Rural round-up

13/04/2021

Red meat retreat – Neal Wallace:

This year’s prime lamb production is headed to be the lowest on record, reflecting low farmer confidence, and could result in fewer ewe numbers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is warning.

The number of lambs likely to be processed this season is estimated at 18.2 million, a drop of 4.5%, or 900,000, compared to 2019-20, with total export production of 347,600 tonnes bone-in.

“This will be the lowest lamb production on record. Confidence in the industry is subdued,” the B+LNZ report said.

“Farm gate prices have eased from recent high levels, farmers are wary of the volatility of weather events and environmental regulation is weighing heavily on morale. Forestry is also spreading into sheep farming land. . .

Bills on tax creep and sound law-making deserve public debate – Feds:

A government committed to fairness and responsible law-making should not allow two bills recently drawn from the Member’s Ballot to sink without debate, Federated Farmers says.

“At the very least the Regulatory Standards Bill and the Income Tax (Adjustment of Taxable Income Ranges) Amendment Bill deserve to go to select committee for examination and public submissions,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

The Regulatory Standards Bill would require any proposed legislation to be subject to clear analysis of the problem the legislation is aimed at solving, a thorough cost-benefit analysis of expected outcomes and adequate consultation with affected parties.

“Quite frankly with such requirements, the Essential Freshwater legislation and the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill – to name just two recent examples – would not have got through as written,” Andrew said. . . 

Resting in fleece – Annette Scott:

Choosing an end of life in wool has become a popular option as woollen caskets take off in New Zealand.

Ten years ago when Polly and Ross McGuckin launched Natural Legacy woollen caskets in NZ the idea struggled to gain traction.

“We were seen as eco warriors, there wasn’t the interest then, I was flogging a dead horse, but now people are waking up, the public is listening and the table is turning,” Polly McGuckin said.

“The world is changing and funeral homes want to do the right thing by being eco-friendly and sustainable – it’s a lot easier to talk about wool now, every year we are seeing interest grow. . . .

Love of the land a Shaw thing:

Farm Environment Plans are not just about cows, grass and other farm management practices, says Ross Shaw – they are an integral part of any farmer’s connection to the land.

Shaw, along with wife Karla and parents Jim and Helen, have a deep and strongly held philosophy about the land. That dovetails with his recent enthusiastic embrace of a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) – one of the many compulsory (by 2025) calls on farmers’ time and wallets in order to improve nutrient management and reduce farming’s impact on water quality.

Jim and Helen Shaw bought the Reporoa property 36 years ago when it was 62 hectares and with 150 cows; it’s now 400ha, with many more cows and farmed, for the last 13 years, with Ross and Karla.

It is also the subject of a long-held family belief in multi-generational farming and what that means in terms of custodianship of the land: “We are like most New Zealand farmers – we want to be here for multi-generations,” Ross says.  “We were farming in our own right [before joining up with his parents] and our kids will be the third generation on this farm. . . 

Relief in Australia as welcome mat goes out for New Zealand shearers – Sally Murphy:

Australian farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as much needed New Zealand shearers will now be able to travel over for their busy spring season.

Covid-19 border closures have meant nearly 500 New Zealand shearers who normally travel to Australia to help out have been unable to.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said it’s been tough going with farmers paying almost double per sheep to have them shorn.

“It’s been really tough and there’s been months of delays. The standard rate over here for shearing a sheep is $A3.24 [$NZ3.51] but now in New South Wales which has about 40 percent of the country’s sheep it’s hard to get a shear for under $A3.72. . . 

China trade tactics didn’t hurt AUstralia as anticipated – Jamieson Murphy:

CHINA’S aggressive trade tariffs have cost the Australian economy millions of dollars, but the damage isn’t anywhere nearly as bad as originally anticipated, according to leading think tank economists.

Across the affected commodities, trade to China is down about 78 per cent. But the trade sanctions took place against the backdrop of COVID-19 which “significantly clouds the picture”, Lowy Institute lead economist Roland Rajah said. 

Nonetheless, one can parse the evidence to arrive at some conclusions and it would seem the impact has in fact been quite limited,” Mr Rajah said.

“Exports to China have predictably collapsed in the areas hit by sanctions, but most of this lost trade seems to have found other markets.”. . .


Stop tax increases by stealth

09/04/2021

National is seeking to stop tax increases by stealth:

National is committed to letting Kiwis keep more of what they earn and has proposed new legislation that will end tax hikes by stealth, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges says.

Mr Bridges’ Income Tax (Adjustment of Taxable Income Ranges) Amendment Bill, drawn from the Member’s Ballot today, will require tax thresholds to be adjusted every three years in line with the cost of living. This will mean that within a year, after every election, Treasury will advise the Government on how much the thresholds should be adjusted for inflation.

“This will stop New Zealanders moving into higher tax brackets even when their income isn’t keeping up with the rising cost of living, putting an end to inflation being an annual tax increase by stealth.

“New Zealanders will be able to keep more of what they earn, helping them stay on top of rising costs for necessities like petrol, rent and electricity.

“The Tax Working Group advised the Government that bracket creep could lead to as much as $1.7 billion in stealth tax increases in a given year. The Government is taking more than it needs, only to waste billions on bad spending.

If passed into law, this change will make a real difference, Mr Bridges says.

“It will mean Kiwis can keep more their own money in their own bank accounts,” Mr Bridges says.

“This law change shows how committed National is to helping New Zealanders get ahead.

“There is widespread agreement that bracket creep is a hidden tax increase on hard working New Zealanders, and I urge Finance Minister Grant Robertson to stop taxing Kiwis by stealth and wholeheartedly support this law change through all stages.”

The Taxpayers’ Union applauds the Bill:

. . . Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “From a taxpayer perspective, this is one of the most important private members’ bills we’ll see in our lifetime. For decades successive governments have exploited inflation to sneakily increase the average tax rates levied on New Zealanders. It’s a stealthy, dishonest tax hike that makes a liar of any politician who promises ‘no new taxes’.”

The Taxpayers’ Union has campaigned against bracket creep since 2016. In a submission to the Tax Working Group, the Union highlighted bracket creep as the ‘under-arm bowling of our tax system’, explaining: Inflation sees taxpayers’ nominal incomes, but not real incomes, increase. Because income tax thresholds are fixed, taxpayers face a higher proportion of their income lost to income tax, without any corresponding increase to their real income.

“Take our 30 percent income tax rate. When it was introduced in 2010 for income over $70,000, that was the equivalent of $83,000 in today’s money. That meant only high earners were hit. But today, $70,000 is an unremarkable salary. It’s atrocious that middle-income New Zealanders are forced to give up 30 percent of any pay rise to the taxman.”

“Labour has no good reason to block this bill. They’ve already rushed through unannounced taxes on housing, so they don’t need extra revenue. In fact, under Bridges’s bill, the Minister of Finance could still veto bracket adjustments on a case by case basis. Of course, he’d have to explain himself to New Zealanders, but he shouldn’t be afraid of accountability.”

Having no good reason to block the bill might not be enough to stop Labour doing that.

But if it is serious about its quest for wellbeing and the need for kindness, it will do the right thing and back this bill to stop the stealthy tax increases by adjusting thresholds in line with inflation.


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