It’s only another poll

September 20, 2017

This is a good boost for Prime Minister Bill English as he heads into the final leaders’ debate:

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Rural round-up

September 18, 2017

DairyNZ slams farm tax proposals – Hugh Stringleman:

All of New Zealand’s 12,000 dairy farms face an average $18,000-a-year additional taxes under the carbon and nitrogen taxes proposed by the Green Party, DairyNZ has calculated.

Add in the Labour Party’s proposed water tax and those 2000 farms that also irrigate face more than three times the impost, an average of $63,000 per farm.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said details on the proposed new taxes were sketchy, but his economists used what was available from Labour and the Greens to come up with the figures. . .

Sell-off surprise – Alan Williams:

A process for the surprise sale of most Landcorp farms to young people will start very quickly if National is re-elected, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

Landcorp was unaware of the plan till told just before it was announced.

He hoped to have several farms leased to young farmers during the next term.

That would be the first step towards them buying the farms over the next five to 10 years. . . 

From milk to advanced medical nutrition – a farmer’s journey from Southland to Toronto:

Dylan Davidson was a passenger in a car when the driver lost control after a deer ran out. The car rolled and left Dylan with two broken vertebrae in his back and several other injuries. Dylan lost a lot of weight from being in a coma for three weeks, and Dylan’s parents, Paul and Carol Davidson, said the Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) from Fonterra farmers’ milk played a key part in the healing process. The value of milk protein in human nutrition and muscle recovery has been well known for many years – but, as delicious as milk is, it takes litres of whole milk to do what a small amount of milk protein concentrate (MPC) can. . .

Florida’s Farmers Look At Irma’s Damage: ‘Probably The Worst We’ve Seen’ – Dan Charles:

When the worst of Irma’s fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect citrus groves and vegetable fields. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida’s extension office in the town of LaBelle, in the middle of one of the country’s biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.

It took a direct hit from the storm. “The eyewall came right over our main production area,” McAvoy says.

The groves of orange and grapefruit were approaching harvest. But after Irma blew through, it left “50 or 60 percent of the fruit lying in water [or] on the ground,” says McAvoy. Many trees were standing in water, a mortal danger if their roots stay submerged for longer than three or four days. . . 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd on the hunt to fund bold conservation projects:

New Zealand conservation groups committed to broad scale predator eradication are encouraged to lodge an expression of interest for funding and support from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The organisation – tasked with eradicating possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 is seeking Expressions of Interest from regional and local councils, community organisations, mana whenua, businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations and other entities capable of delivering eradication initiatives in line with its 2025 goals. . . 

 


Labour’s no-show

September 15, 2017

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was supposed to visit Coe’s Ford on the Selwyn River to talk about the party’s water tax.

She didn’t show up.

Ms Ardern’s office pulled the plug on the visit, with a message to media saying: “With regret we have had to cancel the Coe’s Ford media event with Jacinda Ardern, due to flooding”.

However when Newshub arrived, the river wasn’t flooded or flooding at all. . . 

Whatever the reason, it wasn’t the only Labour no-show.

Federated Farmers had hosted a meet-the-candidates meeting in Wanaka last Friday.

Labour’s candidate didn’t show up and didn’t have a stand-in.

The Green candidate didn’t show up either but did have a stand-in, MP Eugenie Sage.

She was asked how the water tax would be used to make water cleaner, she couldn’t give a satisfactory answer.

She was asked why farmers who are doing everything right should be taxed to clean up waterways that other people have degraded. She couldn’t give a satisfactory answer.

She was asked why farmers should be taxed to clean up urban waterways. She couldn’t give a satisfactory answer.

I ran into the Labour candidate when I went to vote on Monday.

I asked her how campaigning was going. She said it was busy and Waitaki was a huge electorate.

I said I knew that, adding that I’d been at the Wanaka meeting and noticed she hadn’t.

She said she had to pay all her own expenses and couldn’t afford to go.

I’ve since learned that neither she nor the Green candidate went to meetings in Cromwell, Fairlie and Waimate.

It’s not easy campaigning in seats you have no chance of winning and it’s both harder and more expensive in the rural seats which cover such a big area.

But the no-shows could also be seen as a reflection on how little respect Labour and the Green Party have for the regions and rural issues.

 

 

 


How much more do you want to pay for food?

September 14, 2017

We don’t know all the details but we do know that a Labour-Green government would impose new taxes on farming:

Green Party and Labour Party policymakers want to hit dairy farmers with a trifecta of environmental taxes that could cost an average of $18,000 per year for each farm, and for those farmers that draw water for irrigation the cost would be in excess of $63,000 per year, says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“But unlike winning the trifecta at the horse races, there’s nothing for New Zealand’s dairy farmers to celebrate,” says Dr Mackle.  “Our economists calculate that the proposed carbon tax would add an average of $6,850 to each farm’s costs, the nitrogen pollution tax would add $11,232 per farm – and then there’s Labour’s proposed water use tax which would add a further $45,000 average for farms irrigating.”   He notes that of New Zealand’s 12,000 dairy herds, 2,000 use irrigation.

“The tax trifecta would severely reduce dairy farm profitability, and possibly require additional borrowing for some farmers to meet expenditure.  It would impact the success of our rural economy, and put at stake the livelihood of our rural communities.” 

It would also inevitably lead to an increase in the cost of food, and that’s without a land and capital gains tax.

Dr Mackle says if a political party had asked him what the dairy sector wanted from Government, he would have said an economy-wide plan outlining the emission reduction expectations for each sector over the longer term.

“Targeting farmers this severely and swiftly does little to incentivise mitigation, and ignores the hard work farmers have been voluntarily doing themselves to lessen emissions.

“Dairy farmers have been operating in a climate of uncertainty with no indication of when they would be faced with a charge for agricultural emissions. Despite this, we have put the Dairy Action for Climate Change plan in place so that all farmers now know what they can be doing right now to reduce their carbon emissions.”

He says the Greens’ leader James Shaw welcomed the climate change plan when it was announced in June.

“He’s well aware of the work currently underway. However, what might be a surprise to him is that we support the concept of a climate commission, and the idea of clear carbon budgets so the dairy sector can plan for the future.”

Dr Mackle adds that the Dairy Action for Climate Change plan is in partnership with Fonterra, and has the support of the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Primary Industries.

“It dovetails with the work of the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG), a joint sector and Government reference group. BERG’s purpose is to build robust and agreed evidence on what farmers – that’s dairy, beef, sheep and deer – and the horticultural sector can do to reduce emissions, and to assess the costs and opportunities of doing so. BERG’s final report is due later on this year, and will be vital in informing future policy development on agricultural emissions.”

He says New Zealand is acknowledged as a world-leader for efficiently producing milk on a greenhouse gas per unit of milk basis, as reported by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“And we’re committed to doing even better, but it must be understood by everyone, including the Government of the day, that climate change is too complicated for each sector to attempt to address on its own.

“Rather than strongly taxing dairy, we want strong Government direction to get all sectors – rural and urban – to work together through an economy-wide plan to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions over the longer term.”

Brendan Moyle writing at Sciblogs has calculated the cost if agriculture is forced into the ETS:

. . . Some back-of-the-envelope calculations show putting agriculture into the ETS isn’t straightforward. Supposing the price of carbon is say, $16 per tonne, and 1 kg of beef protein takes the FAO average (see below) of 342kg of CO2 emissions.  If a beef cattle yields 200-250 kg of meat (about 1/6th of which is protein), then that’s about 40kg of protein. That’s associated with about 13-14 tonnes of CO2. So that’s an additional cost of about $200 per beef steer. Any way you play with these numbers, the cost of sheep, beef and dairy farming in NZ is going to rise dramatically. . . 

If the cost of farming increases dramatically profitability drops and the price of food will increase.

If emissions drop here it will be because herd numbers drop. Out competitors in other countries will take up the slack and global emissions will increase because they aren’t nearly as efficient as we are.

Until science comes up with ways to reduce emissions, forcing agriculture into the ETS is just tax for tax’s sake.

It will hit farmers and the New Zealand economy without improving the environment.

Rather than leading to environmental improvement it will lead to an increase in emissions in other countries whose governments are sensible enough to leave agriculture out of their emissions targets.


Rural round-up

September 13, 2017

Election stunt doomed to fail – Pam Tipa:

The Greens’ proposed ‘nitrogen tax’ is a vote catching policy which is highly unlikely to see the light of day, says Federated Farmers vice-president and dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard.

However the problem with such an election stunt is that it perpetrates misconceptions, he says.

“The best way of improving waterways where they need to be improved is by a catchment focus basis,” he told Dairy News.

“With the Greens’ policy, they are focusing on just nitrogen and only from one source. If a catchment has an issue with nitrogen you need to focus on it from all sources.

“Nitrogen is not the issue in all catchments; if swimmability is what people are after then it’s E.coli they need to be looking at; sediment may be a big factor.” . . 

Penalize abusers not users of water – Tim Cadogan:

Before I write another word, I need to make two very clear points.

Firstly; I am outraged that New Zealand’s waterways have been degraded over the last decade or two to the point that many are unswimmable and/or devoid of wildlife. This should never have happened and, as a nation, we must work together to fix this.

Secondly; I am apolitical. Any comments I make here in relation to Labour’s proposed irrigation tax/royalty would be made by me whether the idea was coming from Labour, National, Greens or whoever. My job is to stand up, as I see best, for Central Otago, no matter who is on the other side.

On that basis; I wrote a letter to Jacinda Ardern pointing out what I saw as the unfairness of the irrigation tax/royalty as proposed by Labour, but set in a tone of “something needs done”. I stand by the comments I made in that letter. . .

Lamb prices reach record highs – Jemma Brackebush:

Farmers say it’s been a fantastic season for lamb, as a global shortage of the meat is pushing up the prices.

Ewes are being sold with new season lambs, fetching up to $170 at sales.

Chilled export lamb prices have reached historically high levels, with the average price of $14.50 per kg, a 20 percent increase on the year before, according to AgriHQ.

Bright-coloured stock trucks line the streets of Feilding every Friday morning, as sheep and cattle are carted from around the district and brought to the yards, which lie in the centre of town. . .  

The Sunday roast is a ritual of the past – Amy Williams:

You could be forgiven for thinking millennials are to blame for the demise of the Sunday roast and that smashed avocado on toast has replaced a great family tradition.

After all, at almost $5 each, a kilogram of avocados will set you back about the same amount as a leg of lamb. It’s the modern-day equivalent.

The time-honoured tradition of eating a weekly roast meal was alive in New Zealand until at least the 1980s when a cut of fatty lamb was cooked well-done till browned and blackened, accompanied by vegetables cooked in the meaty juices.

But then fat became the enemy and now we’re more aware of our health, our wallets and the environment and, if you’re like me, eating a leg of lamb each week is extravagant for all those reasons. . . 

No farms, no food, no future.

Blue cod catch limit discussed – Hamish MacLean:

Recreational bag limits for blue cod are some of the most liberal in the country off the Dunedin and North Otago coasts — and they could be about to drop.

At the weekend, up to 140 — mostly recreational — fishermen attended two drop-in sessions hosted by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), in Dunedin and Moeraki, in the first stage of public consultation on its proposed national strategy for the native fish. A further 800 people had filled in the online survey, MPI Dunedin team manager Allen Frazer said.

There was a queue to get into  the building at 1pm on Sunday at  Coronation Hall, in Moeraki. . .

Town’s bid to be dark sky community – Jono Edwards:

Naseby’s residents have stars in their eyes as the village edges closer to becoming New Zealand’s first internationally recognised Dark Sky Community.

Naseby Vision plans to submit its application to the International Dark-Sky Association in December, after about a year of planning.

To support the bid, the Maniototo Community Board last week decided to officially endorse the project.

Naseby Vision chairman John Crawford said this was an important and necessary step.

“The mayor has written a letter of support and some other groups are doing the same. We’ve got to show the wider community is on board.” . . 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd on the hunt to fund bold conservation projects:

 New Zealand conservation groups committed to broad scale predator eradication are encouraged to lodge an expression of interest for funding and support from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The organisation – tasked with eradicating possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 is seeking Expressions of Interest from regional and local councils, community organisations, mana whenua, businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations and other entities capable of delivering eradication initiatives in line with its 2025 goals.

The 2025 goals include enlarging target predator suppression to an additional one million hectares of mainland New Zealand, eradicating predators from at least 20,000 hectares of mainland New Zealand without the use of fences, eradicating all predators from New Zealand’s island nature reserves and achieving a breakthrough science solution capable of eradicating at least one small mammalian predator from the mainland. . . 


Rural round-up

August 29, 2017

A2 Milk outperforms once again – Keith Woodford:

The a2 Milk Company (ATM) took a big step forward with its 2016/17 results which were released on 23 August. Sales were up 56 percent from the previous year to $549 million, and post-tax profits tripled to $NZ90 million. The market was impressed.

Everyone knew that a strong result was in the offing, and so the shares had already risen 50 percent over the preceding three months, and almost trebled in value on a 12-month basis. The share price then rose another 15 percent over the following three days to close at $5.74 at week’s end.

The most important messages within the annual report were not about the present but the future. The picture drawn by CEO Geoff Babidge was of a fast-growing company with no debt and lots of free cash in the bank to fund ongoing developments. . . 

A School of Rural Medicine to be established:

The Government will establish a new School of Rural Medicine within the next three years to produce more doctors for our rural communities, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

“Every New Zealander deserves quality healthcare services, and we want to grow the number of doctors in rural and regional areas to make it easier for people in those areas to access other key health services,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“The new School of Rural Medicine will be specifically geared toward meeting the challenges faced by high need and rural areas of the country, and will produce around 60 additional doctors per year. . . 

Primary industries feel under siege as prospect of Labour-led government firms:

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The divide between regional and urban politics is being thrown into ever sharpening contrast as the election campaign unfolds. Agricultural industries and rural communities feel under siege in the looming election.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, weeks ago the chances of a Labour-led government seemed unlikely, but now the chance of this happening seems possible with policies which could prove ruinous for NZ’s main export industries.

Labour will tax users of water, including farmers (but not those companies using municipal supplies). Both the Greens and Labour are committed to bringing agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and say the carbon price should be higher. They have not stated how high they want animal emissions to be taxed. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to vote on ending Ruataniwha funding, writing-off $14M debt – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will vote this week on whether to stop any further investment in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme and write-off a $14 million debt owed by its investment company.

The vote on Wednesday comes as a result of a report into options following the Supreme Court decision to reject a Department of Conservation land swap need to create the storage scheme reservoir. 

The council’s investment arm, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co (HBRIC), owes $14 million to the council made up of $7 million of charges and $7 million of cash advances, according to the council report. For its part, HBRIC has an intangible asset of $19.5 million on its books related to the feasibility and development costs of RWSS. This was funded with the $14 million advance from the council and $5.5 million from external debt. . . 

Feds Wonder Why We Would Need A Tourist Tax?:

Labour’s suggestion of taxing international visitors to raise funds to pay for tourism infrastructure raises questions about why we can’t find the money already from existing tax.

Federated Farmers has been concerned about the pressure councils, particularly small rural councils, are under to maintain services for tourists, including public toilets and other facilities.

“We agree that tourism is placing increasing pressure on our nation’s infrastructure and these costs are being unfairly borne by regional economies.

“But surely it is possible to find the additional targeted funding for councils in need from within this already increasing area of tax take?” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Behind the hype of lab-grown meat -Ryan F. Mandelbaum:

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells. One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger. And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat. Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals. But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture. Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market. . .

Wine exports reach record high:

The export value of New Zealand wine has reached a record high according to the 2017 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers. Now valued at $1.66 billion, up 6% in June year end 2017, wine now stands as New Zealand’s fifth largest goods export.

Over the past two decades the wine industry has achieved average annual export growth of 17% a year states the Report. “With diversified markets and a strong upward trajectory, the industry is in good shape to achieve $2 billion of exports by 2020” said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

More Kiwis than ever are enjoying speciality cheese:

As Kiwis prepare to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month, sales data shows we are enjoying more locally made cheese than ever before.

Nielsen data shows supermarket sales of New Zealand Specialty cheese have increased in value by 6% in the 12 months to August 2017 . What’s more, in the first quarter of 2017 Nielsen says 771, 383 Kiwi purchased specialty cheese, an increase of more than 20% compared with the same period in 2014 .

Every October the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) members host a variety of tastings, inviting cultured Kiwis to events across the country to meet cheese makers and taste their wares. . . 

Largest ever Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

2017 sees the largest National Final ever held for the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition. Taking place next Tuesday 29th August at Villa Maria in Marlborough, there will be a total of six national finalists representing six of our wine regions: Tim Adams – Auckland/Northern; Ben Richards – Hawke’s Bay; Ben McNab Jones – Wairarapa; Laurie Stradling – Nelson; Anthony Walsh – Marlborough and Annabel Bulk – Central Otago.

Bulk is the first woman in the competition since 2011, so it is great to see viticulture is very much a serious career option for both men and women. . .  


MoU is MoM

August 25, 2017

The Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party did a lot more for the latter than the former.

The Greens had everything to gain at the cost of Labour which only lost.

Often it was less a MoU and more a MoM – memo of misunderstanding

Any pretence the agreement is worth anything is useless now when the Greens have done a u-turn and decided to stand candidates in Ohariu.

They might try to say it is to maximise the party vote, and that will be one motivation. But James Shaw’s refusal to endorse the Labour candidate makes it something more.

One poll shows it has less than 5% support and a couple of others show it above the threshold but at only half the level of support it had a few weeks ago. The Greens without the safety net of an electorate seat are now fighting for survival.

Taking votes, whether they be electorate or list, from Labour, in the process, won’t worry them.

On the AM Show* yesterday morning, host Duncan Garner gave Shaw several opportunities to endorse the Labour candidate and he refused to do so.

The winner in this is National’s candidate Brett Hudson who has worked as a list MP based in Ohariu for three years as a Green candidate will split the opposition vote.

The Green Party has a new candidate in Hutt South, after the previous one pulled out a few weeks ago. That is good news for National list MP Chris Bishop who seriously eroded the majority of Labour MP Trevor Mallard last election.

Mallard is standing list only and Bishop, who has had a deservedly high profile in the electorate in the last three years, was odds-on to take the seat against a newcomer. His chances are even better now the Green candidate will split the vote in this seat too.

All of this begs the question: if Labour and the Green Party can’t play nicely in opposition, what chance would they have of doing so in government?

* Newshub covers the interview here but makes no mention of Shaw’s repeated refusal to endorse the Labour candidate.

 


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