Beware council well-beings

July 5, 2018

Giving councils the power to put well-beings before core services poses big risks for ratepayers:

Federated Farmers says a return to a looser legislative mandate for local government activities presents a “depressing scenario” for those who foot the bill – ratepayers.

Feds President Katie Milne fronted the Government Administration Select Committee this morning and said farmers were deeply concerned that proposed changes will act as an impetus for higher local government spending and rates.

The Local Government (Community Well-being Amendment) Bill also “puts the cart before the horse” because the Productivity Commission hasn’t yet started its local government inquiry.

“Park this Bill at least until the Commission has done the grunt work and sorted out the drivers of council spending and recommended how councils should be funded in future,” Katie said.

Federated Farmers believed the vast majority of ratepayers favour the current purpose statement for local government, to provide good quality local infrastructure, local public services and legislative functions “…in a way that is most cost effective for households and businesses…”.

The bill proposes a return to the so-called ‘four well-beings’ purpose, where local authorities “…promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities…”, with no mention of cost-effectiveness.

The last time the four well-beings were in the Act, 2002-2012, local government annual rates revenue jumped 94%, when inflation was 28%.

“Since the removal of the four well-beings, growth in spending and rates have moderated significantly.  This despite stronger population growth,” Katie said.

“Despite some crazy ideas, like Rotorua’s infamous Mudtopia debacle, the signal from the Act’s current purpose statement has generally helped to focus council behaviour. However, in this year’s round of long-term plans we are starting to see some creep back; perhaps councils have been encouraged by the signals they are getting from government and this Bill.”

The original “four well-beings” legislation also included a robust consultative regime.  That’s missing in the current bill.

“With weak community engagement provisions and no relationship with funding, the re-insertion of the four well-beings is flawed and risky.

“Ratepayers cannot afford for us to go back to the out of control spending and rates increases of the 2002 to 2012 decade.”

Katie referred to the Local Government Business Forum’s report on council funding, noting the growth in non-core vs core spending over recent years, and the concern this Bill will exacerbate this trend.  To see the report, go to https://www.fixcouncilfunding.co.nz/

Property-value based rating imposes a disproportionate cost of local body funding on farmers.

This Bill will inevitably lead to higher rates and higher costs for farming.

It will also enable central government to load even more responsibilities and costs on to local government.

Councils should concentrate on core services and not saddle ratepayers with feel-good well-being projects that they can ill afford.


Rural round-up

June 30, 2018

Councils’ reliance on rating slammed as ‘abhorrent’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says councils need new ways to diversify their funding and the reliance on rating is “abhorrent” and needs addressing.

In her report to the rural lobby organisation’s national conference, Ms Milne said that would be particularly helpful for councils with a small rating base.

Central government must also make sure councils were reasonable in how they rated “and not bleed the public for projects which may never get off the ground or pet ideas that only serve the ideologies of the few rather than the many”.

“There is a belief we are all rich farmers but this is just a myth,” she said. . . 

Government negligent over PSA claim:

A landmark decision released by the High Court today has found that the Ministry of Primary Industries (formally MAF) was negligent in allowing the deadly PSA disease into New Zealand in 2009, which devastated the kiwifruit industry.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron said that it was also hugely significant for the kiwifruit industry and other primary industries that the Court also established that MPI owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers when carrying out its biosecurity functions.
“We completely agree with the Judge when she says that the wrong to the 212 kiwifruit growers should be remedied. . .
Psa Litigation:
MPI has received the High Court’s decision on the long-running Psa litigation and we are now carefully considering its findings and implications for current and future biosecurity activities.
The 500 page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of MPI, and requires a thorough examination. We cannot rush this process.
Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.
Until then, we will be making no further comment. . .

Early winners are still leading – Hugh Stringleman:

Hugh Stringleman looks back on the initial decade of the Young Farmer Contest and catches up with some of those who took part.

Winning the Young Farmer Contest’s national honours opened many doors to farming success and primary industry leadership for champions from the first decade.

Between 1969 and 1978 competition was very keen among thousands of Young Farmers Club members nationwide to achieve a place in the four-man grand finals, as they were then.

Every member was encouraged to participate to build public speaking skills, increase their industry knowledge and try to progress through club, district, regional, island and grand finals. . . 

Fonterra says climate change policy shouldn’t reduce methane emissions to zero – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said it supports a target aimed at mitigating and stabilising methane emissions, but not seeking to reduce them to zero, in its submission on the productivity commision draft report on transitioning to a low-emissions economy.

“Agricultural emissions make up approximately half of New Zealand’s emissions and we support policies being set to help transition agriculture to a low emissions economy,” it said in the recently published submission. Submissions on the commission’s draft report – presented in April – were open until June 8 and the commission aims to present a final report to the government by August. . . .

AgResearch purchases full ownership of Farmax:
AgResearch has taken full ownership of agricultural software company Farmax Ltd by acquiring the shares of Brownrigg Agriculture, and Phil Tither, of AgFirst.
Farmax has been operating for 15 years and has already been used to add value to more than 5000 farm businesses in New Zealand and overseas. The software is used by farmers and their advisors to analyse, monitor and review farm operations to determine the production and economic outcomes of various managerial options. . .

Gallagher’s takes supreme ExportNZ award:

Gallagher Group has taken out the supreme award for the 2018 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the way the Hamilton-based business has become the leading technology company in animal management, security and fuel system industries over the past 80 years.

Founded in 1937, Gallagher’s was initially a 10-person business which designed and delivered New Zealand’s first electric fence solution. Today, it employs 1100 people across a global network of 10 countries through three business units. . . 

British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to deliver high quality food, says Michael Gove

NFU President Minette Batters has welcomed comments made by Michael Gove in his keynote speech at the NFU’s Summer Reception at the House of Commons on 25 June. 

Defra’s Secretary of State for food and the environment said he had ‘heard, received and understood’ the NFU’s call on government to uphold the high-quality produce that he said was a ‘hallmark of British agriculture’ in post-Brexit trade agreements.

He said that British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to fulfil the national and global demand for high-quality food. . .

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Feds award farming leaders

June 28, 2018

Federated Farmers presented its annual awards to farming leaders last night:

The awards recognise the hard work of those in the agriculture sector and the ceremony acts as a stage for the recipients to be celebrated on, says Fed’s national president Katie Milne.
“What we’ve seen this year has just been tremendous. Incredible talent. The work that goes on out there in the community is just non-stop so to have the awards is a great way to say thank you and to encourage initiative.”

The awards winners are as follows:

The Outstanding Advocacy Award recipient is Motueka’s Gavin O’Donnell.

The award recognises the hard work of a member that through their tenacity and drive positively affected national or regional policy for the benefits of our farmers.

Gavin, a former head of Nelson Federated Farmers, was nominated for his skills at influencing and communicating the ‘good news’ stories.

The Innovator of the Year Award recipients are Palmerston North’s James Stewart and Mat Hocken.

Federated Farmers uses this award to highlight those who have invested time, effort and resources into finding smart ways to make New Zealand agriculture more efficient and effective.

They were nominated for their work in boosting connectivity. They are the founders of AgTech Hackathon, an initiative designed to link farmers with smarter on-farm solutions.

The Farming Message Award winner is Five Forks’s Lyndon Strang.

The award is for an individual who through writing, public speaking and other forms of media use has done a fantastic job sharing the importance of agriculture with New Zealand’s wider communities.

The primary reason for Lyndon’s nomination was the way he led by example in his area when it came implementing new farming practices, and when Mycoplasma bovis broke in South Canterbury, Lyndon was an approachable voice for local media and helped break down the technical gobbledygook surrounding the disease for the public.

The Federated Farmers Emerging Advocate Award recipient is Gore’s Bernadette Hunt.

The award celebrates an up-and-coming member who champions the needs of their fellow farmers, and is a positive role model for other young farmers with clear goals for the future of the industry.

Bernadette was nominated because of her outstanding contribution in the lead role for Southland during the M. bovis outbreak. 
She also liaised with the Ministry for Primary Industries over declaring a medium scale adverse event due the extended period of dry conditions.

The Federated Farmers Columnist of the Year Award goes to Marton’s Richard Morrison.

The award is the organisation’s chance to thank someone who has made an ongoing effort to communicate the work of the entire group to the wider population through regular column writing for a national, regional or local publication.

Richard puts together thoughtful and often thought-provoking columns that would resonate with thousands of readers – both urban and rural.

The Federated Farmers Provincial Service Award winner is Timaru’s Bob Douglas.

The award recognises the unsung heroes of the provinces who year after year, decade after decade, have contributed to the smooth running of the province and provided outstanding service.

After almost 20 years working as South Canterbury’s provincial secretary and treasurer Bob Douglas has had his years of service recognized.
Bob is known for schooling countless emerging local Federated Farmers’ leaders in meeting protocol, teaches them debating skills and the rights of the Chair.

The Federated Farmers Outstanding Contribution to Federated Farmers Award went to Masterton’s Anders Crofoot.

The award recognises a member who works to promote our advocacy organisation and the agriculture industry by championing the needs of their fellow farmers.
Anders has shown tremendous skill in initiating successful mediation and dissecting the daunting Resource Management Act. 
He has also contributed to the national advocacy work of Federated Farmers serving six years on the board. He has an ability to talk to people of all backgrounds and make information accessible to everyone.

The Federated Farmers Membership Growth Award went to Wanganui.

The award is to recognise the efforts of provinces who actively work to boost membership for Federated Farmers.

This is an outstanding achievement for a smaller province. But Wanganui was not the only team to perform well over the past year. There was exceptional work happening throughout the nation. A special thank you to the teams in Golden Bay, Tararua and the Waikato.


Rural round-up

June 17, 2018

Infected cattle bring opportunity for study – Sally Rae:

It will not be possible to control Mycoplasma bovis if an eradication attempt fails, given the present lack of understanding of the infection and the “gross inadequacy” of existing diagnostics, Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says.

Otago-based Prof Griffin, whose career has focused on animal health research, described that as the “sad reality”.

He believed the Government’s decision to attempt eradication first was the correct one, even though it brought considerable public liability for taxpayer funding. . .

TB work will help fight M. Bovis:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis could be supported by the 25-year legacy of co-operation between OSPRI/TBfree and AgResearch in tracking and researching bovine tuberculosis.  Richard Rennie spoke to Dr Neil Wedlock, one of the country’s senior bTB researchers on what can be learned.

Collaboration between AgResearch scientists and disease control managers at OSPRI TBfree and its predecessor the Animal Health Board has led to important technical breakthroughs resulting in a drastic reduction in the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in livestock.

Eradication of TB from the national herd by 2026 will be hailed as a disease control success story but there are some challenges to deal with before that happens. . . .

Trio share their travels through hills and valleys – Toni Williams:

You can’t go from mountain to the next mountain without going in the valley,” says farmer and author Doug Avery.

Mr Avery, along with Paul ”Pup” Chamberlain and Struan Duthie, was guest speaker at a Rural Support Mid Canterbury session at the Mt Somers Rugby Club rooms.

Rural Mid Cantabrians were encouraged to ”take a break” with the trio as they spoke of their life experiences – the ups and the downs.

From front-line policing during the 1981 Springbok tour, reaching rock bottom farming in drought-stricken Marlborough to cracking open emotions, they shared it all.

All three spoke of the importance of having a mentor, or a support network of people to help when times were tough. . .

Pure taste sours :

Meat companies have asked Beef + Lamb New Zealand not to launch the Taste Pure Nature origin brand in North America fearing it will confuse consumers and give competitors a free ride.

The Lamb Company, a partnership between the country’s three largest lamb exporters Alliance, Anzco and Silver Fern Farms, has spent 54 years jointly developing the North American market.

Its chairman Trevor Burt fears the origin brand will clash with its Spring Lamb brand. . .

Climate change discussion ‘direction of travel’ is positive – Feds:

The National Party’s five principles on which it will base emission reduction policies, including science-based and taking into account economic impact, are spot on, Federated Farmers says.

The Opposition’s support for a bi-partisan approach to establishing an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission was outlined by Leader Simon Bridges in a speech at Fieldays this morning.  National’s three other emission reduction criteria are technology driven, long-term incentives and global response.

“We’re delighted that the Coalition Government, and now National, have both signaled their recognition that there’s a good case for treating short-lived greenhouse gases (such as methane) and long-lived (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) differently,” Katie says. . .

Different treatment of methane the right thing for global warming:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is pleased to see a differentiated approach, to treat methane differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, being given serious consideration in New Zealand’s climate change policy dialogue.

“Policy must be underpinned by robust science and be appropriate to the targeted outcome. If the outcome we want is climate stabilisation, then the science is telling us to treat long-lived gases differently to methane in policy frameworks” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther . . .

This generation of women not just farm wives anymore – Colleen Kottke:

For many generations, the heads of farm operations across America were likely to be men clad in overalls wearing a cap emblazoned with the logo of a local seed dealership or cooperative.

Back then, most women were viewed as homemakers who raised the children, kept the family fed and clothed, and were delegated as the indispensable “go-fer” who ran for spare parts, delivered meals out to the field and kept watch over sows during farrowing – all the while keeping hearth and home running efficiently

Although many of these duties were important to the success of the farm, they were often looked upon as secondary in nature. Today women are stepping into the forefront and playing more prominent roles on the farm and in careers in the agribusiness industry once dominated by their male counterparts. . .


Rural round-up

June 11, 2018

Good farm practice plan launched – Richard Rennie:

A plan to put the entire primary sector on the same environmental page might set the scene for a wider industry plan encompassing greenhouse gas emissions, animal welfare, labour rights and sustainability.

A high-profile collective including DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, regional councils, Horticulture NZ and Irrigation NZ and the Environment and Primary Industries Ministries this week oversaw the launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan. . . 

Wiping out Mycoplasma bovis is a shot worth taking – Andrew McGiven:

So, it’s been nearly two weeks now since the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced the decision to continue to pursue Mycoplasma bovis eradication.

This decision was greeted with some relief by many farmers as it gave us all some clarity and reduced some of the Chinese whispers happening around the regions.

But there are plenty of farmers who are confused by this verdict and what the potential consequences may be for their businesses.

What I hope to provide here is some of the reasoning behind the decision that was reached and why it has been supported by all industry bodies and levy paying groups. . .

New Zealand gets it right – David Beggs:

NEW Zealand has just announced it will cull about 150,000 cows in order to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease that is hard to diagnose and which is well established in most of the world.

It’s not a nice disease to have on your farm. While there are no human health issues, Mycoplasma can cause a wide range of diseases and when it does, they don’t respond well to treatment. In a farm with no immunity, disease rates can be very high. There are major problems with production loss from mastitis, arthritis, pneumonia, abortion and more. Not to mention the stress caused to farm staff or the animal welfare implications of high disease levels. But our experience, and that overseas, shows that as time goes on, the herd builds up an immunity and disease levels become low in unstressed animals. . .

Nation figures the Fieldays wide influence beyond farms – Hugh Stringleman:

Thirty eight permanent staff members, up to 10 temporary workers including interns and 300 volunteers make the National Fieldays happen, National Fieldays Society chief executive Peter Nation says.

Most of the volunteers do shifts on all four days and have done so for many years, being very valued members of the Fieldays Family, he said.

On site this week will also be more than 100 emergency service personnel and employees of contractors like Allied Security.

Nation said more than 9000 people were inducted into health and safety, of which 2500 put themselves through the online induction. . .

Recommended by ‘I wouldn’t be drinking that water’: Poo dumping plagues Waikato – Katrina Tairua:

A Waikato farmer is worried truck drivers are dumping stock effluent on a road, next to a stream supplying drinking water to hundreds of people.

Others are also worried effluent discarded on roads could hinder efforts to stop Mycoplasma bovis from spreading in the region.

Marcel Hannon said he had, on multiple occasions, witnessed effluent being dumped on Waterworks Road, a rural route between Te Miro and Morrinsville. . .

Massive fund manager BlackRock reveals 5 per cent holding in a2 Milk:

One of the world’s biggest fund managers has emerged as a significant shareholder in a2 Milk with a 5.03 per cent stake.

In a notice to the NZX, New York-headquartered BlackRock said recent purchases had taken it from 4.99 per cent to over the 5 per cent threshold, thereby requiring it to declare its stake.

A2 Milk earlier this year become New Zealand’s largest listed company by market capitalisation after announcing another bumper profit and the formation of a joint venture with the world’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra. . .

Loro Piana: the world’s most majestic wool :

Noted for their soft wool coats, Merino sheep are everywhere in Australia and New Zealand, and they account for more than 50% of the world’s sheep population. The thing that sets Australian/Kiwi Merino apart from wool produced in northern climates is its superfine quality, however not all Merinos are superfine.

To qualify as superfine, the wool fibres need to be 19.5 microns or less – 
a micron being a thousandth of a millimetre (the average human hair is about 60 to 70 microns). In short, the smaller the fibre, the softer and
 more comfortable it is against the skin, hence the allure for luxury brands. While Australia is home to around 75 million sheep, only 18 million produce wool finer than 19 microns. In New Zealand, there are 32 million sheep, but only a modest 2.2 million of them yield fibre under 21 microns. . .

 



Rural round-up

May 12, 2018

Time to rebuild respect for agriculture – Tom McDougall:

For Federated Farmers leader Katie Milne, the biggest problem facing agriculture today is disconnection.

New Zealanders are now separated from the land by four generations, and the value of agriculture in the minds of the public has, according to Milne, been lost somewhere along the way:

“Food has been cheapened, both in a monetary sense and in a sense of appreciation/respect. If food is undervalued, if it is plentiful and the respect for it drops, then the people and families involved in the production chain that brings that food to your table lose the respect and recognition that they once had and deserve. That’s why I’m vocal in raising the fact that we (farmers) are producing food for the nation here, and that without agriculture, New Zealanders would lose so many of the luxuries they currently take for granted.”

Similar thoughts have been echoed overseas in the past, perhaps most notably by US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who remarked in 2014 that 98% of Americans were several generations removed from direct farming, and voiced his concern over the lack of appreciation afforded to agriculture by the current generation. . . 

Eketahuna cheese festival a culmination of decade-long struggle against red tape – Illya McLellan:

Biddy Fraser-Davies loves making cheese and has fought bureaucracy for almost a decade to make it easier for all small producers.

During that time she has been recognised at British Guild of Fine Foods World Cheese Awards as one of the world’s elite cheese makers. 

On May 14 she and husband Colin will host the inaugural Great Eketahuna Cheese Festival which is a celebration, but also a continuation of  the couple’s campaign to convince the government fees for smaller producers are too high.. . .

Maintaining trade rules essential – Mike Chapman:

New Zealand relies on trade for its economic survival. Without trade New Zealand would be a very different and a much poorer country. Successive New Zealand Governments have successfully worked to open up trading opportunities throughout the world and this continues today, with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in the final lap before coming into force. 

Today, Horticulture New Zealand made its submission in support of the CPTPP to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee at Parliament. For horticulture, the CPTPP does some great things. It opens up four new markets to tariff reductions and improved entry conditions: Canada, Japan, Mexico and Peru. Tariff reduction, particularly into Japan, but also across all of the CPTPP nations, will result in a massive $48 million a year in reduced tariffs. There are also other countries looking to join the CPTPP.  What a deal!.  . . 

 

Keytone Dairy Corp launches prospectus to raise A$15M, list on ASX – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Keytone Dairy Corp, which owns a dairy factory in Christchurch, has launched a prospectus to raise up to A$15 million and list on the Australian Securities Exchange via an initial public offering.

It is aiming to raise A$12 million or up to A$15 million with oversubscriptions to facilitate a listing on the ASX through the issue of 60 million (up to 75 million with oversubscriptions) shares at an issue price of 20 Australian cents apiece, with the offer due to close on June 1. Peloton Capital is the lead manager for the sale. . . .

Budget reaction from farm groups :

Farm organisations have praised this year’s Federal Budget.

Australia’s biosecurity is set to benefit to the tune of $121.6 million and ag export growth to  $51.5m in new initiative big spends. The Roads of Strategic Importance program received $3.5b for upgrades to key regional freight corridors. The Bruce Highway in Queensland gets $3.3b for upgrades.

A third round of the Building Better Regions fund got $200m to fund local governments and not-for-profit organisations to develop ner commercial enterprises. More than $260m for new satellite technology to enhance GPS applications such as smart farming . .


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