Still hope for TPPA

September 30, 2015

Trade Minister Tim Groser is going to Atlanta for negotiations which could conclude the conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Groser had been playing hard to get for the meeting, indicating a willingness to attend only if there was an improvement on the “wholly inadequate” offers of dairy market access from the heavily protected agricultural sectors in the US, Canada and Japan. . . 

Groser said last week that New Zealand negotiators could “see a very good deal for New Zealand in everything except dairy and I don’t know to characterise the deal there because it’s not a deal we could accept.”

Since then, there’s been a flurry of reports in US and Canadian media suggesting that the US is pressuring Canada to accept more dairy products from the US as part of a deal that would begin to prise open the US dairy market for New Zealand and Australian dairy products. . . 

Dairy market access is especially politically sensitive in Canada because the country faces a federal election on Oct. 19 and the country’s dairy sector is highly protected, using a system of supply management intended to match local dairy production volumes with domestic demand.

However, it appears the Harper government’s political calculus is that a dairy deal would hurt its electoral chances most in Quebec, where it is already comparatively unpopular, and that there would be political damage in being seen to walk away from a new Asia-Pacific deal and some kudos in being able to demonstrate trade opportunities for Canadian firms. . . 

This means there is still hope for the TPPA in spite of strong opposition from protected industries and those whose politics blind them to the benefits of free trade and the costs of protection.

Dairy interests must be very powerful in Canada because everyone else pays dearly for its trade barriers which increase prices and reduce choice.

Eric Crampton has a suggestion to change that with this speech he’d like to have heard from a party leader:

“Right now, Canadian dairy prices are much higher than they need to be. Mothers pay too much for infant formula; families pay too much for cheese. And the system as a whole doesn’t even benefit dairy farmers any longer: getting into the industry is expensive because buying quota eats up whatever benefits the system provides to farmers. But there is a better way.”

“We are committed to protecting the quality of dairy products on store shelves – as we are with every food product sold in Canada. But we don’t protect food quality with 300% tariffs for vegetables, fruit, or thousands of other products that cross our borders each and every day. For that, we use food inspections. The dairy quota system isn’t necessary for protecting food quality.”

“Today, we are buying back all of the dairy quota and opening the borders. Farmers should not see their retirement savings wiped out by a policy decision from Ottawa. We are able to afford to do this because dairy prices, in a competitive world market, are low enough that we can fund the buyback with a levy on all dairy products sold in Canada while still keeping prices lower than they are now. And those levies will disappear when the bill is paid in full. Canadians will have better access to the world’s products, and Canadian agricultural producers will have better access to world markets.” . . 

The economics are simple, the politics are not but Not PC shows how difficult life would be without trade in a post on the $1,500 sandwich.

. . . What would life be like without exchange or trade? Recently, a man decided to make a sandwich from scratch. He grew the vegetables, gathered salt from seawater, milked a cow, turned the milk into cheese, pickled a cucumber in a jar, ground his own flour from wheat to make the bread, collected his own honey, and personally killed a chicken for its meat. This month, he published the results of his endeavour in an enlightening video: making a sandwich entirely by himself cost him 6 months of his life and set him back $1,500. . . 

Few but the strongest anti-trade people would suggest we go back to that sort of subsistence existence.

But here in one of the freest economies in the world some people still don’t understand how much we’ve gained from free trade. The transition from the highly protected economy we had wasn’t without casualties but the gains were worth the pain.

The TPPA will bring more gains and since our borders are already so open we have little to lose.

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. . . 

Quote of the day

September 1, 2015

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.Oliver Sacks

Hat tip: Not PC

There’s hope for young

June 27, 2014

There’s hope for the young – the left has lost Generation Y:

BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast a programme entitled Is this generation right?. It was based on a 2013 study by Ipsos Mori which examined the generational differences in attitudes towards the UK benefits system. According to the study, ‘Generation Y [18- to 30-year-olds] is more likely… to believe the role of the state should be more focused on providing opportunities and less on managing the risks individuals face. This suggests that Generation Y is a more individualist generation than the others, more concerned with personal independence and opportunity.’

Putting aside the rather trite conclusion that views on welfare alone mark the difference between left and right, the findings of this survey do raise an important issue: the inability of the modern left to engage with Generation Y. While, in times past, being left-wing was bound up with ideas of opportunity and social mobility, the left’s present incarnations have patronised and alienated ambitious young people. Policies implying that young people are incapable of self sufficiency, and are in need of constant guidance, vigilance and support have suffocated a generation. . .

The cotton-woolling and we-know-best might work when people don’t think for themselves.

But once they start thinking independently and working to achieve their ambitions they realise that isn’t helping them up but holding them back.

Young people who are doing it for themselves don’t want the government to get in their way as those on the left inevitably do.

Hat Tip: Not PC

Rural round-up

June 18, 2014

N. Otago couple sell Angus bull for $55,000:

A joint record of $55,000 in this season’s bull sales has been achieved by North Otago Angus breeders Neil and Rose Sanderson.

Fossil Creek Hero H006 was purchased by Tangihau Station, near Gisborne, at the Sandersons’ recent on-farm sale at Ngapara.

Earlier this month, a Hereford bull from David and Rosemary Morrow’s Okawa stud, near Mt Somers, also sold for $55,000 to the Kokonga stud at Tuakau. . .

The world now produces more farmed fish than beef – Not PC:

You know, years ago when this blog first started, we had a discussion about property rights in fish, large and small, and talked about property rights as a way both to save the oceans, and to de-politicise them.

The solution to the imminent and watery Tragedy of the Commons represented by whale-harvesting and out of control fishing is similar to the problem solved by nineteenth century cattlemen by the imperfect means of branding, and eventually by the invention of barbed wire. It is one of recognising and legally protecting the property right in these animals.
    And no, it’s not easy to protect property rights in big fish, but then there was a time when it wasn’t easy to protect property rights in cattle either, particularly on America’s great plains.  But that was before barbed wire.
    Branding and barbed wire were inventions that allowed the cattlemen to identify “their cattle” and to ask the law for its protection for them. The solution for those who wish to protect “their whales” is essentially the same  — a technological advance that allows them to identify to themselves and others which whales are theirs, and which therefore have the full protection of law. . .

Awards recognise pride in property:

Taranaki sheep and beef farmers Robin and Jacqueline Blackwell have always taken pride in their property. That pride was publically recognised at this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The couple took home four awards: the Beef + Lamb New Zealand livestock award, Hill Laboratories harvest award, Donaghys stewardship award and the Taranaki Regional Council sustainability award.

Blackwells farm Mangaotea, a 658ha mainly flat to rolling sheep and beef property at Tariki, north east of Stratford. It sits at 200-300m above sea level and averages 1800mm of rain annually. Mangaotea is about 20 minutes drive from the base of Mt Taranaki and includes some steeper ridges. It winters 11,300 stock units, with a cattle to sheep ratio of 90:10. The main focus is producing bulls for an annual September sale on the property and grazing young dairy stock for long-term clients. . .

Success for Plant & Food Research’s Seafood Team:

Plant & Food Research’s Alistair Jerrett and the team involved in the Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) programme had several reasons to celebrate at last night’s second annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards. Mr Jerrett’s 30-year career as an innovator and entrepreneur within the New Zealand seafood industry saw him collect the coveted Researcher Entrepreneur Award, before he and his team also collected the People’s Choice Award and runner up in the BNZ Supreme Award category.

The awards, held at Auckland’s Viaduct Event Centre last night was attended by around 250 people from throughout the research, business and investment sectors, including politicians Hon. Steven Joyce, Nikki Kaye and Grant Robertson, and New Zealander of the year Sir Ray Avery. The annual awards aim to bring together the people and technologies changing the research commercialisation landscape in New Zealand.  . .

Long shelf life for new type of pear:

Crown Research Institute, Plant and Food Research has bred a new variety of pear which will be grown in Australia.

The fruit has been released by Prevar, a joint venture between Pipfruit New Zealand, Apple and Pear Australia and Plant and Food.

A Prevar spokesperson said the new cultivar combined characteristics from European, Japanese and Chinese pears, which gave it a crisp, juicy texture. . . .

US visit focuses on duty-free access to TPP markets:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion pressed home the need for comprehensive tariff elimination in the Trans Pacific partnership during a visit to the United States last week.

Dr Champion met with the leadership of several major US trade and farming associations, including Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s US counterparts, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Sheep Industry Association, as well as state and federal government agencies, members of the US Congress, and US and New Zealand businesses. . .

Comvita lifts cash component of $12.3 mln NZ Honey purchase:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which makes health-care products and supplements based on honey, has lifted the cash component of its takeover offer for New Zealand Honey, the Timaru-based honey produce owned by the New Zealand Honey Producers Cooperative that operates the Hollands Honey, 3 Bees and Sweet Meadow brands.

The purchase price will now comprise $10.3 million in cash and $2 million Comvita shares issued at $3.50 apiece, Comvita said in a statement. The deal had originally been for $7.3 million of cash and $5 million of shares. The NZX-listed company last traded at $3.80. . . .

How liberal are you?

January 8, 2014

I’ve added a new word to my vocabulary today – minarchist.

That’s what I am according to this quiz which asks what kind of libertarian you are.

You Scored as Minarchist

Minarchists are libertarians who advocate a strictly limited government and usually a more decentralized form of it. Minarchists may vary in the degree to which they think that government should be limited, although the bare bones position is essentially nothing more than police, courts and the military. Minarchists tend to think that some minimum level of government is a necessary evil, or at least an inevitability. The contemporary libertarian movement in America is dominantly minarchist, although it has had a long history of dialogue and debate between minarchist and anarchist libertarians.


The reliability of that answer – if such quizzes can be called reliable anyway – is compromised because I chose the middle option for several questions when I didn’t know enough about the people or issues to make a reasoned response.

Hat tip: Not PC



Muddle East mess

September 3, 2013

The Middle East is really the west from our point of view.

But which ever direction you look at it from, it’s not easy to understand.

What could more accurately be called the Muddle East is still a mess, and sadly too often literally a bloody one at that.

The politics are difficult to understand but the result is not – it’s  human misery, death and destruction of lives, businesses, homes, communities and eocnomies.

The scene and players change but the plot remains the same and it’s always a tragedy.

The Washington Post has nine questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask  and a map that shows why it’s so complicated.

That’s just one country, others in the area are equally complex.

Who supports or hates whom and why is not easy to explain, but this idiots guide from blogger Big Pharaoh might help:


Hat tip: Not PC.


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