Rural round-up

July 13, 2020

IrrigationNZ pleased to see Government expenditure on water services across the country – but calls for joined-up approach to all water:

IrrigationNZ believes Government investment in the water sector is a step in the right direction – but calls for a broader strategy to encompass all water infrastructure, including storage and policy development.

Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the Government will invest $761 million for a much-needed upgrade to water services across the country.

IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal says the proposal to reform water service delivery into large-scale multi-regional providers(for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater)will provide greater opportunities for investment in water infrastructure (such as water storage) that will improve outcomes beyond three waters, to include water for irrigation, reallocation, and the environment. . . 

Potatoes NZ anti-dumping tariff application:

On 3rd July 2020 Potatoes NZ submitted an application to Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment for anti-dumping duties on frozen potato products originating in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The application is based on the real threat of material injury to the New Zealand potato industry. 

The threat is a result of huge surplus inventories of frozen potato products and processing potatoes in Belgium and the Netherlands. 

This situation has arisen through the impacts of the Covid-19 global pandemic causing supply chain disruption in hospitality industries worldwide.  . . 

Quality beef bulls wanted:

Making quality beef genetics easier for dairy farmers to access is the aim of a new industry partnership.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics and LIC are collaborating to help fulfil growing demand for beef genetics suitable for New Zealand dairy cows.

The collaboration has seen the creation of the B+LNZ Genetics Dairy Beef Progeny Test, devised to identify quality beef bulls and help enable their widespread use for dairy beef.

Beef breeders can nominate their best bulls for consideration for the programme, with successful bulls then becoming part of the progeny test scheme. . .

Hunting guides welcome High Court decision on DOC’s Tahr plan:

The Professional Hunting Guides Association is welcoming the High Court decision on DoC’s controversial tahr campaign.

The High Court in Wellington was asked on Wednesday by the Tahr Foundation for a judicial review of DoC’s plan to kill thousands of Himalayan Tahr in the Southern Alps.

In a decision released this afternoon, the court ruled in the Tahr Foundation’s favour over the lack of consultation with hunting groups.

Professional Hunting Guides Association president James Cagney says the decision is a huge relief. . . 

High Court decision a win for hunters:

A High Court decision has stopped this clumsy and incompetent Government from destroying a $17 million industry and hundreds of jobs, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage gave permission for a large-scale cull of tahr to start on July 1st. The High Court decided to halt the controversial plan to kill thousands of tahr through the Southern Alps, which is not only a win for hunters, but for the many New Zealanders whose jobs were on the line.

“Eugenie Sage has made this brash decision before where she tried to enact a large-scale cull unsuccessfully. She must go back and consult with hunters and key stakeholders. . .

Welsh govt confirms farmers will adopt green farming:

The Welsh government has confirmed that sustainable farming will remain at the heart of future agriculture support post-Brexit.

An official response has been published to last year’s Sustainable Farming and our Land consultation, which received over 3,300 responses from farmers and landowners.

The consultation proposed that future funding should support farmers who operate sustainable farming systems and protect the environment.

NFU Cymru replied to it by urging the Welsh government to be ‘careful, considered and measured’, and to develop future policy through a ‘process of evolution rather than revolution’. . . 


Rural round-up

June 11, 2020

Open letter on the value of animal agriculture’ – penned by a global farming community:

Almost 70 groups and individuals representing farmers, producers, vets and researchers from across the world have written an “open letter” to highlight the valuable role that animal agriculture has held during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From Europe to the US, from New Zealand to Africa and Canada leading farming associations, agricultural academics, producer associations, and other high-level industry stakeholders are “pushing back” against what is described as “misinformation” around animal agriculture that has circulated throughout the outbreak. . .

DoC leaves concessionaires in the lurch:

The Department of Conservation (DoC) has shown a lack of compassion towards businesses permitted to operate on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

When the border shut, concession holders saw a large chunk of their business dry up overnight. Despite having no income from international visitors, they are still having to pay full concession fees to DOC.

Those affected are often small businesses like cafes and tourism operators. . .

Feral deer sightings spark concern for kauri forests :

Northland residents are being urged to report feral deer sightings after several animals were spotted in the area.

Four deer were recently seen – and one shot – from a helicopter in the Bay of Islands.

Wild deer are classed as an ‘eradication species’ in the north and it is illegal to release or move wild deer in or around the region.

Northland Regional Council biosecurity manager Don McKenzie said Northland is one of the few regions in New Zealand that has no established wild populations of deer and it would be “disastrous” for the area’s kauri forest if this changed. . . 

Protecting NZ fries as part of PNZ pandemic recovery & transformation plan:

Potatoes New Zealand has met with Minister Faafoi this week to discuss investigating the potential importation of heavily discounted frozen potato chips into New Zealand.

With MBIE’s support we are undertaking an investigation to gather evidence of the potential import threat. 

KEY POINTS

    • PNZ want growers to feel confident in the industry recovering from pandemic crisis
    • PNZ want to discourage the Europeans from attempting surplus import
    • We are gathering economic trade data and carrying out public interest analysis . . 

Barley use for brewing and malting ‘lowest in 10 years’ :

Barley usage for the brewing, malting and distilling sector in April has fallen to the lowest figure in over a decade, according to analysis.

New figures – the first full month of data showing the implications of the Covid-19 lockdown – show that barley use for the sector was just 114,700t.

The last time that barley usage for brewing, malting and distilling fell below 120,000t in a month was August 2009, when just 111,500t was used. . . 

Cheese price hits record highs – Lee Miekle:

Dairy prices ended May in far better shape than at the beginning of the month, and block cheese prices entered June Dairy Month at record highs.

The cheese handily topped $2 per pound for the first time since November 2019 in the Memorial Day holiday-shortened week. The 40-pound Cheddar blocks closed Friday at $2.23 per pound, up 29.25 cents, all on unfilled bids, and 51.5 cents above a year ago.

The 500-pound Cheddar barrels finished Friday and the month at $2.0225, up 13.25 cents on the week and 48.25 cents above a year ago. . .


National’s refreshed responsibilities

May 25, 2020

Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.


Rural round-up

May 4, 2020

An apple harvest no-one will ever forget – Nikki Mandow:

Apple growers have filled our fruit bowls and bolstered our export coffers, while harvesting a bumper crop and maintaining strict social distancing for their workforce. It’s been a nightmare.

Simon Easton sounds relaxed. The fourth-generation apple farmer grows 61 hectares of fruit outside Motueka with his brother. They are nearly at the end of this year’s harvest – a week more picking, a month more packing and they’re done.

Easy as. Not.

On a scale of one to 10, Easton reckons his stress levels this season have been up around 9.8. Particularly at the beginning of the pandemic. . .

Coronavirus: Alliance Group adapts to changing global markets -Louisa Steyl:

The rural sector is tipped to help Southland’s economy pull through the coronavirus lockdown. What does that mean for the Alliance Group? Louisa Steyl reports.

Being agile and responding to markets’ rapid changes both domestically and on a global scale will help some companies come through the downturn in the economy.

The Alliance Group, with processing plants in Dannevirke, Levin, Nelson, Oamaru, Timaru and its two Southland-based plants Lorneville and Mataura, has been affected during the lockdown.   . . 

 

Fish and Game review change to refocus:

The recently announced review into Fish and Game needs to ensure the organisation’s focus returns to working in the best interests of anglers and hunters, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“Over recent years there has been tension between Fish and Game and farming groups that has contributed to a rural-urban divide.

“Many prized fishing and hunting spots are on privately owned farmland and there is a lot of goodwill between individual farmers and recreational hunters and anglers in negotiating access. . . 

Kiwis left scratching their heads as butter turns white – Esther Taunton:

Something’s happening to our butter.

Usually a deep yellow, it’s been getting progressively lighter and even farmers are puzzled by its now barely off-white hue.

In a recent tweet, Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford pointed out the change, comparing a block of Anchor butter to his “tan free legs.” . .

Act now, plan ahead – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling through extended drought and increasing feed shortages are being told to act now and plan for winter.

It’s a message farmers in other parts of the country should heed as well, with feed shortages likely to be wide-ranging. 

The southern half of Hawke’s Bay is entering its seventh month of below-normal rainfall and there is no sign of the drought breaking. . .

Learning from Covid: How biosecurity lessons in Asia will help Australia :

As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, a consortium of Australian and New Zealand veterinary scientists has been established to train a new generation of ‘animal disease detectives’ in 11 countries across Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“A year after African swine fever wiped out more than a quarter of the global pig population and with more than 200,000 people dead from COVID-19, equipping veterinarians with the tools for disease outbreak investigation and surveillance has never been more important,” said program leader Associate Professor Navneet Dhand from the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science and Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity. . .


Rural round-up

April 26, 2020

Mental health during a global pandemic:

Farmers are used to adversity. We are used to our livelihoods, and our families effected by forces beyond our control.

We watch as our entire crop is destroyed in a ten-minute storm. We grieve powerless, as disease rips through our herd. And we have seen our food stores burnt to the ground during times of conflict. We watch market prices tank when global production is good, we pray for rain, for markets, for health and for safety. And, on a daily basis we pray for an understanding of who we are and what we do.

Under the pressure of a global pandemic it is suddenly as if the entire world knows a little of what it is to be a farmer. We are perhaps at once the most connected and disconnected as we will ever be, we are a world experiencing fear, failure, grief, anxiety, and hope. And we are experiencing it together and all too often, alone . . 

Rotorua Lakes Council accused of ‘no show’ on SNAs – Felix Desmarais:

Farmers are “disappointed” after Rotorua Lakes Council failed to independently submit on a piece of government policy they say could result in a six percent increase in rates.

But the council says Local Government NZ submitted on its behalf and it does not submit on all proposed policy and legislation changes.

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) closed submissions on 14 March. . .

Review of methane contribution a step in the right direction:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s request to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to review and provide advice to the Government on New Zealand’s international greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Climate Change Commission is best placed to ensure there’s consistency between New Zealand’s international and domestic targets, and to provide scientifically-sound, depoliticised advice to the Government.  We support Minister Shaw’s request to the Commission,” says B+LNZ’s Environment Policy Manager Dylan Muggeridge. 

“The Government took a world leading split-gas approach to the Zero Carbon Act and we ask that the Commission consider if New Zealand’s international target should be recommunicated as a split-gas target. “ . . 

Independent grocers ask for flexibility to open in alert level 3 – Indira Stewart:

The government has been asked for flexibility to allow more independent grocers and other food outlets to fully open at level 3, Horticulture New Zealand says.

The lockdown has crippled produce supply to New Zealanders despite supermarkets staying open and many independent growers and grocers say their businesses might not survive the next few weeks.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said the Covid-19 crisis had stopped nearly 30 percent of fresh produce making it to retail shelves. . .

Hunters should be allowed on conservation land:

Hunting restrictions at level 3 should be relaxed even further to allow for hunting on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“It simply doesn’t make any sense that it’s acceptable to hunt on private land but not conservation land.

“Many hunters don’t have access to private land and rely on their local conservation areas to take part.

“ACC data shows that hunting is a safe recreational activity and that those who participate take health and safety seriously. In terms of fatalities hunting is about six times safer than swimming and three and a half times safer than road cycling. . . .

Farm Environment awards recognise value of NZ farmers:

The Covid-19 lockdown has prompted organisers of New Zealand’s most prestigious farm awards to take an innovative approach when recognising this year’s top farmers.

The Ballance Farm Environment Award’s ceremony schedule was interrupted by the country going into lockdown on March 23, after the announcement of only two regions’ winners, Canterbury and East Coast.

“We were determined to keep up the recognition of our other nine regional winners, even if it meant we had to do away with the ceremony and occasion that accompanies it. So we will kick off on April 22 with our first “on line” ceremony, for the Horizons region,” says James Ryan, general manager for award backers the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 


A pop of positivity

April 9, 2020

We passed the halfway point of the four-week lockdown last night.

There is very little chance we will get out of lockdown earlier and it is too soon to know whether it might extend beyond four weeks.

The decline, slow as it is,  in the number of new cases of Covid-19 gives reason for hope that four weeks might be enough to eliminate the disease, or at least get the spread so low it can be contained and the likelihood of that would be increased if all new arrivals are quarantined.

National launched a petition on Monday  calling for mandatory quarantining at the border and it had an unprecedented response:

. . .With the large number of cases overseas, experts, like epidemiologist Professor Sir David Skegg, say a blanket quarantine is needed to ensure Kiwis with the virus don’t return to the country and nullify any success our domestic lockdown measures have had. 

Likewise, the National Party leader told The AM Show that implementing a mandatory quarantine was about making sure the four-week lockdown wasn’t in vain.

“As we make sacrifices as New Zealanders, as dads can’t see their babies in hospital, as people can’t go to their loved ones’ funerals, let’s do some of the things that really matter,” he said.

“We know where COVID-19 is coming in from, it is offshore, that is where most of the cases are. This is urgent.” . . 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield also appeared supportive of tighter border control on Tuesday.

“I agree with what Professor Skegg was saying, that, actually, if we’re going to go for the elimination approach, which is our extended keep it out, stamp it out, and for when we move down out into Alert Level 3, we need to be very confident we are not letting new cases into the country at the border,” he said. . . 

In the meantime, business not as usual goes on.

The regular newsletter from my MP, Jacqui Dean is usually full of what she’s been doing around the electorate.

The latest one is different as she is working from her lock down base.

She, like other electorate MPs, has been busy helping people in need of support, information  and advice.

She has also had time to notice the good things people and businesses have been doing:

A pop of positivity

Cardona Distillery

I visited Desiree and the team at Cardrona Distillery last year. It’s a wonderful family run business and I was impressed (but not surprised) by their offer of free hand sanitizer to locals who need it.

Prince Albert

We humans are social creatures and The Prince Albert in Wanaka has come up with a clever idea to keep their regulars connected. They’ve moved their weekly quiz night online, something I suspect could be a highlight on many social calendars in the coming weeks.

Bringing out the books

Geraldine’s new bookshop The Page and Post Booksellers has been offering a daily story time session through its Facebook page. Cromwell Community Board Chair and Goldfields School Principal Anna Harrison has done something similar by reading children’s books and posting the videos on YouTube.

Whitestone Taxis

Whitestone Taxis have offered to deliver Meals on Wheels to people in Oamaru without taking payment from Waitaki District Health Services. This news left me in no doubt that there are some absolute gems in this electorate. What a kind and generous offer.

Supermarket superstars

Frontline supermarket staff all deserve a round of applause at the moment but I’d like to give a special mention the owner-operators of supermarkets in our small towns who are going above and beyond in taking orders and delivering groceries to those who need it. I started to compile a list of the towns where this is happening and it just got too long – a wonderful reflection of community spirit.

Digital Libraries

Here’s a quote from the Waitaki District Libraries website that couldn’t be more appropriate in times like these:

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” ~ Anne Herbert

Their buildings may be closed but libraries are still there for you either on the phone, via email or social media, and you get your good reads using the digital platform.

Visit: https://library.waitaki.govt.nz/

https://codc-qldc.govt.nz/

#codclibraries #digitallibraryopen

When so much in the media is bad news, it was refreshing to read this pop of positivity and there’s plenty more.

Riverstone Kitchen chef Bevan Smith is live streaming cooking demonstrations.

Cucina chef Pablo Tacchini is live streaming cooking demonstrations too.

Netball NZ is offering free online fitness classes – Netfit.

Otago Museum has a range of activities including online jigsaw puzzles and Te Papa has online jigsaw puzzles too.

If you can add to th epop of positivity, pleaes do.


Rural round-up

January 19, 2020

Avocado trees killed in Far North orchard :

An avocado orchard in the Far North has been vandalised – alongside the words “water thieves” – in an apparent protest against water usage in the parched region.

Windbreaks have been slashed and graffitied, water pipes have been cut and about 20 trees have been killed over the Christmas period at Mapua Orchard, near Houhora.

Orchard manager Ian Broadhurst said it wasn’t the first time this had happened, but it was definitely the worst.

He said Mapua was part of a wider group of 17 orchards in the region that had applied to the Northland Regional Council for consents to draw water from the Aupōuri aquifer. . . 

Federated Farmers: Mycoplasma Boris tax hit unfair:

Federated Farmers is seeking Ministerial support for a change to tax legislation so farmers whose breeding stock are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort are not disadvantaged by the tax regime.

“Currently farmers whose dairy or beef breeding cows are valued on their books under the National Standard Cost scheme and whose cattle are culled as part of the Mycoplasma bovis response will most likely end up with a hefty tax bill. This is not a fair outcome for affected farmers and we believe it’s an unintended consequence of the tax legislation,” Federated Farmers economics spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . .

All work and no play for southern food producers – Jacqui Dean:

For most of us, the first days of the New Year are spent resting, reflecting and rueing the excesses of the Christmas period.

The ham on the bone is being whittled away, the recycling bin is housing a few too many empty bottles and we’re all hoping that someone else will take the initiative and tidy away the Christmas decorations for another year.

But for a great many people, the early weeks of January are all about work.

With Central Otago accounting for nearly 60 per cent of planted summer fruit orchards in New Zealand, it’s fair to say that all eyes are on this neck of the woods as the country hankers after its fresh produce. . . 

Native trees supply looks tight – Richard Rennie:

The nation’s Billion Trees target by 2028 might be missed by a quarter because of a lack of capacity and resources to meet it.

The goal includes having 200 million native trees planted by 2028. 

However, a survey commissioned by the Forests Ministry survey indicates only 160m native seedlings can be supplied by then. 

That is based on a sustainable growth rate of 7.5% a year for a sector that has had 12-15% growth for the past three years but that has been described unsustainable over any length of time. . . 

‘Unusable’ plastic sitting at Smart Environmental has future in fence posts

Change is on the way for the classic Kiwi fencepost, with a new venture making them out of recycled plastic.

Future Post has joined forces with Smart Environmental’s Kopu site, collecting bales of recycling which will then be turned into fence posts.

The Smart Environmental plant services Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako and Waipā, and Future Post is expecting to save around 15 tonnes of plastic a month.

“It means there’s a reasonable percentage of plastic now being reused; however, there’s still a hell of a lot that is unusable and still has no market,” Smart Environmental’s Waikato and BOP regional manager Layne Sefton said. . . 

Food made from ‘bacterial dust’ is ‘ludicrous’, beef group says :

British beef producers have called a proposal to feed the population with synthetic lab food made from bacteria as ‘ludicrous’.

George Monbiot claimed in the recent documentary ‘Apocalypse Cow’ that conventional farming will end in 50 years time.

Instead of food produced from farms, the human diet will eventually rely on synthetic food made in laboratories, the environmental activist claimed in the show.

Monbiot visited a team of researchers in Finland who unveiled their process for food production – made out of bacteria and water. . .


Busy body slows entrepreneur

November 18, 2019

A 14 year-old running his own business ought to be something to celebrate, but a busy body has slowed him down:

A young Cromwell entrepreneur who runs a garden maintenance company has been banned from riding his lawnmower to jobs.

Johnny O’Neill, 14, set up his successful business J.C. O’Neill Contracting in 2017 and until recently had been driving to jobs around the small Central Otago township on his ride-on 780cc lawnmower.

However, he has been forced to employ a driver to take him to jobs or tow the mower behind his bike after he received a written warning not to drive the mower.

“Police called and said I needed to come in and have a chat about the ride-on mower because someone had complained … It’s too big and apparently has too much power.”

The mower, powered by hydrostatic transmission, travelled up to 5kmh towing a trailer with equipment, and would be lucky to get downhill at 10kmh, he said. . . 

“It’s not exactly going fast … I would class it safer than a push bike. What’s the difference with me going down the footpath with a weed eater on the side and someone mowing their lawn next to the footpath … or a Lime scooter or e-bike that are a lot more dangerous than what a ride on lawn mower would be?” 

He was disappointed a member of the public would try and “put their foot in the way”. The setback was going to cost $25,000 in wages employing someone else, as well as costs running another vehicle.

“It’s taken a lot of long hours and long days to get where we are at. We now service 293 clients a week so it is a bit of a logistical exercise. I do 40 of those myself and the staff do the other 250 … I reckon it is a lot better thing to be doing than sitting at home on your Xbox.”

His company had a turnover of more than $100,000 last year with only himself and a part-time worker, he said.

Police declined to comment for “privacy reasons”.

A NZ Transport Agency spokesman said enforcement in Johnny’s situation was at the discretion of police. . . 

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, is doing her best to help Johnny.

“This country needs talented young people like this who are prepared to get off the couch and give things a go, and they don’t need to be held back by regulation and red tape.”

Amen to that.

The old days weren’t all good, but in times gone by police wouldn’t have worried about “privacy” and would have been more likely to tell the busy-body to mind her or his own business and leave the young entrepreneur to go about his.


Rural round-up

August 2, 2019

Can we make stone soup for rural wellbeing? – Michelle Stevens:

Executive Summary

The fable of Stone Soup tells the tale of a weary stranger arriving at a village. He convinces the villagers to each contribute an ingredient in order to make a meal for everyone to enjoy. The weary stranger elaborately makes use of a simple stone as the key ingredient, to start creating the soup, as a catalyst for the village coming together. As the stranger leaves, the villagers plead for the soup recipe. It is at this point the stranger reveals they have always had the recipe. Simply put, it took each of them making a small contribution which ultimately provided a significant result.

The moral of the story is that there is value in collaboration to achieve a better outcome. The question is – can we make Stone Soup for Rural Wellbeing? Mental health and wellbeing is a wicked problem for New Zealand. This report serves to explore if there is sufficient interest within the agricultural sector to pursue a working arrangement, commercial interest’s aside, in collaborating for the betterment of rural wellbeing. . . 

Zero Carbon Bill targets ‘unachievable’ – retiring National MP :

Outgoing National MP Nathan Guy says the public and government have got quite a way to go to see what shape or form the Zero Carbon Bill ends up in.

Ōtaki MP and opposition agriculture spokesperson Mr Guy told Morning Report the Zero Carbon Bill targets were “too extreme”.

“That methane target range from 24 to 47 percent is unachievable. It’s going to take some magic to get there,” he said.

“Yes, we need to do our part” but it slows down the economy. . . 

Plan threatens lowland farms – Tim Fulton:

A Canterbury farmer is quitting a top land and water post, fearing lowland agriculture is being regulated out of existence.

Rangiora dairy farmer and farm management consultant Dave Ashby is chairman of the Waimakariri zone committee, which recommended policy to Environment Canterbury for a local land and water plan change. The proposed plan change 7 is now up for public submissions. 

Ashby is meantime stepping down as zone committee chairman.

“I need to concentrate on my farm and business. Over 80 meetings and workshops over two years is a large commitment and it’s now time to stick to the knitting,” he said.

He will remain on the zone committee at this stage but is very concerned about the direction the plan is taking. . . 

Central Otago rural midwife crisis worsens

The Government must step up and help the Southern District Health Board as Central Otago’s chronic midwife shortage worsens, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“The board is struggling to fill staffing gaps, with a shortage of relief midwifes affecting Charlotte Jean Maternity, in Alexandra, midwives in Wanaka and the Lakes District Hospital Maternity Unit, in Queenstown.

“I understand board staff are currently working day to day to ensure rosters are filled and that they are really struggling to find staff across the region. . .

Feds scorn firearms register

The practicality and cost of a firearms register will be a waste of money and resources, Federated Farmers says.

The second tranche of proposed Arms Act amendments features a range of tighter controls on firearms ownership and licensing, some of which beg serious questioning. Federated Farmers rural security spokesman Miles Anderson said.

Feds has previously opposed the compulsory registration of all firearms based on the complexity and cost of the process, questionable safety benefits and the likelihood of success.

“We haven’t had a firearms register in New Zealand for almost 40 years.

“The successful re-establishment of one now would require a considerable investment, both economically and socially,” Anderson said. . . 

Grass fed beef can help SOLVE climate change – Dawn Gifford:

150 years ago, much of the Midwest was still covered with chest-deep prairie grassland, providing valuable food and habitat for billions of plant and animal species, including millions of elk, bison and deer. These lands also supported natural environmental processes like carbon sequestration and seasonal flood control.

When Americans first settled the Midwestern prairies, they killed off the natural bison and other ruminants that lived there and began to farm highly fertile, virgin soil that was about 10 percent organic matter. . . 

 


Dangers for the vulnerable

June 25, 2019

Serious question: how do people who believe in minimising the power of the state reconcile that view with support for giving the state the power over the life and death of vulnerable people?

The Bill that seeks to legalise euthanasia would restrict its availability to people with terminal illnesses with less than six months to live.

Doctors can predict how long someone might survive, but they can be wrong.

A year ago a friend was told he had five months to live.

He has just bought a neighbouring farm and is about to launch a newly built boat.

He still has cancer but he is on a drug which has not only kept him alive but is allowing him to live a good life.

Eighteen months ago a friend emailed to say she was on the way to look after her grandchildren because their other grandmother was in the very last stages of life with hours or at best days to live. At the 11th hour she was given a new drug and she now has no signs of the cancer that was killing her.

These are true stories, Jacqui Dean who sat on Parliament’s Health Select Committee, which launched an inquiry in response to a petition calling for a law change to permit medically assisted dying in the event of terminal illness. heard more:

. . . I am opposed to euthanasia, with my resolve only strengthened after sitting on that committee and hearing the heartfelt testimony of hundreds of people who bravely faced death and the families who lost loved ones.

I heard some wonderful stories of love and tenderness, sad stories of heartbreak and loss, stories of great courage and inner strength, and through it all I had the utmost admiration for those who came before us to share their deepest fears and their greatest joys.

The Samoan grandmother who talked of the death of her father – a beautiful and moving family experience which she told us was gentle and loving and filled with prayer.

The woman whose husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour at 28, but who outlived three fatal prognoses and didn’t actually pass away for fourteen years.

This woman pointed out that no-one can predict the final outcome of a terminal illness, and she and her daughter were grateful that they never gave up and that the family got to share those extra years together.

And the blind man who had fought against adversity all of his life and wanted to encourage people to live in hope and not give in to despair.

There were stories of courage and strength, which reflected the best of the human spirit.

Stories from those who made it their life’s work to support the dying through palliative care, and submissions from groups motivated by strong beliefs around death and dying.

We also heard from those approaching the end of their lives.

This included a man, in his 40s who was dying of prostate cancer, who spoke with anger about his life being robbed. And others who said they feared death and wanted to take the pain away as quickly as possible when their time came.

There’s no doubt decisions made at the end of life are emotionally charged, highly personal and reflect circumstances and timing that vary from individual to individual.

The care that people get at this time can make a fundamental difference to people’s experiences.

For that reason, I support the power of good that hospice and palliative care services provide.

Dedicated and diligent guidance from these providers can assist terminally ill people to die peacefully and with dignity.

They believe that if people can come to a place where they can accept their end of life, it can have a huge impact on them and a lasting positive effect on their families.

I was deeply affected by the impassioned testimony the committee also heard from groups representing the disabled, elderly and the mentally ill.

Many of these people genuinely fear for the future if they become a physical or a financial burden on their families. They also questioned whether there could be circumstances where they may be manipulated or pressured into ending their lives.

This worries me deeply. If we legislate for the right to die, the negative impact on vulnerable groups will be huge.

In my heart I simply cannot accept that a law can be developed which will completely protect the vulnerable.

One of the most moving moments of the select committee process came when we heard from a Wellington man who said in the past he had been suicidal.

He recognised the grave consequences if euthanasia was made legal in this country. The option of taking one’s life would become much more normalised and he believed vulnerable people might make a decision that could never be reversed.

Our suicide rates are already too high – we don’t need death by choice as another signal that ending one’s life is OK.  . . 

The Select Committee that dealt with the Bill said it was unworkable. the doctors in the Care Alliance agree with them.:

. . . The Care Alliance, a charity which opposes physician-assisted euthanasia, has taken out a full-page ad in the New Zealand Herald.

The signatories endorse the views of the World Medical Association and New Zealand Medical Association, that euthanasia is unethical, even if made legal.

The letter says it supports effective pain relief and palliative care, and the right for patients to decline treatment if they wish.

But it says crossing the line to assist a person to die would weaken the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr Sinead Donnelly, who organised the letter, said the bill is unworkable.

“The message is that as doctors we don’t want to be part of it. You’re going to, in our view, destroy the profession of medicine by drawing us in to ending the life of our patients and two, the risk to the vulnerable is much too great.”

The letter has been signed by 1061 doctors, of the 17,000 registered doctors in New Zealand. . . 

The NZMA opposes the Bill:

It’s current chair, Kate Baddock said that had not changed and would not. 

“It would be impossible to craft a law that would completely protect people from sublte coercion and it’s also impossible to craft a law that means that people are totally competent,” she said.

“Therefore there should be no law, there should be no euthanasia.”

She is backed up by the Secretary General of the World Medical Association, doctor Otmar Kloiber.

“We have a huge and overwhelming majority that says no, this is not for us, and doctors should not be involved in killing patients,” he said.

“That is a very clear and very broad view which we have.”

Australian ethicist doctor Margaret Somerville spent 40 years in Canada and has nine doctorates, and said it was not over the top to use the word “killing”.

“This is a momentous decision, to say that you will allow intentional killing,” she said.

“You’ve got to be clear about what we really are authorising. This voluntary assisted dying – we all want assistance in dying. And then you give it to the medical profession, the healers in our society, it’s a radical change in our most fundamental values.” . . 

Lawyers have concerns too:

. . .Public lawyer Grant Illingworth QC said it was a very serious issue and mistakes about death and dying could not be undone.

“That’s why we abolished the death penalty in this country,” he said.

“The kind of legislation currently before parliament must contain safeguards that are so clear and so comprehensive, that any possibility of dying by mistake is excluded beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The statute proposed by David Seymour fails to meet that standard by a very wide margin in my opinion.” . . 

Life is terminal, but who can say when it will terminate?

It’s impossible to be precise about how long even very ill people might live and there are very real dangers in giving the state the power over life and death of vulnerable people.


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.


Top 10 fixes for loopy rules

September 22, 2015

The Rules Reduction Task Force, co-chaired by Jacqui Dean MP and Michael Barnett has released its report.

In their introduction they say:

New Zealanders are fed up wasting time and money trying to work with loopy rules. We were tasked with identifying rules and regulations which are not fit-for-purpose and which impose unnecessary bureaucratic burdens on property owners and businesses.

Everyone we heard from has had tales to tell of loopy rules – requirements that are out of date, inconsistent, petty, inefficient, pointless or onerous. These are the things that really annoy people, whether they run a business or own their own home.

In the last few months we have travelled around New Zealand listening to people in their communities. We have also met with councils, sector interest groups, and government agencies.

We thank all those who have candidly shared their frustrations and given us their views on how rules could be changed to make more sense.

We did hear of rules that protect people, the environment, infrastructure and our heritage but which still enable individuals, businesses and our economy to prosper and grow. But we are struck by the number of instances where the good intentions of the rule-makers are somehow lost in the translation to the real world. Examples abound of inappropriate interpretation, over-zealous enforcement, and lack of focus on the customer. (My bold).

New Zealanders have told us they are confused and frustrated by frequent changes in the rules. They are exasperated by inconsistency, time-consuming processes and unreasonable costs. It was a surprise to us to find out that a number of the loopy rules are in fact just myths. They are misinterpretations and misunderstandings that have been repeated so often that they have taken on the status of facts. (My bold).

We heard many examples where people are not clear about what they need to do and why. Myths fill the gap when clear information is hard to find. We highlight these myths in this report along with the loopy rules that need to be changed or removed. We discovered that loopy rules are difficult to get rid of because they’re part of a wider system, because a focus on the customer is absent, or because of the interests of experts or the fears of their administrators. What’s clear is they thrive when rule makers fail to take responsibility for them. Most importantly, we identify opportunities to fix many loopy rules and bust the myths. Our top ten fixes are listed on page 7. We call on both central and local government to stop making more loopy rules.

The legislation which causes most problems are the Resource Management and Building Acts – the source of 32% and 27% of complaints respectively.

They give examples of loopy rules which include:

The rule is not practical The owners of a bus depot structure that has no walls are forced to install four exit signs, just in case people can’t find their way out if there is a fire.

The rule makes no sense The Health and Safety mining regulations define a tunnel as ‘what it is not’ rather than ‘what it is’.

Compliance with the rule defeats its very purpose An owner of a rural property had to spend $30,000 putting in a driveway and watertank to meet the fire requirements. The tank was at the back of the house. When the house caught fire, the fire chief would not drive his truck past the house to the tank in case it caught fire too.

A small change is treated the same as a big change: As part of the refurbishment of an earthquake-damaged building, a pharmacy is being added to the front of a 1950s building. The pharmacy is to be 3.5% of the building. The rest is residential. The pharmacy has triggered the need to upgrade the fire rating of the entire building at a cost of $50,000.

The rule sets a standard that can never be achieved: Converting a shop into a two-bedroom residential unit required a reduction in noise levels from 70db to 35db. We tested the required noise levels in our brand new home; the only place that complied was the wardrobe.

The rule is inflexible and imposes costs far in excess of any benefits: Under direction from Wellington, our council enforces clean air standards. For 12 days of the year our town does not meet the standard for PM10 particles. For the other 353 days of the year the air is great. The council has subsidised the replacement of hundreds of fires – often very efficient ones – and replaced them with inferior models for little or no change.

The rule requires permission to fix something the property owner doesn’t want: An owner had two protected trees on his property, listed by the council. One was dying, the other was unsafe and needed trimming. The owner is expected to get resource consent to maintain the trees on behalf of the council.

The rule means I cannot assume to benefit from value I have created from my own efforts: A farmer planted 5,000 kauri trees and asked the council if he could eventually harvest them. The council said it could not guarantee he could harvest them because they were kauri.

A rule can be interpreted in many ways: Having a level entry to showers: Some councils say yes, some say no, and then charge for an opinion or ruling.

There is no mechanism to update legislation as circumstances change: Long ago, hairdressers were once a source of infection – but no more. Even so, councils must register and inspect them yearly.

A rule has a compliance regime that does not allow for the fact nothing may change: Rigging loops have to be put in to a specified standard but then must be re-certified each year. If a year is missed, they must be abandoned and new ones inserted into the concrete, which would weaken the concrete.

The rule arises from officials’ zealousness and has no material effect: A council advised a farmer it was going to classify his land as a significant natural area under the Resource Management Act. Such a classification would limit his ability to use the land in certain ways, including turning his car lights on at night in case it disrupted the flight of Westland Petrels. The council acknowledged the birds never landed, swam, nested or mated there. It was simply on their flight path.

The report lists its top 10 fixes for loopy rules:

1. Make it easier to get building consents

 Speed up the development of risk-based consenting and investigate other ways to simplify the consenting of minor structures.

 Promote the use of building consent exemptions under Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004.

 Complete the fix-up of the building fire upgrade regulations this year. Ensure additional requirements imposed reflect the extra costs imposed and the benefits to be gained.

 Use progressive building consents so work can begin sooner, with nonstructural details confirmed later.

 Streamline the determinations process for applicants.

2. Get serious about lifting the skills of building sector

 Develop an industry-wide strategy to lift the professional practices of builders.

 Work towards builders certifying their own work so as to deal with joint and several liability pressures on councils.

3. Make it easier to get resource consents

 Establish an end-to-end relationship management approach for all resource (and building) consenting within councils.

 Require councils to report publicly on their actual performance in meeting the statutory 20-day deadline (for building and resource consents), as well as the total time (including all delays resulting from information requests and so on).

 As part of the planned Resource Management Act 1991 reforms, eliminate the need for resource consents for minor and technical breaches.

 Introduce a faster, more flexible process for changing plans under the Resource Management Act 1991 reforms.

4. Reduce the cost of consenting fees

 Cap government building levies. 5. Sort out what “work safety” means and how to do it  Define what is meant by “all practicable steps” in the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1991 and any replacement term in the Health and Safety Reform Bill.

 WorkSafe should do more about mythbusting, correcting misunderstandings and providing consistent information.

 Develop clear and accessible guidelines and codes of practice once the Health and Safety Reform Bill becomes law, working with all other agencies involved.

6. Make it clear what the rules are

 Define what is meant by “as nearly as is reasonably practicable” in the Building Act 2004.

 Require the Ministry for the Environment to work more closely with the other agencies to provide more timely and comprehensive guidance when developing and issuing national directives.  Make government agencies accept their responsibility to correct misunderstandings about their policies and regulations, particularly in the building and resource management areas, and as noted in health and safety.

7. Establish a new customer focus the public sector  The State Sector Act 1988 and the Local Government Act 2002 should include customer service responsibilities for chief executives.

 All Local Government Chief Executives should have a customer focus component in their Key Performance Indicators. They should consider utilising the Customer Champion and Fast Fix approaches.

 To maintain a permanent focus on loopy rules, establish a website for people to report loopy rules, which are then referred to the responsible agency to put right.

8. Departments should introduce a stakeholder engagement approach to developing local government policies and regulations

 Require all government departments to adopt a stakeholder approach, such as that used by the Ministry of Transport. The Ministry signals policy changes in advance, involves stakeholders early on and is open to critical feedback.

 Require central government to develop a project-specific engagement approach when developing policies and regulations that local government must implement. This approach could be useful for example, in the development of proposed changes to amended shop trading hours (Easter Sunday trading) and the implementation of the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Act.

 Amend the guidelines for Cabinet papers so they include “consultation with the Minister of Local Government” when a proposal will affect local government.

9. Reform the Local Government Act 1974 and the Reserves Act 1977

 Update the remaining provisions of the Local Government Act 1974 Act.  Review and update the Reserves Act 1977. And, most importantly:

10. Stop making loopy rules

 Develop a coordinated pipeline approach to regulation.  Include a cost-benefit analysis prior to development.

 Create a mechanism to actively review central and local government regulations.

 Extend Treasury’s annual review of departmental regulations, and incorporate an assessment of local government regulations.

In releasing the report, Local Government Minister Paula Bennett findings from the Rules Reduction Taskforce show real opportunities for both central and local government to make life easier for New Zealanders.

‘The loopy rules report: New Zealanders tell their stories’ is being released by the Government today following 50 public meetings and close to 2,000 submissions.

“We have listened to New Zealanders and the message is clear: there are too many frustrating rules and regulations, and too many are being applied inconsistently, and it is holding our communities back,” Mrs Bennett says. 

“The Report outlines practical opportunities for Government departments and local councils to improve the level of customer service they offer, and give that clarity people need. We will be embracing these opportunities finding practical solutions.”

The range of submissions cover 11 Ministers’ portfolios, with the majority relating to the Resource Management Act and the Building Act.

“Over the next few weeks, Ministers will be working with their departments and agencies to progress the quick fixes and what will take a bit longer to tackle. We’ll continue to update www.rulesreduction.govt.nz and make announcements as this work progresses,” Mrs Bennett says.

“The Government will also be working with local government to ensure they are providing the right advice to their residents about what rules and regulations mean and how they apply in their communities.

“The members of the Taskforce also heard loud and clear that there are several myths about rules and regulations that don’t actually exist. This includes the misconception that lolly scrambles have been banned, and that people can’t use three-step ladders.

“By breaking through this misinformation, New Zealanders will be better placed to focus on the serious rules designed to keep people safe and our economy growing.”

Several common ‘myths’ can be found on the Rules Reduction Taskforce website atwww.rulesreduction.govt.nz. New Zealanders can continue to share their experiences by sending a message through the Rules Reduction Taskforce’s social media pages.

“I’d like to thank everyone that took the time to share their experience with the Taskforce. I would also like to acknowledge the dedication of co-chairs Jacqui Dean MP and Michael Barnett, as well as the other members of the Taskforce,” says Mrs Bennett.

A lot of these problems  would not have arisen if regard for property rights and common sense were both at the basis of legislation.

If this report is acted on, loopy rules fixed in existing legislation and not added new legislation it will make a significant and positive difference to the country.

 


Marching for Waitaki’s health services

July 5, 2015

Nearly 30 years ago around 13,000 people marched through Oamaru to protest against proposed cuts to health services.

This morning there’s another march for the same reason and it’s got political.

Dunedin North MP Dr David Clark has been accused of trying to ”hijack” tomorrow’s health march in Oamaru, and has been denied speaking rights after refusing to accept a condition not to criticise the Government.
National Party Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean will speak at the march because she had agreed to that condition, Waitaki Mayor and march organiser Gary Kircher said.

The event was ”not political”.

The focus was the Southern District Health Board and its funding priorities. . .

The Mayor says more in a Facebook post.

. . . As has been clear from the start, this march has been about the cuts to our hospital funding proposed by the Southern DHB. Instead, David wants to make it political by bringing in the much wider issue of government funding and he wants to use our march to make his political statement.
Now, we all would love for central government to put more money into health, but the SDHB has had increases and they’re simply not passing on our fair share to us in Waitaki. They haven’t done so for years. Instead, we had no increase last year and they want to cut 5% from our funding this year! They would rather make our people go to Dunedin for services which we can deliver far more efficiently in Oamaru! For example, we have excellent scanning equipment and services in Oamaru Hospital but we only get around $15,000 per year to run them. People complain that they have to go to Dunedin for scans when they could be done right here! However, David doesn’t want to focus on this. Perhaps it’s because many of the Dunedin Hospital staff who benefit from this wasteful spending live in his electorate?
I have made the offer to David that he can march alongside me and our Councillors at the front of the march, I’ve told him that I will acknowledge him and his support for the aim of our march in my speech, and I had intend to have him up on the stage with the speakers and our Councillors. And I had offered to let him speak if he focussed on the reason for the march. But if he really prefers to let the DHB off the hook by playing politics, I make no apology for declining his last-minute request to speak.  . .

There is a legitimate argument about whether the population based funding model is calculated correctly for large areas with smaller and older populations but that is an argument for another day.

Today is not about whether the south’s share of the health cake is big enough but because Waitaki is not getting it’s fair share of the south’s slice.

Waitaki District Health Services chair George Berry puts the board’s case here.

 


Rural round-up

June 25, 2015

Supplies helicoptered to rural people:

Emergency services in Taranaki have delivered essential supplies to 20 to 30 rural people who remain cut-off following the weekend floods.

Helicopters have been kept busy in Taranaki and the neighbouring Whanganui region ferrying supplies to isolated farms and rural communities and in some cases, evacuating people needing to get out.

Taranaki Rural Support Trust chair Graeme Hight said there were still two areas in the south of the region where road access was blocked. . .

Dean – Balance needed around Rural Health and Safety Reforms:

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says it is crucial to get the balance right with proposed health and safety reforms.

“The health and safety reform bill is currently before parliament and while I welcome any moves to improve safety for farmers and small business owners, I also don’t want it to prove too onerous. . .

Student out to make a difference – Sally Rae:

Shaun Snoxell loves the land and food production.

The Lincoln University student also has a passion for poverty alleviation, the result of time spent volunteering in Africa.

So when he found out about a global Youth Ag Summit in Australia this year, with a theme of Feeding a Hungry Planet, he was keen to apply. . .

NZ honey peak body could cost $2m, but who pays? – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – A proposal to create a single body representing New Zealand’s beekeepers and honey product sellers could cost $2 million a year, but doesn’t yet have agreement on how it would be funded.

The industry concluded its four-day conference in Taupo amid expectations China will impose standards on the lucrative manuka honey trade, which has drawn criticism in the UK after a number of false claims to manuka pedigree from what were just blends. Asian demand for manuka honey has seen the price across all New Zealand honey increase, stoked by a global shortage of honey. Bees produced $187 million of exported honey in the June 2014 year, up 8 percent by volume and almost 30 percent by value on the previous year. . .

A2 confirms Dean Foods is other party in possible bid -Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co has confirmed media speculation that Texas-based food and beverage company Dean Foods is the other party with Freedom Foods that is contemplating making a takeover offer for the milk marketing business.

Dual-listed A2 said it made the disclosure at the request of the ASX in response to media reports. The Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk column yesterday named Dean Foods as the second party in a consortium seeking to buy A2, providing an alternative route for the company, which markets milk with a variant protein, to expand in the US. The AFR speculated the bid could be as much as $2 a share, a massive premium to A2’s share price of 57 cents before potential takeover became public. . .

Solving the dairy payout – Chris Lewis:

After reading the article ‘The buck stops at Theo’, with Labour’s Primary Industry Spokesmen, Damien O’Connor, claiming he needs to take a voluntary pay cut, I wondered will this solve our problems.

A topical discussion at the moment is that do Fonterra directors need to go? Would such a move restore credibility with farmers and staff? While it might bring a bit of satisfaction to people to have someone fall on the sword for our low pay out, I personally doubt all these calls will solve our issues. . .

 


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