Rural round-up

May 2, 2014

Canada, dairy and the TPP – Keith Woodford:

Canada and New Zealand are currently in serious negotiations as to future rules for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In relation to dairy products, we sit on different sides of the debate. We want free access. In contrast, they want to retain their supply management quotas which control how much milk is produced, and hence protect the farm-gate price of milk.

The widespread assumption in New Zealand is that free trade will open up new markets in Canada. The current dairy market there is 8 billion litres per annum. To put that in perspective, our total milk production in New Zealand is about 20 billion litres per annum. So on the surface, free trade could open up exciting new opportunities.

A recent report from The Conference Board of Canada places a different perspective on matters. They agree with New Zealand that Canada should get rid of its supply management scheme. However, they see the outcome being that Canada would rapidly transform its industry and become a major exporter. . .

Dairying’s other big 2014 vote – Willy Leferink:

This year will see a general election but you have to wonder if three-year cycles are sufficient.  Let’s face it, year one is learning the ropes and doing what you promised.  Year two is fine tuning what you’ve done or running a mile from what you’ve done, meanwhile, year three is all about getting re-elected.

Many systems have four or even five year cycles and DairyNZ’s impending vote on its $61 million industry good levy fits into the five year cycle.

It isn’t appreciated by many who bemoan the lack of research and development in New Zealand, that every time my girls come in for milking, 3.6 cents in every kilogram of milksolids they produce goes towards R&D.  This money is collected by the milk processors and passed to our industry good body, DairyNZ.  It undertakes a whole host of research activities that no farmer could ever hope to do individually.  DairyNZ further leverages what it gets from us farmers in larger programmes like the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP. . . .

Westland Milk Products Registered for Infant Nutrition Products Export to China:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative has confirmed today that it is registered to export dairy products including infant formula milk powder to China.

The company has been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Chinese authorities and has been notified of its registration with the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA).

“We support the Chinese moves to impose greater controls and stricter standards around the importation of infant formula. Ultimately this will benefit New Zealand exporters by giving Chinese consumers more confidence in our products” says Westland CEO Rod Quin. . .

Synlait misses China regulation deadline as it waits on factory build – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the dairy processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy as a cornerstone shareholder, missed out in the first round of approvals under China’s new regulation of imported infant formula as it waits for the completion of its new processing and packaging plant.

The Ministry for Primary Industry expects Synlait will receive approval once the new dry blending and consumer packaging factory is built which is scheduled for completion next month, the Rakaia-based company said in a statement. Companies without the new registration won’t be able to sell infant formula produced from today in China.

A2 Milk Company, whose Platinum infant formula is manufactured at Synlait’s Canterbury plant, also missed out on registration, which includes demonstrating a close association between brand owner and manufacturer. . .

Synlait Milk confident of China registration:

The initial list of registered New Zealand companies issued by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) did not include Synlait Milk as an exporter of finished infant formula into China. This announcement has been anticipated by the Company for some time.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has confirmed that it expects Synlait Milk to receive registration following the approval of its Risk Management Plan by MPI for its dry blending and consumer packaging facility. Construction of this facility is scheduled for completion in June 2014. . .

FGC welcomes Nutricia’s investment:

The intended acquisition of New Zealand milk-drying and infant formula blending and packing capacity by French-owned Nutricia is a further indication of confidence in the New Zealand food and beverage industry, says the Food & Grocery Council.

Chief Executive Katherine Rich says today’s announcement is significant.

“This is great news for the industry and for New Zealand’s infant formula manufacturing capacity.

“Having such a renowned multinational company purchasing two New Zealand firms to ensure it has a major infant formula local manufacturing facility affirms once again that New Zealand’s dairy industry remains among the best and safest in the world.” . . . .

Comvita annual earnings pip 2013, meeting guidance; shares fall:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which makes health products from manuka honey, said annual earnings and revenue eclipsed 2013, meeting guidance, as recent apiary acquisitions improved its security of supply. The shares fell.

The Te Puke-based company said net profit was about $7.5 million in the 12 months ended March 31 from $7.4 million a year earlier, on revenue of $115.3 million, up from $103.5 million in 2013. The company had previously said it anticipated beating 2013 profit and sales.

“When unconstrained by raw material shortages, as happened in the second six months, we clearly have growth momentum,” chief executive Brett Howlett said in a statement. “The strategy of acquiring apiary businesses is working to alleviate the supply shortage pressures.” . . .


Com Com investigationg Countdown

February 15, 2014

The Commerce Commission has received a complaint about alleged anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown towards their suppliers and says confidentiality is available.

The Commission advises that anyone who has information relevant to the allegations can request that the Commission keep their identity and/or the information provided confidential. The Commission will not disclose the identity and/or information unless consent is given or the Commission is required to by law. If confidentiality is a concern then it should be raised when first contact is made with the Commission.

Anyone who has relevant information is encouraged to contact us on 0800 943 600.

Shane Jones made accusations against the supermarket chain under parliamentary privilege and Katherine Rich CEO of the Food and Grocery Council confirmed it had received complaints:

“We’re aware of a number of incidents where our member companies have been asked for retrospective payments. We have raised our general concerns about this practice with the supermarket chain involved,” Ms Rich said.

“This is a serious issue that is new to the New Zealand grocery sector and we view it as an unwelcome development.

“We have asked members to report further occurrences.”

Countdown has rejected the accusations and says it will co-operate with any inquiry.

Consumers benefit from competition between supermarkets but not the sort of behaviour that has been alleged which would make business too tough for suppliers and put them out of business.

 

 


Rich appointed to APEC Business Advisory Council

October 4, 2013

Prime Minsiter John Key has announced that Maxine Simmons’ term on the APEC Business Advisory Council has been extended through to March 2014 and Katherine Rich will take over from her.

Ms Simmons is the Managing Director of BioCatalyst Ltd and been an APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) member since 2010.

“The extending of Ms Simmons term allows ABAC to retain her extensive skills for the upcoming APEC meeting and for the first ABAC meeting of 2014 in Auckland,’’ says Mr Key.

Mr Key also announced the appointment of Katherine Rich to ABAC from March 2014.

“Mrs Rich’s involvement in New Zealand’s food industry as well in agri-business, combined with her networks developed from her parliamentary experience, means she is well placed to contribute actively to ABAC’s and APEC’s agenda,” says Mr Key.

“Mrs Rich has extensive private and public sector experience which will prove especially useful for ABAC’s work with governments on trade facilitation and supply chain connectivity, which are both key priorities for New Zealand.”

The APEC Business Advisory Council is a network of business representatives from each of the 21 APEC economies that meet to develop business perspectives on the issues being discussed among APEC economies. . .

Fonterra has welcomed the appointment:

Fonterra Group Director of Communications, Kerry Underhill, said Mrs Rich’s extensive experience and understanding of the food industry and agri-business would serve New Zealand well on this influential international forum.

“Katherine has always been generous in sharing her expansive knowledge and networks, and providing wise counsel, with members of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council.

“NZ Inc will gain a valuable advocate through her participation in ABAC,” said Mr Underhill. . .

Katherine has an impressive mix of political and business experience which will be valuable on the ABAC.

She is a very good example of someone who makes a contribution as an MP and goes on to succeed in life outside politics.


Rural round-up

September 20, 2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints Chair-Elect:

Northland farmer and Northern North Island Director for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, James Parsons was appointed Chair-Elect for Beef + Lamb New Zealand at the organisation’s board meeting today.

The position of Chair–Elect has been made to allow an orderly transition of leadership for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, following the announcement from current Chairman, Mike Petersen that he will not seek re-election when his term ends in March 2014.

“This appointment is a very important part of the governance process,” Petersen said.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand puts strong emphasis on the development of all directors, and there has been a real focus on growing the leadership ability of the board for the benefit of the wider sector. . .

Wattie’s Starts Precision – Planting This Season’s Beetroot:

– Day One of 20 weeks of planting

– Resurgence of consumer interest in beetroot

Wattie’s has started precision-planting this season’s beetroot crop, and will continue over the next 20 weeks until a total of 350 hectares have been planted.

The first seed has been planted in the Paki Paki area of Hawke’s Bay for what will be a 20,000 tonne crop, Wattie’s second biggest annual crop behind tomatoes.

Harvesting of the first baby beets is scheduled for the second week in December. . .

Irrigators urged to check for lightning strike damage:

IrrigationNZ says farmers should exercise caution when starting irrigation systems – even if storm damage isn’t obvious – as lightening strike has emerged as a secondary cause of problems following last week’s storm.

“Just because your centre pivot didn’t blow over in the wind doesn’t mean your system is ok. We are now hearing reports of irrigation control systems fried by lightning strike, especially along the Canterbury foothills. Farmers need to check their infrastructure carefully before the season begins. Don’t start your irrigator before you’ve undertaken the appropriate safety checks,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Irrigation system pre-season checks will be even more important this year as parts and labour will be in short supply due to the storm. Irrigators can not afford for their irrigator to break down due to negligence as it will result in downtime. Basic checks like ensuring the pivot tracks are free from obstructions, tyre pressures are correct and so forth are a no-brainer,” says Mr Curtis. . .

Invermay Delegation Meeting Minister of Economic Development:

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is leading a delegation to meet with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to discuss alternatives to the proposed downsizing of Invermay in Wellington at 5pm today.

The group includes Environment Southland chair Ali Timms, former Dunedin MPs Katherine Rich and Pete Hodgson, Otago Regional Council chair Stephen Woodhead and its CEO Peter Bodeker.

Dave Cull says any reduction in roles at Invermay will have a serious economic and strategic impact.

“From Dunedin’s perspective, there is potential for smart businesses and jobs to come out of there. From a regional point of view, the expertise at Invermay is crucial to ensure the continuation of leading environmental research related to farming and other industries which contribute significantly to the Otago and Southland economies. We believe the proposal would also have serious economic implications at a national level.” . . .

Double Gold for Rapaura Springs 2013 Sauvignon Blanc:

Rapaura Springs is continuing to strike gold with its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, with a double win at the New Zealand International Wine Show 2013.

The Rapaura Springs 2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Rapaura Springs 2013 Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc both won gold medals at the country’s largest wine competition.

Owner Brendan Neylon said Sauvignon Blanc was Marlborough’s flagship wine, and it was imperative that the region worked hard to continue to produce the world’s best. . .

Rockburn Wines Win At the Biggest and Most Prestigious Wine and Spirits Competition In China:

Rockburn Wines has been awarded a prestigious Double Gold medal in the 2013 China Wine and Spirits Awards for their 2009 Rockburn Chardonnay, while the 2011 Pinot Noir took out its own Gold award.

The Central Otago winery has a history of winning gold medals, particularly for its Pinot Noir, and this month alone has also collected a Gold Medal at the Bragato Wines Awards for their 2012 Pinot Noir and a Gold Medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show for their 2012 Tigermoth Riesling. . .

Marisco Vineyards wins NZ Wine Producer of the Year in China:

Marisco Vineyards has been awarded the Trophy for New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year at the China Wine and Spirits Awards. The company’s wines also won four double-gold, six gold and two silver medals in the prestigious annual competition, continuing their golden run in the rapidly growing Chinese wine market.

Chief Winemaker and Proprietor Brent Marris says the trophy and medal haul will consolidate The King’s Series and The Ned’s position as market leading New Zealand wine brands in China.

“The Chinese market is very complex. One of the challenges is that it is culturally a very status driven market so old world wines have tended to dominate. But awards like this endow enormous status on our brands, new world wines generally, and New Zealand wines specifically, and this win will build our brand profile, and help increase distribution and cement our foothold in the Chinese market,” Marris says. . .

Organics: The Future of New Zealand Wine?

Major three-year project aims to see a fifth of all Kiwi vineyards certified organic by 2020.

The oldest winery in the country, Mission Estate, is also one of the most technologically advanced and sustainable. Now, in a move that could have implications for the New Zealand wine industry as a whole, Mission Estate is into its final year of a major study on organic grape-growing – a trial that may potentially see this influential winery make a significant commitment to increasing its organics production.

The Organic Focus Vineyard Project is New Zealand’s first public trial of organic grapes grown side by side with conventional grapes. The pioneering participants are Gibbston Valley in Central Otago, Wither Hills in Marlborough, and Mission Estate in Hawke’s Bay, where the project was piloted during the 2010-11 season. Mission viticulturist Caine Thompson is monitoring 16 hectares of Gimblett Gravels vines, with half being grown in the conventional manner and half under strict organic controls. . .


Two wins for common sense

June 12, 2013

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye has today announced changes to the Food Bill that ensure communities will be able to continue fundraising that involves the sale of food.

“The changes ensure better balance in the legislation so that high-risk food operators have the appropriate controls, while unnecessary burdens are not placed on communities,” Ms Kaye says.

“They are designed to clarify aspects of the law where people have raised uncertainty.

“Since the Food Bill had its first reading, people have expressed concerns that it could have placed unnecessary regulation and compliance on community and fundraising groups.

“We have listened to those concerns and the relevant changes to the Bill will go back to Select Committee for consideration.

“The changes relate to community activities, including swapping food in non-commercial exchanges and engaging in fundraising and ‘Kiwiana’ activities such as sausage sizzles and school fairs.

“There will also be greater transparency of fees charged by local authorities and the addition of a ‘good Samaritan’ clause to better protect businesses that donate food in good faith.

“The changes to this legislation are to provide a flexible, risk-based food safety system that will accommodate around 85,000 food premises, which account for more than 250,000 jobs.

“Some of the definitions will be important to get right and that’s why I am sending the Bill back to select committee for consideration.

“The Food Bill is comprehensive and replaces the current legislation and regulations plus at least 34 separate sets of food safety bylaws around New Zealand.

“It is challenging to draw the line in the appropriate place on how much regulation will ensure safe and suitable food for consumers when dealing with the differences in scale from a community sausage sizzle through to a multi-national food producer.

“The Bill has significant support from industry and businesses and more than 6000 businesses have adopted transitional risk based programmes in anticipation of this new Food Bill.

“I believe this legislation is critical to protect the health of New Zealand consumers, improve the integrity of our food systems and support export-led economic growth.”

Food & Grocery Chief Executive Katherine Rich says the changes are sensible and timely.

“As a country so dependent on food production, New Zealand needs a modern food law, and this will achieve that.

“It’s not before time. The existing piece of legislation is more than 30 years old and has regulations that are nearly 40 years old. A lot has happened in food technology, science, attitudes, and thinking in that time. On that basis, with food laws that are very much out of date and overdue for a revamp, it is important New Zealand moves forward in this area.

“The changes proposed by the Minister are sensible and pragmatic, and improve the clarity of the law so there is less room for ambiguity.

“Many members of the Food & Grocery Council have risk-based systems in place, and the Food Bill will provide a clearer underpinning of those systems.

“The food industry will welcome the proposed changes.”

And in other news:

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says feedback from event organisers and members of the public shows overwhelming support for changes to the rules around spot prize draws which will remove unnecessary red tape.

Currently when spot prizes are used at events, such as fishing competitions and fun runs, they can be classed as gambling under the Gambling Act – which means organisers have to comply with a raft of rules.

“Public consultation on our discussion document showed the rules are too restrictive and the paperwork required onerous. Gambling is not the primary purpose of these events, so all these regulations are not required,” says Mr Tremain.

“However I don’t want a blanket exemption as this would potentially allow for events to be set up for prize draws where there is no community benefit.

“So the proposal is to exempt events from the Gambling Act events if they meet certain criteria such as the prize draw being secondary to the main event, the draw being only available to people participating in the event and the event having a community benefit.

“That will mean organisers will be able to offer spot prizes, regardless of the value of the prize, without needing to apply for a licence.

“The new rules will be in place in time for summer events this year.”

That’s two wins for common sense.


Turning blue – or at least purple

December 1, 2011

One of National’s active supporters in Dunedin reckons the city isn’t so much red as purple.

The cover of the give-away paper DScene and story on the election result – National winning the party vote in Dunedin South and nearly doing it in Dunedin North – backs her up:

One of the benefits of MMP has been the presence of a National MP in the city.

Former MP Katherine Rich helped raise the party’s profile and present its softer side. She was succeeded in Dunedin North by Michael Woodhouse who has made an impressive start to his parliamentary career and worked hard for the people of city.

Conway Powell started turning the tide towards National in Dunedin South in 2005, built on that in 2008 and this year’s candidate Joanne Hayes carried on to win the party vote.

Boundary changes which included more rural areas and lifestyle blocks in the electorate, and demographic changes have helped cement the base. But it takes dedicated candidates and supporters to build on that and turn it into more votes.

There were special circumstances this time. It wasn’t just the National vote which went up, the Green vote did too and Labour’s went down.

But the result is an encouraging indication that the city could be changing from red to purple, though not blue – yet.


Allowing list or electorate only would create two classes of MPs

July 26, 2011

MMP’s party lists are designed to ensure that the number of seats a party gets in parliament is proportional to the amount of support it gets in the election.

They are used for positive discrimination to make parliament more reflective of the population.

Lists also enable people who can’t stand for a seat or who stand but don’t win, to enter, or stay in, parliament.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Some people have to resign from their jobs once they declare they are standing for parliament. Going for a list place means they’d be out of work for a much shorter time than if they sought selection in a seat.

People dont’ seem to be too exercised by people who stand in unwinnable seats and then enter parliament on the list – Katherine Rich was well regarded as an MP and Chris Finlayson and Hekia Parata, have both proved to be assets in government.

What does upset a lot of people though is the MPs who lose seats then come in on the list.

Change in that area would attract popular support but it isn’t without fish hooks.

If anyone who stood for a seat and didn’t win it could then not come in on the list the wee parties would stand in few if any electorates and just run lists.

That would be a pity because most candidates who fight an electorate campaign have to engage with voters of all persuasions and learn the practical implications of policy which they wouldn’t if they were just seeking a list seat.

It would also create difficulties for Labour and National. It would be much harder to find candidates to stand in unwinnable seats if they knew they didn’t also have a chance of entering parliament on the list.

We’d end up with two classes of MPs – electorate ones who weren’t on the list and list MPs who never stood in seats.

It would be better to apply the rule not to all who stand and fail, but to those who hold a seat then lose it.

MPs rejected by their electorate could be barred from returning on the list for that term. But their party could select them again, either for a seat or list only, in the next election and let voters decide if they wanted them.


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