Rural round-up

August 12, 2016

Kiwi world leader in precision farming – Nigel Malthus:

Mid-Canterbury farmer and businessman Craige Mackenzie was recently named the international Precision Farmer of the Year for 2016.

He is travelling to St Louis, Missouri, in early August to receive the award from the US-based PrecisionAg Institute. Nigel Malthus caught up with him before he left.

The award recognises “outstanding people, programmes and organisations making a difference in the precision ag industry”. It is a high honour for a man who was first invited to present a paper at an international conference in 2008 – but who did not then consider himself a precision farmer. . . 

$34-$35 Million FY16 reported earnings forecast for Synlait:

Synlait Milk’s reported net profit after tax (NPAT) for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $34 – $35 million.

Underlying NPAT for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $32 – $33 million.

Earnings guidance for the financial year ending 31 July 2016 (FY16) has been provided to clarify market expectations around FY16 performance.

“Our IPO growth projects added the capability and capacity to execute our strategy of making more from milk,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman. . . 

Collaborative group to improve nature protection:

A new collaborative group involving environmental and landowner organisations has come together to improve national policy on protecting nature on private land, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today at the Environmental Defence Society’s ‘Wild Places’ conference in Auckland.

“New Zealand is globally recognised as a hotspot environmentally for the loss of unique species. One of the most challenging issues for councils and communities is improving the protection of our native species on private land while respecting the reasonable rights of owners to use their land for farming, forestry and other economic activities. This initiative is about bringing environmental groups and landowners together to develop clearer national policy on protecting the plants and animals that make New Zealand special.” . . 

Feds welcome biodiversity forum:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new national biodiversity forum announced by Minister Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society conference today.

Federated Farmers spokesperson for biodiversity Chris Allen says we now have the opportunity to come to a common understanding of the pressures and priorities for biodiversity, on land and in water.

“From here we chart a way forward. Part of this will be agreeing on a national policy statement. . . 

Threatened wildlife the winner if National Policy Statement on Biodiversity succeeds:

Forest & Bird is cautiously optimistic that the development of a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity will help New Zealand’s struggling native wildlife, and streamline the process of protecting the environment.

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith announced today that core stakeholders have been invited to meet over the next 18 months and collaboratively work on a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

A National Policy Statement (NPS) is a statutory document that guides and directs the contents of regional and district plans. All regional and district plans must give effect to the policy. . . 

Entries open for the 2016 Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award:

Rural Women New Zealand is offering the Journalism Award in a partnership with the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

The Award recognises the important contribution women make in the rural community, either through their role in the farming sector or to the general rural environment.

The Award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities. The award recipient will demonstrate excellent understanding of issues and effectively communicate women’s responses to farming, family and business challenges, in a way which inspires and informs the audience. . . 

Changes to kiwifruit regulations:

The Government is updating kiwifruit regulations to ensure the industry is best structured for future growth, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“New amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations will allow Zespri shareholders to consider setting rules around maximum shareholding and eligibility for dividend payments. 

“This will give Zespri more options for managing its shareholding available to any other company operating under the Companies Act, and will ensure that the interests of all shareholders are recognised in any decision affecting them. . . 

Zespri welcomes changes to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

Zespri welcomes the Government’s announcement that Cabinet has approved amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains these regulatory changes represent the first major review of the regulations since they were put in place 17 years ago.

“The Kiwifruit Regulations have served the industry very well and extensive industry consultation showed more than 97 percent of growers support the industry structure, with minor changes identified to position the industry for the strong growth ahead. . . 

NZKGI welcomes amendments to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes today’s announcement by the Government to approve amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

These changes will ensure a regulatory structure that supports the sustainable, long-term growth of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry into the future.

The announcement today reflects considerable effort and investment by growers into ensuring the industry has the foundations to sustain its future in good and adverse times. . . 

Pahiatua Farmers Enjoy Participating In Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Wairarapa sheep and beef farmers Tim and Nicola Hewitt are proud of the environmental work on their family’s 724ha (640ha effective) property south of Pahiatua. While they were initially reluctant to enter the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, they are glad they finally gave it a go.

“We didn’t want to be seen as blowing our own trumpet,” says Tim.

“But ultimately I think farmers have a responsibility to our industry to show that we are trying to do a good job when it comes to the environment.” . . 

New agri-food research centre in Palmerston North:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced that AgResearch and Massey University will jointly build New Zealand’s largest agri-food research centre in the Food HQ Precinct on the Massey University campus in Palmerston North.

As part of AgResearch’s Future Footprint Programme, AgResearch and Massey University are investing $39 million in the Food Science Research Centre and the design for the new buildings is well underway.

“The research conducted at the Centre will span the agriculture sector from farm to consumer, with a focus on dairy and red meat research,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

Association backs ‘thorough’ maunka honey verification – Alexa Cook:

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association says it can now classify what is genuine manuka honey, which it believes is a world first.

John Rawcliffe, from UMF Honey Association, said clarification around what constituted genuine manuka honey would help protect the brand and identify legitimate honey.

“Everyone who puts the word ‘manuka’ on a bottle is required to ensure that it is, so from any export honey the requirement is to show that you are labelling correctly that it is manuka.

“There have been question marks on how to go about it, and today under the UMF quality mark at least we can say ‘this is manuka’.” . . 

Rodent eradication lies in directed vitamin dose:

Rats die of a heart attack within 48 hours of being sprayed with a new chemical formulation invented by a New Zealand – United Kingdom joint venture.

The formula includes Cholecalciferol, better known as vitamin D3 and used as a health supplement in humans.

But Peter Signal, a director of New Zealand company Advanced Animal Technologies (AAT), says it’s the combination of the chemical formula with a specially designed delivery system, called PiedPiper, that has been shown to deliver outstanding results in trials in the UK, Europe and Kenya. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 11, 2016

Falling NZ lamb numbers may not bolster prices – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – An expected decline in New Zealand’s lamb numbers this season to the lowest level in more than 60 years may not bolster prices amid uncertainty in key markets and as the higher kiwi dollar depresses local returns.

The country’s lamb crop is expected to drop for a second consecutive year this spring, slipping 2.9 percent to 23.3 million, which would make it the lowest lamb volume since the early 1950’s, according to the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

New Zealand lamb prices have firmed at the farmgate, at saleyards and in overseas markets in response to lower supply, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly data for July. . . 

Cost of dairy products continue to fall:

Food prices decreased 1.3 percent in the year to July 2016, Statistics New Zealand said today. This follows a decrease of 0.5 percent in the year to June 2016.

Grocery food prices decreased 2.9 percent in the year, influenced by all the main dairy products decreasing in price:

  • cheese (down 11 percent)
  • fresh milk (down 3.2 percent)
  • yoghurt (down 9.7 percent) 
  • butter (down 11 percent).

“The price of cheese has continued to fall in the year to July 2016, to its lowest price since October 2009,” consumer prices manager Matt Haigh said. “The average price of a kilo block of the cheapest available mild cheddar cheese was $7.39 in July 2016, down from $9.07 in July 2015.”  . . 

Arable Industry Fares Well After Drought Like Conditions:

The 2016 arable harvest has fared well despite challenges, according to survey results released by the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative.

Federated Farmers arable vice-chairperson grains Brian Leadley says drought like conditions leading into harvest had many farmers concerned with how and what yields may look like this season.

“Survey figures show that while yields were slightly down in places, there were still some exceptional yielding crops.

“Feed wheat yields (343,700 tonnes) were up 7 percent on last season with 70 percent sold so far; sales are well ahead on previous years,” says Mr Leadley. . . 

 

Financial sting from honey bee loss:

New Zealand agriculture stands to lose $295-728 million annually if the local honeybee population continues to decline, according to a new study into the economic consequences of a decline in pollination rates.

One of the co-authors of the study, Lincoln University Professor Stephen Wratten of the Bio-Protection Research Centre, says it is well known that a global decline in the populations of insect pollinators poses a major threat to food and nutritional security. “We’ve lost most of our wild bees in New Zealand to varroa mite, and cultivated bees are becoming resistant to varroa pesticides. Functioning beehives are becoming increasingly expensive for farmers to rent.

We know the decline in bee populations is going to have a major impact on our economy, but we wanted to measure the impact.”   Previous methods of estimating the economic value of pollination have focused on desktop calculations around the value of crops and the dependency of those crops on pollinators. Professor Wratten says the experimental manipulation of pollination rates is a more direct estimation of the economic value of pollination, or ecosystem services (ES). . . 

Funding for Uawa River, estuary clean-up:

 Gisborne’s Uawa River and estuary will get a clean-up with funding of $500,000 from the Te Mana o Te Wai fund, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox announced today.

“The Government is committed to working with local communities, councils and iwi to improve water quality in our waterways. This funding will support fencing, planting, pest control and sustainable farm management practices in the Uawa catchment so as to improve water quality in the river and estuary,” Dr Smith says.

“This two-year, $575,000 project involves a partnership with local iwi, Tolaga Bay Area School, Massey University, the Gisborne District Council and the Allan Wilson Centre. The focus is not only on improving water quality but also on restoring whitebait spawning grounds and using the project for environmental and science education. . . 

  Cardrona Chondola a Game Changer for NZ Ski Industry:

Cardrona Alpine Resort are changing the game for the New Zealand ski industry – installing a $10million combined lift of gondola cabins and chairs in time for the 2017 winter season. The new McDougall’s Express Chondola will be the first cabin-style lift on a ski area in New Zealand, replacing the existing McDougall’s Quad chairlift.

The current McDougall’s fixed-grip quad was installed in 1985, and has been a Cardrona stalwart ever since. The lift is the main access point to all the Cardrona beginner terrain, and runs slowly to load and unload first-time chairlift users safely.

The goal for a new McDougall’s lift is to make it an access lift for the whole mountain and all of Cardrona’s visitors, not just beginners. . . 


Rural round-up

July 14, 2016

Dairy farmers urged to plan for volatility – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers need to strengthen their business structures by rebuilding equity in the next price upcycle and further develop flexible production systems that can easily reduce costs when prices fall, a new report from Rabobank says.

The severe price downturn marked the third trough in the past decade and the sector must plan for inevitable future volatility, report co-author and dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

“Tough decisions will need to be made in the next upward cycle. Farmers will need to make a careful and considered decision whether to put some debt to bed or chase a profit margin through increased investment and spending. . . 

Million kg milestone for milk futures:

NZX celebrated a milestone in the development of its New Zealand milk price futures contract on Friday, with more than one million kilograms of milk solids (kg/ms) traded since the product launched at the end of May.

The total number of contracts traded since launch was 184 at close of trading on Friday. Each contract is worth 6000 (kg/ms), totalling 1,104,000 kg/ms.

The 2016/17 contract has traded at an average price of $4.53, while the 2017/18 average contract price was $5.60. . . 

Critical shortage of doctors in NZ small towns:

There’s almost no such thing as a ‘community doctor’ anymore, health expert Professor Ross Lawrenson says.

There’s a critical shortage of doctors in small towns across New Zealand, and Waikato University’s Prof Lawrenson wants medical students sent to rural practices earlier to combat the problem.

“The two medical schools did a survey of medical students who were just qualifying, and only two percent of them wanted to live in a community of less than 10,000 population – there’s a real issue there.”

He says the system is at crisis point, and he believes the way doctors are trained is letting down rural communities. . . 

Meat and dairy exporters secure largest ever container ship for Asia run – Pattrick Smellie

 (BusinessDesk) – The Kotahi joint venture between Fonterra Cooperative Group and Silver Fern Farms is launching a new weekly service to Asian export markets using the largest container ship ever to call at a New Zealand port.

The service will operate through the Port of Tauranga, where a $350 million port expansion and dredging operation will allow visits by a ship capable of carrying more than twice the usual number of containers seen on cargo ships operating through New Zealand.

The new service will see ships with a capacity of 9,500 TEUs – 20-foot container equivalents – calling at Tauranga on their way from the west coast of South America before heading to ports in North Asia. . . 

Rabobank New Zealand announces new CEO:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Daryl Johnson to the position of chief executive officer.

Effective immediately, the appointment sees Mr Johnson take over the role from Crawford Taylor, who has served as CEO in an interim capacity since October 2015.

Announcing the appointment, Rabobank New Zealand Chairman John Palmer said the bank was very pleased to have a highly-experienced banking executive of Mr Johnson’s calibre take the helm of the business as it continues its growth and development in the New Zealand market. . . 

MOU with Foshan City kicks off global Food Integrity Conference:

Chinese representatives visiting from Foshan city will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity tomorrow morning at the opening of the Food Integrity Conference 2016.

The MOU is an exciting step for the APCFI to work closely with colleagues in China on food safety education in Foshan. Foshan has a population of more than 7.2million and is the third largest city in the Guangdong province.

This agreement is a huge opportunity for the Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity, Executive Director and Conference Organiser, Dr Helen Darling. . . 

New salmon farms for Marlborough:

The opening of two new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds today is a welcome development for New Zealand’s aquaculture industry, Environment Minister and Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith says.

“Salmon is a healthy, sustainable and high-value product and we should be proud that New Zealand is the world’s largest producer of farmed king salmon. New Zealand King Salmon’s Marlborough Sounds operation supports 440 jobs and $115 million in annual export earnings, and comes from just 8 hectares of farms in the 800,000 hectare Sounds. No other primary industry is able to support so many jobs and families from such a small area.”

The two new salmon farms in Pelorus Sound, the Waitata Bay farm and the Kopāua farm in Richmond Bay, add to King Salmon’s operating farms in Queen Charlotte Sound. They will eventually take the company’s production from 6000 to 10,500 tonnes per year, and boost earnings to more than $170 million. . . 

Million dollar mouse pest drops completed:

The ambitious Million Dollar Mouse pest eradication project on remote Antipodes Island in the sub-Antarctic has been completed ahead of schedule, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

A second helicopter drop of rodent bait across the island was finished yesterday afternoon, following a first phase completed on June 29.

“Despite very unsettled weather conditions, the Million Dollar Mouse team have done an outstanding job of making use of every available weather window to get the bait drop completed,” Ms Barry says.

“This is the most challenging pest eradication ever carried out in New Zealand and is a globally significant conservation achievement, safeguarding a unique, remote and forbidding land and the many extraordinary species living there.” . . 

Lamb flap prices rise to a year high in June; beef, lamb leg stable – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb flap prices rose to their highest level in a year, driven by increased demand from China where the meat is used in traditional hotpot dishes.

Lamb flap prices rose to US$4.40 per kilogram in June, up from US$4.05/kg in May and the highest level since the first week of June last year, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly sheep & beef report.

Chinese demand for lamb flaps has helped turn the offcut into a premium cut and lifted the overall return Kiwi farmers can get from their animals. The meat is processed into a lamb roll and sliced thinly for hotpot, the dominant cooking style for lamb and a staple of the Chinese national diet. . . 

Strong 2016 vintage confirms positive outlook for NZ wine:

As demand for New Zealand wine continues to grow in the key markets of the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia, the industry is rising to the challenge. That’s according to Alistair King, Crowe Horwath’s viticulture specialist, who says the outlook is positive, particularly with a plentiful grape harvest for the 2016 vintage.

“The wine industry is targeting a goal of export earnings of $2-billion by 2020; after a poor vintage in terms of volume for 2015 where just 312,000 tonnes of grapes came in, this year is looking considerably better,” he says. . . 

Mission Estate Selected as One of the World’s Best:

Mission Estate, New Zealand’s oldest winery, has further cemented its place on the global wine map by having its Jewelstone Syrah 2013 selected to appear at WINE Explorers’ Grand Annual Tasting 2016.

WINE Explorers is a unique four-year project to take an inventory of all of the wine producing countries of the world. Now in it’s third year, the unprecedented task has seen the WINE Explorers travel to 92 countries, visiting 250 winegrowing regions, surveying a total of 1500 vineyards and tasting over 15000 wines. . . 


Rural round-up

July 5, 2016

The Snow Farmer – John Lee of the Cardrona Valley – Beattie’s Book BLog:

The Snow Farmer

John Lee of the Cardrona Valley
Sally Rae
Photographs by Stephen Jaquiery
Published by Random House NZ; July 1, 2016; RRP: $50

“John’s story is one to inspire others. It’s a story of a man with a vision, and the strength of personality and the strong relationships with others to make it happen. It’s a Kiwi story of grit and determination of which we can all be proud.” –

Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999-2008).

John Lee has always been a law unto himself. Entrepreneurial, inventive, determined, he hailed from a farming background in the Cardrona Valley; the third of five boys. Schooled in Oamaru, the young John Lee was no fan of the classroom – he was good at maths, but struggled with words– preferring to spend his time dreaming about the day he would farm in his beloved Cardrona Valley. . . .

Fed Farmers launch new sustainability scheme:

An initiative aimed at directing farmers towards sustainable use of land and water has been launched by Federated Farmers.

The farming lobby group’s president Dr William Rolleston, announced the establishment of the Land Water Stewardship initiative at its conference this morning.

Dr Rolleston said the initiative would be a small group that would work together to propose solutions to take the economy and the environment forward and engage with farmers . . .

‘Best in the world’ fruit in demand – Jill Herron:

The Cromwell Basin is now producing around half of New Zealand’s export cherries and they are “the best in the world”.

Quite a claim, but one that can be confidently made, in relation to the Asian palate anyway, newly-elected chairman of Summerfruit NZ, Tim Jones, says.

“We think they are the best in the world and our market is telling us they are. That’s one of the reasons we can charge up to $25 a kg, because we deliver on the promise that when someone over there lifts the lid on a box of our cherries, they will go wow.”

Cherry plantings around Cromwell had expanded in recent years, mainly into the Mount Pisa area, as the Southeast Asian markets developed, Mr Jones said. . . 

Silver Fern confident – Sally Rae:

September 30 has been agreed in principle by Silver Fern Farms and Shanghai Maling as the revised date to meet Overseas Investment Office approval for their joint venture.

SFF has been awaiting an announcement from the OIO since farmer shareholders voted in favour of the deal last October.

More time was needed to answer the further information requests from the OIO and then to provide sufficient time for the OIO and then Government ministers to consider the application.

SFF continued to believe the investment would be approved “given its substantial merits”, chief executive Dean Hamilton said in a statement. . . 

Waterways project wins environment funding:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox have announced more than $376,000 of funding to improve water quality in seven waterways in the Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki regions.

Local iwi Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi will lead the Te Kāhui o Rauru Trust’s Waterways Restoration Project, working with both local and central government.

“The Government is committed to improving water quality in the Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki regions. This initiative is focused on the Kai Iwi, Ototoka and Ōkehu streams, the Waitōtara riverbank, Tapuarau Lagoon, the middle reaches of the Waitōtara River and the Whenuakura River,” Dr Smith says.

“Te Kāhui o Rauru Trust clearly understands the issues in these waterways and its project offers realistic, achievable objectives. It has focused clearly on protecting and restoring the seven waterways and moreover has recognised the need to develop ways to monitor the ongoing health of these rivers, lagoon and streams.” . . 

Marlborough Sounds Salmon Working Group to be established:

The Marlborough District Council and the Ministry for Primary Industries will establish a Marlborough Sounds Salmon Working Group to consider options to implement the Best Management Practice Guidelines for Salmon Farming in the Marlborough Sounds (the guidelines). Other agencies that will have input into the process include the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment.

The working group will meet starting in July and provide recommendations to Marlborough District Council and the Government on implementing the guidelines.

Ministry for Primary Industries Deputy Director General Ben Dalton said the public, the council, government and industry have shown a commitment to implement the guidelines. . . 

Guy attending primary sector leaders’ bootcamp:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy departs for Stanford University today to attend a primary sector leaders bootcamp, focused on developing collaboration and innovation. 

“The week-long conference is part of the Te Hono movement, bringing together Chief Executives and leaders with a vison to accelerate the transformation of the primary sector by adding value and creating demand,” says Mr Guy.

“As a Government we have a goal of doubling the value of primary sector exports by 2025 and sector leaders share our ambition to explore new ways of collaboration and building capability in our people. . . 

10 Reasons Why Kids Brought Up in Agriculture Make the Best Employees – Raised in a Barn:

Kids involved in agriculture are truly one of a kind. They possess a unique skill set unlike anyone else. For the record, there are more than 10 reasons why you should hire an ag kid, but here are some of the best and most important reasons why ag kids make the best employees.

  1. They understand the importance of being on time.

For Ag kids they know that time is of the essence and wasting daylight is not an option. Even if your five minutes late feeding that show lamb, it will notice. You can expect us to be 15 minutes early because that’s what we’ve learned from our time at the barn.

  1. Respect is something they value more than anything.

They have worked hard in the show ring to be well-respected so they understand that respect isn’t something that’s given it’s EARNED. FFA taught them to, “…believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others.” . . .

 


$1b housing help

July 4, 2016

The government has announced a $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to accelerate the supply of new housing where it’s needed most, Finance Minister Bill English and Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith say.

The contestable fund will be open to applications from councils in the highest growth areas – currently Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland.

Mr English says the Housing Infrastructure Fund will help bring forward the new roads and water infrastructure needed for new housing where financing is a constraint.

“The Government will invest up front to ensure the infrastructure is in place. But councils will have to repay the investment or buy back the assets once houses have been built and development contributions paid.”

Dr Smith says the fund will be available only for substantial new infrastructure investments that support more new housing, not to replace existing infrastructure.

“To access the fund, local councils must outline how many new houses will be built, where they will be built and when they will be available. Ideally, they will have agreements with developers on these issues.

“Funding may also have other conditions attached, such as faster processing of resource consents. All of this will require close collaboration between central and local government.”

Mr English says infrastructure, and its financing in particular, is one of the three key constraints to building more houses – alongside land supply and consenting requirements.

“Councils have strict debt limits which means some lack the headroom to invest in infrastructure now and then wait for future development contributions to recover the costs. The fund will help provide more infrastructure sooner by aligning the cost to councils with the timing of revenue from development contributions.”

Depending on the number and timing of applications, it will require the Government to temporarily borrow up to $1 billion, which will increase net debt until it is repaid.

Dr Smith says the Government is also considering establishing Urban Development Authorities (UDAs) to help further speed up the supply of new housing.

UDAs have streamlined powers to override barriers to large-scale development, including potentially taking responsibility for planning and consenting and other powers.

“These changes are just the latest steps in the Government’s ongoing, comprehensive programme to increase the supply and affordability of housing,” Dr Smith says.

“They will complement the work of the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas, our social housing build, our emergency housing programme, the expanded HomeStart Scheme for first home buyers, the development of surplus Crown land, the National Policy Statement, RMA reform and the extra tax measures we took last year.

“We are making good progress in facilitating increased investment in housing with a record $11.4 billion of residential building work underway this year. This initiative to support councils with infrastructure provision is the next logical step in this programme.”

The housing shortage is a result of supply outstripping demand.

It takes time to build new houses and it also requires new infrastructure. The costs for developing that is incurred long before councils start collecting enough in rates to fund it.

This new fund will enable councils to borrow the money needed for new infrastructure – roads, water and sewerage – and gives them 10 years to repay it by which the increased rate-take from the new houses will enable them to do.

It’s a good idea and while $1 billion is a very large amount of money, the cost to the taxpayer is the interest only because the fund is for loans not grants.


Moving up, out and right out

May 19, 2016

At last, Labour appears to have caught up with National on one solution to Auckland’s housing problem:

The new position by the Labour opposition calling for an abolition of city limits has been welcomed by Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“This is a welcome repositioning by Labour. Tight city limits and not allowing intensification is at the core of Auckland’s housing problems. It is limiting new housing developments, driving up section and house prices and encouraging land banking.

“A broad political consensus that the policy around city limits needs to change is helpful to progressing the necessary reforms to increase housing supply and to make them more affordable.

“I was given the Housing portfolio in January 2013 and immediately identified Auckland Council’s metropolitan urban limits, set in 1993 when the population was half a million less than today, as a huge barrier to meeting housing needs both now and in the future. At that time Phil Twyford insisted having no boundaries ‘will mean uncontrolled sprawl from Pukekohe to Warkworth’.

“The Government’s housing programme has involved the systematic dismantling of Auckland’s metropolitan urban limit. I have used Special Housing Areas (SHAs) to override the limits in the short-term while fast-tracking with the independent hearings panel a new plan for Auckland with adequate housing supply.

“Both the laws for SHAs and the new Unitary Plan were opposed by Labour. The new Unitary Plan is only six weeks away from going to the council, and I’m confident it will provide a far more permissive approach to new housing because of the depth of analysis that has gone into the new plan.

“It would be counter-productive to ditch this work at this time with a simplistic approach of just abolishing city limits. We still need some rules to ensure new urban areas have appropriate infrastructure and services and that we make separate provision for industry from housing.

“We are making huge progress in growing supply. Only 10 new homes were being built each working day when National came to office but that has grown to 40. I will be keeping my foot hard on the accelerator until we achieve the needed rate of 50-60 per day.

“I welcome this change of tack by Labour on city limits because the next key step is gaining support for a more enabling plan for Auckland. I hope Mr Twyford and Labour will join me in encouraging the Auckland Council to support the new Unitary Plan in July, when the independent hearings panel reports back.”

Some political tragics might care whose idea it was to allow Auckland to move out but most other people just want the best solution to the imbalance between supply and demand – and that’s more houses.

Auckland has to move up and out and it would help if some people moved right out of the city to other regions where houses are far more affordable.

Strong family links and work will be keeping some people in Auckland but there are good livings and good living in other parts of the country.

All New Zealanders are either descended from immigrants or immigrates themselves. Many of our forbears made long and dangerous journeys to get a better life for themselves and their families; some came not just to a new land but a new language and culture, some new New Zealanders are still doing that.

What’s stopping at least some Aucklanders easing the housing problems in their city by making the much easier move to somewhere else in New Zealand?

 

 


Rural round-up

May 11, 2016

Dairy cattle number falls for first time since 2005:

The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand fell to 6.5 million in 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the first decline after nine years of consecutive increases.

”The dairy cattle number is now similar to the level back in 2013,” business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said. “This reduction was caused by an increase in the number of cows slaughtered and was against a backdrop of declining milk solid payouts.”

The 2015 Agricultural Production Survey final result shows that, for the year ending June 2015, there were 213,000 fewer dairy cattle. This follows a record high of 6.7 million dairy cattle in 2014. In the Waikato region, a traditional dairy farming area, there were 153,000 fewer dairy cattle than in 2014. . . 

Australian dairy farmers call for independent govt review after Fonterra slashed farmgate prices – Fiona Rotherham:

A group of Australian dairy farmers is planning a rally this week and more to follow in a push for the federal government to urgently establish an independent review of the country’s dairy industry after farmgate milk prices were slashed by Fonterra Cooperative Group and other processors.

The group, Dairy Power, said the “unacceptable retrospective reduction in milk price”, which affects 75 percent of farms in Victoria, threatens to push farmers off the land or further cull their herds.

“Dairy farmers are not going to survive if they’re losing money,” said group president Chris Gleeson. “The average farmer is forecast to lose A$15,000 this season and more next season. Without immediate action, the industry will continue its downward spiral.” . . 

The money’s in the honey:

The money’s in the honey

A dawning realisation that unused blocks of manuka covered land could be an untapped source of sustainable income is attracting a steadily increasing number of students of all ages in Northland to train in apiculture.

Manuka honey, or liquid gold as it’s fast becoming known, is a growing industry, with enrolments in the Kaitaia based Lincoln University Certificate in Apiculture up from eight students in 2015 to 22 in 2016. The course has support from local iwi, and is run in partnership with Te Runanga o Te Rarawa School of Honey Gatherers. . . 

Speech to the B3 biosecurity conference:

As you know, I’ve always said that biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister.

That’s because it underpins all of our other goals. We want to double the value of our primary sector exports by 2025, but we can’t do that unless we protect ourselves from pests and diseases.

Today I want to give a bit of context on what we’ve achieved over the last few years, the challenges ahead of us, and the importance of all sectors working together.

What we’ve done in recent years

In Budget 2015 I was proud to announce $27 million in new funding for biosecurity. As a result of that, MPI has employed 90 new front line biosecurity staff and introduced 24 new biosecurity detector dog teams. . .

Ministers announces Green Ribbon finalists:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced the 2016 Green Ribbon Awards finalists to celebrate exceptional environmental achievements by New Zealanders.

“We are delighted to recognise these community groups, scientists, schools, councils and businesses for their innovation and achievements in the 26th annual Green Ribbon Awards,” Dr Smith says.

“This year we received a very commendable 106 nominations across the ten categories, with some projects making a positive difference over many years.

“Environmental initiatives include protecting our precious biodiversity, reducing carbon emissions, minimising waste, reducing water pollution, educating and inspiring leadership and implementing more sustainable business practice.” . . 

Gift to help grow seed industry:

A former Lincoln University student who went on to carve out an illustrious career in the seed industry has provided a significant boost to seed science education in New Zealand.

Selwyn and Mary Manning signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lincoln University Foundation last Friday to mark the creation of the Manning Seed Awards, which are dedicated to furthering education in seed science and seed technology for the benefit of New Zealand. 
“The seed industry is sometimes overlooked for funding, as a lot of people don’t realise how significant it is,” Mr Manning said at the MOU signing event.
 
“These awards are our way of giving back to a vital sector of New Zealand’s agricultural industry, which has given our family so much for so many years.” . . 

Zooming in on heat for herring bones:

Farmers who milk in herringbones now have an easy to use and high tech solution to accurately identify which of their cows are on heat.

The innovative system has been developed in New Zealand by farmer owned co-operative LIC, and is now commercially available in this country and overseas. It uses exclusive camera technology to automatically identify heat events, saving farmers time and money.

The technology was developed to meet farmer demand for a herringbone heat detection solution, LIC Automation Chief Executive Paul Whiston said. Protrack EZ Heat for rotaries had been available for four years and a large number of farmers had asked for a herringbone solution. . . 

Shearer, farmer and former soldier wins premier book award – Beattie’s Book Blog:

Stephen Daisley has won New Zealand’s richest writing prize, the inaugural $50,000 Acorn Foundation Literary Award, for his novel Coming Rain, announced this evening at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards..

Daisley (60), who was born and raised in the Raetihi Hotel, which his parents owned, is a former soldier in the NZ Army. He was 56 years old when his first book, Traitor, was published to wide literary acclaim in Australia, winning a Prime Minister’s Award for Literature. Daisley now lives in Western Australia, where he is a farmer and shearer. . . 

Staying fit on the farm!  5 keys to finding time to workout – Uptown Farms:

Over the last few years I’ve had the privilege of speaking to women from all aspects of our industry. One question keeps coming up.

Other farm moms always ask, “How do you have time to stay in shape?”

Every time it’s asked, I have a lousy answer. I just smile and shrug, or reply “I don’t know!”

For moms on the farm, life is so different. Our mornings already start earlier than most with morning chores. For moms
who farm full time, there isn’t a break between sun up and sun down. Many of us leave the farm for a career during the day, only to return to more chores in the evening. We often eat meals on the go, in the tractor or in the barn. . . 

 

 

 


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