What do we do with unemployable?

February 8, 2018

Unemployment has fallen to a nine-year low.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in the December 2017 quarter, down from 4.6 percent last quarter, Stats NZ said today.

“This quarter’s unemployment rate is the lowest since the December 2008 quarter, when it was 4.4 percent,” labour market and household statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “However, the underutilisation rate was just over 12 percent –reflecting about 340,000 New Zealanders with potential to work more. This measure is just as important as the unemployment rate.”

Do these people with potential to work more want to, and if they want to what’s stopping them?

I’ve been in the potential-to-do-more-paid-work category for most of my married life but that has mostly been a matter of choice.

Having the potential to do more is only a problem for the individuals concerned if they want to and can’t and there could be many reasons for that.

The unemployment rate for the December 2017 quarter remains considerably above New Zealand’s lowest unemployment rate, which was 3.3 percent, recorded a decade ago in the December 2007 quarter, immediately before the global financial crisis.

In the December 2017 quarter, the unemployment rate for men remained at 4.0 percent, following adjustments to last quarter’s data. By comparison, the unemployment rate for women fell to 5.0 percent, down from 5.3 percent last quarter.

This is getting down to the unemployable – those who can’t or won’t work.

People who aren’t mentally or physically capable of working aren’t included in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). That leaves people who for a variety of reasons, including lack of skills, can’t find work. Helping them upskill and get work-ready should be a priority.

It was for the National-led government which put a lot of effort, and money, into addressing the causes of benefit-dependency.

Then we come to those who won’t work.

Continuing to address the causes is the solution to that.

One strategy that won’t be helpful is cutting immigration when there are areas and workplaces in desperate need of staff and unable to fill vacancies from the unemployed.


Rural round-up

September 4, 2017

Eradication is still doable MPI says – Annette Scott:

Officials expect to decide by the end of the year whether the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis can be eradicated.

The disease, identified on a Van Leeuwen Dairy Group farm in South Canterbury in July, had now been traced to six farms including four van Leeuwen farms, one North Otago farm believed to be a calf rearing operation and a lifestyle block at Sefton in North Canterbury.

A fourth community meeting in North Otago on Thursday attracted a crowd of 160 people full of questions. . . 

Urgent need to train rural GPs – Eileen Goodwin:

A decade before Waikato University sparked a public debate on a third medical school, a far-sighted Queenstown GP set up a Rural Medical Immersion Programme to try to fill rural health shortages. Health reporter Eileen Goodwin talks to those involved.

The trust founded to further his brother’s legacy fostering rural health may be redundant when a new rural school of medicine is established, John Farry says. Mr Farry, of Dunedin, chairman of the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trust, hopes the new school will be awarded to the University of Otago under its joint bid with Auckland. He did not want to see it set up as a new medical school, such as that sought by the University of Waikato. . .

Water Conservation Orders should be abolished says Feds:

Federated Farmers is calling for Water Conservation Orders (WCO) to be abolished because they are no longer relevant and a relic of the past.

Under the Resource Management Act (RMA), the Orders are limited and do not acknowledge farming, horticulture, beverages, manufacturing, and access for human and livestock drinking.

The Federation says the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management has superseded the Orders and made the legislation no longer fitting for future challenges around water conservation. . . 

Farm sector welcomes TPP resuscitation talks:

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) of Australia and Federated Farmers of New Zealand say moves to bring into force the bulk of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is good news for both Australian and New Zealand farm exports.

In Sydney this week, officials from Australia and New Zealand concluded three days of talks with chief negotiators from the other nine TPP countries.

The aim of the talks was to push forward on the development of a ‘regional trade pact’ following the United States’ withdrawal from negotiations earlier this year. . . 

Landcorp back in the black as valuations swing in its favour:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming reported a full-year profit as the state-owned farmer recog-nised a jump in the value of livestock and benefited from strong market prices.

Profit was $51.9 million in the year ended June 30, more than four times the $11.5 million it earned a year earlier. Revenue rose 11 percent to $233.5 million while expenses rose 3.3 percent, which included costs related to the end of its sharemilking contract with Shanghai Pengxin, the company said.

The results include a $20 million increase in the value of livestock, “reflecting strong market prices” while the year-earlier result carried an unrealised loss of $24.8 million on land and improvements. The operating profit in the latest year was about $5.7 million, within its guidance range of between $2 million and $7 million, from a year-earlier loss of $9.4 million. . . 

Terms of trade just shy of all-time high:

Record butter prices and high prices for meat helped lift the merchandise terms of trade by 1.5 percent in the June 2017 quarter, Stats NZ said today. This was just shy of the all-time high set 44 years ago in the June 1973 quarter.

Terms of trade is a measure of the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad and an indicator of the state of the overall economy. The 1.5 percent rise in the June quarter means New Zealand can buy 1.5 percent more imports for the same amount of exports.

“The 1.5 percent rise in terms of trade in the June quarter follows a 3.9 percent increase in the March 2017 quarter,” prices senior manager Jason Attewell said today. “Because the March provisional quarter was revised down from 5.1 percent, the terms of trade didn’t quite reach the record high as expected, but it is very close.” . . 

NZ’s Top Butcher Announced:

The nation’s top butcher and butcher apprentice have been announced this evening at one of the most anticipated events on the meat industry calendar.

Reuben Sharples from Aussie Butcher New Lynn has been named Alto Butcher of the Year and Samantha Weller from New World Rangiora took out the title of Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year.

Following three highly competitive regional competitions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, 10 finalists from each category went head to head in the Grand Final held at Shed 10 in Auckland earlier today. . . 

T&G Global secures exclusive commercialisation rights for blueberry varieties in Australia:

T&G Global has become the license holder of a suite of 16 proprietary blueberry varieties in Australia, allowing it to better deliver to growing demand for berry fruit worldwide.

The exclusive agreement represents one of the biggest collections of proprietary commercial and pre-commercial blueberry varieties in the world and is the result of an agreement between T&G and Plant & Food Research in New Zealand. The arrangement includes varieties developed by Plant & Food Research and a collection of premium varieties from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in Oregon, USA, for which Plant & Food Research holds the Australian licensing rights. . . 

Farmers feed cities. Support your local farmer before the Labour Party sens him/her out of business.


Rural round-up

September 26, 2015

Beef exports hit $3 billion in record season:

The value of total goods exported was $3.7 billion in August 2015, up $197 million (5.6 percent) compared with August 2014, Statistics New Zealand said today. Meat and fruit exports led the rise.

Beef exports continued to rise, up 46 percent ($61 million) in August 2015 compared with the same month last year. The beef export season runs from 1 October to 30 September.

“With one month to go in the 2014/15 beef export season, beef exports are at a new high of $3 billion,” international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “So far this season, 404,000 tonnes of beef have been exported, and if we export at least 18,000 tonnes next month we’ll surpass the peak 2003/04 season for quantity exported.” . . 

June floods cost the primary sector $70 million says MPI:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today released a report on the economic impacts to the primary sector of the heavy rain and flooding that affected the western North Island in June.

The total on-farm cost of the June storm affecting Taranaki and Horizons regions has been assessed at approximately $70 million with up to 800 rural properties affected.

MPI Director of Resource Policy, David Wansbrough, says the greatest impact of the storm was on sheep and beef farms, due to landslides and damage to infrastructure.

“Around 460 sheep and beef farms were affected, some with significant levels of infrastructure damage and lost productive capacity. The on-farm economic impact to sheep and beef farms is estimated to total $57.6 million. . . 

People power:

When Lyn Neeson, who farms near Taumaranui, saw the Whanganui and Ohura rivers rise rapidly in June, she figured this spelled trouble for farmers downstream and she was right. 

Since July she has been working four days a week in Whanganui as the coordinator for the RST. She has the task of assessing the reports coming to her from farmers and people such as Harry Matthews and Brian Doughty who know the region and the farmers. 

A major problem is damage to fences, she says. . . 

Origin of Beef Informs Shopper Decisions:

Consumer research shows 89 per cent of supermarket shoppers in key international beef markets consider “country of origin”, when deciding which beef product to purchase.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Scott Champion says this insight informs how the organisation works on the ground to boost sales of New Zealand origin beef.

“We use a three-pronged approach that gives consumers reasons to buy New Zealand beef ahead of other countries. We tell the New Zealand story – including environment and animal welfare aspects – and highlight our food safety systems, as well as the health and wellbeing attributes of New Zealand beef.” . . .

Dissapointing 2014/15 result for farmers, encouraging signs for coming season:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Duncan Coull, said the final payout for the 2014/15 season of $4.65 for a fully shared-up Farmer is a disappointing result for the Co-op’s Farmers.

Mr Coull: “While it is encouraging to see the improvement in Fonterra’s performance in the second half of the season Farmers will be disappointed with the 25 cent dividend which was at the lower end of their expectations.

“Farmers had an expectation the business would have been able to take greater advantage of the low Milk Price environment.”

Mr Coull was encouraged by the Co-op’s improved second-half performance which saw many parts of the business operate at a high level. . . 

Wool Market Firm:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the South Island sale this week saw a strong market with steady support.

Of the 9,250 bales on offer 84.4 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 0.72 percent compared to the last sale on 17th September, helping hold up local price levels.

Mr Dawson advises that in line with other Merino growing markets, local prices for Merino Fleece 18 to 23.5 microns compared to when last sold on 10th September, saw a slight easing with prices 2 to 6 percent cheaper. . . 

Waikato modelling results show high costs to farmers and region:

DairyNZ is encouraging Waikato dairy farmers to get involved in regional policy development processes after the release of new information highlighting the potential for high costs to their businesses.

Commenting on new modelling released<http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Community/Whats-happening/News/Media-releases/Models-look-at-potentially-very-large-costs-of-improving-water-quality/> today by a group of technical experts, DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for productivity, Bruce Thorrold says the analysis shows there is potentially a very high economic and community cost to the region of changing land use and management practices. Estimates range from $1.2 billion to $7.8 billion depending on the degree of improvement in water quality modelled.

“That’s not surprising given the size and importance of the pastoral industry in the Waikato,” he says. . .

Best Sauvignon Blanc in the World for Rapaura Springs in London:

Rapaura Springs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 has impressed the judges and taken home the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy at the prestigious International Wines and Spirits Competition (IWSC) in London.

The IWSC was established in 1969 and is one of the world’s pre-eminent wine competitions, held in high regard with consumers and wine trade alike. The formidable reputation of its judging process, and judges themselves, set the standard for wine competitions globally. . . 


Rural round-up

September 2, 2015

Tap turned on at Hororata irrigation scheme – Annabelle Tukia:

The tap has officially been turned on for one of the country’s largest irrigation projects.

The Central Plains water scheme will irrigate more than 20,000 hectares of Canterbury farmland.

One Hororata farmer says the massive scheme, which runs off the Rakaia River, will enable him and his neighbours to completely transform their operations.

Rodney Booth has waited a long time to turn the irrigators on at his Hororata farm. . . 

Dairy and travel still our largest export earners:

New Zealand earned $2.3 billion more from exports than we spent on imports during the year ended June 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today.

In the year to June 2015, total exports of goods and services were $67.5 billion, while total imports were $65.1 billion.

Dairy remains New Zealand’s largest export commodity, earning $12.0 billion in the June 2015 year. However, this was down from $15.8 billion in the June 2014 year. Spending by international visitors to New Zealand (travel exports) increased $2.4 billion, reaching $11.7 billion in the June 2015 year.

“Dairy and travel are New Zealand’s biggest export earners,” international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “A fall in dairy exports to China, combined with the increase in expenditure by overseas visitors to New Zealand, has narrowed the gap between the two.” . . 

App helps keep hives humming – Sally Rae:

Brice Horner gets a buzz about educating others about beekeeping.

Now the Dunedin police officer has developed a phone app that helps beekeepers identify whether they have the destructive bacterial disease American foulbrood (AFB) in their hives.

AFB kills bee larvae and infected hives have to be destroyed by burning, as the disease is very difficult to combat. After destroying the bee larvae, spores could survive outside a bee colony for more than 35 years.

It is a serious issue, and beekeepers are legally required to advise the AFB Management Agency within seven days of noticing an outbreak and to destroy the disease by burning within the same period. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers feeling the pinch are right – their payout is the world’s lowest – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand dairy farmers bracing for the lowest payout in a decade probably won’t welcome the latest analysis of global trends in the industry – their counterparts in every other dairy-producing country are being paid more.

An expected uplift in dairy prices in the overnight GlobalDairyTrade auction won’t change the fact Kiwi dairy farmers are the lowliest paid. AgriHQ analysed milk prices from around the world converted to NZ$/kilogram of milk solids to allow valid comparisons, although some dairy farmers incomes in other countries are boosted by subsidies and support schemes.

Fonterra’s forecast farmgate milk price, which is the price setter in the New Zealand dairy industry, is $3.85/kgMS for the current season, the lowest in a decade. That compares to China at the other end of the scale at $11/kgMS, the United States at $8.15/kgMS, Argentina at $7.57/kgMS, and the UK at $6.95/kgMS. Of the countries analysed, Ireland’s payout of $6.10/kgMS was the closest to New Zealand’s. . . 

OceanaGold raises 2015 production estimate to reflect Waihi acquisition – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – OceanaGold Corp expects 2015 production to increase while costs fall after the gold miner takes control of Waihi Gold Mine later this year.

The acquisition of the Waihi mine from Newmont Mining Corp is awaiting approval from the Overseas Investment Office this month, and once completed, OceanaGold expects to assume the economic benefits and costs associated with Waihi from July 1, the Melbourne-based miner said in a statement. The company increased its 2015 production estimates, and reduced its costs forecast to reflect lower copper and diesel prices and a weaker New Zealand dollar, it said. . . 

Sanford quits Pacific tuna business, lines up buyers for vessels – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, will quit its underperforming Pacific tuna business and put the unit’s fleet up for sale.

The Auckland-based company sold its San Nanumea vessel and is in talks with a potential buyer of San Nikunau, its other Pacific tuna ship, after reviewing the viability of the business, Sanford said in a statement. On April 9, it entered into a conditional agreement to sell both international purse seiner vessels, according to Sanford’s interim report released in June. . . 

Rural Equities posts 27% decline in annual earnings after milk prices slumped – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, posted a 27 percent decline in annual earnings as milk prices plummeted.

The Hastings-based company said operating earnings before interest and tax fell to $4.67 million in the year ended June 30, from $6.43 million a year earlier as Fonterra Cooperative Group slashed its milk price payout to $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids from $8.40/kgMS the previous year. While that impacted its seven dairy farms, the company said its Waikato Puketotara sheep and beef property had a record year and it had steady income from leasing 15 of its 25 farms.

“Operating earnings were satisfactory given the substantial reduction in milk price,” said executive chairman David Cushing. “The company’s portfolio, with a mixture of directly operated and leased farms and diversity by property type and geography, helped provide balance.” . . 

Government grant for East Coast stream restoration:

An $89,700 grant from the Community Environment Fund for the restoration of the Whangawehi stream on the Mahia Peninsula was announced today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith during a visit to the catchment. 

“New Zealand has a major challenge to improve the management of our waterways, which has to be achieved stream by stream, river by river and lake by lake. The key to the success of these restoration programmes is getting all parties – landowners, iwi and hapū, district and regional councils as well as the Government – working together. This has been achieved on this project and that is why the Government is providing funding support,” Dr Smith says.  . . 

Fonterra Farmers Can Now Apply for Co-Operative Support:

Fonterra farmers can now apply for Fonterra Co-operative Support, a loan to help them deal with the current challenging conditions.

Chairman John Wilson said Fonterra is well placed to help its farmers because of the Co-operative’s underlying strength.

“Being able to help our farmers is all about standing together as a Co-operative and using our collective strength to get through these tough times,” said Mr Wilson. “We have had a lot of interest from farmers who appreciate what the Co-operative is trying to do for them to assist them with their farming businesses in a tough financial climate, and we are anticipating a large number of applications.” . . .

 


Rural round-up

September 25, 2014

ECan commissioner vents spleen at nutrient meeting –

Environment Canterbury commissioner David Bedford lost his cool at a packed zone committee meeting in North Canterbury.

Trying to resume the meeting after a short tea break, Bedford used several expletives suggesting he was sick of farmers who turned up to meetings for just a short time.

His outburst reflected the often tense tone of the meeting, which drew several hundred dryland sheep-and-beef farmers to the small Waikari hall.

They came to express their concern at nutrient regulations that would leave many low-emitting dryland sheep-and-beef farmers unable to increase their lambing percentage, plant a stand of Lucerne, or grow an extra feed crop. . .

Agri-food opportunities in China – Keith Woodford:

Over the last two years I have written, together with my colleague Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock,  a series of six articles on various aspects of China’s  agri-food industries. They have been published in the Journal Primary Industry Management, which is the quarterly journal of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management.

The first article, attached at the bottom of this post, was written in late 2012.

Some things have moved on since then – for example we reported in that article that New Zealand’s exports to China in the year ending 30 June 2012 were $NZ6.1 billion, which was a three-fold increase in only five years. In the two years since then to 30 June 2014 they have almost doubled again to $NZ11.6 billion. However, the key drivers of change as we set out in that article remain the same.

These key drivers are increasing wealth, urbanisation, changing cuisine, food safety, agricultural production constraints, and associated food security issues. . .

Sheep meat in China and the opportunities for NZ – Keith Woodford:

This is the second of the “China series’  that Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock and I wrote for the journal  ‘Primary Industry Management’. It was written in December 2012 and published in March 2013.

As with everything relating to China, the statistics do not stand still.  In the year ending December 2012, 13% of New Zealand’s sheep meat exports income came from China. Move forward six months, and in the 12 months ending June 2013 this had risen to 21%. Then in the 12 months to June 2014 it rose again to 30%.  On a monthly basis, the latest statistics for March 2014 show the China component of New Zealand’s sheep meat trade was 31% by value and 44% by volume. . . .

Doing Agri-business in China – Keith Woodford:

This is the third of a series of six papers written for the journal ‘Primary Industry Management’. This one was published in June 2013.

For this paper we had three authors: Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock, Malcolm Cone and myself. The work was led by Sharon and formed the first part of her PhD studies.  It is based on case study work undertaken with New Zealand firms operating in China.

The focus of the work has been on cultural differences and how they affect business practices and relationships. About half the interviews were with Kiwis and undertaken in English. The other half were with Chinese and mainly undertaken in the Chinese language. . . .

Venison finishing margin better – Joanna Grigg:

Daniel Stack puts it bluntly.

“If venison prices are the same as last year venison farming will struggle to be both sustainable and competitive with alternative land uses, like dairy grazing.”

That said, he is poised to increase deer numbers if things come right. The Canterbury Plains venison finisher and dairy grazer hopes that indications from some venison exporters of the October schedule peak reaching $8/kilogram (kg) for 55 to 60kg AP stags will bear out. This would put returns at a level seen in 2012, when the average published schedule peak was $7.95/kg. It is also up on the past season’s $7.40/kg peak.

Stack said that to increase the number of deer weaners bought in, back to his typical 500 a year, he would need to see the schedule price at eight dollars. . .

 Take a long, hard look at your farming systems:

Industry body DairyNZ says the latest drop in Fonterra’s forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season is a signal to farmers to reassess the costs of their farm system.

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today reduced its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season from $6.00 to $5.30 per kg milksolids (kgMS). It also increased and widened the estimated dividend range from 20-25 cents per share to 25-35 cents – amounting to a forecast Cash Payout of $5.55-$5.65 for the current season.

DairyNZ’s general manager of research and development, David McCall, says most farmers should cope with lower prices this season, provided another drought doesn’t hit the country. However, around a quarter of the country’s farmers, those with a lot of debt, may have difficulty meeting their farm working expenses and interest payments. . . .

 Cattle and dairy lead rise in exports:

Goods exports rose $227 million in August 2014 compared with August 2013, to $3.5 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Live animals led the rise in exports, due to live cattle. Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports also contributed to the increase, led by higher quantities. The 16-percent rise in milk powder, butter, and cheese was led by milk fat and cheese.

“Cattle, milk fat, and cheese contributed to the rise in exports,” international statistics manager Jason Attewell said. “It is the first time in three years that a rise in dairy was not led by milk powder.” . . .

Award winner becomes Dairy Women’s Network Chair:

Dairy Women’s Network has appointed one of its past Dairy Woman of the Year winners as incoming chair.

Incumbent network chair Michelle Wilson has announced 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Justine Kidd as the organisation’s new chair; a role she will assume following the organisation’s annual general meeting on 22 October.

“It is a credit to the Dairy Women’s Network board to have a person with Justine’s knowledge of agriculture and governance experience at the helm,” said Wilson.

“As outgoing chair I take a lot of comfort in knowing that the organisation will continue to grow from strength to strength with strong leadership at the board table.” . .


Highest March trade surplus

April 30, 2014

The value of exports increased again in the March quarter:

The seasonally adjusted value of exported goods rose 2.1 percent to $13.6 billion in the March 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This follows rises in the previous two quarters.

“Meat and fruit led the increase in seasonally adjusted exports,” international statistics manager Jason Attewell said. “This is the second consecutive quarter that both values and quantities for these two commodities have risen.”

Seasonally adjusted meat values rose 8.7 percent in the March quarter, and quantities rose 6.8 percent. Fruit values rose 27 percent, and quantities rose 20 percent.

The rise in meat and fruit was offset slightly by a fall in milk powder, butter, and cheese, down 2.4 percent. The fall in dairy follows 26 percent increases in both the September and December 2013 quarters. Despite the small fall this quarter, dairy remains at high levels and is the leading contributor (31 percent) to total exports.

Imports rose 1.5 percent to $12.5 billion in the March 2014 quarter. The increase was led by a rise in capital goods.

The seasonally adjusted trade balance for the March 2014 quarter was a surplus of $1.1 billion. This follows a surplus of $986 million in the December 2013 quarter.

Monthly exports pass $5 billion for the first time

Exports rose $671 million in the March month, to $5.1 billion. Milk powder, butter, and cheese led the rise in exports, up $474 million (45 percent) compared with March 2013.

“This is the first time monthly exports have exceeded $5 billion, and annual exports have exceeded $50 billion,” Mr Attewell said. “Record dairy exports pushed the values past these thresholds.”

Imports rose $483 million (13 percent) to $4.2 billion, which was influenced by a one-off large capital item. The trade surplus was $920 million. This is the highest recorded surplus for a March month. . .

These figures underline once again the importance of primary production, and dairying in particular.

The increase in value has happened in spite of the high value of the New Zealand dollar.


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