Local govt wants local flexibility

November 1, 2019

Local Government New Zealand submission on freshwater is asking the government to back away from a one-size-fits-all approach :

The submission, which was led by regional councils, strongly supports the outcome the Government is looking to achieve, the focus on freshwater ecosystem health, and regulation to manage contaminants.

However, the local government sector, which comprises all district, city, unitary and regional councils in New Zealand, is calling on Government to walk back from the proposed one-size-fits-all regulatory approach, and partner with local government to right-size the freshwater reforms.

One of our biggest concerns with the package is that it oversimplifies the problem with freshwater quality by assuming the issues are severe and urgent everywhere, and so we need regulatory intervention on a national scale,” said Chair of LGNZ Regional Sector Group, Doug Leeder.

“We absolutely acknowledge the challenges facing freshwater bodies, but the data shows that different waterways face different problems. That means we need tailored solutions to restore these ecosystems to a healthy state, not broad-brush regulation.” . . .

Councils must have the flexibility to work on different problems and solutions in different catchments.

The submission is supported by 13 case studies, which extensively examined the impact the proposed package would have on a variety of regions, from Northland to Southland.  These case studies underline that local context is everything when it comes to understanding impacts.

The submission is further supported by an independent economic analysis of the Government’s Regulatory Impact Assessment, and a distributional analysis to assess how the costs will affect different communities across New Zealand.

“One of the key things to get right as we develop freshwater regulation is to ensure we take communities with us, whether they are urban or rural,” said LGNZ President Dave Cull.

They need to have the confidence that the new rules will actually translate into measureable improvements on the ground, not just more red tape and reports that do nothing to deliver on what we all want to see – healthier waterways and greater environmental sustainability.”

The rural community has no confidence in the proposals.

If attendance at consultation is a reliable reflection of interest, urban communities are a lot less engaged in the process.

That’s unfortunate because they too would face huge costs if there are not major changes to what’s been proposed.

Unless the legislation takes a much more reasoned and science-based approach than the proposals, the government will not be able to take communities, rural or urban, with them.

LGNZ’s freshwater Q+A is here.

LGNZ’s submission and supporting material is here.

 


Playing for the payer

September 18, 2019

What’s the value of dairying to the economy? It depends who you ask:

The recent NZIER report trivialises the significant role the dairy sector plays in New Zealand’s economy – and fails to look at the specifics of the Government’s freshwater package, according to DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the report, commissioned by Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace, is less an economic report and more a high-level commentary on the dairy sector’s role in the economy – and paints an inaccurate picture.

“This is yet another case of environmental lobbyists targeting dairy farmers – who are people trying to do the right thing by the environment and who are actively working to make changes on-farm to protect it,” said Dr Mackle. “By singling out dairy farmers, they are ignoring other contributors to water quality and, therefore, are limiting our ability to actually fix the problems where they exist.

“The NZIER report trivialised dairy’s role in the economy – 3 percent of GDP equates to 28 percent of merchandise exports and one-fifth of goods and services exports coming from the dairy sector.

“The NZIER report does not analyse the economic benefits of dairy to regional communities – which is a critical aspect of dairy farming’s contribution to NZ Inc. Dairying is the engine of the regions, in terms of income and jobs. For example, it is the top income earner in Waikato, West Coast and Southland.

“Yesterday we saw the latest MPI Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report which showed dairy makes up $18.1b of $46.4b exports to June 2019. Dairy exports were up $1.47b last year – this has flow-on effects to our communities, where we employ 46,000 people on and off-farm.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) recently completed an advisory report on the Essential Freshwater Package that showed that national limits for nitrogen and phosphorus would potentially impose very large costs on agriculture.

“In that report, it referred to a Waikato modelling study which found that land-use change was required to achieve the nitrogen and phosphorus limits proposed – with changes resulting in a dairy revenue loss of $140m per year,” said Dr Mackle

The LGNZ report showed that these goals require an enormous amount of land use change to take place, with many farms becoming uneconomic and communities being impacted negatively due to rural depopulation and a loss of annual income.

“Modelling for Southland showed that achieving a 9 percent reduction in nitrogen loss would reduce dairy profits by $17m a year,” said Dr Mackle.

“In terms of innovation, dairy farmers are an extremely innovative sector but the reality is that all land users play a role in water quality and more than innovation is required – it also needs broadscale adoption by all land users.

“As a sector, we are solutions-focused – and have been for years, and our farmers have been voluntarily working to look after their land and waterways. Our Water Accord shows a range of great progress, including fencing 98% of significant dairy waterways and stock crossing points or culverts for almost all waterways nationwide.

“We all acknowledge there is more work to be done – but we need to work together and recognise when good work is happening and allow time for change to occur.”

NZIER produced a report that played the tune the payers – Fish & Game, Forest & Bird and Greenpeace – wanted.

In doing so it seriously undervalued the economic importance of dairying in and to New Zealand and seriously underestimated the devastating impact the freshwater proposals would have on rural communities and the country.


Rural round-up

September 17, 2019

Government freshwater proposals a blunt instrument:

The Government’s freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

“We know that freshwater is at the centre of many New Zealanders’ way of life and that collectively we need to continue to improve,” says MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie.

“MIA generally welcomes the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways. Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place.

“The meat processing sector has  also invested significantly in wastewater treatment upgrades and made considerable improvements.

“However, the critical part to get right is to ensure there is enough flexibility in the legislation so that each local situation can still be considered on its merits and that we focus on the outcomes that communities want for their freshwater. . .

Canterbury farmers unhappy with freshwater plan -Eleisha Foon:

Some Canterbury farmers are dismissing the government’s plan to clean up the country’s waterways as a pipe-dream.

Regional councils across the country have been organising meetings to debate the best ways to reduce nitrates from dairy farming.

According to the Institute of Economic Research, Canterbury is the second highest dairy-producing region, behind Waikato, but many farmers there feel unfairly targeted by what the government has proposed.

“Farming is the art of losing money, while trying to feed and clothe the world while the world thinks you’re trying to poison them, the atmosphere and the environment,” Canterbury farmer Jeremy Talbot said. . . 

Fewer sheep and more trees outcome of freshwater proposals:

Research published by Local Government New Zealand shows the enormous impact on land use the Government’s freshwater proposals will really have, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“If implemented, these proposals are going to see farmers in the Waikato go out of business and their land be converted into a sea of trees.

“According to the modelling, sheep and beef farming is expected to fall by 68 per cent, while dairy would be reduced by 13 per cent. Meanwhile plantation forestry would boom by an astonishing 160 per cent.

“Plantation forestry would then account for over 50 per cent of farmland in Waikato, as these onerous regulations make sheep and beef farming completely untenable. . . 

Water reform challenges a key focus of this week’s Water NEw Zealand conference:

Water reforms and the long term sustainability of water will be a key focus at the Water New Zealand conference and expo this week (18-20 September) in Hamilton.

The conference is being opened by the Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker and Local Government and Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta is speaking later in the day.

“We’re very pleased to be able to welcome key government Ministers to this year’s conference, especially given the ground-breaking reforms that the government is embarking on and the impact they will have across the entire country,” says Water New Zealand CEO John Pfahlert.

“This year one of two pre conference workshops will help update those working in the sector with the likely impact of the new regulatory process, while another will look at issues around wastewater – a key aspect of the Government’s recently announced Freshwater Programme.” . . .

A2 Milk and Synlait Milk shares jumped in early trading as a A$1.5 billion takeover bid for Bellamy’s Australia revived optimism that Chinese demand for dairy products remains strong. 

ASX-listed Bellamy’s today said it’s received a A$13.25 per share offer from China Mengniu Dairy Co and that its board will support the bid. That’s a premium to the A$8.32 price the shares closed at on Friday. China Mengniu is familiar with the Australasian market through Yashili New Zealand and Burra Foods Australia. It was also one of the unsuccessful suitors of Murray Goulburn. Bellamy’s soared 51 percent to A$12.55, less than the A$12.65 cash component of the offer which also allows for a 60 cent special dividend. . .

How to make more dirt down on the farm and make money from it – Pip Courtney and Anna Levy:

There’s an old saying about soil: they’re not making any more of it.

But some farmers are.

In just five years, Niels Olsen used his own invention to build more soil on his property in Gippsland, Victoria.

It delivered him the title of 2019 Carbon Farmer of the Year and it’s vastly improved the health of his land — but it requires an unconventional approach.   .


Rural round-uup

January 18, 2017

Brexit – Pommy Rogernomics? – Adolf Fiinkensein:

It appears British PM Theresa May is going for a hard landing.  Cut the ties to the EU and go it alone, right from the word go.

What will this mean for UK fat lamb producers?  What opportunities will this provide for NZ and Australian frozen lamb exporters?

It seems to me UK farmers will undergo the same shocks that beset NZ farmers when Roger Douglas delivered the much needed coup de grace to the now notorious Supplementary Minimum Prices. . .

Silver Fern Farms payout ‘used as a sweetener’ – Alexa Cook:

Silver Fern Farms’ dividend of 30 cents per share will be a one-off because it was only used to sweeten a deal with a Chinese company, according to one shareholder.

The company is New Zealand’s largest meat company and has confirmed today it will pay $35.5 million in dividends to its shareholders on 14 February. 

The government approved the controversial $260 million deal with Chinese company Shanghai Maling last year after a group of shareholders fought for more than a year to keep the meat company in New Zealand ownership, arguing the original shareholder approval of the joint venture was unlawful. . . 

Apples in short supply across the country – Laura Wlaters:

Apples are in short supply due to a slow start to the New Zealand season.

The popular fruit is usually available year-round but this week shoppers were shocked to see empty shelves where the granny smiths and royal gala would usually sit.

A Countdown spokeswoman said there were apples in their stores at the moment but they were not New Zealand apples.

“We’re in between seasons at the moment,” she said. . . 

Three NZ shearers set world shearing record – Che Baker:

A former Southland shearer made his way into the world record book again after breaking the three-stand strong-wool ewes shearing record for eight hours.

Eru Weeds, of Ohai but now based in Roxburgh, was joined by shearers James Mack, of Weber, and Luke Mullins, of Te Awamutu, at Waitara Station, inland northwest of Napier, to smash the record of 1347 by 264 sheep, finishing with a tally of 1611.  . . 

Constant rate increases irk – Pam Tipa:

THE DAYS of New Zealand having an undue reliance on property taxes to fund local government are coming to an end, claims Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) chief executive Malcolm Alexander.

He was answering Federated Farmers’ questioning of the priorities and fiscal discipline of New Zealand’s councils, as rates continue to outstrip cost indexes. Alexander says it is pleasing to see others parties like Federated Farmers and the tourism industry are picking up on the need for more flexible funding tools for rates.

This is an issue which no longer can be ignored, he says. The Feds say between 2006 and 2016 there has been 77% hike in rates by the country’s 13 city, 54 district and 11 regional councils.  . . 

Four chartered 747s carry cherries to Asia for Chinese New Year – Amanda Cropp:

Singapore Airlines has put on four special charter flights to get hundreds of tonnes of South Island cherries to Asia in time for Chinese New Year.

The first two 747 “cherry flights” each carrying up to 95 tonnes of fruit flew out of Christchurch on Thursday and Friday.

Another two are scheduled over the next week to get fruit to Singapore for distribution to South East and North Asian markets. . . 


Rural round-up

May 27, 2016

More charges laid in reponse to Waikato bobby calves footage Edwin Mitson:

(BusinessDesk) – The Ministry for Primary Industries has laid a second set of charges as part of an investigation into the alleged abuse of bobby calves in the Waikato.

MPI began investigating after TVNZ’s Sunday programme broadcast footage which showed the calves being thrown onto trucks and being left for dead.

Ten charges were laid against an individual in March, with a hearing due to take place on June 2. Four charges have been laid against a company and a different individual today, with a hearing due at Huntly District Court on June 21.

MPI acting director of compliance, Steve Gilbert, said the investigation is onoing and had been “careful, methodical”. . . 

Farmers applaud responsible budget and urge tax cuts for 2017:

Federated Farmers supports the Government’s prudent financial management and maintenance of surpluses announced in today’s Budget.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston said: “The Government has clearly decided to invest surplus proceeds in a series of funding initiatives for the future including science and skills.

“We strongly support the increase in funding for science and technology and also welcome new spending on skills, transport, establishment of a Freshwater Improvement Fund, regional development, and commitments to fund TB control and to contain the spread of wilding pine. . . 

Funding good start in tackling Wilding Pine but biosecurity incursion response needs more:

Federated Farmers welcomes funding for the control of Wilding Pines but warns that more money is needed for biosecurity incursion response measures.

The Wilding Pines initiative sits within MPI’s existing allocation for Biosecurity Incursion Response and Long Term Pest Management, which for 2016/17 will increase by $1 million from 2015/16 (from $34 million to $35 million).

High Country chairman Simon Williamson said: “The money allocated to Wilding Pines is the bare minimum we need to demonstrate that the long term strategy for wilding control, worked on for the past 18 months, is of both environmental and economic benefit to the country. . .

Budget 2016 boost for regional economies, infrastructure, social housing and biodiversity:

LGNZ President, Lawrence Yule, acknowledged a much needed boost for communities in four key areas LGNZ has been advocating for: stronger regional economies, infrastructure, community and social housing, and biodiversity.

“Stronger, more successful regional economies and better community wellbeing are key areas of focus for LGNZ. We are pleased to see Government focus on these priority areas for communities,” says Mr Yule.

“$44 million over four years to assist regions to develop opportunities in their economic action plans is a useful start to investing in local economic initiatives, and consistent with what LGNZ has been asking for,” says Mr Yule. . . 

 

Trickledown benefits for rural health in Budget 2016:

There might be no silver funding bullets for rural health in the Government’s latest Budget but there should be trickledown benefits across a range of health initiatives nationally, says New Zealand Rural General Practice Network chief executive Dalton Kelly.

“For example the Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley will host the start of a bowel screening programme, both of which areas have rural populations, especially the Wairarapa.

“All DHBs are to receive a total of $400 million extra funding and again this should have positive implications for rural New Zealanders across most, if not all, DHB areas. . . 

Safely.nz’ app targets better farm health and safety without the hassle:

With the launch of a new app specifically tailored for New Zealand’s farms, professional services firm Crowe Horwath is making it easier and more convenient to institute sound health and safety practices in rural workplaces. Dubbed ‘Safely.nz’, the app is the result of a partnership between Crowe Horwath’s Human Resources division, Progressive Consulting, and developer Peak Software.

Safely.nz is customised to Kiwi farms and agricultural support businesses, such as agricultural contractors, transport providers, fertiliser spreaders, vets and shearing contractors. . .

Milk price prediction means farmers will tread water for another season:

Farmers are resigned to another tight season after Fonterra confirmed its milk price at $4.25 for the coming season.

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said: “Many were hopeful of a price in the vicinity of $4.50, so optimistic farmers will be feeling disappointed.

“The reality is we have seen the opening forecast price change quickly as the market has changed. Unfortunately it has changed for the worse in the previous two seasons. Hopefully with this conservative forecast, we won’t see any further drops. Especially as there are some more positive signs out there in the markets presently. . . 

New Zealand Avocados Break Record for New Zealand Sales at $41 million:

New Zealand’s love affair with avocados has produced record-breaking domestic sales of $41 million during the 2015-16 season.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, today announced impressive end-of-season results of $134 million in industry value from export and New Zealand market sales.

Strong global demand also delivered outstanding returns from the Australian market and strong returns from the Asian export markets. . . 

Wool Celebrates Its Place In The Built Environment At One of the Biggest Architectural Events:

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2016!

For the first time ever wool is being celebrated at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016, with an installation in the New Zealand Room and a hosting event set down for September.

The Architecture Biennale kicks off on Thurs 26th with the Vernissage (an exclusive launch) and runs for six months. This Biennale, sister to the Art Biennale, attracts over 3000 media and more than a quarter of a million global visitors.

“This is a highly attentive and influential audience, and it’s great to see New Zealand companies with a strong design focus appreciate the opportunities the Biennale offers,” says Teen Hale Pennington, CE, New Zealand Institute of Architecture (NZIA). . . 

Stoned sheep invade Welsh village:

Stoned sheep have gone on a “psychotic rampage” in the small Welsh village of Rhydypandy after eating cannabis plants.

The plants, left-overs of an illegal cannabis factory, were dumped at the side of a road near the village and there are fears things could get worse.

“There is already a flock of sheep roaming the village causing a nuisance,” said County councillor Ioan Richard.

“They are getting in people’s gardens and one even entered a bungalow and left a mess in the bedroom.” . . .


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