Rural round-up

February 1, 2014

Sock-less shoe idea gets $30k kickstarter – Daniel Lynch:

Tim Brown’s sock-less woollen running shoe idea is one step closer to being a commercial reality after the startup’s wildly successful crowdfunding campaign.

It took just over 24 hours for Brown’s fledgling company Three Over Seven to reach its $30,000 target on crowd funding site Kickstarter.

So far, more than 290 people from around the world have backed the Wool Runners idea each pledging a small financial contribution – and that figure could grow much higher by the end of the month-long funding push.

The former All White’s and Phoenix soccer player said the goal of hitting $30,000 from the Kickstarter campaign was the breakeven point to get the shoes into production.

“It has required an investment of well into the six figures to get to this point with our fabric production and the legal costs of patent filing,” Brown said.

The shoes are made from mid-micron New Zealand sheep’s wool, utilising a patent pending process comprising of knitting together wool fibres, melt-bond fibres, and multifilament yarn to form a unique knitted fabric. . .

Rare Wairarapa forest protected for all to enjoy:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced the Nature Heritage Fund has purchased of seven hectares of rare kahikatea forest on the Wairarapa Plains for $340,000.

“The giant trees that can be seen for miles on the Wairarapa Plains are now guaranteed for everyone to enjoy,” Dr Smith says.

“This area of forest known as Allen’s Bush is next to the 42-hectare Lowes Bush Scenic Reserve, which was purchased by the Fund in 2000. The latest purchase will see the nearby kahikatea forest also protected as a scenic reserve.

“Allen’s Bush is distinctive for the size of its trees, its maturity and ecological diversity. The forest is also home to a number of species uncommon elsewhere in the Wellington region, including a number of native birds, long-tailed bats, and koura and freshwater crayfish in the creeks and pools. . .

High commodity prices boost Synlait’s profit – Alan Williams:

Synlait Milk will have a much higher profit this year than it expected just a few months ago, and some of the credit goes to Fonterra.

Mostly it is a result of very high dairy commodity prices and Synlait’s mix of products.

However, Fonterra’s mix of products has led to a situation where Synlait and the other small competitors are having to pay less for their milk than they would otherwise.

They could pocket the difference as profits, NZX Agrifax dairy analyst Susan Kilsby said. . .

Milk powder exports to China leads to high export levels in 2013:

Milk powder exports, particularly to China, dominated the total goods exported for the year ended December 2013, Statistics New Zealand said today. This led to many new record highs, such as export values for the month, quarter, and year for the grouping milk powder, butter, and cheese.

“For 2013, the value of goods we exported rose by $2.0 billion – to reach $48.1 billion – and most of this increase was from milk powder,” industry and labour statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said. “Almost half of our milk powder exports went to China.”

Goods exported to China in the year ended December 2013 were valued at $10.0 billion, of which $4.0 billion was milk powder. This is the highest-ever value of milk powder exported to China for any year. . .

Manawatu shows how rural banking works – Lucy Townend:

New Zealand is an agri-commerce powerhouse in the eyes of our Asia-Pacific neighbours, with Manawatu proving to be the best example.

An international delegation got the inside scoop on New Zealand’s agricultural sector this week, touring farms, banks and questioning industry experts in Palmerston North.

As part of a Massey University pilot programme, bank managers and policy makers from the Philippines, India and Bangladesh travelled to New Zealand for first-hand experience of financing in the farming sector.

The trip is part of a programme, led by Massey’s Centre for Professional and Continuing Education (Pace) and the Centre for Training and Research for Agricultural Banking (Centrab). Nearly 60 institutions are involved, including top central and commercial banks, as well as government departments, in more than 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. . .

New rules to help minimise livestock injury risk:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is introducing new rules which will reduce animal welfare risks in the nation’s livestock – particularly in the dairy sector.

Hardware disease is the perforation of the stomach wall by sharp metal fragments.  It is known to occur in animals fed with contaminated Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) which is imported into New Zealand 

PKE is an animal feed that is important to New Zealand farming.  It is used to supplement feed especially during a drought.

The new rules will be issued by a notice under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicine (ACVM) Act 1997.  These will set the minimum requirements for screening PKE and outline record keeping and traceability requirements for all imported animal feeds, . .

Heading back to school:

As children head back to school, Rural Women NZ  hopes 2014 will be the year when state-of-the-art signage will be approved for use on school buses to help remind passing motorists that ‘Either Way It’s 20K’.

Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan, says “The 20kmh speed limit in both directions must be one of the most flouted rules in the Road Code, often because drivers are simply unaware of the law, or don’t notice they’re passing a school bus until it’s too late.

“We are calling for illuminated 20K signs to be approved for use on school buses.”
During 2013 Rural Women NZ took part in an extensive trial in Ashburton, along with TERNZ Ltd and NZTA, to alert drivers that they’re about to pass a school bus and of the need to slow right down, called ‘Either Way it’s 20K’. . .

Paying our way again

December 20, 2013

New Zealand’s GDP increased 1.4% in the September quarter on the back of dairying.

The strong increase in dairy production was the main contributor to a 17.0 percent rise in agriculture, which makes up about 5 percent of the New Zealand economy.

“Dairy farming has really bounced back from the drought this year,” acting national accounts manager Steffi Schuster said. “The increase in agriculture is the largest in more than 25 years, as good weather boosted production well above the weak June quarter.”

Dairy product manufacturing also increased this quarter, which contributed to a 1.5 percent rise in total manufacturing. While manufacturing production was up, exports of dairy products fell this quarter, leading to a build-up of inventories. The $770 million increase in total inventories this quarter is the largest build-up since the series began.

Increases in agriculture and manufacturing production were partly offset by declines in:

  • Construction (down 1.0 percent), as falls in infrastructure and commercial construction outweighed an increase in housing construction. Investment in housing was up 8.5 percent from the previous quarter.
  • Business services (down 0.8 percent), with most sub-industries down, except for architectural and engineering services.

Economic activity for the year ended September 2013 was up 2.6 percent.

The expenditure measure of GDP was up 1.1 percent in the September 2013 quarter. The main movements were:

  • Investment in fixed assets (up 3.1 percent), driven by increased imports of plant, machinery, and equipment. This was also reflected in a 4.5 percent rise in imports of goods and services.
  • Build-ups in manufacturing and distribution inventories, as supply of goods exceeded demand this quarter.
  • Volume of spending by New Zealand households (up 0.4 percent), mainly due to increased spending on durables like furniture and motor vehicles.

A lot of the increased dairy production is going to China which in November passed Australia as our New Zealand’s top goods export destination on an annual basis.

“China is now our top export destination on an annual basis, just under two years after it became our top annual imports partner in December 2011,” industry and labour statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said.

In November 2013, goods exports were valued at $4.5 billion, up $647 million (17 percent) from November 2012. Exports to China hit record levels in October 2013 and November 2013. Exports to China were valued at $1.2 billion.

Dairy contributed the most (63 percent) to the total exports to China, valued at $774 million, in November 2013. This is the highest value of dairy exports to China for any month. Total dairy exports were valued at $1.7 billion – also the highest for any month.

The value of imported goods was $4.3 billion – down $124 million (2.8 percent) from November 2012. A fall in intermediate goods, due to crude oil, affected this movement. Consumption goods also fell, while capital goods rose.

The trade balance for November 2013 was a surplus of $183 million (4.1 percent of exports). This is the first trade surplus for a November month since 1991. This follows a trade deficit in October 2013, which was the lowest deficit for an October month since the mid-1990s. . .

The lowest trade deficit for October since the mid 1990s and the first trade surplus for November since 1991 signals an encouraging trend back to paying our way again.

We can’t produce all we need and we can’t consume all we produce.

Sustainable growth depends on producing and selling goods and services of greater value than those we need, or want, to buy.

We haven’t been doing that for far too long.

This news from Statistics New Zealand and a survey from Export New Zealand showing a lift in exporter confidence, in spite of the high dollar, indicate a welcome change to that.


South Island tourism hit by quake

May 31, 2011

Anecdotal evidence that visitors have been put off coming not just to Christchurch after February’s earthquake but the whole of the South Island has been backed up by Statistics New Zealand. It reports a decline of 24% in guest nights in the Mainland.  

Guest nights fell 5.4 percent in March 2011 compared with March 2010, Statistics New Zealand said today. The decrease was driven by a fall in international guest nights in the Canterbury region and throughout the South Island. International guest nights in the South Island fell by 24 percent compared with March 2010.

“Nationally, capacity has dropped, driven by the decrease in the Canterbury region,” business statistics manager Louise Holmes-Oliver said. “Due to the earthquakes in September 2010 and February 2011, less accommodation was available in Canterbury. Available capacity was down by half for hotels and by a third for backpacker accommodation, compared with March 2010. This should be kept in mind when looking at figures for the Canterbury region.”

Although the South’s loss has been the North’s gain:

All five South Island regions had fewer guest nights in March 2011 compared with March 2010, recording an overall decrease in guest nights of 15 percent. Canterbury had by far the largest regional decrease (down 30 percent), due to fewer international guest nights. The North Island recorded an overall increase in guest nights, led by increases in Auckland (up 8.0 percent) and Wellington (up 4.4 percent).

Losing thousands of beds from Christchurch which is the gateway to the south can’t help but impact on the rest of the island. Some people will by-pass the city and go somewhere else in the South Island but many others are staying away from the Mainland altogether.

Wanaka is never very busy between Easter and the start of the ski season but it seems to have been even quieter this year; a tourism business owner in Omamara told us visitor numbers had plummeted since late February and even Queenstown seemed a bit subdued on a couple of recent visits. 

The news that there’s a 23% risk of another big earthquake somewhere in Canterbury will be very concerning for people who live there and it will be another deterrent to visitors to the province and the rest of the South Island.


Export led recovery

May 29, 2010

New Zealand was in recession long before the rest of the world.

It didn’t look so bad because the old government was spending lots of our money, but the trading sector was going backwards.

National has been talking about the need for an export led recovery and Statistics NZ shows it’s started

The annual trade balance for the year ended April 2010 was a surplus of $161 million. “This is the first annual trade surplus recorded since July 2002,” added Louise Holmes-Oliver. The trade balance for the April 2010 month was a surplus of $656 million or 16.5 percent of the value of exports. This compares with an average April trade deficit of 0.6 percent of exports for the previous 10 years, with a mix of surpluses and deficits recorded during this period.

And what are the big contributors to that surplus? Dairy products, wood and meat.

Aren’t we pleased we didn’t take any notice of the politicians of  the 1980s when they said farming was a sun set industry?

Oh, and biased as I am, I’m not giving all the credit for this to the government. It doesn’t control the demand or price of our goods on export markets. Nor was it responsible for the recession which dampened demand for imported goods at home.


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