Rural round-up

February 27, 2019

South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam an example for the country – Joanne Holden:

Opuha Dam is a water storage “success story” National MPs would like to see adopted around the country.

The 20-year-old dam was the first stop on Friday for National’s Primary Industries Caucus Committee – hosted by Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon – as they toured Mid and South Canterbury’s primary industry spots.

On the trip were MPs Nathan Guy, Jacqui Dean, Matt King, Hamish Walker, and List MP Maureen Pugh, who also visited Heartland Potato Chips in Washdyke, the Managed Aquifer Recharge in Hinds, and spoke to South Canterbury community members about the future of primary industries. . .

 

Farm conflicts in tourist hotspot – Neal Wallace:

A billionaire lives on a lifestyle property on one side of Chris and Emma Dagg’s Queenstown farm. On the other is a multi-millionaire.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The exclusive Millbrook Resort is nearby and actor Tom Cruise was a neighbour while filming in New Zealand.

The Daggs’ 424ha farm in the Wakatipu Basin between Queenstown and Arrowtown includes some of NZ’s most sort after land for residential development.

A short drive from Queenstown, the rural setting provides a desirable place for the rich and famous to live, putting pressure on landowners in a region short of land, houses and sections. . . 

Rain in Waikato a good start – more please, farmers say:

Rain in Waikato was good news for farmers but more is needed to keep the threat of drought at bay. 

Until the weekend, the region had only received 0.4 millimetres of rain leaving soil moisture levels dangerously low. 

Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said the 10 millimetres of rain received over the weekend “was a good start”.  . . 

Lanercost open to all farmers – Tim Fulton:

The first Future Farm is contributing to the rehabilitation of a bruised Canterbury farm and community. Tim Fulton reports.

Visitors to Lanercost can see its potential as a sheep and beef demonstration farm, the lessees say.

The North Canterbury hill country property near Cheviot is 1310ha modelled on a farm at Lincoln that has allowed the dairy industry to assess innovation.

Farmer Carl Forrester and Mendip Hills manager Simon Lee have a lease to run the 1310ha Lanercost in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Lanercost’s owner, the T D Whelan Trust. . .

Loneliness in farming community is ‘heart-breaking’, police officers say

Police officers have highlighted how ‘heart-breaking’ it is to see some farmers suffer from extreme loneliness and isolation. The issue of loneliness in the farming community has been highlighted by Dyfed-Powys Police, who have a small team of specialist rural officers. PC Gerwyn Davies and PCSO Jude Parr are working closely with mental healthy charity the DPJ Foundation. They have referred several farmers to the charity for counselling and mental health support. . . 

Soil ecologist challenges mainstream thinking on climate change – Candace Krebs:

How cropland and pastures are managed is the most effective way to remedy climate change, an approach that isn’t getting the attention it deserves, according to a leading soil ecologist from Australia who speaks around the world on soil health.

“Water that sits on top of the ground will evaporate. Water vapor, caused by water that evaporates because it hasn’t infiltrated, is the greenhouse gas that has increased to the greatest extent since the Industrial Revolution,” said Christine Jones, while speaking at the No Till on the Plains Conference in Wichita in late January. . . 


Sometimes a sausage is just a sausage

February 15, 2019

If all publicity is good publicity the National Party’s latest advertisement has succeeded.

It’s a dig at KiwiFarce KiwiBuild.

One character says it’s good, the second points out that there’d have to be 33 houses built a day to meet its goal and so far it’s built only 33.

The third character who is barbecuing says that’s Labour, all sizzle no sausage.

So far so good, except that the character who thinks the policy is good is  a woman and the other two are men which some people have taken exception to, saying it’s sexist.

Would it be sexist if the one asking the questions was a bloke and at least one of the others was a woman?

No. So why is it sexist if the less informed character is a woman?

Doesn’t that that suggest women aren’t people who can be portrayed as stupid but men could be?

If equality is  the aim, women have to accept the bad with the good.

If equality is the aim, women can’t just be shown in more positive roles.

If equality is the aim, it’s best to look at people as people and not get hung up on gender.

And let’s not lose sight of the message in the clip – KiwiBuild is an expensive mistake.

The priority for housing is not people on well above the average income.

The need isn’t for  two- bedroomsemi-detached houses without garages in Wanaka.

. . .Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said yesterday she considered the houses ”not practical” and ”not functional”.

”The Government expects Wanaka families looking for a home to pay over half a million dollars for a two-bedroom townhouse that doesn’t even have a garage.

”How appealing is a two-bedroomed town house that’s attached to another property by a shared wall, with no garage, and costs upwards of $560,000?

”It’s no wonder no-one wants to buy them.”

Ms Dean said the lack of interest showed how out of touch the Government was ”when it comes to delivering suitable first homes for young Kiwi families”. . .

Not only is the target unachievable, the houses being built are replacing others that would have been built by the private sector.

The Reserve Bank estimates that for every 100 houses built under the government’s KiwiBuild programme over the next three years, between 50 and 75 other houses may not be built because of capacity constraints. . . 

The government should be working to change the root causes of the housing shortage – the Resource Management Act, compliance costs, land availability, infrastructure constraints and skill shortages.

And people who think the National ad is sexist should remember that sometimes a sausage is just a sausage.


One year on

October 26, 2018

It’s a year since the Labour-led (or, if you’re pandering to Winston Peters, the Labour-New Zealand First without mentioning the Green Party) – government was formed.

The sun is still rising in the east as it does regardless of who is in government just as most people’s day-to-day lives carry on regardless of the government.

But governments do stuff and what stands out about the first year of this one is that it’s done a very good job of spending money on people who don’t need it.

One of its first big spends was $2.8 billion for fee-free tertiary study, an expensive misdirection of education dollars to people, most of whom would have been studying anyway and who will go on to earn far more as a result of the qualifications they gain.

Another was the $60 a week payment to people who have babies. This is another scattergun approach that goes to everyone regardless of their circumstances which leaves less for those in genuine need.

The winter energy payment to beneficiaries, including superannuitants, was similarly misdirected. Requiring people to apply for it would have weeded out most of those who didn’t need help and making it less expensive to help those who do.

Then we have KiwiBuild – helping a few people on well above the average income buy a house while failing to address the underlying causes of the housing shortage.

Let’s not forget tax breaks for good looking horses and the regional slush fund.

And of course the plethora of working groups – the latest of which is charged with advising on whether to set up another:

Small business owners will be disappointed to hear that the Government’s Small Business Council is too busy to listen right now because it has been asked to advise on establishing a new working group, National’s Small Business spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“In a classic ‘Yes, Minister’ scenario, the Council has been tasked with advising Small Business Minister Stuart Nash on the establishment of a Small Business Institute, or to put it plainly, a working group will advise on whether to create another working group.

“The Council, which will also advise on its own future beyond June 2019, is one of more than 180 working groups hatched by a Government that came to office without having worked out its policies during nine years in Opposition. It prefers to use $135,000 of taxpayer money to pay for this working group.

“Not only that, but we haven’t heard anything from the Small Business Council since it was unveiled by Mr Nash two months ago. Mr Nash has also been silent, other than to tell us this week that he’s off to Australia to meet his counterparts.

“Small business owners might have thought a priority for this Government would be to listen to a group that makes up 97 per cent of all New Zealand firms and employs more than 600,000 Kiwis, given their confidence has slumped to a 10-year low. But that will have to wait. . . 

It’s not only small businesses that are waiting.

One-year on we’re all still waiting for policies which will make a positive difference where it matters.

This government, whatever you call it, has been very good at rhetoric, very good at giving money to people who don’t need it and sadly very good at mistaking more spending for better spending.

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour’s water tax plans.

The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.

Francine Hore, who farms sheep at Patearoa, says she supports fixing up the nation’s waterways, but many farmers are doing everything they can already. . . 

Lambs hit $7/kg – Annette Scott:

Low global stocks pushing lamb markets above the odds for this season is positive news for the New Zealand sheep industry but farmers are not yet jumping with excitement, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

Latest trade statistics revealed average export prices for both chilled and frozen product were tracking well above any prices seen in recent years, including 2011, the last time NZ saw such strong global demand for lamb.

Demand for chilled lamb had held solid in recent months, driven by the tight supply with chilled prices reaching historically high levels. . . 

Broken business makes comeback – Annette Scott:

From a business that was “essentially broken” to one recording a modest profit in less than 12 months, NZ Yarn is now poised to add value for New Zealand woolgrowers.

Over the past year the Canterbury yarn processor has spun its own turnaround project.

Getting back on its feet to lift returns for farmers and shareholders had been the focus of NZ Yarn’s reinvention, chief executive Colin McKenzie said.

“A year ago the business was essentially broken.

“We have reinvented, repositioned and resized operations and moved from making sizeable losses to recording our first modest profit in July,” McKenzie said. . . 

Millions tune in watch start of fresh NZ milk sales to China through Alibaba – Gerald Piddock:

Milk New Zealand’s trade agreement with global online retailer Alibaba has been launched with millions of Chinese consumers tuning in to watch the event.

The Chinese-owned company’s Collins Road Farm is just south of Hamilton and its 29 New Zealand farms will supply Alibaba with fresh milk to be sold on its online platform.

Organisers of the launch rented a satellite facility for the day to enable it to be live streamed directly to China. In attendance were 10 of China’s biggest social media influencers including Yuni and Joyce, who are known as the Chufei Churan twins in China.

The pair are considered the Chinese Kardashians with social media follower numbers larger than New Zealand’s entire population. They and other influencers videoed the event and the farm directly to their followers in China. . . 

Water royalty point of divergence – Nicole Sharp:

Water and the environment are two of the key talking points for Southern Rural Life readers this coming election. As voting day fast approaches, reporter Nicole Sharp talked to the candidates in the rural electorates of Waitaki and Clutha-Southland about these two issues that will affect rural voters.

Water is crucial to the agricultural sector and all candidates and their parties standing in the Waitaki electorate this upcoming election want to do all they can to preserve water quality now and in the future, they say.

Current Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said National’s new policy statement on freshwater, which was announced last month, would pursue a target of 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. . .

 

Canterbury cropping farmer embraces environmental limits – Tony Benny:

Third-generation Canterbury cropping farmer David Birkett isn’t phased by tougher environmental regulations and says they can even lead to an improved bottom line. He talked to Tony Benny.

David Birkett’s farm is near Leeston, not far from what has been called New Zealand’s most polluted lake, Te Waihora/Ellesmere, and he’s well used to close scrutiny of the environmental effects of farming there by the regional council, members of the public and media.

“There’s a bit of pressure on farmers but they gain out of it, that’s the silly thing. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t bother to try to do the best they can because your bottom line is going to be better,” he says.

“Doing some measuring and making sure you know what’s needed, most of the time you’re actually financially better off than what you’d previously been doing.” . . 

Adding value more than just adding cost – Nigel Malthus:

The term ‘value added’ is too often used as a vague generic, and farmers need to consider specific strategies for adding value, says Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate.

Speaking at the recent Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, Holgate noted that most lamb was still exported frozen, returning $6906/tonne instead of chilled at $11,897/t.

“By and large we’re still treating sheep meat as a commodity market, so the lower value frozen export market still makes up about 80% of what we export, while the higher value chilled market, that’s worth nearly twice as much per tonne, is only 20%. . .


Rural round-up

July 27, 2017

Mycoplasma bovis – Media update Thursday 27 July 2017

Investigations continue in MPI’s response to the detection of the new-to-New Zealand cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis on a farm in South Canterbury.

The situation remains that the bacterial disease has been confirmed on one property.

MPI has this affected property under legal controls restricting the movement of risk goods such as stock and equipment off the farm. . . 

Fonterra Announces Lift in Farmgate Milk Price Forecast for 2017/18:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced an increased forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the upcoming 2018 season, to $6.75 per kilogram of milksolids (kgMS).

The Co-operative also announced a forecast earnings per share range of 45 to 55 cents, making the forecast total available payout to farmers in the 2017/2018 season $7.20 to $7.30, before retentions. Guidance regarding dividend payments will be provided as part of the interim financial results and will be considered by the Board in accordance with its dividend policy. . . 

New videos showcase Rotorua farming practices that help protect water quality:

A new video series has been launched to help farmers protect water quality.

Rotorua farmers, like other farmers throughout New Zealand, are being challenged to reduce nutrient losses from their land, while staying profitable. Excessive nutrient losses from farms and other sources cause water quality problems.

Proposed rules to help protect Lake Rotorua will require most local farmers to substantially reduce nitrogen losses with accompanying good management practices to tackle phosphorus losses. To help farmers to meet these nutrient targets, a series of ten 3-5 minute videos has been produced. . . 

Geographical areas can now be registered:

Wine and spirit producers are now able to register geographical indications, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean says.

“The Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 came into force today, allowing wine and spirit makers to protect and associate themselves with particular regions,” Ms Dean says.

“Geographical indications will help to differentiate New Zealand brands locally and overseas. This will also provide a level of assurance that a product is authentic and holds the specific characteristics associated with its origins. . . 

Do you really know about the food on your table? – Anna Campbell:

I remember the first time I saw a banana tree, I was stunned at the growth patterns of what looked like upside down bananas.

I had a similar amazed reaction when I first saw cotton growing – endless rows of white fluff – when I had only ever seen the finished product. Recently, a news piece came through with the horrifying statistic that 7% of adults in the US believe chocolate milk comes directly from cows. But, is it really such a surprising statistic when you ask yourself what do you really know about the food on your table?

Most of us walk into the supermarket and buy our food from nicely stacked shelves, without thinking much about how it was grown. I am the same, especially for foods grown outside Otago. Most of us know what an apple orchard looks like, but how about a pineapple farm, a cashew nut farm, or even a sugarcane farm? . . 

10 mega myths about farming to remember on your next grocery run – Jenna Gallegos:

Most of us don’t spend our days plowing fields or wrangling cattle. We’re part of the 99 percent of Americans who eat food, but don’t produce it. Because of our intimate relationship with food, and because it’s so crucial to our health and the environment, people should be very concerned about how it’s produced. But we don’t always get it right. Next time you’re at the grocery store, consider these 10 modern myths about the most ancient occupation.

1. Most farms are corporate-owned

This myth is probably the most pervasive on the list. It is also the furthest off-base. Nearly 99 percent of U.S. farms are family-owned. The vast majority of these are small family farms, but the bulk of our food comes from large family farms. . . 

Horticulture magazine wins international award:

Horticulture New Zealand’s magazine for commercial vegetable growers, NZ Grower, has won an international award for its front cover illustration.

One of more than 400 entries for the 2017 Tabbie Awards – from the American based Trade Association Business Publications International – the July 2016 NZ Grower cover was awarded Bronze in the Front Cover – Illustration section. . . 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2017

Meat exports sold to more than 100 countries – Allan Barber:

New Zealand’s meat exporters come in for a lot of criticism, either for selling too cheaply or for not adding value, and certainly because they can’t (or don’t) pay farmers enough for their livestock. This final criticism is presumably a direct result of the first two – the prosecution’s case argues if they sold product at a higher price or added more value, they would automatically be able to pay more for livestock.

Logic says the critics are correct, but they fail to take into account such annoying complications as market demand, tariffs and market access, exchange rates, seasonality, grass growth and the fact lamb in particular is too expensive to be easily converted into affordable ready meals. New Zealand meat exporters have successfully built relationships with overseas supermarket groups, high quality food distributors and top restaurants, as well as food manufacturers and fast food chains. . . 

Course cultivates wider understanding – Sally Rae:

Growing up on a North Otago dairy farm,  Isabelle Keeling’s knowledge of the agricultural sector was limited to the dairy industry.

Taking an agribusiness course has broadened the Columba College pupil’s knowledge of the wider industry. Having never previously studied economics or accounting, Isabelle (16) has been learning about the likes of co-operative business structures and cashflow forecasts.

“I can understand what my dad’s talking about,” she said, during a class at John McGlashan College this week. . . 

Geographical Indications to reinforce wines reputation:

New Zealand wine and spirit makers will soon be able to register their geographical indications, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Jacqui Dean told New Zealand Winegrowers today.

“Legislation to enable the wine industry to formally register their geographical indications in New Zealand is on track to come into force in late July,” Ms Dean says.

“A geographical indication shows that a wine or spirit comes from a specific region, and possesses particular qualities or characteristics as a result. . . 

North Otago farmer on board – Sally Rae:

North Otago farmer Matt Ross has been appointed to the board of LIC (Livestock Improvement Corp).

He replaces retiring long-standing director Alvin Reid while board chairman Murray King has also been reappointed.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie milk 1800 cows on a 580ha property in the Waitaki Valley. The couple won the national Sharemilker of the Year title in 2007. . . 

Farmer’s windblown trees named among world’s most beautiful – Richard Davison:

While windswept vistas are a regular sight in Southland, a group of macrocarpa trees has found worldwide popularity after they were named among the world’s most magnificent. 

US lifestyle website Brightside recently published an online photo article entitled “The 16 Most Beautiful Trees in the World”, in which a stand of windblown macrocarpa from the mainland’s southernmost location – Slope Pt in the Catlins – featured at number three.

The photograph, sourced from Flickr, was taken during a family trip to the area by French-born amateur photographer Ben Rodriguez. . . 

Your organic cotton t-shirt might be worse for the environment than regular cotton – Marc Bain:

The word “organic” is a powerful marketing tool. In clothing—just as in food—brands love to tout their use of organic agricultural products to show they’re doing their part to fight the industry’s outsized environmental footprint. They know consumers want products they believe are better for them and the planet. “Organic,” which generally means something was grown without synthetic additives or pesticides and wasn’t genetically modified, seems to promise as much.

But the reality isn’t always so simple. Your organic cotton t-shirt may have actually used up more resources to produce than one made of conventionally grown cotton, and could have a greater overall impact on the environment.

One major reason, as various speakers pointed out at a May 23 panel held by Cotton Inc., a research group that serves the cotton industry, is that conventional cotton varieties have a higher yield, meaning a single plant will produce more fiber than its organic counterpart. . . 


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


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