thing they wish people knew about farmers. These are the responses.

Farmers are smart! They have to be everything – plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, scientists, vets and more. Every day!

Farming is a lifestyle, not a job. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every day of the year. It’s almost impossible to take a vacation, especially if you have animals. . .


Rural round-up

20/08/2015

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

13/07/2015

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

19/05/2015

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 http://www.comcom.govt.nz/business-competition/mergers-and-acquisitions/authorisations/merger-authorisation-register/cavalier-and-new-zealand-wool/ . .

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

14/04/2015

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

19/01/2015

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

14/12/2014

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

20/03/2014

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.


Rural round-up

27/02/2014

Very, very sad and entirely unnecessary – Gravedodger:

Last night on Sky News 10pm nz summer time, a scheduled regular Wednesday Hour featuring resident lefty Graeme ‘Richo’ Richardson and radio jock Alan Jones, Wallaby coach in a previous life, had a harrowing expose on the Bush and its current Drought that has been running over parts of all mainland States for 18 months and continuing.

5000 cattle are dying every day, a grazier/farmer is taking their own life every 4 days, one grazier attempted to sell his last 500 sheep only to be told they were valueless and a sale impossible. He took them back home killed them then took his own life.

Australia is regarded by many, far too many, as too marginal for farming over most of the mainland.
A few salient facts;
Australia currently employs only 6% of the water that reaches the sea.
Immeasurable giga liters are allowed to flow into the Timor  and Coral Seas.
Much water flows from the great divide East while the Bush lies parched to the west.
The town of Cloncurry near Mt Isa was threatened with evacuation until a few weeks respite came in rain that did not solve the problem long term. . . .

5000-10,000 cattle dying in north every day: Katter:

North Queensland MP Bob Katter says anecdotal reports suggest that drought is causing the deaths of between 5000 to 10,000 cattle every day across the state’s north, an area which is home to about one quarter of the national cattle herd.

The Federal member for Kennedy and leader of the Katter Australia Party says $100m in grants, the creation of an Australian Reconstruction and Development Bank and better access for graziers to underground water for irrigation are urgently needed to avert further losses and a dramatic reduction in the region’s future productive capacity.

With producers now enduring their second failed wet season in a row and affordable drought fodder all but impossible to source, many cattle were now dying cruel deaths from starvation, and reports of rural suicides were becoming increasingly prevalent. . .

Mendip fulfilling reverend’s dream – Tim Fulton:

The Reverend Dr Bryden Black is a priest and a businessman. Tim Fulton talks to the vicar about his love for Mendip Hills Station, site of a proposed cadet school.

Mendip Hills Station is being taken by the scruff of the neck, just as the Black family has long hoped.

Bryden Black is keen for his sheep, beef and deer farm near Cheviot to stir young farmers.

His family has been at Mendip since the mid-1950s, either running it directly or under a manager. . .

Family farms are under threat – Stephen Bell:

Family farms will continue to excel as part of New Zealand’s rural landscape, agricultural communicator of the year Doug Avery says.

Passion would keep individual farmers on the land, the Marlborough drylands farmer said.

“You can’t replace passion in anything and people that are working for themselves, with their own vision, have that element that is called passion, which will lead and beat pretty much anything else that corporate structures will throw at us,” he said. . . .

Sheep and beef farmers to vote on genetics investment proposal:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are being asked to consider a proposal that would combine Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s current genetics investments and speed up genetic advances.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Dr Scott Champion said voting packs were out with farmers now and they were being asked to support the organisation’s continued investment of $2.9 million a year, for the next five years.

“This would be matched by the Government which has already said it will invest $3 million a year if the proposal is supported by farmers,” Dr Champion said. . .

Should agribusinesses fix their interest rates?:

Recent low interest rates have encouraged some agribusiness owners to fix their rates, but that can be a mistake, says Hayden Dillon, Managing Principal, Waikato, for Crowe Horwath. Constantly changing market conditions mean it is crucial for interest-rate hedging to be treated as part of an ongoing strategy.

“Hedging is not a single event,” said Mr Dillon. “Very few businesses remain stagnant and the market never remains stagnant. Having an understanding of the impact of likely significant changes in your business is critical to being successful. And having a clear strategy around exactly what you’re trying to achieve is the first and most important step.”

Because there are a number of often complex financial instruments available, Mr Dillon recommended managing interest rate hedging through an independent advisor who specialised in the field, rather than a banker or accountant. . .


Monorail decision a tough one

31/10/2013

Conservation Minister Nick Smith faces a tough decision over whether or not the Fiordland Monorail goes ahead:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today inspected the site of the proposed Fiordland monorail, met with the applicants, and released official advice recommending he approve the project subject to extensive conditions.

“This ambitious $200 million project involves the building of the world’s longest monorail to enhance the experience of the hundreds of thousands of visitors travelling between Queenstown and Milford Sound,” Dr Smith says.

“I wanted to see for myself the areas affected by the construction of the two terminals and the 29.5-kilometre long, six-metre wide corridor that would be cleared to make way for the monorail through public conservation land. I also wanted to thoroughly scrutinise the impacts on the Snowdon Forest and its wildlife, as well as understanding the effects on the existing recreational users of the area.

“This monorail decision will be no easier than that of the Milford Tunnel. I am very protective of National Parks like Fiordland and this project has the advantage of being largely outside it. However, the monorail still requires clearance of a large area of forest on public conservation land. The submissions process also shows there are strongly held views both in support and in opposition to this project.

“I am releasing the official reports from DOC and the Hearing Commissioner because of the level of public interest in this proposal. I want to be open about the advice I have received and the issues I must consider.

“Today I have inspected the site and met with the Hearing Commissioner and the applicants, Riverstone Holdings Limited. I also want to discuss the proposal with the New Zealand Conservation Authority and consider further advice from DOC on the World Heritage status of the area.

“Over the next few days I will be joining the 125th anniversary walk of the Milford Track and on Saturday opening the new track to the Sutherland Falls.

“I am looking forward to having some time to reflect on my site visit and the hundreds of pages of submissions and advice I have read over the past week. I hope to be in a position to make a decision before year’s end, subject to being satisfied that I have all necessary information needed to make a good decision.”

The Minister turned down a competing proposal for the Milford Dart tunnel.

“I am declining this tunnel proposal because the environmental impacts are significant and beyond what is appropriate in two of New Zealand’s most spectacular National Parks and a World Heritage Area,” Dr Smith says. . . .

The Monorail proposal is not nearly so clear cut.

It goes through conservation land but it doesn’t go through a National Park. The Hearings Commissioner and the Department of Conservation have recommended it goes ahead.

Those recommendations have not been made lightly and are subject to significant conditions, but will give RHL some hope.

Opposition has been vocal and widespread. However, a poll showed public support for the proposal:

A public opinion poll has this month confirmed more than twice as many New Zealanders support the development of tourism infrastructure like the Fiordland monorail than are opposed.

“The Fiordland Link Experience is designed to be a world-class tourism experience. It’s really encouraging that the public recognises the significant benefits it will bring to New Zealand despite some misinformation spread by a small group of vocal opponents,” says Bob Robertson, Director of Riverstone Holdings Ltd.

The Curia Market Research survey found that 58% of New Zealanders supported the development of the monorail outside of National Park land. Only 27% opposed it. When broken down, the results showed there was more support than opposition regardless of gender, age or political leanings. . . 

Robertson has a reputation for carefully and attractively developed urban subdivisions.

Housing developments in town can’t be compared to this proposal for a new tourist route to Milford Sound through mostly undeveloped countryside. But the attention to detail and focus on aesthetics which help the subdivisions fit in with the landscape will be applied to the Monorail project.

Opponents have used the argument the development would threaten Fiordland’s World Heritage status. Robertson describes  that as scaremongering:

. . . These same opponents have lobbied UNESCO and continue to tell anyone who will listen that the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage status of the region will be stripped if the project is approved. The World Heritage area covers 2.6m hectares and includes roads, towns and quarries.

This scaremongering would be laughable if it wasn’t so destructive.

We only need to look across the Tasman to see how a tourism development can be successfully achieved in a World Heritage area.

When the Cairns Skyrail was being proposed for the Barron Gorge National Park in the 1990s there were marches in the street and protesters attempted to block construction.

The same arguments we are seeing now in Fiordland are the carbon copy of those used in Cairns.

Fortunately, the Australian government understood the project and it was approved.

It went on to win multiple tourism awards as best major attraction and for environmental sustainability, including the international Wet Tropics Management Authority Cassowary Award in 1999 for “demonstrating best practice in ecotourism during construction and ongoing operation”.

In New Zealand, there is an elitist sentiment among some that we should lock up our conservation estate for the few who are capable of physically reaching it. They believe business has no place in nature.

In reality, 44 per cent of the South Island is in the conservation estate and hosts about 2800 commercial concessions, including roughly 500 that are tourism or recreation-related.

It isn’t a question of either business or conservation. They can and do co- exist.

We would not be committed to the Fiordland Link Experience if we did not believe the construction and operation could be achieved with only minimal impact on the environment and recreational users.

The reasoning is simple – we want to celebrate our nature and show it off. It is in our interests to protect nature, because that’s the experience we’re selling.

As a hunter and fisher who has spent thousands of hours in the surrounding area, I know there is room for a world- class tourism experience.

It will reinvigorate the tourism market in Fiordland, stimulate the economy, bring jobs and enable us to market the entire region, including Te Anau, to the world. All without a cent of taxpayer money. . . .

This is a big project, a bold project but it has been carefully thought through and planned to tread as lightly as possible in a sensitive area.

It will impact on the environment, as any development does, but I think that can be minimised and mitigated.

It will open a small part of the conservation estate to more tourists without in any way detracting from the wilderness experience for those who enjoy it in the neighbouring National Park.

Bob Robertson has a dream, the Minister has the unenviable task of deciding whether or not it will become a reality.

Apropos of dreams,  Gravedodger has one too over at No Minister which is worth a read.

P.S. The decision to make New Zealand’s Sharpest town, the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown is far easier – #gigatownoamaru is the logical choice.


2012 in review

01/01/2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 300,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 5 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

The top referring sites were:

  1. nominister.blogspot.co.nz
  2. kiwiblog.co.nz
  3. nzconservative.blogspot.co.nz
  4. keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz
  5. asianinvasion2006.blogspot.co.nz (Cactus Kate)

The post which got the most comments (51) was water quality concern for all.

The people who made the most comments were:

Robert Guyton # 1 and # 5 is the same person, I think he gets two spots because some comments are linked to his blog and others aren’t.

Thank you all for visiting, those who link and hat tip from their blogs and those who join the conversation.

I appreciate your comments, whether or not I agree with them. A conversation among several is far more interesting than a one-woman diatribe.

I especially appreciate that almost everyone debates the topic and critiques arguments rather than resorting to personal criticism.

I think I had to delete only one comment last year and only rarely had to take a deep breath.

And thanks to WordPress for the blogging platform and excellent service on the very rare occasions I’ve needed help.

Click here to see the complete report.


Rural round-up

06/11/2012

Times they are achanging – Gravedodger:

As a child in the 1950s, the Amuri Basin on the northern border of Canterbury  was often almost a desert due to low rainfall, NW winds and soaring summer temperatures, as was the case for much of the east coast of both islands.

The “Red Post”, just north of Culverden Village (which incidentally often rates a mention as a summer hot spot on evening infotainment shows), was in an area of pastoral grazing country that struggled to sustain one sheep to an acre.
Today it stands in a sea of green grass and productive farming that makes my memory seem improbable. . .

Our agriculture’s much more than the sum of its parts – Pasture Harmonies:

Too much, arguably all the time, we look at all the individual components of our farm production systems……and beat ourselves up about them.

We could use less fertiliser, our use of water isn’t that optimal at times, occasionally there’s animal welfare issues, and as for degradation of waterways……

And that’s just on-farm. . .

 

Optimistic signs for coming season’s red meat trade – Allan Barber:

After some harrowing experiences last season for the meat industry, both processors and farmers, 12 months on things are looking up. This sense of optimism hasn’t yet been reflected in prices from the meat companies, but statements from those in the know strike a perceptibly more positive note.

Last year the lamb kill was down by a million, there was drought in significant livestock areas, the dollar was too high and so was the procurement price for lamb. While beef remained relatively unaffected by the hype, the price really not changing much in a year, sheep meat was a completely different story. Driven by the unholy combination of scarcity and tight shipping deadlines for the Christmas trade, the procurement price hit $8 a kilo and struggled to get down from that level. . .

Trading Among Farmers reality at last – Allan Barber:

The day when outside investors can apply for units in the Fonterra Shareholders Fund to be listed on the NZX and ASX has arrived at last. Getting to this point has been a long and tortuous process during which Fonterra has consulted its members, finally gaining the required majority vote in favour of establishing Trading Among Farmers (TAF).

TAF will enable those Fonterra’s shareholders that wish to free up some capital to deposit shares in the fund, provided they retain enough shares to match their milk supply. These shares can either be bought by other shareholders who would like to increase their shareholding or exchanged for the units with rights to dividends and share price value changes.


Rural round-up

02/04/2012

What is gunna happen – Gravedodger:

In the last month I have been fortunate to access a couple of reasonably inaccessible bits of the SI High Country, The Middle Clarence Valley and last weekend country around the Pahau and Dove Rivers in Nth Canterbury.

The two areas have been or are involved in “Tenure Review”, or as one wag described it Ten Year Review. A process where the Crown negotiates the retirement of some of the land in the CRL, Crown Renewable Lease, and the Leaseholder gains a Freehold Title to some of the more productive areas. One thing that becomes apparent is the retired land is exposed to major problems from weed and animal pests as the control of them exceeds DOC’s abilities and resources and the land that is retained for pastoral use is still being managed and will be kept relatively clear of gorse, broom, blackberry, briar and animals such as possums, ferrets, pigs, rabbits and deer. . .

(He’s got some stunning photos which you’ll see if you click the link above).

Leaving the farm – Offsetting Behaviour:

Bill Kaye-Blake says there’s not much that can be doneabout long-term trends towards rural depopulation. And he puts rural New Zealand especially on the wrong side of broader trends:

Technology isn’t going to be the saviour of rural New Zealand. We’ve been hearing for years that new communications technologies (will) allow us all to work from home, the cafe, and the beach. We do that to some extent. A few people do build business empires on the back of broadband. But we also spend lots of time in our offices, seeing and talking with our co-workers. One of the interesting economic geography arguments I’ve seen is that technology is making face-time more valuable. As a result, work that requires us to spend time with each other is becoming more highly paid, and work that can be made routine and parceled out in bits and bytes is becoming less valuable. New Zealand is on the wrong side of that trend, and rural areas even more so.

Let’s take the agglomeration economic geography arguments as starting point. Tech is more a complement to big cities than they are a substitute for face to face interactions. Who gets the strongest benefit from this in a world that’s mostly free-trading? Big global cities, not Auckland. Our small size makes us, over time, less competitive in sectors that compete with international big-city industries; our comparative advantage then pushes farther towards agricultural production. . .

If dairy farmers want to farm in the black they need to be green – Passture to Profit:

The NZ dairy industry is in a very interesting place right now. On one hand they generate serious export dollars; their contribution to the national income is undeniable. The wealth generated by dairy products means that most New Zealanders enjoy a good standard of living. On the other hand they are viewed by increasing numbers of thinking New Zealanders as exploiting our natural resources to the detriment of the environment. Sir Paul Callaghan spoke at the “StrategyNZ: Mapping our Future conference” in March 2011, pointing the finger at dairy farmers but also illustrating the economic reality.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCAyIllnXY&feature=related

Dairy farmers have a real challenge: – to produce milk but to reduce the impact on the environment. . .

New Zealand a place where talent wants to live and proudly farm – Pasture to Profit:

“New Zealand…A Place Where Talent Wants To Live” this was the NZ strategic vision that Sir Paul Callaghan(New Zealander of the year 2011 & ex Massey University Scientist) spoke so passionately about before his death last week. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCAyIllnXY&feature=related  Sir Paul Callaghan was a world class scientist, leader & a passionate advocate for a better more prosperous New Zealand. He was a great orator & he had a vision of a “knowledge driven economy” based on excellence & research & development . . .

Schedule setting process as much art as science – Allan Barber:

The weekly schedule setting process is a hallowed meat industry tradition which determines what farmers will receive for their livestock during the week beginning with the Sunday evening phone calls from buyers.

The process itself remains almost a total mystery to those on the receiving end, but it delivers certainty of livestock value in any given week. It enables a farmer to decide if it’s time to sell or worth hanging on another week or two, provided there’s enough feed and value to be gained from holding on.

The lead up to the weekly schedule is a fairly complex set of inputs to arrive at an assessment of what each species and grade are actually worth to a meat processor and exporter at the moment of purchase. That is the first slightly unusual thing to observe about the process: the procurement price does not equate to the final selling price, which will only be known at a whole variety of different times in the future when the various cuts and components of the livestock have been sold. . .

Dairy restructuring Ammendment Bill attracts differing views – Allan Barber:

Fonterra chairman, Henry van der Heyden, says that monitoring the milk price is not necessary, but “we can live with it”, particularly with Commerce Commission oversight, while Simon Couper, Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chair, believes it to be draconian with the potential over time “to destroyNew Zealand’s biggest, most successful and most important export industry.”

Federated Farmers’ dairy section head, Willy Leferink, inclines more to Couper’s view than van der Heyden’s, stating that Feds look forward to submitting on the bill at the Select Committee stage, because “If the policy settings for milk pricing at the farm gate become arbitrary, then it’ll not only shoot our largest export industry in the foot, it will directly affect the price consumers pay for their milk,” he warned. . .

Otago dairy award judges give winning advice:

Entering the Otago Dairy Industry Awards three times has set James and Helen Hartshorne on a pathway to success – with the couple claiming the region’s top prize, the 2012 Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year.

“The judging feedback showed us that although we were competent at running the practical side of our farm, we would gain huge benefit from a better understanding of and an ability to analyse the financial and business side of our operation,” the Hartshornes said.

“And as a result of contacts made through our judging panels we secured our first 50:50 sharemilking job.”

The couple won $16,600 in cash and prizes at last night’s awards held at Balclutha Memorial Hall. The 2012 Otago Farm Managers of the Year, Gareth and Angela Dawson, and 2012 Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year, Richard Lang, were also announced. . .

Southland dairy winners share strengths:

The big winners at the 2012 Southland Dairy Industry Awards are newcomers to the province, who share common interests and business strengths.

Winton 50% sharemilkers Billy and Sharn Roskam won the Southland Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title and Edendale contract milkers Hannes and Lyzanne du Plessis won the Southland Farm Manager of the Year contest.

The 2012 Southland Dairy Industry Awards were held last night at Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill. The other major winner was Robert Ankerson who won the 2012 Southland Dairy Trainee of the Year title.

Both the Roskams and du Plessis’came to Southland to further their dairy farming careers, and say their teamwork is a key to their farm business success. . .

Small farmers fear squeeze by corporate owners:

Some farmers fear they are being squeezed out of the property market by corporate owners with better buying power.

As dairy farms become larger and more expensive, corporate ownership is becoming more prevalent.

Federated Farmers dairy chairperson Willy Leferink says corporate owners tend to own more than one farm and can use their buying power to negotiate hefty discounts. . .


Rural round-up

03/03/2012

Mount Linton improves ewes’ genetics – Shawn McAvinue:

Dag-laden sheep should be nervous when sheep genetics manager Hamish Bielski enters their paddock on Mt Linton station.

“I want marbles and handgrenades, instead of slops and plops,” he said.

He looks at the lambs’ faecal consistency twice a year, once in autumn and when they are one year old. . .

Kaiwhakahaere used a “Garry Owen” – Gravedodger:

This week I attended the biennial get together  of the High-Country section of Federated Farmers, this year hosted by the Marlborough area centered on the Middle Clarence Valley.
The commencement was at the Kahautara River on Highway 70 and kicked off by current chair, Graeme ‘Stumpy’ Reid. . .

Investment firms eyes southern dairy farms – Shawn McAvinue and Alan Wood:

 A new investment company is looking to buy “attractive” dairy farms in the south.

The dairy farms would be part of an investment fund that opened to investors yesterday.

Investors can buy into the Pastoral Dairy Investments fund with a minimum commitment of $20,000, plus fees. . .

Pig power proves promising:

There’s a new, unlikely energy source that can power farms while reducing greenhouse gas emissions – pig poo.   

A team of scientists at NIWA in Hamilton has developed a system that stores greenhouse gases from pig manure in a deep pond, from where it can be used as an energy source.   

NIWA research engineer Stephan Heubeck said the system reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere while providing an alternative source of energy . . .   

Protocol frustrates export of apples – Che Baker:

Apple exports from Central Otago to Australia will not go ahead this year after “excessive” biosecurity protocols have made exporting to the country uneconomic.

Pipfruit New Zealand director and Ettrick apple grower Stephen Darling said despite a 90-year ban on apple exports from Australia being lifted in 2010, the fruit would not be exported from the region this year.

Trial supports DCD’s environmental value – Gerald Piddock:

New research has confirmed the effectiveness of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) as a tool to reduce environmental impacts of pastoral farming.

The three-year nitrous oxide mitigation research (NOMR) trials commenced in autumn 2009.

They were conducted in the Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury and South Otago dairy regions. . .

Boysenberry growers call it quits after continuing losses – Peter Watson:

The country’s two biggest boysenberry growers have quit the Nelson-based industry after another season blighted by bad weather and a high New Zealand dollar.

Their withdrawal means not only the loss of export income, but the end to hundreds of seasonal jobs which local people, particularly students, relied on to supplement their income.

Both Ranzau Horticulture and Berry Fields have started pulling out about 80 hectares of vines, although an existing grower is to take over 23ha of the Berry Fields’ fruit on McShane Rd and another is interested in running its pick-your-own operation.

Ngai Tahu wants to farm more fish species – Penny Wardle:

Ngai Tahu Seafoods Resources plans to add new species to its 14 hectare Marlborough Sounds mussel farm.

The Christchurch-based iwi-owned firm has applied to the Marlborough District Council for resource consents covering its plans to farm king salmon and hapuku, trial 13 New Zealand fish species and to grow algae and seaweeds at its Beatrix Bay marine farm in Pelorus Sound.

The company intends to grow fish, shellfish and seaweed together to improve production while reducing environmental impacts. Scallops and dredge and pacific oysters as well as mussels are covered in its existing consent. . .

Oysters on lunch menu – Shawn McAvinue:

Skippers say they look great and the first few hundred dozen oysters in from Bluff will be flown up to the Dockside restaurant in Wellington for lunch. And, so the oyster season has begun in what has been tipped to be a bumper year.

The first oyster boat got in to Bluff at 5.05am before heading back out . . .

Dairy Farms could save energy: study:

New Zealand dairy farms could achieve cost-effective annual      energy savings of at least 68.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in the dairy shed, the results of a pilot programme show.   

That was a 10% reduction and equivalent to the annual electricity use of about 7100 households. Individual farms could cut milking-shed electricity consumption by 16%, and a      post-pilot survey showed 46% of farmers would adopt savings technologies if their costs could be recouped within three years.  

Rabbits still a problem – Gerald Piddock:

Rabbit numbers in the eastern Mackenzie Basin have increased post-Christmas, the Canterbury Regional Council says.

The concerning area is 12,000ha and encompasses seven adjoining high country properties, Environment Canterbury (ECan) biodiversity team leader Brent Glentworth said.

The increase could have resulted from the high levels of vegetation this season caused by the wet spring and summer. . .


Raise threshold or hurdles

15/02/2012

The Electoral Commission is urging us all to have our say on the MMP review.

Among the points up for disccussion are:

  • The 5 percent party vote threshold for a party to be eligible for allocation of list seats;
  • The one electorate seat threshold for a party to be eligible for allocation of list seats;
  • The effects of population change on the ratio of electorate seats to list seats;
  • The effect of a party’s candidates winning more seats than the party would be entitled;
  • The capacity of a person to be both a constituency candidate and a list candidate;
  • A party’s ability to determine the order of candidates on its party list and the inability of voters to rank list candidates in order of preference;
  • The capacity of a list MP to stand as a candidate in a by-election;

What isn’t up for discussion is the size of parliament and Maori Seats.

I’ll blog about most of the points separately in the next few days but will start with the threshold.

Gravedodger reckons it should be higher than 5% and I agree – unless the hurdles which organisations must jump to register as political parties are raised.

It’s ridiculous that they need recruit only 500 members.

That’s a tiny number of people to sign up when you look at the potential power MMP gives the wee parties in parliament and even more so in government.

Any other organisation which tried to change the world, or at least this part of it, with the support of no more than 500 members wouldn’t get very far.


2011 in blogging

02/01/2012

One of the services WordPress supplies for its bloggers is an annual report at year’s end.

London Olympic Stadium holds 80,000 people. This blog was viewed about 330,000times in 2011. If it were competing at London Olympic Stadium, it would take about 4 sold-out events for that many people to see it.

In 2011, there were 2,419 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 8,791 posts. There were 93 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was October 20th with 1,947 views . . .

The top referring sites were:

nominister.blogspot.com

kiwiblog.co.nz

nzconservative.blogspot.com

keepingstock.blogspot.com

asianinvasian.blogspot.com (Cactus Kate).

The most active commenters were: Robert Guyton 1008 comments, Gravedodger 604 commments; Andrei 539 comments; PDM 311 comments and Inventory 2 249 comments.

Thank you WordPress and all readers and commenters.

UPDATE: Open Parachute has December’s sitemeter rankings and Whaleoil is now #1 with  260294 unique visitors last month.


Maybe the end of the beginning

22/06/2011

Some Christchurch people will find out the fate of their properties tomorrow with a briefing from Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee:

“As part of this announcement, the government will be presenting options for homeowners with insurance in some of the worst affected areas,” Mr Brownlee said.

“This is the next step in the government’s commitment to providing timely and accurate information to the people of greater Christchurch. While we will not be able to provide all the answers to all residents tomorrow, we will continue to provide regular updates to residents on progress over coming weeks.

“This announcement will provide some certainty for residents in the worst affected areas, and will give them options for their immediate future.”

Gravedodger says everyone is a little bit more fragile. That will be putting it mildly for the people living with the ongoing fear and disruption and Ciaron’s comment at Keeping Stock reminds us of the difficulties facing professionals who are tasked with recovery efforts.

Tomorrow’s announcement won’t be the end of the problems for the people affected nor, as Churchill said the beginning of the end, but it might be the end of the beginning.

“We will be releasing the most up-to-date information we have about the state of the land in greater Christchurch.”


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