Rural round-up


Take us with you – Rural News editorial:

According to a newly released Rabobank report, New Zealand farm businesses need to get ready for the full cost of environmental policies coming down the track as they make future investment decisions.

The report says with the country’s agricultural sector facing increasingly tougher environmental constraints, its decisions on investment and land use will need to take account of how these constraints impact on their farming businesses.

Rabobank says that despite the significant investments made by many New Zealand farmers over the past decade to improve performance of their farming operations, the increasingly tougher environmental reforms relating to water quality and climate change will progressively require farmers to account for a greater range of environmental impacts resulting from their farming operations. . .

Making it okay to ask for help – David Anderson:

Meat processing company Alliance has started an employee support programme aimed at getting colleagues to look after each other and keep an eye out for possible mental health issues.

Its ‘Mates at the Gate’ programme encourages staff to ask for support at an early stage and also educates employees on the signs their colleagues might be depressed or distressed.

The programme, which is specifically tailored to Alliance’s workforce, was launched across the company’s processing plants and corporate offices in November 2018.  . . 

Call for NZ and Scotland to join forces – David Hill:

A Scottish farmer and cattle judge would like to see New Zealand and Scotland work together to promote meat.

John Scott, who judged the all-breeds beef cattle competition at last week’s New Zealand Agricultural Show, has just completed an eight-year stint on the Quality Meat Scotland board, the equivalent of Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

”We’ve got some huge challenges with Brexit and the anti-red meat lobby,” Mr Scott said.

”It’s a world market now and I would like to see Scotland having closer ties with New Zealand.

”We need to increase consumption of meat around the world and the seasons are different between our countries, so we don’t need to be competitive. We have a lot of similarities and we can work together.” . . 

A day out at Fonterra’s PR farm – Alex Braae:

Were Fonterra’s Open Gates events a shallow PR stunt, or was there something deeper going on? Alex Braae went to Mangatawhiri to find out.

Walking into the Fonterra Open Gates event in Mangatawhiri, the first animals to see weren’t actually dairy cows. 

In an enclosure just next to the welcome tent, there were three beautifully clean and fluffy sheep. Their faces were sharp and alert, like the healthy energetic dogs that herd them. A throng of kids hung around them, reaching out to touch the exotic creatures.  . . 

Strong returns forecast from Zespri’s record European harvest:

Zespri’s European kiwifruit harvest is again expected to deliver strong returns for growers in Italy and France, along with another great tasting crop for consumers around the world to enjoy.

Sheila McCann-Morrison, Zespri’s Chief International Production Officer, says that with the Northern Hemisphere harvest well underway, Zespri is expecting to harvest around 19 million trays or almost 70 tonnes of kiwifruit from orchards throughout Italy, France and Greece. . . 

It’s forestry that must change not farmers – Rowan Reid :

AS a young forest scientist, I chose to work in the farming landscape in Australia. Despite the slogans of our conservation groups, the environmental frontline was not occurring at the forest blockade; it was at the farm gate. In just 200 years of white settlement, we had cleared the native forests off more than 60 per cent of the continent to create family farms. That’s about 15 times the area of the entire UK. The result was the greatest extinction of native animals and plants seen in modern times, massive land degradation problems, the release of millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, and mounting animal welfare issues due to heat and cold stress in farm stock.

Seeing that forestry – even the act of harvesting trees for timber – had a role to play in repairing the environmental damage and helping develop resilient family farms, I set my goal to make forestry attractive to the farming community. But rather than just promote what my peers saw as ‘good forestry practices’, I could see that it was forestry, rather than the farmers, that had to change. In 1987, I purchased a small degraded farm and set about planting trees for both conservation and profit. . . 

Falling trade + rising protectionism = bad news for NZ


 New Zealand’s economic outlook  has declined and it’s going to get worse  as world trade declines according to credit reporting company Dun & Bradsheet.

New Zealand economic growth was forecast at -1 percent this year, while world economic growth was expected to slow to -1.2 percent, slightly worse than D&B’s forecast in January, the company said in its Economic and Risk Outlook.

Declining world trade, particularly in the Asia-Pacific, and a sharp drop in economic growth for China had significantly heightened the downside risk to New Zealand’s outlook, D&B New Zealand general manager John Scott said.

. . . Increasingly protectionist governments and policies aimed at shoring up domestic banks, which may result in restricted international capital flows, posed big risks to the world economy in coming months, Mr Scott said.

. . . “This requires a unique balancing act from the New Zealand government. They need to stimulate the New Zealand economy but do so in a way that avoids contributing to protectionist trends, both manufacturing and financial, around the world.”

Producing good food for a hungry world is only one half of the equation, as other economies retract their ability to buy from us and the prices they’re willing and able to pay will decrease.

Selling will be even harder if other countries use their deteriorating economies as an excuse to close their borders, threatening the slow progress we’ve been making on freeing up world trade.

Finance Minister Bill English also points to a gloomy picture :

Mr English told MPs that two key economic indicators out this week showed New Zealand faced a “challenge of chronic twin deficits” in the government accounts and balance of payments.

“This week’s statistics will show that the balance of payments deficit for 2008 is in the order of 9 percent of GDP – one of the worst in the OECD – and this week’s GDP statistics will show that output declined in the December quarter to around 2 percent lower than a year earlier and that is the economy will have contracted by about that much,” Mr English said.

 There is a silver lining to that cloud of bad news, though. It means we can’t afford protectionist measures which would claw back the hard won gains which have come from freeing up our economy.

%d bloggers like this: