Rural round-up

September 10, 2014

Freshwater Fund for Wetlands?

Federated Farmers have been working with DairyNZ to analyse the $100m freshwater fund policy, recently announced by the National Party. The outcome was very positive with both parties agreeing the fund could deliver improved water quality around New Zealand.

Federated Farmers believe NZ Landcare Trust and Queen Elizabeth II National Trust could both play a key role in delivering the new fund.

“The Fund to retire farmland would be perhaps better interpreted as a policy to create on-farm wetlands. Instead of looking at this as a linear purchase of land, or trying to recreate MAF’s old farm advisory division, think more along the lines of NIWA’s guidelines for constructed wetlands,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson and Member of NZ Landcare Trust Board of Trustees.

It is estimated a fund of $10 million a year could purchase at least 286 hectares. Using NIWA guidelines and if turned into strategically located wetlands, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers believe it could remove 60-70 percent of Nitrogen from around 9,500 hectares of farmland. . .

Thorny question of wool levy benefits – Allan Barber:

Sheep farmers have the chance to vote for or against a compulsory levy under the Commodity Levies Act (CLA) in October. The Wool Levy Group’s proposal indicates a levy of 3 cents a kilo which would raise $4.7 million to be spent on a combination of education, communication, advocacy, R&D and administration. This is either too much, far too little or a worthwhile beginning which depends on your point of view.

 In this week’s Farmers Weekly Ruth Richardson argues very strongly against wasting any more farmer money on a compulsory levy, citing quite justifiably the enormous waste of funds both by the Wool Board and on its subsequent disestablishment. On the opposite side of the fence sit the Wool Levy Group and its supporters. . .

Referendum on wool levy seen as hope for industry –

A referendum seeking to reintroduce a wool levy gives some hope for a remedy in a stagnant, dysfunctional industry, Lindis Pass farmer Russell Emmerson believes.

A referendum is being held in October, when farmers will be asked to approve a levy of between 2c and 5c for each kilogram of greasy or slipe wool at the first point of sale.

That equated to $4.6 million at 3c a kg for 154,000 tonnes of wool annually, if the 17,000 farmers eligible to vote agreed. . . .

Record avocado crop a challenge:

The new avocado export season is underway and the industry is bracing itself for the challenges of selling a record crop.

The harvest this season is forecast to top seven million trays, of which almost five million are expected to be exported.

New Zealand’s previous biggest avocado crop was 6.2 million trays in 2011-12. Last season, about three million trays were exported from a medium sized harvest.

The country’s largest grower group, AVOCO, is responsible for 65 percent of production and said a record crop would test the industry and its ability to manage the fruit. . .

Nominations for Hayward Medal:

NOMINATIONS ARE open for the kiwifruit industry’s Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal.

The award last year went to ex-chair of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board, John Palmer, for his efforts to bring the kiwifruit industry through the fiscal crisis in the early 1990s.

The judging panel awarded Plant & Food Research plant breeder, Russell Lowe the inaugural award in 2012 for developing and helping commercialise the Gold kiwifruit variety Hort16A, adding over $3 billion to the industry and New Zealand. . . .

Barker’s Success Spreads with Four More Award Nominations:

Barker’s of Geraldine has been chosen as a finalist for four of its products across three categories in the 2014 New Zealand Food Awards.

The maker of New Zealand’s favourite preserves has been nominated in the “beverage” category for its special edition Mountain Moonshine. It also has been named twice in the “dry” category for Anathoth Farm’s jams & curds (for its Lemon Curd and Quince Conserve) and Anathoth Farm’s chutneys & relishes (for its Sweet Chilli Relish and Garden Chow Chow). Anathoth Farm joined the Barker’s family in 2007.

It has also been nominated in the “novel ingredients” category for BreadshotsTM an innovative flavour mix for bread bakers. . .


Rural round-up

November 23, 2013

Agresearch defends its restructure:

AgResearch executives have fronted at a farmer meeting in Wellington to defended the state science company’s plans to relocate its operations to Palmerston North and at Lincoln.

There are fears in agricultural circles that regional agricultural science programmes will suffer when many AgResearch scientists are uprooted from their bases in Waikato and Otago.

Agresearch chief executive Tom Richardson told Federated Farmers’ national council on Wednesday that a lot of myths are circulating about Agresearch’s new footprint.

He says neither he nor AgResearch chairman Sam Robinson are smart enough to run multiple agendas – there’s been no pressure from the Government to relocate to Lincoln to support the Canterbury rebuild. . .

Rural Women NZ helps launch International Year of Family Farming 2014:

Rural Women New Zealand played a leading role in today’s launch at Parliament of the International Year of Family Farming 2014 (IYFF 2014), to coincide with the global launch at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

As one of five members of the national steering committee, Rural Women New Zealand has helped bring together a broad cross-section of groups from the agricultural sector.

Representatives of fifty organisations met at Parliament to gather information about the key issues facing family farming, develop plans for research and actions based on this information, and agree on programme outline for IYFF 2014.

Today’s workshops highlighted some of the challenges facing family farms, including succession planning and the price of land, establishment costs and the need to upgrade plant and machinery to remain competitive in an evolving market. . .

John Palmer awarded 2013 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal:

Former chairman of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board, John Palmer, was last night awarded the 2013 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal for his tireless efforts to bring the kiwifruit industry through the fiscal crisis in the early 1990’s.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride announced Mr Palmer as this year’s recipient of the kiwifruit industry award at the Hayward Medal Dinner last night, in front of more than 450 people in Mount Maunganui.

“The kiwifruit industry is facing a huge challenge in form of Psa now but we faced a disaster of equal proportions back in early 1990’s. The financial disaster in 1992 saw the bottom drop out of the market, as prices crashed in an over-supplied European market,” said Mr McBride. . .

Taiwan-NZ trade agreement to take force:

An economic cooperation agreement concluded between Taiwan and New Zealand four months ago will enter into force Dec. 1, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs Nov. 20.

The Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC)—signed July 10 in Wellington—is Taiwan’s first free trade pact with a nondiplomatic ally.

“The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Wellington and the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei have completed their respective processes,” MOEA Deputy Minister Liang Kuo-hsin said. . .

Sweet news for cherry growers – Lynda Van Kempen:

Central Otago growers have been served up some ”jolly good news” in time for Christmas – Taiwan has removed its tariff on New Zealand cherries.

About 40% of this country’s export cherries are sent to Taiwan and Summerfruit NZ chief executive Marie Dawkins said the tariff-free agreement would take effect from the start of next month .

The first export cherries to Taiwan this season would be sent within days of the new agreement taking effect. . .

Top Honours for Young Farmers:

New Zealand Young Farmers members are making waves in the agricultural scene at home and abroad.

Former NZYF Chairman, Paul Olsen was recently awarded the prestigious agricultural Nuffield Scholarship for his research topic on potato (cropping) production.

The Nuffield Scholarship is awarded each year to just a few individuals who have been identified as future leaders who want to make a positive difference to their sector of the primary industry. Only 140 scholarships have been awarded over the past 60 years.

“It’s fair to say I was over the moon and slightly humbled given the calibre of the past Nuffield scholars but very much thrilled to be given the opportunity,” said Mr Olsen, a Manawatu potato grower. . . 

Church Road Winemaker Chris Scott named New Zealand Winemaker of the Year:

Hawke’s Bay winemaker Chris Scott has today been named New Zealand Winemaker of the Year 2013 by Winestate Magazine.

With a passion for Chardonnay and red blend winemaking, and the support of an outstanding viticulture and winemaking team, Chris has been crafting award-winning Hawke’s Bay wines for thirteen years.

“Winemaking at Church Road is a team effort,” says Chris, on receiving his award today. “Our vineyard team have an outstanding knowledge of the region and the individual vineyards, and deliver outstanding fruit year after year. Our cellar team has a dedication to wine quality that far exceeds what anyone could hope for. I know everyone at Church Road is extremely proud of the wines we make and this win reflects the passion and commitment of the entire team.” . . .

6 of 14 Wine Prizes go to NZ Wines:

Six of the total 14 prizes in the Wine of the Year for Australia & New Zealand went to NZ wines in the 2013 Winestate Awards announced this week.

Australia’s Wolf Blass Platinum Label Barossa Shiraz 2010 was declared Wine of the Year for Australia & New Zealand.

Winestate NZ Winery of the Year 2013: Villa Maria Ltd Highest scored results audited across the year with wines achieving points across all categories.

Winestate Winemaker of the Year, NZ: Chris Scott (Church Road) Highest score from the top 10 different wines judged throughout the year. . .


Why risk public money?

September 29, 2012

This comment from Solid Energy chair John Palmer could be used by both sides of the debate on the Mixed Ownership model for state assets:

“Palmer also indicated Spring Creek has been in trouble for some time, and if Solid Energy had been a listed company, it could not have been so patient for as long as it had in trying to reach viability.”

Opponents of the partial sale of a few companies will argue that this shows government ownership provides greater protection for a company in tough times.

Supporters of the policy will say it proves that partial ownership will add extra discipline to the governance and that it is better for decisions to be based on market conditions than politics.

I am in the latter camp.

Why should public money be put at greater risk than private funds?

 

 

 


What matters more?

November 8, 2011

Polls keep showing a majority of people oppose asset sales.

Would a majority of people polled also be opposed to more debt or less capital investment?

I don’t think that question has been asked but those are the alternatives to National’s plan to sell up to 49% of the shares in a very few of the assets the state owns.

We cannot have it all. Until we return to Budget surpluses we don’t any money to spare for further investment in those assets or in other much needed capital development.

National recognises the problem, knows more debt and less investment aren’t the answer and so will follow the Air New Zealand model of mixed ownership and invest the proceeds in a Future Investment Fund.

The left is doing a very good job of drumming up opposition to this but in spite of that has not managed to dent National’s popularity.

Apropos of this, (for which I hat tip A Bee of A Certain Age)  Look Up At The Sky asks:

Is anyone else puzzled by poll results that show most New Zealanders don’t want the sale of state assets, yet most New Zealanders will vote for a National government?

The answer is simple: National is not proposing a wholesale sale of assets and other things matter more than the plan to sell a minority share in a very few of many state owned companies.

Labour and the left in general have put a lot of energy into opposing what they erroneously and deliberately label asset sales because they see it as National’s weak spot. But people vote for many different reasons and consider a variety of factors including policies and personality.

Polls reflect that although many are not keen on (and possibly don’t understand) the mixed ownership model National is proposing, people still prefer the party and its leader to any of the alternatives.

There’s still 2 1/2 weeks until election day. That could change and a single issue could change it.

But so far polls show that all things considered, regardless of individual policies, more people think National will be a better leader of government than Labour and that John Key is more popular than Phil Goff.

P.S. On Nine to Noon this morning John Palmer, chair of Air New Zealand, which is partially state owned and Solid Energy which is fully state owned, discussed how access to outside investment would help the companies.


Rural round-up

July 24, 2011

Interest in merino born in childhood – Sally Rae:

Jayne Rive attributes her love of merino sheep to growing up on remote Halfway Bay Station.

She and her five siblings were all involved in daily station life, including working with sheep, on the property on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu . . .

Stock judge wins national title – Sally Rae:

Olivia Ross proved she has an eye for stock when she won the New Zealand Young Farmers national stock judging competition.

A member of Nightcaps Young Farmers Club, Miss Ross (23) works as a field consultant for Outgro Bio Agricultural Ltd . . .

Fitting milestone as CRT cracks $1b – Sally Rae:

Rural servicing co-operative CRT has cracked the billion-dollar mark – reporting turnover of $1.092 billion and an operating surplus of $8.4 million in the year to March 31.

That was up from a turnover of $801 million and an operating surplus of $5.1 million in the previous year. . .

Well managed systems key to dairy success – Mary Witsey:

The most profitable dairy farms in Southland are those which are well managed.

That was the message the province’s dairy farmers heard from Dairy New Zealand senior economist Matthew Newman, who was in the south last week conducting seminars.

Regardless of the size of the herd, or whether it was a low, medium or a high-input production system, the most profitable farms were those that made the best use of resources on offer, Mr Newman said . . .

Warning on dire state of apple industry – Peter Watson:

Nelson’s apple growers are in such a dire state the region risks not having a viable export industry in five years, leading local businessman John Palmer warns.

Speaking at a Nelson-Tasman Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday, he said it had got to the stage where many orchards were more valuable without their trees and would be “less of a cash drain growing grass than growing apples”. . .

New Fonterra boss wants positive impact – Hugh Stringleman:

A Canadian will hand over management of Fonterra to a Dutchman at the end of September, which indicates that the skills needed to run New Zealand’s biggest company are more readily found offshore.

Theo Spierings, aged 46, has been appointed by the Fonterra board as the new chief executive to take over from Andrew Ferrier, who has held the job for eight years . . .

Welcome end in sight for forced farm sales – Tony Chaston:

Is this just real estate spin or is rural real estate on the move again and can we expect modest price rises based on stronger product prices and profits?

As reported earlier from the June real estate figures, more farms are being sold than last year, but at values last seen in 2004. The banks have signaled their intention to lend more on profits and less on land value, so if product prices continue, we can expect more sales. . .

Better information needed on farm technology – RadioNZ:

Pastoral Agriculture Professor Jacqueline Rowarth of Massey University thinks farmers are not being well served by some of the new technology they’re being urged to adopt, to lift production.

Professor Rowarth, who spoke at an Agricultural & Horticultural outlook summit this week, says New Zealand farmers are doing a good job of taking up new ideas. She says that’s clear from statistics which show  agriculture is one of the few sectors that continues to grow.

Market knowledge the key – Debbie Gregory:

KNOWLEDGE about commodity prices and markets helps farmers future-proof their businesses, says ANZ National Bank agri-economist Con Williams.

Speaking to farmers and others involved in the rural industry in Gisborne this week, he said commodity prices across the board had peaked and would soften, but should remain at a relatively high level compared with prices seen in the past.

“It’s not so much the level they have got to, it’s the speed they have got there,” he said . . .

Hat tip: Interest.Co.NZ


Assets can be liabilities

June 19, 2010

Among the dead rats National was forced to ingest before the last election was a pledge to hold on to all crown assets.

The promise was no assets would be sold this term and if there was any intention to sell any in a future term that would be announced and be part of a future campaign.

Now we’re about half way through the current term it’s a good time to look at state owned assets and question if it’s in the companiess’ and the country’s best interest to retain them in public ownership.

One of the questions to be asked is, whether investment needed for continued growth of these assets is the best use of scarce public funds.

This may well have been in the mind of Solid Energy’s chair John Palmer when he suggested that a partial sale of the SOE might be good for the company and relieve the state of the need to find the money needed for expansion.

It would be good if we could get past the emotional and ill-founded belief that state ownership is always good and private ownership is bad and looked at suggestions on a case by case basis.

Some sales, partial or full, could provide domestic  investment opportunities for those with money to spare; realise funds which the government could spend on other priorities; expose the companies to the discipline of the market and enable them to raise funds they need without going cap in hand to a cash-strapped government.

While discussing this another point to bear in mind is that assets which don’t get the continuing investment they need can turn into liabilities.


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