Rural round-up

February 8, 2018

NZ needs more water storage in a changing climate:

The importance of water storage in helping provide a reliable supply of water for urban communities, and for food and energy production in a changing climate needs to be recognised, says IrrigationNZ.

“We are seeing the effects of poor future planning for the effects of climate change on water infrastructure overseas, with Cape Town expected to soon run out of water. By ratifying the Paris Agreement in 2016, New Zealand confirmed it will plan for and take action to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Developing more water storage to supply towns, rural communities and for food and energy production is important to protect the future wellbeing of Kiwis,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Dairy product prices climb for third straight auction amid supply concern – Margreet Dietz:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy product prices rose at the Global Dairy Trade auction, rising for the third straight time, as buyers stocked up in anticipation of easing output.

The GDT price index climbed 5.9 percent from the previous auction three weeks ago. The average price was US$3,553 a tonne. Some 22,197 tonnes of product was sold, down from 23,319 tonnes three weeks ago.

Whole milk powder rallied 7.6 percent to US$3,226 a tonne. . .

Have your say: Bill aims to deter livestock theft:

Parliament is now seeking public submissions on a bill aimed at deterring livestock rustling (the theft of livestock from farms or property).

Livestock rustling is estimated to cost the farming community over $120 million each year and is a major threat to farming businesses. It also puts the safety of people in isolated, rural areas at risk because rustlers are often armed. . . 

Bay of Plenty Maori partner with Japan’s Imanaka on high-value dairy products – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A group of Maori organisations has partnered with Japanese food company Imanaka to develop a milk processing plant to make high-value niche products in Kawerau.

Kawerau Dairy is a collaboration between 11 Maori Bay of Plenty entities, which own two thirds of the venture, and Imanaka’s Cedenco Dairy unit, which owns the remaining third. They expect the first stage of the $32 million project to begin operations early next year.

The dairy venture is following the model of the Miraka milk company in Taupo which was set up by Maori interests with an overseas food group as a cornerstone shareholder, with power supplied from Maori geothermal assets and much of the milk supply sourced from local Maori farms. . . 

Eugenie Sage has questions to answer on cancelled land sale:

Eugenie Sage has questions to answer on her reasons for turning down the sale of the Sullivan Mine on the West Coast to Bathurst Coal Limited against the advice of overseas investment officials, National Party Energy and Resources Spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“Ms Sage needs to give an absolute assurance that her views as Conservation Minister and as a Green Party MP have not coloured her statutory role as Minister for Land Information,” Mr Young says.

“Bathurst is a significant investor on the West Coast and Southland, creating jobs and economic activity in each region. . . 

NZ’s first avocado shipment arrives safely in China:

The first airfreighted consignment of fresh New Zealand avocados has arrived safely into China, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

This follows agreement and signing of a protocol on phytosanitary requirements between New Zealand and China last November, and a technical audit of New Zealand’s regulatory system for exporting avocados by Chinese officials in January.

“Securing export access for our avocados into China has been New Zealand’s top horticulture priority,” says MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne. . .

Wellington to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final:

A former cocktail bartender, an award-winning contract milker and a drone-flying drystock farmer will face off in the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Farmers will descend on the nation’s capital for the event on February 24th.

It’s believed to be the first time the regional final has been held in Wellington. . . 

Nominations Open for Silver Fern Farms Co-Op Board Directors:

Nominations are now open for two farmer-elected Board positions on the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Board.

Directors Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox retire by rotation at the Company’s 2017 Annual Meeting.

Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox have advised they will seek re-election.

Nominations close on Monday 5 March 2018 at 5pm. . .. 

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Rural round-up

February 1, 2018

Let ideas flow on water management – Andrew Curtis:

Andrew Curtis is chief executive of IrrigationNZ, a national not-for-profit membership organisation for farmers and growers who use irrigation. It carries out training on efficient water use.

As year’s went, 2017 was a fairly dramatic one. In February, one of the biggest fires in New Zealand history ignited on the Port Hills amid tinder-dry conditions, causing thousands of residents to be evacuated. In March, the Upper North Island was soaked, Auckland experienced its wettest March day in nearly 60 years, and more than 300 homes were flooded.

July brought flooding to Otago and Canterbury, with snow and strong winds in other areas. The end of the year saw a marked change, with many regions experiencing record low levels of rain in November. . .

Remembering rain will come – Sally Rae:

Central Otago farmer Donny Maclean has a saying – ”we’re a day closer to rain than we were yesterday”.

It was important to keep remembering that, he said, as the searing heat continued to beat down on his Omakau farm, reaching temperatures up to 36degC on Monday.

”Central Otago will never let you down. It’ll take you right to the edge [but] it’ll come right in the nick of time,” he said.

Bellfield has been the Maclean family for 125 years and it was the longest period of continual heat Mr Maclean (56) had experienced during his years of farming.

”We’ve never been this hot this long,” he said yesterday. . . 

Long term effect on farmers considered – Simon Hartley:

The public and businesses are being urged to take a long-term view of the drought affecting Otago and Southland, given the compounding factors being faced by all farmers.

The lack of water, rising irrigation costs, failed crops, diminished feed stocks and crop replacement are just some of the issues being faced by farmers in the months ahead, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said, after a medium-scale adverse drought event was declared in parts of Otago and Southland yesterday.

”This drought is going to affect crops for some time yet, going into autumn and winter,” he said, when contacted, yesterday. . . 

Mycoplasma outbreak highlights flaws:

The formation of an action group to provide a voice for and to assist Southland farmers understand and deal with Mycoplasma bovis is a positive move.

It is good to see farmers, veterinarians and other members of the industry working together in the quest to eradicate the bacterial cattle disease.

Eradication remains the focus of the Ministry for Primary Industries and so it should, given the implications of the disease not only for New Zealand’s rural sector, but also the country as a whole. . . 

Exports and imports hit new highs in 2017:

Both exports and imports reached new highs in 2017, as New Zealand earned more from agricultural products and bought more cars and computers, Stats NZ said today.

“The previous high for the value of goods exports in a calendar year was 2014,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The previous high for imports was 2015.”

Annual exports were valued at $53.7 billion for the year ended December 2017, up $5.2 billion (11 percent) from 2016. Dairy products led the rise, up $2.8 billion to $14.0 billion. Meat rose $706 million to $6.6 billion. Logs, wood, and wood articles rose $546 million to $4.7 billion. . .

Monthly exports reach new record in December:

Exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese lifted total exports to a record $5.6 billion in December 2017, Stats NZ said today. Monthly exports were $1.1 billion higher than in December 2016.

“Record export values of dairy products drove total exports to their highest-ever monthly value,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The previous highest values for both dairy exports and total exports were recorded in the 2013/14 dairy export season, when dairy prices were at a high level.” . . 

Comvita will report 1H profit over $3M, confirms annual guidance on normal honey harvest – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita expects to report a “significant turnaround” in its first-half results, with net profit over $3 million, and says it is tracking in line with its full-year guidance after good weather in December and January boosted the honey harvest.

The Te Puke-based company, due to report its earnings for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2017, later this month, said the honey season has progressed to a point where it has early estimates of an average or normal harvest season, though it won’t have full visibility of the crop until April/May. The company’s chief executive Scott Coulter said it was a “welcome return to generally favourable weather conditions conducive to producing honey, compared to the extremely poor season in 2017.” . . 

The changing face of Agritech:

Industries rise, fall and evolve under the constant development of new and innovative technologies. Refrigeration changed how food was supplied, the lightbulb enabled us to utilise more hours in the day, the telephone connected people and the internet distributed information far better and quicker than ever before.

A new a wave of digital technologies is here. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoTs), blockchain, big data, robotics and automation are just some of the technologies currently impacting business. No matter whether it’s banking, engineering, retail or agriculture, these innovations are changing how each sector operates. . .


Rural round-up

December 9, 2017

Culling continues, MPI quashes ‘stories’ – Sally Brooker:

Cattle culling is continuing on the South Canterbury dairy farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis.

All cows have been removed for slaughter from the first two farms in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ ”depopulation” programme.

The number of farms where the bacterial infection has been confirmed since July remains eight, and 21 properties are still under quarantine restrictions.

After all the infected herds are culled, the farms will be disinfected and go into a stand-down period when no cattle will be allowed there.

The ministry has quashed what it said were ”stories circulating in the farming community that M. bovis survives in soil for years”. . . 

Farmers withdraw appeal to save ratepayers’ cash:

Farmers have pulled the plug on an expensive Environment Court hearing but are deeply disillusioned Invercargill City Council turned its back on an option to amicably settle points of difference.

They are disappointed the rural sector is under relentless pressure to deal with contaminants but the city council is being allowed to discharge stormwater containing untreated human waste into some of the same waterways farmers are working hard to improve.

In October four Southland farmers jointly appealed Environment Southland’s decision to grant Invercargill City Council (ICC) consent to discharge urban stormwater into five local waterways.

The discharges include stormwater from roads, hard stand areas, roofs and permeable surfaces, as well as drainage water.  The ICC has acknowledged this stormwater includes raw sewage, due to the deterioration of infrastructure and incorrect pipe connections. . . 

Reducing nitrogen leaching discussed – Sally Brooker:

Pastures containing plantain and Italian ryegrass could help reduce nitrogen leaching without compromising productivity.

At a North Otago Sustainable Land Management (Noslam) workshop at Weston last week, two scientists from the Forages for Reduced Nitrogen Leaching discussed a six-year programme across the dairy, sheep and beef, and arable sectors, involving nine Canterbury farms.

Paul Edwards, from DairyNZ, said the study looked at plants that were better able to take up nitrogen from the soil and that contained less nitrogen themselves. Pasture that reduced the amount of nitrogen a cow took in and had improved metabolisable energy content would improve animal performance and reduce leaching from urine patches. . . 

Dry weather brings warnings – Neal Wallace:

The country could be headed for drought with no widespread rain expected for the next month to provide relief from the sweltering start to summer, Weather Watch head forecaster Philip Duncan says.

Farmers have contacted him concerned at the dry conditions and with little obvious respite he has warned the Ministry for Primary Industries there are signs the country could be in the early phases of a drought.

“I think we’re going into one but it is a long way off being declared.

“It is very dry and some areas on the east coast of both islands and north of Auckland towards Whangarei are the areas to watch. . . 

Advice for irrigators over a long, dry summer:

With much of New Zealand experiencing exceptionally dry conditions, IrrigationNZ has some advice for irrigators on how to make the most efficient use of water over summer.

According to NIWA, several areas in the South and North Island came close to or broke low rainfall records during November, with rainfall well below normal for much of Canterbury, the West Coast, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa, Manawatu-Whanganui, and parts of Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, and the Bay of Plenty. . . 

Why demand for British wool is unravelling – Howard Mustoe:

It is in the finest carpets, it is in Harris Tweed, and now you’ll even find it in top-of-the-range beds; but at £1 a kilo, UK wool hasn’t been this cheap in seven years.

Only 14 months ago, it was worth 30% more. So why is wool coming down in price and how come the cost of that soft woollen jumper isn’t coming down as well?

According to Jo Dawson, who has spent 20 years in the wool trade, there are a number of reasons which have combined over time. Since sheep make wool come what may, if wool demand drops, prices can suffer quickly if fleeces go unsold. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 22, 2017

Water tax ‘not about bottlers’ – they’d pay less than 3 per cent, says IrrigationNZ:

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern should not answer questions about the party’s proposed water tax by saying it’s about targeting water bottlers, says IrrigationNZ.

When Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was asked in last night’s TVNZ Leader’s Debate whether rural New Zealand had got offside with her over Labour’s proposed water tax, particularly the farming community, Ms Ardern answered: ‘No. I targeted water bottlers. . . I targeted water bottlers as that’s something New Zealanders wanted, for them to pay their fair share.” . .

Farmers should know they are still appreciated:

Rural New Zealand can easily feel ignored or misunderstood in political discussion these days.

Though this has been a predominantly urban country for many generations now, it is perhaps only in the last two generations that most New Zealanders were not familiar with farming life.

Previously, most would have had a family connection with farming and in many cases personal childhood experience of living on or near farms. So it is no wonder that the Labour Party’s proposals to tax farmers for river pollution and climate change should produce the demonstration in Morrinsville on Monday. . . .

Farmers must have say on water tax – Pam Tipa:

The Labour Party’s water tax policy is “pretty short on details,” and the farming sector needs to have input into a final plan, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons.
“If Labour is in government we would want to work with them to work out how we could best deliver on swimmable rivers, while making sure we don’t ‘crucify’ the primary sector at the same time.”

Parsons says Labour leader Jacinda Ardern had been clear that the party would not lay out all the detail until a decent conversation had been held with those who would be affected if they were in government. . . 

Six months has transformed farming country in once drought-stricken North Canterbury – Pat Deavoll:

What a difference six months has made to North Canterbury, which this time last year was still embroiled in drought.

Regular rainfalls since May have turned brown paddocks green, and farmers moods swing from despondent to optimistic about the summer ahead.

Will Wilding of Te Mania Angus stud at Conway Flat, said he was having “the best spring in a long time.” after three years of drought. . .

DCANZ, DairyNZ and MPI endorse Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam: 

DairyNZ, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have today endorsed the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam, marking New Zealand’s commitment towards global sustainable dairy development.

The Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam signals both a commitment towards feeding the world with safe and sustainable products, and enhancing sustainability. . .

Ballance Farm Environment Awards a boost for work in progress kiwifruit orchard:

Entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards encouraged Whakatane kiwifruit growers Iain and Leanne Blackwood to “sharpen their game”.

The couple both work full time on their 7.95ha orchard, which includes 4ha of SunGold, 0.61ha of Sweet Green (G14) and 3.3ha of Hayward Green.

“We entered after talking to our neighbour’s daughter, who worked for Zespri, encouraged us to have a go,” Iain says.

The Blackwoods were still developing the golden kiwifruit when they were judged. . .


Water tax by the numbers

September 21, 2017

When policy is based on politics rather than logic it’s difficult to work out the cost, but IrrigtionNZ has done the numbers for the water tax:

Recent attempts to estimate the cost of Labour’s proposed water tax to farmers have demonstrated a basic lack of understanding of how irrigation works, says nonprofit membership body IrrigationNZ.

This issue, which is compounded by a lack of detail from Labour about how the tax would be applied, has resulted in some widely varying estimates. Radio New Zealand’s ‘Fact or Fiction’ series calculated the cost for irrigated farms at $13,800 a year, whereas figures from DairyNZ have estimated a figure of $45,000 a year.

On top of this, yesterday Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ there are 12,000 farms in New Zealand and 2,000 of them have irrigation. In fact according to Statistics NZ and the 2012 Agricultural Census there are 58,071 farms in NZ and 10,500 have consent for irrigation. Irrigation NZ estimates the number of irrigated farms is now at around 11,000.

‘The public will rightly be confused by these very different figures,’ says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. ‘But the lack of detail on how Labour would apply a water tax compounded with the sheer number of variables between farms – for example their size, what they produce, and how dry the region is, makes it hard to estimate with accuracy. While recent coverage has focused on the impact on dairy farms – just over half of our irrigated farms are not used for dairy – but for sheep or beef, arable farming, horticulture or vineyards. These farmers and growers will also pay the tax.”

IrrigationNZ has spent the last decade developing a comprehensive suite of standards, codes of practice, guidelines and knowledge resources on irrigation, and now run over 50 training courses a year nationally. IrrigationNZ’s main focus is providing knowledge and training to help irrigators achieve ‘excellence in irrigation.

‘Our figures, based on the average irrigated farm in Canterbury of 220 hectares, show an actual average cost of $24,000 to $29,000 a year (at 2 cents per 1000 litres). We’ve used Canterbury figures because there is no national average figure available for the size of an irrigated farm – but there is for Canterbury, where 60 per cent of irrigated land is.’

‘When this additional cost is put in context of the profit generated by a family farming business – it will create a significant impact, particularly for sheep and beef, arable and vegetable farmers who have reasonably tight operating margins.”

Mr Curtis adds that there will be larger farms and those farmers operating in drier climates who will be facing significantly higher bills of $40,000 to $50,000 or more.

Will non-irrigated farms pay?

While both Radio New Zealand and DairyNZ calculated water tax costs for non-irrigated farms, it remains unclear whether these farms would be paying the tax as it is unclear whether they would qualify as ‘large commercial users of water’. The only users mentioned by Labour are water bottlers and irrigators.

6% of New Zealand farms are irrigated (around 11,000 farms). Regardless of whether other farms may pay some of the tax costs, the majority of the tax will fall on a small subset of farmers.

Calculating a water tax on irrigated farms – key variables:

Type of farming – from dairy, to sheep, arable, or horticulture (DairyNZ’s figures were for dairy farms)
Size of farm
Amount of rainfall
Actual water use vs consented take
Number of days irrigation water is applied
The cost of the tax.
IrrigationNZ has been surprised by the growing number of irrigation experts in NZ.

‘Academics, economists and organisations that wouldn’t have the knowledge to turn on an irrigator are all offering their expert opinions on the cost of a water tax. Anyone talking about the potential cost of a water tax must have some basic understanding of water use by irrigators and not everyone offering an opinion currently seems to have that,” says Andrew Curtis.

‘We’d be happy to run a special course for the growing list of water tax experts – to help people to brush-up on their irrigation knowledge and assumptions.’

Calculating irrigation water use – the backbround

Before entering into the ‘how much will irrigators pay’ debate some basic knowledge of water use by irrigators is required.

‘The key piece of information is 1 mm of rainfall (noting rainfall is measured in millimetres not millilitres) falling over 1 hectare is equivalent to 10m3 which is equivalent to 10,000 litres). This provides some context around the sensationalist numbers being used by some parties around irrigation water use,’ says Andrew Curtis.

“For example over the Canterbury region (4.5 million hectares) an annual rainfall of just under 1,650mm or 74 trillion litres falls. However, we all know this isn’t distributed evenly and that’s why we need to irrigate – to provide additional rain for a crop to grow during dry periods. Under 500 mm falls at the coast, rising to 1,000 mm in the foothills and well over 2,000 mm in the mountains.”

For the 500,000 ha of irrigation in Canterbury (based on a seasonal allocation of 550 mm which is explained below) this means the maximum use for irrigation is 4.5 trillion litres or 6% of the annual rainfall.

“It is important to realise irrigators must hold a consent to take water for irrigation, and this contains a seasonal allocation expressed as a volume in m3. This volume is the maximum amount of water an irrigator is allowed to take and based on 80% application efficiency (the agreed industry standard) and 90% supply reliability,” says Mr Curtis.

Councils use a water allocation tool, such as Irricalc (http://irrigationnz.co.nz/practical-resources/irrigation-development/water-allocation-calculator/) to calculate a farms seasonal irrigation allocation requirements. These tools are based on a daily time step water balance model that uses the local climate and the farms soil water holding properties.

“However, when we case study an individual farm we always base it on the seasonal volume written on their consent – as this is the most likely method through which a water tax charge will be calculated,” says Mr Curtis.

David Clark gives the impact the tax will have on his cropping farm:

 


Water tax won’t work

September 1, 2017

We all want clean water but Labour’s water tax won’t achieve that:

. . .Labour’s water policy of taxing irrigation water is great as it has raised awareness, stimulated debate and attempted to fix the problem. The saddest thing is that it is fundamentally flawed. It has indirectly torn us apart as a country, creating an ‘us and them’ divide between rural and urban communities.

You simply can’t tax one sector of society for a national problem – we are all in this together. We all have to pay.

If individual farmers are causing problems they should be responsible for them and regional councils already have the powers to hold them accountable. But it is wrong to make all irrigators pay a tax to spend cleaning up messes for which they’re not responsible.

The policy has vilified irrigated farmers, portraying them as the sole cause of the issue. This has given urban people the ammunition to point the finger and hide behind the quietly forgotten fact that urban waterways have some of the worst quality in the country – through no fault of agriculture, let alone irrigation. . .

Even in the country, rivers with more irrigation generally have fewer quality problems.

The tax is holding all irrigators responsible for something few, if any, caused and it could have unexpected consequences:

A new survey of irrigators has revealed the potential impact of implementing Labour’s proposal on a water tax, including the news that it is set to lead to more intensive farming.

Key findings from the survey conducted by IrrigationNZ were:

• 40 per cent of farmers said they would need to increase the number of stock on their farm to pay for the water tax

• 63 per cent of farmers and growers said they would reduce their spending in local communities

You can’t spend money twice. Every dollar taken from a farm in water tax is a dollar less to spend and the local community will be the first to feel the impact.

Over 80 per cent of farmers are already carrying environmental improvement work such as fencing off streams or riparian planting – but half of those surveyed said they would have to reduced their spending on this to pay for the water tax

Every dollar taken in water tax is a dollar less for on-farm improvements.

Andrew Curtis, CEO, Irrigation NZ, says: “The survey raises serious concerns about the potential unintended effects of a water tax and whether these outcomes are desirable. Environmental lobby groups who support a water tax blame intensifaction for water quality issues but our survey shows the water tax is set to lead to more intensive farming as well as reduce spending on environmental improvements and spending in rural communities.

“The tax would not just affect farmers but the rural economy, with the potential for job losses in local shops and businesses in many areas of New Zealand.”

Dairy conversions could go up

IrrigationNZ carried out a survey of 124 farmers to gather information on the potential impact of the water tax (at a 2 cents per 1,000 litre charge). Of the 59 arable, sheep, beef or mixed cropping and sheep or beef farmers participating in the survey, 48% said they would consider converting their property to other uses, like dairying, dairy grazing, horticulture and more intensive activities to make their farms viable enough to fund the cost of the tax. Two property owners said they would consider selling up.

One arable farmer explained his reasons for considering converting: “We have continued to hold off converting to dairy, while many around us have done just that. We believe we are doing a good job, but every year our bottom line is diminishing, while we work harder and are more productive. Soon, dairying will be our only viable option.”

Mr Curtis says: “Many people would assume that taxing water would result in less water being used however the results indicate farmers would have less money to spend in investing in more efficient irrigation systems and less to spend on crop monitoring to apply water only when needed.

Every dollar taken in tax is a dollar less for investing in technology which would have environmental benefits.

“Equally, the comments from arable, sheep and beef farmers indicate that many of them would consider moving to more intensive farming such as dairying which would consume more water – not less!”

A group of Maniototo farmers who use irrigation predominantly for sheep and beef farming recently highlighted the impact of the tax in this video. The area is one of New Zealand’s driest and receives only 350-500mls of rain annually. The farmers could face costs of $2.6 million in water taxes and would have the option of selling their farms, reducing their water allocation or converting to dairy farming as a result of the tax.

Environmental improvements already happening

“The results also highlighted that most irrigators are already fencing off waterways and many are carrying out riparian planting work. With that in mind we would question whether a new tax, with its associated administration costs is needed, given this work which is already underway,” he adds.

IrrigationNZ has reiterated its concerns about the water tax in light of the survey results.

“While we understand that many New Zealanders support the concept of a water tax, we question whether they would support some of the outcomes it could create. Labour is talking about raising $650 million to $1 billion from the tax over the next decade. They need to provide the public with an analysis of the impacts of the tax on farms, jobs and the wider economy before people can make an informed decision about whether the tax is a good idea,” says Mr Curtis. “Our survey has thrown up some very concerning issues.”

The survey also raised issues with Labour’s idea of having ready for work unemployed young people access properties, with most of those surveyed having concerns about the health and safety issues liability issues involved.

Survey findings in full

The survey found that costs varied widely if a 2 cents per 1,000 litre tax was introduced:

• 30 per cent of irrigators would pay less than $10,000 per annum

• 19 per cent of irrigators would pay between $10,000 and $20,000 per annum

• 29 per cent of irrigators would pay between $20,000 and $40,000 per annum

• 22 per cent of irrigators would pay $40,000 or more, with the highest individual cited a cost of $175,000 per annum.

Meeting the extra expense

• 40 per cent of farmers said they would need to increase the number of stock on their farm to pay for the water tax

• Of the 59 arable, sheep, beef or mixed cropping and sheep or beef farmers participating in the survey, 48% said they would consider converting their property to other uses, like dairying, dairy grazing, horticulture and more intensive activities to make their farms viable enough to fund the cost of the tax. Two property owners said they would consider selling up.

• 63 per cent of farmers said they would reduce their spending in local communities

• 56 per cent of said they would look at reducing debt payments and 35 per cent of farmers said they would consider increasing debt.

• 27 per cent said they would have to look at either reducing staff hours or laying off staff to meet the tax costs

Environmental Improvements

• 47 per cent had undertaken riparian planting work already

• Over 80 per cent had done one or more of the following – fenced off waterways, undertaken riparian planting, or undertaken some other kind of biodiversity enhancement work

o 74 per cent had already undertaken work to fence off waterways

o 47 per cent had already undertaken riparian planting

o 44 per cent had already undertaken some other form of biodiversity enhancement

People who’ve already done, or are doing, work to protect waterways will be taxed and some of their money will be used to help those who haven’t or aren’t.

• 50 per cent said they would reduce riparian planting, wetland restoration or other biodiversity enhancement work as a result of the tax

• 45 per cent said they would scale back investment in funding more efficient irrigation systems

• 21 per cent said they would reduce back crop monitoring or irrigation scheduling investment.

The survey follows an earlier analysis IrrigationNZ completed on the amount of tax raised by region from the proposed water tax, compared with the swimmability of rivers. The analysis showed that the regions with least swimmable rivers were all located in areas with less than one per cent irrigated land area.

Every day more facts come out to show how bad this policy is.

But as yet none of those facts have had any impact on Labour politicians who have based their policy on emotion.

 

 


Water tax gets worse

August 30, 2017

Labour has changed its mind on the water tax again, making it even worse:

Supporters of Labour’s proposed water tax may be changing their minds when they hear the money raised won’t all be spent on cleaning up rivers.

Labour introduced the water tax proposal with the stated aim to ‘restore our rivers and lakes to a truly swimmable state within a generation’. They even called it a ‘Clean Rivers’ announcement. http://www.labour.org.nz/water

They also said the money would be spent cleaning up rivers in the regions where the money would be raised, from irrigators and water bottlers.

But speaking on RadioLive at the weekend, Labour’s spokesperson on Primary Industries Damien O’Connor backtracked. O’Connor said some of the money would be used to introduce a government subsidy on drinking water improvements. He also said some of the money would be transferred between regions.

It was bad enough that people doing everything right were going to pay to clean up after those who aren’t in their own region, but now the money would go out of the local economy to fix up messes in other parts of the country.

Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand, said: “Supporters of Labour’s proposed water tax are likely to feel let down by the news that the money won’t all be going on cleaning up rivers, as Labour originally said it would. And we know that many of our members will be dismayed that their hard-earned dollars won’t all be going back to rivers in their region.

‘This is yet another example of Labour chopping and changing it’s mind on the water tax. That’s why we can’t support the tax. There are too many unanswered questions.

“This a proposal that could cost $650 million to $1 billion over the next decade.

Labour doesn’t even have a policy setting out how such a huge amount of money would be spent and it hasn’t done any analysis of the impacts of the tax on the economy, jobs and farmers.’

‘It seems to me that Labour’s latest announcements indicate they see this as another opportunity to introduce a new tax to be spent on whatever the government decides.”

The PREFU showed continuing surpluses. There is no need for new or higher taxes.

Not thought through

Andrew Curtis said the constant changes in direction on the water tax over the last few weeks demonstrated Labour did not have a grasp of the issue and hasn’t thought through the implications.

“When they introduced the policy Labour said the tax would vary depending on the scarcity of water, which they’ve since backtracked on after realising that was too complex. They’ve also backtracked on the cost of the tax after telling us it was 2 cents per 1,000 litres, and then saying they hadn’t decided.

“And now we find out the money won’t be spent within the regions it comes from and some of it won’t even be spent on rivers.”

Labour agrees with Irrigation New Zealand on Auckland

Mr O’Connor acknowledged what Irrigation New Zealand have been saying for a while – that the water tax would not solve poor quality rivers in urban areas like Auckland.

He said Auckland ratepayers would need to fund a rates rise to provide money to fix the region’s rivers. Auckland has the least swimmable rivers in New Zealand with 62% of rivers graded poor for swimming, and no rivers graded as good or excellent.

Andrew Curtis said: “At least Labour has now acknowledged that the water tax won’t fix some of the country’s worst rivers. Aucklanders need to realise this too, and that they are facing a higher rates bill.”

Labour has chopped and changed so much on this, it’s difficult to know what their plan is unless it’s to muddy the waters over exactly what they’ll do, in which case they’re succeeding.


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