Rural round-up

September 3, 2015

The great job-creating machine – Not PC:

. . .  In 1980, almost a quarter of the world’s employment was still in agriculture. Now, only around 15% of the world’s workers are engaged in agricultural labour. Yet we are feeding more people, undernourishment is at an all-time low, and food is becoming less expensive.

Technological advances liberated humanity from toiling in fields by mechanizing many processes and boosting productivity, allowing more food to be produced per hectare of land, and freeing hundreds of millions of people to pursue less gruelling work. 

The elimination of so many unsafe jobs in manufacturing and agriculture means fewer worker deaths. According to data from the International Labour Organization, from 2003 to 2013, the number of work fatalities in the world decreased by 61% (i.e., over 20,500 fewer deaths). This occurred even as the world population grew by over 700 million over the same time period. . . 

Update on recovery in storm-affected regions:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye says recovery from the severe storm in June is going well, but latest estimates show its economic impact could be around $270 million. Areas hardest hit by the storm included parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu. “Much of the cost of the storm will be met by private insurance, but the Government will also contribute significant support. “We do this in several ways. We make support available to individuals through things like contributions to local relief funds.  . . 

Extra $2.6m support for storm-affected regions:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye have announced an extra $2.6 million of Government support for communities worst affected by the severe storm in June.

“Today’s announcement extends the support we can usually draw on to help communities recover from an emergency such as this,” says Ms Kaye.

“This was an unusual event because certain areas were hit a lot harder than others.

“The new support package includes one-off initiatives that take into account the severity of localised damage that occurred in parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu.”

Today’s announcement adds to previous Government funding and welfare support, and includes: . . .

What’s happening in China – and what does it mean for New Zealand’s agri-food? – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks I have been traveling in Western China. It is just over a year since I was last there, and as with every visit the changes are visible: more fast railways, more four lane highways, and lots more apartment buildings.

This visual perspective contrasts with what we are reading in the media about China’s declining economic growth. Which is correct? Well, both perspectives are valid.

There are many ‘Chinas’ but for simplicity I will divide China into two. There is the eastern seaboard comprising Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Shenzhen and other big seaboard cities. And there is another China west of the seaboard, including Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Wuhan, Kunming, and Xining. . . 

New judging coordinator appointed for Canterbury sustainable farming awards:

Farming journalist Sandra Taylor has recently been appointed Judging Coordinator for the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The award application period is open and Sandra is encouraging farmers to show how important environmental management and enhancement is to the industry.

“Farmers take great pride in their farm environments and the Ballance Farm Environment Awards provides a fantastic opportunity to both benchmark and showcase all the great work that is being done on farms throughout the Canterbury region.” . . .

Ballance holds pricing to help farmers through spring:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has today announced it is holding nitrogen prices to help shelter customers from the significant drop in the dollar and support production on farm this spring.

“We know this is a crucial period for pastoral farmers, and with nitrogen a key feed source in farm budgets we are doing our best to help out where we can and support our customers to plan their feed requirements for spring,” said Ballance CEO Mark Wynne.

Ballance Science Manager Aaron Stafford advised farmers to focus on the nutrient inputs that drive production in the current season or year when planning budgets. . . .

Job Done Wins Idea Pitch at Fonterra Activate to Bring Tech Innovation to Dairy Farms:

Fonterra is pushing on with a business relationship with digital innovation start-up company Job Done after they won an idea pitch yesterday at GridAKL, in Auckland’s innovation precinct.

Seven teams representing Icehouse, Spark Ventures and BBDO spent a month developing prototypes at their own cost with a view to securing future services with the Co-operative to help farmers save time and money.

The seven ideas were pitched to a judging panel made up of Fonterra farmers and staff.

Pitch winner Job Done was mentored by Icehouse and founded by Manawatu farmer Nigel Taylor. . . 

Simcro Limited acquires ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips PTY

Simcro Limited, a leader in the global animal pharmaceutical delivery device industry, has acquired ISL Animal Health (Hamilton, NZ) and NJ Phillips PTY (Gosford, NSW, Australia) from Forlong & Maisey and the Maisey family of Hamilton, New Zealand.

The agreement is effective from 1 September 2015.

Simcro Executive Chairman, Will Rouse, said, “After the Riverside Company became our majority shareholder in 2013, we began looking for opportunities to exponentially grow Simcro’s international market strength. We’ve been in discussions with ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips for quite some time.

“Internationally, animal health companies are amalgamating at a rapid pace. These industry changes are creating opportunities for companies like ours. These opportunities, however, create the requirement to meet ever-increasing quality and compliance thresholds for our global customers. . . 

Key #1

December 4, 2014

Prime Minister John Key is Trans Tasman’s politician of the year:

This year’s 10th annual Roll Call can reveal John Key as its Politician of the Year. It was a straightforward choice. Key has stood head and shoulders above the rest in the polls, and his party romped home in its third election, the third time in a row it has added extra seats as well.

Key polled highest among the Trans Tasman Editors, contributors and their Capital insiders who make up the panel which compiles Roll Call, and despite signs there may be trouble ahead for Key if he is not careful, 2014 was his year.

Of course winning a fourth term will be dependent as much on the party’s support staff and their management as the Parliamentary team. The same goes for Labour as it battles to rebuild after its shattering defeat.

Roll Call says Key is “still phenomenally popular and if he comes through a third term without serious damage, a fourth could be within his grasp. But he’ll have to be careful.”

Trans Tasman’s Editors note “Key has not only performed strongly at home, he has become an international figure as well, cementing his and NZ’s reputation abroad with his election as chairman of the International Democratic Union.”

“However there are clouds. The fallout from the “Dirty Politics” saga continues. It should have been firmly put to bed in the campaign. And Key’s tendency to “forget,” or “mishear” the question is becoming a worrying feature of the way he involves himself in the Parliamentary and media discourse.”

“He has the respect – almost the love – of the voters, he needs to be careful he does not treat them with contempt. A fourth term does beckon, but the PM’s tendency to be just a bit smug, a bit arrogant, and at times a bit childish could derail it.”

“For now he is a titan, but Labour has a new leader and a new sense of purpose, and the next election is a long way away.”

National’s Front Bench performed exceptionally well in 2014, with just a single Cabinet Minister losing ground. Nikki Kaye fell from 6.5 to 6, after the “bright young thing” nearly lost Auckland Central. Roll Call suggests she must work harder.

Steven Joyce adds half a mark, taking the man most see as John Key’s successor to 8. “He doesn’t drop the ball and handles a raft of senior portfolios with calm confidence. Outside Parliament he was National’s campaign manager and must share some of the credit for its victory.”

Bill English, last year’s Politician of the Year, maintained his score of 9 out of 10. He is still “the safest pair of hands in the cabinet. Cautious, dependable and now mostly steering clear of debating chamber rhetoric.”

After a bad year in 2013, Hekia Parata has battled back to take her score from 5 to 7. “Key believes she’s competent and wasn’t going to hang her out to dry. He’s giving her the benefit of the doubt in delivering on a gutsy vision for the Education sector.”

Murray McCully takes his score from 6.5 to 7.5 after putting together the team which won NZ a seat on the UN Security Council and doing many of the hard yards himself, while Maggie Barry gets kudos for fitting in well to Conservation and being who “some say is the most popular National MP behind Key himself.” Her score jumps from 3 to 5.5.

The Ministers outside Cabinet are more average with Craig Foss, and Jo Goodhew, going down in score, Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith staying the same and just Nicky Wagner boosting her score from 4.5 to 5.

Both support party Ministers, Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell boosted their scores. Dunne from 4 to 5 “gets a point for coming through a horrible year with his head/hair up” while Maori Party leader Flavell goes from 6 to 6.5. “We’ll make a call and say he’s going to be an outstanding Minister.”

The dubious honour of low score for National goes to Melissa Lee. “Hard working but faded after a good start.”

Among the thoroughly shattered Labour MPs, there was little to write home about. David Cunliffe’s score falls from 7.5-6 after the election defeat. But “history may judge him more kindly than last week’s headlines. Is he NZ’s Kevin Rudd?”

Andrew Little’s star starts to shine though. His score jumps from 4.5 to 7. “No-one is going to die wondering what Little thinks. He’s a tough talking union man from way back who isn’t going to compromise his beliefs.”

Labour’s low scorer is Rino Tirikatene who stays on just 2.5 out of 10. “Do still waters run deep or are they just still? Has had time to find his feet and still no impact.”

For the Greens co-leader Russel Norman is the standout, holding his score on 7 out of 10. “After John Key Norman works the media better than any other party leader… If the Greens had gone into coalition with Labour he would have been hard to handle.”

And of course the old war horse Winston Peters is still there, blowing a bit harder than usual. He boosts his score from 7 to 7.5. “Does he have the will and the stamina for another three years on the opposition benches and a campaign in 2017?”

This year for the first time Roll Call also looks at the impact those MPs who left Parliament at the election had, and it is here we find this year’s low scorers Claudette Hauiti and John Banks, both on 1 out of 10.

As for the numbers:

Of National’s 60 MPs, 30 improved their score on last year, 7 went down, and 10 stayed the same. There were 15 new MPs who were not ranked.

Of Labour’s 32, 12 went up, 8 went down, 5 remained on the same score as last year and 7 were unable to be ranked.

ACT’s single MP was unable to be ranked. Of the Maori party’s 2 MPs 1 went up, and the other was unable to be ranked, while United Future’s single MP improved his score.

The Greens had 3 of their 14 MPs improve their score, 4 went down while 6 remained the same, one was unable to be ranked.

For NZ First 2 MPs improved their scores, 1 went down and 2 remained the same. 6 were unable to be ranked.

Of the National MPs able to be rated this year, 32 had a score of 5 or higher, while 13 scored below 5, while for Labour it had 16 of its MPs rated 5 or above, while 9 scored below 5.

The 2014 roll call is here.



New Cabinet announced

October 6, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced the Cabinet for his third term:

“There is a lot of work ahead to continue implementing our plans to build a stronger economy, reduce debt and create more jobs,” Mr Key says.

“The new Ministry builds on the experience of the past two terms in office, and combines experience with some fresh talent.

“A number of Ministers have had significant portfolio changes, reflecting the need to give Ministers new challenges as well as providing a fresh set of eyes in some portfolio areas.”

Mr Key says a number of Ministers have been promoted either to the front bench, or further up the front bench, to reflect their strong performance in recent years and their promise for the future.

“Paula Bennett has been promoted to number five in the rankings, and picks up State Services, Social Housing and Associate Finance in addition to retaining her Local Government portfolio.

“Dr Jonathan Coleman becomes Minister of Health, and also picks up the Sport and Recreation portfolio, which will link nicely together.

“Amy Adams and Simon Bridges are promoted to the front bench, both with significant new responsibilities. Ms Adams becomes Justice Minister and Mr Bridges Transport Minister.

“Christopher Finlayson remains Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attorney-General, while picking up significant new responsibilities in the intelligence area. He becomes Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service and Minister Responsible for the GCSB, working closely with me in my new role as Minister for National Security and Intelligence.

“In this role I will continue to be responsible for leading the national security system, including policy settings and the legislative framework. Mr Finlayson will operate within the framework I set and exercise ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB, including approval of warrants.

“Officials have examined models used overseas and what we are adopting is very similar to what is seen with our closest partners.

“Housing continues to be a key area of focus for the Government, and a Ministerial team of Bill English, Paula Bennett and Nick Smith has been assembled to lead that work. Mr English will have direct responsibility for Housing New Zealand; Ms Bennett will focus on social housing, while Dr Smith will work on housing affordability and construction issues. The Social Housing portfolio will have responsibility for the government’s social housing functions, and for its relationship with the social housing sector.

Other changes include:

Gerry Brownlee becomes Minister of Defence, while retaining the role of Leader of the House and his Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and EQC portfolios.

Anne Tolley becomes Minister for Social Development.

Dr Nick Smith becomes Minister for the Environment.

Nikki Kaye becomes Minister for ACC.

Michael Woodhouse becomes Minister of Police. He also becomes Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety – a new portfolio title to reflect the modern focus of what had previously been the Labour portfolio.

Jo Goodhew becomes Minister for Food Safety.

Mr Key says, in announcing his new line up, three new Ministers will be appointed. Maggie Barry is to go straight into Cabinet as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister of Conservation and Minister for Senior Citizens. Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith will be Ministers outside Cabinet holding a variety of portfolios.

“Two ministers previously outside Cabinet have been promoted to Cabinet. Todd McClay will be Minister of Revenue and Minister for State Owned Enterprises, while Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga will be Minister of Corrections, Minister for Ethnic Communities and Minister for Pacific Peoples.

“Craig Foss remains a Minister, but will now serve outside Cabinet as Minister for Small Business, Minister of Statistics and Minister of Veteran’s Affairs.

“Chester Borrows will not be appointed to the new Ministry. He will, however, be National’s nominee for Deputy Speaker, and I want to thank Chester for his service as a Minister,” Mr Key says.

A number of Ministers continue largely in their current portfolio responsibilities. These include Steven Joyce in Economic Development, Hekia Parata in Education, Murray McCully in Foreign Affairs, Nathan Guy in Primary Industries, Tim Groser in Trade and Climate Change, and Nicky Wagner in Customs.

“The support party Ministerial and Under Secretary roles have already been announced, but I want to acknowledge again their contribution to the formation of a strong, stable National-led Government.”

Mr Key says the National Caucus will meet tomorrow (Tuesday 7 October) to elect its three whips for the coming parliamentary term.

The new Ministry will be sworn in at Government House in Wellington at 11am on Wednesday morning.

The list of names, positions and rankings is here.


Rural round-up

August 3, 2014

Manuka honey labelling guide a positive step for NZ:

The Interim Labelling Guide for Manuka Honey released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is a positive step for the New Zealand industry, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“The Guide provides clarification on what constitutes manuka-type honey, and aims to ensure that New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey that is labelled correctly and meets the expectations of overseas regulators, along with consumers here and overseas,” Ms Kaye says.

“This MPI-led initiative has seen the Ministry working with scientists, industry and overseas regulators – and looking at 11,000 samples of honey – to ensure truth in labelling in New Zealand.

“Though I have been briefed on the outcome, the work is operational and decisions have been made by MPI. . .

From the outside looking in – Craig Littin:

If you are a dairy farmer, things will be flat out on the farm at the moment, and for those driving by some paddocks may be looking a little barren.  Between the wet months of July and October, dairy farmers are in calving season and cows have been dried off, having not produced milk for at least the last six weeks. To keep cows in top condition during this time, ready to have their calves and produce milk for the coming season, it involves techniques such as, break feeding, splitting herds and supplement feeding.

In these wet months pasture is sparse, and to keep cows in good condition whilst they are dried off and begin calving, they are fed between 8 to 10 kilograms of feed, some of which is made up of supplements like maize silage, palm Kernel, hay or silage. By feeding this level of feed per animal it allows the cows to gain condition and also rations the pasture reserves on-farm to ensure that the farm has enough for when they are in calf when their feed requirements rise to between 18 to 20 kilograms per animal a day. All of this happens at the time of year when pasture growth does not normally grow as much as the cows need, hence the muddy paddocks and the need for supplements and break feeding. . .

Northland dairy farms selling out en-masse to cash-rich ‘out-of-towners’:

The dynamics of dairy farming in Northland are undergoing the biggest shake-up the sector has seen in more than 50 years – with a wave of ‘out-of-towners’ coming into the region to take advantage of the comparatively cheap land on offer.

In the past 18 months, $20 million dollars of Northland dairy farms have been sold to Waikato, King Country, Taranaki, Canterbury, and Westland farmers moving into the province. The sales were brokered by real estate agency Bayleys – which is now looking to accelerate the trend this year.

Among the Northland dairy farming units which changed hands to ‘out-of-towners’ in the past year were: . . .

Fonterra Director Retires:

Long-serving Fonterra director, Jim van der Poel, has announced that he will retire from the Co-operative’s Board in November, after 12 years of service.

Chairman John Wilson said Mr van der Poel had been a conscientious and hard-working director with a deep knowledge of the business.

“Jim has served as a great ambassador for Fonterra and our farmers both here in New Zealand and our markets around the world.

“Jim is a successful commercial farmer with farming interests in Waikato, Canterbury and the United States. He was a New Zealand Dairy Group director for several years before Fonterra’s formation, and was elected to the Fonterra Board in 2002. . . .

Blue Wing Honda celebrates four decades of Kiwi success with launch of new facility:

As a nation dependent on primary industry, with more than half of our land used for farming, having the right means to navigate varying terrain can be a challenging task.

Blue Wing Honda met that challenge in 1972 when it entered the market as New Zealand’s importer and distributor of Honda motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

That wealth of experience has helped put the company at number one in the New Zealand ATV market. . . .

Sheep’s wool makes woolly sheep – Mary Alexander:

DRAB winter colours in Hamilton have given way to a vibrant collection of artwork as the city gears up for its annual celebration of wool.

Bright life-size sheep have formed a flock at the art gallery, parking meters and trees lining the main street have been yarn-bombed and shop displays depict the characters in the children’s book Where is the Green Sheep?

“It looks amazing,” artist Jacinta Wareham said yesterday. “I’ve got a whole lot of happy people here saying that Hamilton looks so vibrant and colourful.”

The community arts project is part of the inaugural Woolly Wool Fest being held in the lead-up to Sheepvention from August 3 to 5. . .

Introducing the new, naturally produced Mission Estate Pinot Gris: lighter in alcohol, lower in calories (and full of flavour)

Mission Estate has enjoyed a reputation for winemaking innovation spanning an extraordinary 163 years. Pinot Gris, meanwhile, is a relative newcomer to New Zealand but, as observes, “has enjoyed a dramatic rise to fame and is now the third most popular white variety”.

Combine these two forces with the growing trend for lifestyle wines, and the result is the new organically grown, naturally crafted, lighter in alcohol Mission Estate Pinot Gris. . .

Rural round-up

July 12, 2014

Trade deal with Japan could prove too costly:

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, must have noticed a striking difference between New Zealand and Australia when he visited the countries on consecutive days this week. In New Zealand he found a firm commitment to a comprehensive trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership. In Australia he was able to sign a soft bilateral “free trade” agreement, settling for much less on agriculture than other food producers hope to gain from the TPP. Australia is not a team player on trade – it is prepared to undermine collective efforts when offered a lesser but exclusive deal. Japan’s attitude is more important.

It is a country in economic and demographic decline but it is still one of the world’s largest economies, second only to the United States among the 12 nations negotiating the TPP. Its side-deal with Australia was disappointing, bearing out New Zealand’s expressed doubts that admitting Japan to the talks was a good idea. But elsewhere hopes persist that Mr Abe is serious when he uses the TPP as leverage for much needed and long overdue reforms of Japan’s economy. . .

Council not investing in water scheme:

Another potential investor has decided against putting money into Hawke’s Bay’s controversial Ruataniwha water storage scheme.

The Central Hawke’s Bay District Council says it believes the proposed $600 million scheme, which could irrigate about 25,000 hectares, could be a huge money- and job-spinner for the region.

But deputy mayor Ian Sharp said on Friday the council won’t be investing in it, now that residents have overwhelmingly opposed borrowing the $5 million needed to do so.

“I think it’s important we distinguish between support for the water scheme and borrowing money to invest in the water scheme,” he said.

“A number of the submitters who did not want us to borrow money to invest are 100 percent behind the scheme, they just felt it was fiscally irresponsible for the council to borrow money to invest in the scheme.” . . .

Reappointments to FSANZ board:

Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye today announced the reappointment of Andrew McKenzie and Neil Walker to the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) Board.

Dr McKenzie has a background in veterinary public health, food safety, food regulation, international and financial management.  He has extensive knowledge of the New Zealand food regulation system having led the New Zealand Food Safety Authority from its inception in 2002 until 2010.

Mr Walker is a food scientist and has spent 35 years working in senior roles in New Zealand’s dairy industry.  He has strong governance experience and has been a chair, director, trustee and committee member of public councils and authorities.

The reappointments were proposed by New Zealand in a formal process that required acceptance by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation. . .

Fonterra and Abbott to Form Strategic Alliance for Dairy Farming in China:

First Farm Expected to Produce Milk in First Half of 2017

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd and Abbott today announced the signing of an agreement to develop a proposed dairy farm hub in China. The strategic alliance, which is subject to Chinese regulatory approval, will leverage Fonterra’s expertise in dairy nutrition and farming in China and Abbott’s continued commitment to business development in China.

Dairy consumption in China has been rising steadily over the past 10 years. The continued development of safe, high-quality milk sources is essential to meeting this growing demand from Chinese consumers. Fonterra and Abbott are pleased to be able to work together and through this alliance to make a positive contribution to the growth and development of China’s dairy industry. . . .

Fonterra seeks Hokkaido farmers for dairy study:

Fonterra is seeking four Hokkaido dairy farms to take part in a study to increase the efficiency and profitability of grassland dairy farming in Japan.

The study, which begins in December this year, will involve the collection and monitoring of physical, production and economic performance data from four leading Hokkaido grassland dairy farms. The analysis will take place over one production season and include data collection over summer outside grazing periods and during indoor winter housing.   . .

Top food science award for Massey professor:

MASSEY UNIVERSITY Professor Richard Archer has been awarded the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology’s most prestigious honour, the JC Andrews Award.

The annual award is in memory of Massey’s first Chancellor, Dr John Clark Andrews, who proposed that New Zealand’s first food technology degree be established in 1964. The award recognises institute members who have made a substantial contribution to science and technology and leadership in the food industry. . .

A brilliant new wound care products – Medihoney:

Now available at the SummerGlow Apiaries online store is the Comvita Medihoney range of products.

Medihoney combines leading wound care and therapeutic skincare products made with an exceptionally high quality medical grade Manuka Honey.

Comvita uses advanced scientific knowledge to maximise this honey’s potential in all of its therapeutic products.

Medihoney products challenge the reliance on synthetic medicines and treatments and provide a natural alternative for wound and skin care, suitable for use by the whole family. . .

It's Cow Appreciation Day! Let's pause for a little moment and think about all the  amazing cows in the world. It’s easy to forget how awesome these animals are and how integral to our daily life. #CowAppreciationDay

Rural round-up

July 10, 2014

India’s massive buffalo exports reflect different approach to food safety – Alan Barber:

India has exported well over 500,000 tonnes of buffalo to Vietnam in 10 months of the latest July to June year. This figure easily exceeds the total of New Zealand’s beef exports to all countries.

Over the same period India’s total bovine (buffalo) exports were 1.45 million tonnes at an average value of US$3041 (NZ$3475), while the average price to Vietnam was US$3489 (NZ$3987), an increase of 40% since 2012. Other main markets in order of importance are Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates.

In comparison New Zealand’s beef exports command an FOB price of between $5000 to the USA, Canada, Korea and China and up to $9000 to French Polynesia, the highest paying market, with other main markets such as Japan, Taiwan and Europe at various points in between. . . .

Consultation opens on infant formula proposals:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the opening of consultation on measures that aim to ensure the robustness of the government’s assurance system for infant formula exports.

“In June last year I announced a work plan to further protect and strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s food assurance systems, to match rapid growth in infant formula exports,” Ms Kaye says.

“Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity.” . . .

Wools of NZ:

It’s not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.Photo: It's not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.

Why politicians shouldn’t be on the field of play – Andrew Hoggard:

In case you were expecting Willy Leferink this week, there has been a bit of a change at Federated Farmers.  My name is Andrew Hoggard and I am the new Dairy Industry Group chair.  That’s not the only change.  Being a North Islander you may get a slightly different perspective on things as I farm with my wife and two children near Fielding in Manawatu. That’s of course the region which gave us that planning beast called “One Plan.”

At Federated Farmers National Conference last week, we heard from political leaders from across the spectrum.

One common theme that annoyed me and the farmers around me was this notion that New Zealand is doing the wrong thing in the marketing of its agricultural products.  That we are not adding value and are just doing cheap and nasty commodity products thanks to industrial farming practices.  Oh and the primary industries are like putting all our economic eggs in one basket.  Now where have I heard that before? . . .

Environment Southland listening to farmers:

Federated Farmers commends Environment Southland for listening to the concerns of Hill and High Country farmers, and delaying notification of the proposed Hill and High Country Development Plan Change today.

“The council’s decision, having engaged and taken on board farmers concerns, will result in better outcomes for farmers and the environment,” says Allan Baird Federated Farmers Southland acting provincial president.

“Taking time to fully consider the issues, potential impacts, inclusive of the whole community and their values, is a fundamental part of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management, and needs to be central in all decision making. . .

Finalists of Consultant of the Year Awards announced:

The judges have deliberated and the finalists have been selected for this year’s annual Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.

Today Farmax announced the finalists for the DairyNZ Dairy Consultant of the Year, Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year, and NZIPIM Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said it was great to see such a high standard of talent and skills amongst the nominations. . . .

Free computers? Yeah Nah

July 6, 2014

You’d think a party with so many teacher-union friends would know what’s happening in today’s schools, but no, Labour’s playing catch-up on 21st century schools:

Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says Labour has clearly not done its homework in the education area and is promoting “new ideas” that have already been put in place by National.

“Most of what Labour has announced today is already being delivered by the Government through its 21st century schools programme. We have a massive build plan underway to modernise school facilities, upgrade school broadband networks and partner with communities to provide digital hubs through those networks. Our Ultrafast broadband and rural broadband initiatives are delivering fibre broadband with uncapped data to nearly every school in New Zealand.

“Labour’s announcements today prove they have no idea what is already going on.”

Labour want to put money into professional learning development for ICT over the next few years. National has already invested $35 million in Professional Learning and Development, specifically targeted at learning with digital technologies.

Labour want to build an unspecified number of new schools and classrooms by 2030. Under the National government, hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent building new classrooms and upgrading older schools with the help of the Future Investment Fund, which Labour opposes. National has opened 12 new schools in the past three years in areas of growth.

And Labour wants to enable students to access the internet at home. Last year, National announced a change in policy to enable schools to extend their school internet to the surrounding area so students and families can access the internet from home.

Ms Kaye said the device subsidy programme also did not appear to have been thought through.

“There is an amazing lack of detail. Are they really going to make the subsidy available to every one of the 580,000 children in years 4 to 13? How do they plan to deal with rapid changes in technology? Is the plan limited to one device throughout the period of the student’s time in school? If not, how many devices? How are they planning to deal with the interest costs? All these questions must be answered.

“Labour has simply not done their homework. It really does make you wonder what they have been doing over the past six years.

“Our Future Focussed Learning report, sets out the direction the National government is going.

“Labour really needs to research what’s happening and catch up,” Ms Kaye says.

This ignorance of 21st century education schools isn’t surprising when Labour spends more time looking backwards than forwards and appears to be stuck in the 20th century, fighting old battles.

But that isn’t the only problem with the policy announcement, it’s yet another yeah nah one.

It sounds like every child would be given a computer but that’s not the story in the fine-print:

. . . For those schools that opt in, the policy would require parents to pay about $3.50 a week to pay off the cost of the device, estimated at about $600 each – and the Government would put in a $100 kickstart payments. The device would belong to the child after it was paid off.

For the poorest families which could not afford the payments there would be a $5 million hardship fund to call on. Teachers would also be given training in how to get most use out of the devices through a $25 million programme in 2016 and 2017. . .

The party that thinks parents can’t afford a $100 donation a year now want them to pay six times more than that.

The policy is based on the Manaiakalani Trust programme in Tamaki, which works with 12 lower decile schools to provide students with a netbook and 24/7 access to the internet.

Keeping Stock points out that is essentially a public-private partnership.

But Labour would rather spend taxpayers’ money on an initiative when there’s already a very good model supported by sponsors and trusts they could use.

Is it any wonder even they don’t expect to be in government for another 27 years.


Maybe they'll have their shit together by then. #Labour2041


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