## Comparing apples with milk – updated

August 23, 2012

Update: The tech fairy is playing games with this post.

It first made the comments I wrote below the picture, which I found on Facebook, disappear. Then it got rid of the all the links in the side bar.

Because of that I’ve dumped the picture and typed what it said:

If everyone went vegan, would it destroy our economy?

The milk industry uses 1,638,706 hectares of land. With this it employs 45,000 people and earns, \$NZ10.4b in profit annually.

Per hectare of land that is:45000/1638706 = 0.027 employees and 10.4×106 = \$6.346.47 in profit.The horticulture industry uses 121,000 hectares of land. With his, it employs 50,000 people and earns \$NZ 4b in profit annually. Per hectare of land that is 50000/121000 = 0.4 employees and 4×106 /121000 = \$33.057.85 in profit.

Changing land from dairy to horticulture would employ 15 times as many people and improved New Zealand’s profit 5-fold.

No it would probably improve it.

I have no idea if those figures are correct but even if they are, there is a serious problem with the reasoning because it’s not comparing apples with apples.

Not all land which is suitable for dairying is suitable for horticulture.
Many horticulture products are fragile, don’t travel well and have short shelf-lives. If they’re not sold they perish; milk powder travels well and can be stored for ages.
Dairy products are high in protein and calcium, few if any horticulture products have these nutrients.
Markets which want dairy products want dairy products. If they can’t buy ours they’ll buy someone else’s, they won’t swap to fruit and vegetables instead.
The anti-dairy lobby is visible and vocal but if this picture is typical their arguments are long on emotion and short on facts.

## No “only” in imposing cost

August 29, 2011

The Green Party is using MAF profitability statistics to claim its irrigation tax proposal is affordable:

“MAF’s typical dairy farm in Canterbury has a net cash income of \$2.2 million, so even using Irrigation New Zealand’s own hefty numbers for water use, we find that our irrigation charge is only 4.8 percent of income,” Dr Norman said .

Every cent added to cost has to be either absorbed which reduces profitability or passed on by way of increased prices for produce.

“Our charge is 1/100th of a cent per litre. When irrigators are complaining of the high fees they would pay, it just goes to show that they are using massive amounts of our public water resource.

They are also providing employment, producing food and earning export income from which everyone benefits.

“Furthermore, the MAF profitability statistics for 2010/11 show that after paying our suggested charge for irrigation water, Canterbury dairy farmers would still on, average, receive over \$500,000 in farm profit before tax.

Perhaps he could tell Labour that farmers do pay tax.

“Businesses that use public water resources to generate private profit should pay.

Farms aren’t the only businesses which use water, every business does in greater or lesser amounts and it’s private profit which provides jobs and pays taxes.

“A charge on irrigation water is an effective price signal to more efficiently allocate a scarce resource and is in line with the OECD recommendation that we put a price on agricultural uses of water.

We already pay for irrigation and not all irrigation is used for dairying.

Central Otago District Mayor Tony Lepper manages the Earnscleugh Irrigation Scheme, which supplies 110 landowners and covers 1100ha and charges landowners about \$51 per hectare a year.

“With the addition of other small charges, our income is \$65,000 per annum, and with this we run a fantastic co-operative irrigation scheme that is of tremendous benefit to the Central Otago economy,” he said.

“Under the Greens’ new policy and proposed rate of 10c per 1000 litres, we would have to fund an additional \$1.76 million a year, from our landowners.

“You do not have to be a genius to work out what this would do to the viability of our local horticulture and farming businesses.”

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the tax the Greens want to impose on irrigation because they don’t like dairying led to more of it because other land-uses became uneconomic?

Clean water is a basic necessity but there are far better ways of maintaining and improving waterways than  imposing a tax on irrigation.

June 28, 2008

Most city people who move to the country adapt well, but there are always the odd exceptions who can’t, or won’t, understand that agriculture and horticulture are not nine to five businesses; and that necessary activites aren’t always quiet and sweet smelling.

City slickers considering a quieter life in the country be warned: farmers are not going to stop their early morning milking or their dogs from barking so you can get a good night’s sleep.

And some daytime farming practices aren’t exactly seemly:

Waikato Federated Farmers president Stew Wadey said he had fielded a number of complaints from newcomers unused to the smells, sounds and sights in the country.

“We’ve had a straight-laced person from higher society move into a lifestyle block and she was appalled that we had a bull servicing the cows, which is obviously a natural process. She complained it was provocative and pornographic.”

## Fruit Rots for Want of Pickers

June 24, 2008

Australia is borrowing our ideas to help solve their problems with a shortage of seasonal workers:

FRED Tassone is one of scores of operators of orchards, market gardens and vineyards across the country who cannot find enough workers to pick their produce.

Despite more than 460,000 people being officially unemployed in Australia, the chronic labour shortage in the horticulture industry has reached the point where fruit has been left rotting on trees, and vegetables are left in the ground.

The federal Government is evaluating a recently completed trial of a seasonal workers program in New Zealand, generally regarded as successful by government and industry alike. Soon the sight of Pacific Islanders in fields across Australia may be commonplace.

A decision on a pilot of a program allowing Pacific Islanders short-term visas of up to six months is expected in the next few weeks. Pacific leaders have long advocated the freer movement of labour.

The use of Pacific workers helped orchardists in Central Otago last summer, and also added vibrancy to the community. A group of workers, with beautiful voices, used to busk at Wanaka’s Sunday market.

The mining boom in Western Australia has attracted many people who might once have been prepared to do the hard physical work in the orchards and vineyards.

“It doesn’t matter whether the unemployment rate is 5 per cent or 50 per cent, Australia’s unemployed don’t want to do our work,” Mr Tassone said.

“Unskilled workers can make up to \$1200 a week, but Australians just don’t want to do it.”

Jonathan Nathundriwa, 30, from Fiji, who works on a farm next to Mr Tassone’s, said local unemployed people were not interested in the hard physical work required.

On the other hand, the Islanders would be delighted to earn a decent income, Mr Nathundriwa said.

“My family back in Fiji are busting their chops for \$10 a day,” he said.

“I would love to be able to give them employment.”

He could also be talking about the dairy industry here.

Gay Tripodi, who runs stone-fruit operation Murrawee Farms at Swan Hill, in Victoria, said backpackers were not a solution.

“For God’s sake, they’re a nightmare,” she said. “It’s not their fault – most are good kids, but 99 per cent have never been on a farm.

“We need workers who can stay with us for the duration of the season, five to six months.

“We can train them up and then they return to us the following year. We have been really struggling. The situation is dramatic.”

We have a similar problem with people unaccustomed to farms who think they want to work in dairying. It would be great to be able to employ seasonal workers on dairy farms in the same way orchards do. If we could we might look further than the Pacific Islands. We’ve had good workers from Argentina and Chile and neighbours are equally positive about workers from Uruguay.