Rural round-up

October 5, 2018

What’s so bad about nitrogen anyway? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Nitrogen (N) is the most abundant element in the atmosphere. After carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, it is also the most abundant element in the human body.

It is found in our very DNA – our genetic makeup – and is a major component of the protein that we need to eat to stay healthy. Despite this, nitrogen has been receiving a bad rap with suggestions that we now have a “deadly addiction”‘ to it.

To some people, it appears that nitrogen is in the same class as ecstasy, cocaine and heroin.

People die when they overdose on Class A drugs.

People die when they have insufficient nitrogen. . .

NZ needs to embrace gene editing technology – scientist – Kate Gudsell:

If gene editing technology is not embraced in New Zealand the country is at risk being of being left behind, a scientist warns.

Gene editing is a new technology which enables scientists to genetically modify an organism and would be considered genetic modification under New Zealand law.

The technology allows scientists to be much more precise about changes made in the genome of an organism compared with previous methods.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi’s new discussion paper, The Use of Gene Editing in the Primary Industries, was released today and explores risks and potential benefits for five scenarios of how gene editing could be used for primary production sectors including agriculture, forestry and horticulture. . . 

Rebecca Keoghan named Rural Woman of Influence :

Westport’s Rebecca Keoghan has added another major award to an impressive resume.

The general manager of Landcorp Farming’s Pamu Academy has been named the Rural Woman of Influence at the 2018 awards, presented by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy in Auckland.

Mrs Keoghan was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit last year for services to business, particularly the dairy industry, and was the 2016 Dairy Woman of the Year. . .

Global milk supply growth slowing despite bumper start to NZ season – Rabobank:

While combined milk supply growth across the world’s ‘Big 7’ dairy exporters slowed during quarter three, a bumper start to the New Zealand milk production season has seen soft demand for Oceania-origin dairy products in recent months, according to Rabobank’s latest Dairy Quarterly report, with the bank now forecasting a lower New Zealand milk price of NZD6.65/kgMS for 2018/19.

The specialist agribusiness bank says the slowdown in combined milk production growth seen in quarter two 2018 from the ‘Big 7’ (the EU, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil), at just one per cent year-on-year (YOY), has trickled through to quarter three, driven by a number of factors including drought conditions in parts of northern and western Europe. . . 

Ministry testing targets farms without M bovis connection – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries will be testing 200 calf-rearing properties across the country as it tries to understand the prevalence of Mycoplasma bovis in beef herds.

A MPI spokesperson Catherine Duthie said it would select farms that did not have a connection to other properties considered at risk of having the cattle disease, so the survey could help establish whether M bovis was more widespread than thought.

If properties were connected others with M bovis they were being discounted from the survey as MPI would already be testing them, she said.

“This survey is another way of testing our assumption that this disease Mycoplasma bovis is not widespread in New Zealand.” . . 

Roger’s tasty sheep – Offsetting Behaviour:

A few years ago, Peter Singer said eating New Zealand lamb was defensible – even for an animal-rights utilitarian. The animals live a joyful life, have one bad day at the end, and graze on land that wouldn’t be suitable for grains anyway.

“I think that there is a defensible argument for saying that if the purchase of Canterbury lamb is a necessary condition for lambs to have what is for 99% of their existence a really good life and even the bad days are not like a day of being tortured for 24 hours… I do think that that … would be a defensible diet.”

Roger Beattie’s gotten rid of the ‘one bad day at the end’ part. His lambs aren’t mustered and hauled to the works; they’re shot on-paddock. . .

 


Word of the day

April 5, 2016

Hypothecate – to pledge as security without delivery of title or possession;  pledge (money) by law to a specific purpose.

Hat tip: Offsetting Behaviour


Rural round-up

March 16, 2016

Whitestone blue wins silver in world champs – Sally Rae,

Whitestone Cheese has got the blues – but in a good way.

The Oamaru-based company has been awarded a silver medal in the blue vein division of the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest in the United States, the world’s largest cheese, butter and yoghurt competition.

The contest, hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, attracted a record 2948 entries from 25 countries. Judges came from all over the world and included Fonterra research technologist Andrew Legg. . . 

Bankers aren’t farmers – Offsetting Behaviour:

On Radio New Zealand this morning, Andrew Little argued the government should lean on the banks to prevent their foreclosing on dairy farms, warning of that foreigners might swoop in and buy distressed NZ farms. 

  • Banks do not want to run farms. If they foreclose, they have to find somebody to run the thing pending auction. There are cows that need to be fed. The bank or the receiver takes on all the health & safety, and animal welfare, liability. The most heavily leveraged ones are the ones that’d be first to go; those are the ones where the banks have the biggest stake, and where the banks would take the greatest share of the loss in a fire-sale. A receiver’s fees will include all the farm-running costs. . . 

Dairy industry needs to stay competitive – DairyNZ:

DairyNZ says it is time to look at how the dairy industry can stay competitive in the wake of a record low Farmgate Milk Price and mounting debt.

It is stepping up its support to farmers and is running workshops across the country this week focussing on sharemilkers and farm owners working with sharemilkers.

Chief executive Tim Mackle said Fonterra has done well since it formed in 2001, and the main challenge for farmers – compared to other tough years – was the mountain of debt that had grown.

“Ten percent of the highest indebted farms have 30 percent of the total dairy debt – that’s $11 to $12 billion or $10 million each. But that doesn’t mean all those farms are at risk,” says Dr Mackle. . . 

Dairy prices affecting over one fifth of NZ SMEs:

More than one-in-five small and medium enterprises across New Zealand are feeling the effects of falling dairy prices, according to leading accounting software developer MYOB.

A snapshot result from the latest Business Monitor research commissioned by MYOB and undertaken by Colmar Brunton, found that 21 per cent of the more than 1,000 SMEs surveyed stated their business’ revenues were negatively affected by the dairy price. Even more concerning is the 25 per cent of SMEs that said general consumer confidence has been directly hit.

Across the country, it means that approximately 100,000 businesses employing upwards of one million New Zealanders are facing reducing revenue because of the dairy downturn. MYOB General Manager James Scollay says that the results show a significant impact on the New Zealand economy. . .

Dairy farming: it’ll be survival of the fittest – Jamie Gray:

Bank analyst has confidence in the sector’s ability to adapt but says that some of those ill-prepared for the downturn will go to the wall, writes Jamie Gray.

The dairy sector may be in for a period of adjustment of an order not seen since the 1980s, when farmers were hit with high interest rates, a high New Zealand dollar, and the removal of subsidies, says Rabobank NZ’s head of country banking Hayley Moynihan.

As dairy farmers prepare to enter what may be their third season in a row of negative returns, Moynihan said there will be casualties, but she has confidence in the sector’s ability to cope. . . 

dairy graphic

Stellar vintage predicted for Hawke’s Bay winegrowers:

All signs are pointing towards 2016 being another stellar year for Hawke’s Bay winemakers.

Paul Ham, Managing Director of Alpha Domus Winery, says the 2016 vintage is shaping up to be one of the best yet.

As one of the first wineries in Hawke’s Bay to harvest their early Chardonnay grapes, Alpha Domus is in a unique position to assess the coming vintage. “We’re really excited about the remainder of the harvest,” says Mr Ham. “It’s been a superb season and the grapes are looking outstanding on the vine.” . . .

Quality of NZ wool clip leaves exporters scrambling to fill lower-grade fibre orders – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand wool exporters scrambling to fill orders for lower-grade wool have driven up the price of what are known as oddments in recent weeks because the season to date has delivered an unexpectedly high-quality clip.

Wool oddments are the shorter parts of the fleece, such as from the belly, second pieces, eye clips, necks and those parts stained or otherwise discoloured. They are often baled and sold separately, but a paucity of lower-quality wool has meant exporters are blending oddments with other higher wool grades to make up orders, said Malcolm Ching, an executive at New Zealand Wool Services International in Christchurch. . . 

China Resources buys stake in NZ’s biggest apple exporter – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – China Resources Ng Fung has acquired 15.3 percent of Scales Corp, New Zealand’s biggest apple exporter, for about $55.9 million from Direct Capital Investments.

The Hong Kong-based company today entered into an arrangement to buy the shares at $2.60 apiece, with settlement on about March 21. Scales said it welcomed China Resources “as a significant minority shareholder, and as a party who can provide support to Scales in its ongoing initiatives in China.” . . 

Social Media Stars Win Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners are active among a growing group of dairy farmers turning to social media to support, share and gain information to help progress their dairy career.

At the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Indian Hall in Pukekohe last night, Brad Markham and Matthew Herbert were named 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year, Hayden Kerr became the 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year and James Doidge the 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mr Markham, Mr Herbert and Mr Kerr are all active and well-known among dairy farmers on Twitter. “We enjoy connecting with other farmers, in New Zealand and overseas, on social media platforms like Twitter,” Mr Markham and Mr Herbert say. “It can be a great way to share ideas. . . 

Accountants Get in Behind New Zealand Dairy Farmers:

NZ CA Limited announces Gold Sponsorship of 2016 Dairy Business of the Year

Improving farm profitability and developing resilient and sustainable farming systems are two of the key drivers behind NZ Chartered Accountants Limited’s (NZ CA) gold sponsorship of this year’s Dairy Business of the Year (DBOY).

Sue Merriman, NZ CA’s chairperson and also partner in Greymouth chartered accountants Marshall & Heaphy Limited, says, “The group is delighted to be a Gold Sponsor of the 2016 Dairy Business of the Year. With so many of our member firms located in provincial New Zealand and having dairy farm businesses as clients, it’s a logical move for the group to be involved in supporting and further developing these businesses. With the continuing slump in milk solid prices this year and the effect of this on farm businesses, it’s more important than ever that dairy farmers get good independent business advice from their chartered accountants. . . 

Fertiliser Company Takes Industry Lead to Identify Fertiliser Efficiency:

Fertiliser Company Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate has taken an industry lead to identify fertiliser efficiencies for farmers

The company has invested over $1 million in research and is monitoring 12 sheep and beef farms totalling 16,500 hectares in the independent ‘Farming for the Future’ programme.

The programme set out to find how a lower nutrient input system can build both economic and environmental resilience within the farm gate. . . 

TECH Talks a highlight at national primary industry conference:

In two weeks Rotorua will be playing host to over 300 industry representatives from throughout the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors. MobileTECH 2016 is a two-day conference focusing on new technologies and innovations designed for our food and fibre industries.

As well as the New Zealand sector, MobileTECH has also attracted a solid contingent from across the Tasman. Some of Australia’s largest primary industry companies will be flying into Rotorua and joining the local industry for this event.

The strength of this programme, boosting over 36 speakers, is in bringing together under the one roof leaders from across a diverse range of primary industries with those who are developing, manufacturing and adopting these new technologies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 1, 2015

A Free Trade Deal must include Free Trade:

Federated Farmers says the Government must hold firm on a deal for agriculture at the Trans Pacific Partnership talks in Hawaii.

Federated Farmers’ Dairy Chair Andrew Hoggard is adamant that the reason for New Zealand being at the 12 nation talks is to establish free trade in the region, and a trade deal that doesn’t include meaningful access for dairy is not a free trade deal.

“Let’s be clear. Dairy is our largest export earner. It would be like the Japanese concluding a deal that didn’t have anything in it for automotive or technology trade.” . .

 

Like Uber but for dairy – Offsetting Behaviour:

There could be a lot of opportunities for Canadian dairy in opening up their markets to foreign competition, and in having foreign markets opened to their products. But there would be transitional costs.

The Globe and Mail reports on some relevant aspects here. But they miss the supply management angle. One important reason that Canadian dairy farmers oppose changes to the system is that they own a lot of quota rights. Under the Canadian system, the right to milk a cow costs money. And just like taxi permit owners in regulated markets hate Uber, Canadian dairy farmers hate New Zealand. But who can really blame them? If you were sitting on a big regulatory asset somebody proposed wiping out, wouldn’t you object?  . . .

Health and Safety — some way to go – Katie Milne:

The long awaited report back to the Select Committee on the Health and Safety Reform Bill has now occurred.

We don’t totally know what we are getting. The Labour Party will be opposing the legislation.  The Council of Trade Unions doesn’t like it. The Government has signalled a Supplementary Order Paper to amend the Bill before it goes through its final stages before becoming law and there are regulations to be drafted to sit under the eventual Act as well.

Besides this, WorkSafe New Zealand has considerable discretion how it implements the new Act and the interpretation courts put on the sections and regulations will keep a whole lot of lawyers busy for some years to come. . .

Farmers warned to prepare for more milk cuts:

National dairy industry body DairyNZ is warning farmers to prepare for further cuts to companies’ already low milk price forecasts.

It comes as ASB announced this morning it expects Fonterra to slash its forecast by $1 to $4.25 per kilo of milk solids when it reviews its payout next week.

However, the bank is predicting an end of season payout of $4.50. . .

T&G Global strengthens position as asparagus marketer –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global, the fruit marketer controlled by Germany’s BayWa, has acquired assets from long-term Australian partner M&G Vizzarri, strengthening its position as a major asparagus trader.

T&G’s 50 percent-owned Australian subsidiary Delica will buy Vizzarri Farms, the asparagus marketer founded by Mario and Gina Vizzarri, from its Delica co-shareholder M&G Vizzarri. No price was disclosed.

The joint venture will be renamed T&G Vizzarri Farms and will become “one of the leading asparagus traders in the southern hemisphere,” T&G Global said in a statement. Targeted revenue from the enlarged business is about $40 million in its first year and more than 5,000 tonnes, it said. Currently Delica handles export sales for Vizzarri Farms, which owns 29 properties with a combined 1,900 acres. . .

Treble Cone’s Busiest Ever Start to a Snow Season:

The South Island’s largest ski area – Treble Cone (Wanaka, New Zealand) has enjoyed its busiest ever start to a snow season and has set new records for both its ‘busiest week overall’ and ‘busiest July ever’.

With fantastic pre-season and early season snowfalls the entire mountain including the Home and Saddle Basins, the right-of-passage Summit Slopes, the revered expert only Motatapu Chutes, and the Matukituki Basin were all open from Opening Day.

Over the first week of the New Zealand school holidays Treble Cone enjoyed its busiest ever week of skier visits, with all terrain open spreading guests across the entire mountain enjoying the cold dry snow.

 


Quote of the day

March 26, 2015

. . . (The daughter – almost age 4): “Mummy, quickly, I’m giving birth!”
…. 5 dolls immediately arrive.
“Ok, here they are. Now I’m going to a conference – can you look after them please?”
 – Offsetting Behaviour


A tale of two conferences

February 12, 2015

 

Lincoln University is hosting an international conference on food science and technology:

The overarching theme of the conference is the future of food innovation, nutrition and technology, and it will bring together more than 250 scientists, government officials and industry representatives from more than 50 countries around the globe.

The conference also celebrates the 50 year anniversary of the International Journal of Food Science and Technology (IJFST) – one of the oldest and most established journals in food science and technology in the world.

The conference theme is a highly relevant one, with food science and technology expected to play an increasingly important role in addressing current and future challenges in food production.

A large and rapidly growing global population, deteriorating agricultural soils, increasing demand for water resources, and the need to rapidly modify production methods based on climate change are all providing a serious challenge to the field of food science.

According to Lincoln University Professor in Food Science, Editor-in-Chief of IJFST, and conference chairman, Charles Brennan, the event is a unique opportunity to facilitate an information exchange that brings together industry, universities and research centres.

“The mix of those attending should allow for some good dialogue between both industry and research, which is tremendously important to ensure that tangible and workable projects are undertaken, the right kind of issues are addressed, and new opportunities are identified.

“The conference will also provide a great opportunity to showcase the pivotal role New Zealand plays in the area of food science and product innovation. . .

This conference will highlight the scientific approach to the challenge of feeding the world.

Offsetting Behaviour posts on another conference which provides a stark and unscientific contrast:

A plucky group of scientific outsiders, presenting results outside of the mainstream consensus, hosts its own conference with presentations mostly from those in their heterodox club. They present themselves as providing the truth that is much opposed by big moneyed interests. They’re celebrated in a reception hosted in Parliament by one of the political parties. The media is expected to highlight their alternative take on reality, with perhaps some offsetting commentary from those in the mainstream; the overall effect, though, is to stoke and legitimise popular misunderstandings. . .

This weekend brings GMO-sceptics to Wellington. Presentations include “Pesticides: scilencing the ecosystem and silencing our children” and “Overweight, undernourished, sterile and dying of cancer. Our food is it sealing the fate of humanity?”

And the Greens are hosting them in Parliament: . . .

Imagine the uproar if another party was to host a pseudo-scientific conference in parliament.

A few further notes:

  • The keynote speaker, Gilles-Eric Seralini, found tumours in mice fed GM crops. But his paper was retracted due to concerns like these. It was later elsewhere republished in a friendlier outlet.
  • Vandana Shiva, also there speaking, earned this profile in the New Yorker, which concluded:

    When Shiva writes that “Golden Rice will make the malnutrition crisis worse” and that it will kill people, she reinforces the worst fears of her largely Western audience. Much of what she says resonates with the many people who feel that profit-seeking corporations hold too much power over the food they eat. Theirs is an argument well worth making. But her statements are rarely supported by data, and her positions often seem more like those of an end-of-days mystic than like those of a scientist.

  • On 29 January this year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science released a rather timely survey on scientific support for use of genetic modification techniques in food. Huffington has the summary

    In sharp contrast to public views about GMOs, 89% of scientists believe genetically modified foods are safe.

    That’s the most eye-opening finding in a Pew Research Center study on science literacy, undertaken in cooperation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and released on January 29.

    The overwhelming scientific consensus exceeds the percentage of scientists, 88%, who think humans are mostly responsible for climate change. However, the public appears far more suspicious of scientific claims about GMO safety than they do about the consensus on global warming.

    Some 57% of Americans say GM foods are unsafe and a startling 67% do not trust scientists, believing they don’t understand the science behind GMOs. AAAS researchers blame poor reporting by mainstream scientists for the trust and literacy gaps.

    The survey also contrasts sharply with a statement published earlier this week in a pay-for-play European journal by a group of anti-GMO scientists and activists, including Michael Hansen of the Center for Food Safety, and philosopher Vandana Shiva, claiming, “no scientific consensus on GMO safety.”

The scientific consensus on GMOs is as strong as the scientific consensus on climate change. Will Browning have to retract this like he had to pull back from endorsing homeopathy for Ebola?

The Greens could play at highlighting the heterodox views on GMOs a couple years ago. But when 89% of scientists say GMO food is safe?

Scientific validity isn’t based on popularity.

But if the Greens decry as deniers those who doubt the high percentage of scientists who support the concept of human induced climate change what are they if they doubt the even higher percentage who say GMOs are safe?

And is parliament the appropriate place for such a conference?

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

September 19, 2014

Farmers have spent millions in the Horizons region:

A Federated Farmers survey has revealed the average dairy farmer in the Horizons Region has spent over $110,000 on environmental management in the past five years.

“There are huge numbers being invested in the region, which tells a really positive story about where we are heading environmentally and the buy in that is coming from the farmers,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“As people vote tomorrow I genuinely hope they will realise that farmers are doing a lot to farm more sustainably.

“It is very difficult to put a number on environmental spending, but we wanted to try, so we sent a survey out to all 918 dairy farms via the Horizons Regional Council. We were stunned by the response, not just the figures but how many people replied during their busiest time of year, calving season. . .

 

Working group focused on clear advice:

The industry-led working group looking at the issues with swedes affecting dairy cattle in Southland says a key priority will be developing clear and agreed advice for farmers.

The group met for the first time this week, with DairyNZ’s Southland regional leader, Richard Kyte, chairing the meeting. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It also has specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.

“Evidence and science-based information is crucial and will be the focus of this group. Gathering this information is a work in progress and will involve all parties,” says Richard. . .

Dairying business woman takes top role:

Delwyn Knight has taken the role of general manager of Liberty Genetics where she is leading a team that’s making headway in the competitive dairy genetics market.

Although modest about landing the top job, Knight admits that she is one of very few women working in top dairy genetics roles, and she is excited about taking on the position.

“It’s great to be in a position where I can provide value and support to farmers when they are making important farming business decisions,” said Knight.

“I’m really looking forward to working directly with our farming clients, understanding what their needs are and supporting them to get the best results for their herds.” . . .

Robotic sheepdogs unlikely Kiwi farmers say:

At the risk of being out of step with technology, Federated Farmers is dubious robotic sheepdogs will replace the real thing anytime soon.  Reported late last month, European academics believe they have created an algorithm simulating sheepdog behaviour.

“I am not saying it won’t come to pass but it’ll be more like one farmer robot and its droid than dog trials being replaced by droid trials,” says Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“Anyone who works with dogs and sheep knows there’s more to this than an algorithm.

“For starters, there is a primordial instinctive connection between the two animals.  How you simulate that I have no idea. . .

Landcorp completes  full purchase of Focus Genetics:

Landcorp Farming Ltd. is now sole owner of livestock genetics business, Focus Genetics. The announcement comes after Landcorp successfully acquired the remaining 33% shareholding from
Rissington Breedline.

Hawkes Bay based Focus Genetics is New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics business with 17 breeding partners throughout New Zealand.  Formed in 2011, Focus Genetics has since grown its
market share, serving more than 750 commercial farm operations. 

Last year the company sold over 4,000 rams, 800 bulls and 400 stags to farmers in New Zealand and overseas.
Gavin Foulsham, Focus Genetics CEO, said having one owner provided certainty for the company’s plans to invest more towards achieving greater rates of genetic improvement. 

It also means Focus could explore more sales opportunities offshore. . .

I want to eat a weka – Offsetting Behaviour:

It’s been more than five years since I first posted on Roger Beattie’s felicitous “Eat them to save them” campaign. And I still am not allowed to buy a weka for dinner.

Roger is one of New Zealand’s great enviropreneurs: the National Farming Review called him an Eco Anarchist. He loves the environment and sees the best way of saving it as ensuring that it’s profitable to save it. Weka are endangered, but they’re easily farmed and tasty. Why aren’t we raising them for the restaurant trade and conserving an endangered species in the process? The Department of Conservation says no. They say no incredibly incoherently. But their “No” is what matters. . .

Two gold medals for Goldie Wines:

Goldie Wines on Waiheke Island has won its first gold medals for new owners, University of Auckland and winemaker, Heinrich Storm.

Two Goldie Syrah wines from the 2013 vintage took two of the eight gold medals awarded in the Syrah category at the recent NZ International Wine Show.

The Goldie Syrah 2013 and Goldie Reserve Syrah 2013 were awarded gold in what Heinrich says is a significant achievement for the new operation.

“These medals are the first won since the University took over ownership of the vineyard in 2011 from Goldwater Wines,” he says. “Also for me it is significant, because they are my first as winemaker for Goldie Wines.” .  . .


Heritage trumps safety

October 11, 2013

Quote of the day:

. . . Deaths in earthquakes are somewhat unavoidable. But deaths caused by regulatory structures that force that little value is placed on human life, or that prevent a building owner from tearing down a building very likely to kill a pile of people in a quake, are worse than tragic – they’re stupid. Offsetting Behaviour.

It’s in a post on heritage rules which make some buildings untouchable and how the burden of providing the heritage amenity falls on the owner of the building.

He has a better idea:

I’ve suggested an alternative structure where we run heritage protection as an on-budget Council expenditure. Have each Council decide how much money they’re willing to put into heritage preservation, perhaps have Central provide a matching grant, and open it up to further voluntary contributions from the public. Then, have the heritage boards decide how and where they want to spend the money – paying building owners for the amenities they provide. This would force some consideration of the cost of providing some heritage amenities and focus preservation efforts on where they’re most cost effective. . .

If the public values something private and takes away the rights of the owner, the public must be prepared to pay.

As it stands heritage is trumping both property rights and safety and this is what will happen.

The next step in the fracas that the future of the Harcourts building in Lambton Quay has become is likely to result in Wellington’s own version of the Marie Celeste, that abandoned ghost ship of the Atlantic.

After all the to-ings and fro-ings to get the only commercially viable option of demolition and rebuilding approved, the owner has pulled the plug and intends to cordon off and abandon the building for safety reasons because its heritage value is apparently unique but unaffordable to retain. . .

Buildings will be abandoned, become eyesores and still be dangerous.


Rural round-up

September 11, 2013

More Oamaru meat exports stopped – Andrew Ashton:

Products from a second Oamaru meat plant are being prevented from entering China.

Ministry for Primary Industries acting director-general Scott Gallacher yesterday told the Otago Daily Times the ministry had on August 10 suspended Lean Meats Ltd’s certification to export to China – just two days after 240 seasonal workers at the Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant were suspended in the wake of that site’s loss of certification in July.

”MPI suspended certification to China from Lean Meats Ltd because it did not comply with labelling requirements in some cartons. . .

Food fight – Offsetting Behaviour:

Oh, Manitoba. Just when you start looking sane, you go back to your old wacky ways.

Recall that Manitoba is the province where you can’t sell a potato without, well, hassles.*

Now, read this one and weep. Since I was a kid in Manitoba, the government made much fuss about agricultural diversification, wanting farmers to move to more processing and oddball thin-market crops.

The Cavers at Harborside Farms are a great example of how this can be done well. They raise Berkshire hogs outside of Pilot Mound, a small town a couple hours southwest of Winnipeg. They started curing hams following old Italian recipes. Bartley Kives reports: . . .

Achieving research and commercial goals:

Any farm with several stock classes presents its challenges but as Peter Burke reports, research farm managers have a whole new level of complexity to deal with.

MASSEY UNIVERSITY runs two sheep and beef farms, two dairy units, a deer farm and a horticultural unit. It has 2000ha dedicated to teaching and research, mostly close to the Palmerston North campus, the exception being the 725ha Riverside sheep and beef unit in Wairarapa.

All the farms, bar 200ha, come under the control of a group within Massey called Agricultural Services, including the sheep and beef farm Tuapaka. Acquired by Massey in 1938, Tuapaka’s perhaps best known for Professor Sir Geoffrey Peren’s research there, developing the Perendale sheep which was officially registered as a breed in 1960. . .

Moumahaki Experimental Farm. A Controversial Start to Agricultural Extension in New Zealand – Pasture to Profit:

I’ve discovered Moumahaki Experimental Farm est.(1892) in South Taranaki, New Zealand. 
 
A fascinating story of how Research & Demonstration Farms started in New Zealand. It’s what happens when you are left alone and get lost in a book shop! A weekend discovery gem!

This is part of my history. 

I’ve worked as an Agricultural Scientist in Extension and Dairy Farm Consultancy with farmers in NZ, Australia, Taiwan, UK, Ireland and France visiting research and demonstration farms, all my working life. 
 
For 33 years the Experimental Farm at Moumahaki was a jewel in the crown of the farming industry. Today we debate the merits, funding and roles of these farms just as they did in the 1890s. . .

Love and loss on the land – Jillaroo Jess:

Everybody knows that as rewarding as life on the land is, you have to deal with death more often than folks in the city. Whether a dog gets trampled while working cattle, or a horse breaks a leg, there is always a chance something will go wrong.

It is a year ago this month that I lost two of the most loved animals I’ve ever had – both in the same week. Even after a year it is still hard to write about them, let alone talk about them in person. Although I am usually trying to put a funny twist on my adventures, I thought I’d share this story – mainly cause they were so beautiful I just want to share their photos! . .

Plague of drunk wasps hit UK – Radically Rural:

While a “plague” of “jobless, drunk” wasps might seem like a metaphor that could go a couple different ways, it’s actually a warning experts are saying those in the U.K. need to take literally.

The wasps are done with their usual task at this point in the season and are now getting “drunk” on fermenting fruit, potentially becoming more aggressive. (Image: Shutterstock.com)
The British Red Cross issued a warning last week advising those sitting out in the sun prepare themselves, as the insects’ work is now done and they’re sitting around sucking on fermented fruit, becoming more aggressive. . .

The Race to the $1m Karaka Million is On:

The build-up to New Zealand’s richest race – the $1 million Karaka Million – is officially underway following the first two-year-old race of the season at Wanganui on Saturday.

The $12,500 94.4 The Sound 800 for two-year-olds was taken out by the $20,000 Select Sale graduate Kschessinska (Volksraad) for trainer Leo Molloy, with the filly taking the early lead on the Order of Entry with $7,810 collected from Saturday’s win.

With a start in the million dollar event determined by prizemoney won, a spot in the 2013 Karaka Million field only took a minimum of $3,750 so Kschessinska has already taken a big step towards competing for the $1 million purse in the final 14-horse field. . .

A Series of Stunning Successes for Coopers Creek:

Coopers Creek continues to lead with their Select Vineyard range, this time with Top Wine results in Cuisine magazine’s last three issues, a Trophy and three Gold Medals from the Bragato Wine Awards and a Double Gold in The Six Nations Wine Challenge.

Coopers Creek wines have had an amazing winter to say the least. In May this year, the Select Vineyard (SV) Hawkes Bay Viognier 2011 securing a Top Wine and Best Buy award in Cuisine magazine. The July Cuisine magazine then named The Reserve Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 as its Top Wine in the New Zealand Syrah tasting. Most recently, in Cuisine’s September issue, the SV 2011 Hawkes Bay Malbec was named as New Zealand’s Best Specialty Red. . .


Living wage will cost jobs, kill businesses

September 5, 2013

A “living wage” is one of many expensive policies based on emotion rather than research which Labour’s aspiring leaders are promising to implement.

Prime Minister John Key said the policy would cost about $2.6 billion and predicts 26,000 jobs would be lost.

The Motel Association said the introduction of a living wage will cost jobs in the motel sector, with some owner-operators indicating they do not have the capacity to pay more in wages, and would instead lay off staff.

. . . While it’s all well and good for politicians to talk about raising wages, but thought needs to be given to the businesses that end-up footing the bill, MANZ Chief Executive Michael Baines says.

“It’s a simple equation, raising the minimum wage to the so-called ‘living wage’ level of $18.40 will cost jobs. That is a fact,” Mr Baines says.

“Motels are being hit on one side with sharply increasing costs, often in the form of rating and compliance costs that are forever being cranked higher by greedy local government. On the other side we are facing competition from the likes of B&Bs and holiday homes which are untaxed, unregulated and can dodge these compliance costs.”

The majority of motels are owner-operated, so when costs increase but revenue does not, usually the only option is for the owner to lay off staff and do more of the work themselves. This is what will happen under the living-wage scenario.

“If politicians wanted small business owners such as in the motel sector to have the capacity to raise wages then they should cut the red tape, reduce compliance costs and create an even playing field across accommodation providers,” Mr Baines says.

 

“If you create an environment where quality businesses can flourish, especially small businesses, then the rewards will flow for everyone.”

Max Whitehead, CEO of the Small Business Voice said the policy would cause economic disaster for working New Zealanders:

Mr. Whitehead says that 97% of New Zealand enterprises employ less than 20 people — mum and dad businesses struggling to keep afloat.

“These are Kiwis who mortgage their homes to have a go at running a small business. They give people in the dole queue a job and hope for the future. If their businesses go well, then you’ll find that employees’ wages, along with job security, will increase too.”

Mr. Whitehead says a 34% wage increase will hit these business’ hard. David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson’s over-generous declaration with “other people’s money” will most certainly bring many of the small businesses down and, ironically, cost jobs.”

The costs will be put back to the consumer; inflation will go up; the Reserve Bank will respond by raising interest rates and, in turn, mortgage rates will go up.

“ The very people this bribe is designed to please will be the ones who suffer. Is this what Labour wants?

Eric Crampton at Offsetting Behaviour runs an economists eye over the proposal:

. . . Were the government promising an $18.40 minimum wage across the board, things would be rather worse. The median hourly wage in the 2012 NZ Income Survey was $20.86. A minimum wage that’s 88% of the median wage would be rather, well, breathtaking. Recall the median wage is the one where half of all wage earners earn more and half earn less. Workers vary in ability; a minimum wage at 88% of the median would disemploy anyone who cannot produce value equal to just a bit less than the median worker. This would obviously be very bad. Recall that unemployment weighs far more heavily in disutility than do wages. . .

The proposal here isn’t for an $18.40 minimum wage but rather for a living wage mandate for government workers. The effects then are more minor. . .

The main effect will be an increase in the cost of providing some government services. At the margin, this should mean that we have a few fewer things done by government, albeit within the context of an expansion in the size of government under a future Labour government. There would also then need to be an increase in taxes to fund it, or reduced spending in other areas to compensate, or higher deficits. I suspect Labour would bridge the gap via tax.
Bereft of ideas which would foster economic growth and so increase the tax take, one of few tools it has to fund its wild spending is to increase tax rates.
There will be some transitional unemployment as marginal jobs undertaken by government get shifted away from the government sector. If some of these workers were earning substantial rents in the government sector and are not employable above the legal minimum wage in the private sector, there could be some increased longer-term unemployment from that. . .
Another important effect: contractors will enjoy less of a cost advantage relative to government departments; we could easily read the policy as a way of trying to knock out contracted services to benefit public sector unions.. .
A policy that benefits unions but costs jobs – where’s the economic and moral argument for that?
If you want to increase the wages of the working poor, you hardly should be starting with government workers, who earn more on average than those in the private sector and who typically also enjoy greater job security and flexibility. And if you want to run transfers to the working poor, generalised wage subsidies are the least distortionary way of doing it. Labour’s proposed mechanism would be likely to reduce the efficiency of government services by pushing away from contracting out, and to skew the optimal balance between government services and other goods and services by increasing public sector costs. . .

That would increase the burden of government and  make it more difficult for businesses outside government to compete for staff.

Improving incomes is a laudable aim but imposing a “living wage” is not the way to do it.

Sustainable wage increases must be based on productivity and profitability, not government dictate.


Rural round-up

June 15, 2013

Field Days opinion poll reveals effects of the drought is seen as biggest challenge for agricultural industry:

An opinion poll of visitors to the annual Agricultural Field Days 2013 shows that 54% of respondents believe the effects of the nationwide drought are the biggest challenge facing New Zealand’s agricultural industry this year.

The Aggreko Thought Generator poll was conducted during the first three days of Field Days event. Visitors completed an iPad questionnaire hosted by Aggreko, the world leader in the supply of temporary power and temperature control solutions. The poll aimed to gauge industry sentiment around a number of topical issues. . .

Key notes: supporting rural communities:

New Zealand’s primary industries have been in the spotlight this week, with the annual Fieldays taking place at Mystery Creek near Hamilton.  I’m enjoying talking to farmers, exhibitors, and members of the public at the event today.

Fieldays is an opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of our rural communities.  Agriculture and the wider primary sector are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy.  When it succeeds, New Zealand succeeds.

National’s economic plan has real benefits for the primary sector. When we cut the company tax rate to 28 cents in the dollar in 2010, we knew this would make life easier for New Zealand businesses, including farmers. And it has. . . .

Bloody Friday – Offsetting Behaviour:

Saturday mornings, I cook pancakes. While cooking pancakes, I listen to Duncan Smith and Susan Murray’s Country Life programme on Radio New Zealand (as do all good Kiwis). It’s often a wonderful celebration of rural entrepreneurship.

I had never heard of Bloody Friday. And so I last week learned something new.

Friday, 9 June, 1978: 300 farmers released 1300 ewes onto the streets of Invercargill, herded them through the streets, then slaughtered them right there to the surprise of onlookers.

The Meatworkers’ Union had made it impossible for the farmers to get their stock to slaughter. Sheep were starving in the paddocks because the feed had run out; the farmers had planned on getting their stock to market rather earlier. . .

Bloody Friday farmers praised for bravery -Terri Russell:

 Hundreds of Southland farmers involved in the 1978 “Bloody Friday” protest were praised for their bravery at the weekend.

About 200 people gathered at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club for the 35th anniversary of the protest, when farmers ran 1300 ewes down Dee St before slaughtering them on a Victoria Ave section.

Farmers were frustrated by industrial chaos across the meat industry, exacerbated by the worst drought much of the province had seen since 1956.

Protest leader Syd Slee said there were about 200 people at the reunion and half were involved in the protest. “We’re very proud looking back on the protest,” he said. . . .

New Leadership for Young Farmers:

Cole Groves has been voted the new Chairman for New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Groves takes the helm after Paul Olsen who stepped down from his two-year term.

“It’s a fantastic group of people”, Mr Groves said. “It’s a big honour”.

Mr Groves previously served on the board as an elected member for two years, and he views his new appointment as an opportunity to give back to an organisation that has given him plenty.

“I’ve gotten so much out of my involvement with Young Farmers; from self-development to growing my business contacts”, commented Mr Groves. . .

Wools of NZ appoints new CEO:

Wools of New Zealand Limited is pleased to announce the appointment of Ross Townshend as its new Chief Executive Officer. The appointment follows the successful capitalisation of Wools of New Zealand completed in March of this year and is in line with the company’s strategy of putting the necessary people and processes in place to effectively run a 100% grower-owned sales and marketing company.

Mark Shadbolt, Chairman of Wools of New Zealand, said that after a rigorous selection process spanning several months the Board was delighted that Townshend, a Waikato sheep farmer and a shareholder of Wools of New Zealand, had accepted the role. . . .

Bioenergy association  statement – Woodscape:

Bioenergy Association is encouraged by the wood processing sector identification of the value of business opportunities from biofuels.

Recent research undertaken for the forestry and wood processing sector has identified that some emerging biofuel technologies can provide attractive additional revenue streams for existing businesses.

Speaking today, Mr Brian Cox, Executive Officer of the Bioenergy Association of New Zealand (BANZ) said that “BANZ welcomes the release of the Woodco research project (WoodScape) which evaluates a number of possible investment opportunities for the wood processing sector. The report shows that the emerging technologies for producing transport biofuels can be financially attractive as new enterprises. However these would be even more attractive as bolt-ons to existing business which already have the infrastructure and technical capabilities to extend into these new products.” . . .

Industry Happy to Talk About Sharing the Otago-Southland Paua Fishery:

The Otago Southland paua industry says it wants to make the most of the next few months to try to reach agreement with recreational and customary paua divers over shared access for areas of the coastline.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, has announced that consultation on commercial access would continue for areas that previously had been closed because of a health risk. . .

Release of new fish stock assessment:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released the latest comprehensive scientific assessment of the status of New Zealand’s fisheries.

“The 2013 plenary report provides us with valuable, peer-reviewed scientific information on the status of our fish stocks and fisheries” says Dr Pamela Mace, Principal Advisor Fisheries Science for MPI.

“Many of the assessments indicate there is scope for increases in current catch limits. Hoki is the “star” performer. A few short years ago, there was concern that the western stock had become depleted. Science has driven strong and decisive management action and ensured the full restoration of hoki New Zealand-wide, even surpassing management benchmarks.” . . .


To feed or not to feed . . .

May 16, 2013

An animation to raise awareness about the issue of child poverty in NZ, and the need for food in schools programmes, has  been released by an educational research project at The University of Auckland.

. . . “NZ is a first world country with a child poverty problem. Poor nutrition is a significant problem in NZ.” says project coordinator, Dr Airini, Head of School of Critical Studies in Education at The University of Auckland. “We have hungry children in our schools. Going to school hungry affects a child’s ability to learn. Healthy food helps children learn. With better education our children might escape the poverty cycle.”

Providing food in schools is likely to be a modest cost compared to the societal benefits of a giving all Kiwi children a healthy start to life. Estimates for implementing food in schools programmes range from $5-$10million a year. Programmes like these promote a healthy diet, and improve children’s school attendance, behaviour, and ability to learn. Breakfast clubs also provide a safe, early morning place to increase social skills and confidence, creating a better school environment.

“Learning is a physical activity. Children need healthy food every day to help them be learning-ready” says Dr Airini. “We wouldn’t expect our All Blacks or Silver Ferns to do their best if they’re hungry. Why would we think children could do their best as learners if they’re hungry? Good food feeds the mind.”

“Teachers, schools and community groups say we need to provide food in schools to help our hungry children”, she says. “In the end, it’s not just hungry kids that benefit, but all New Zealanders.” . . .

This and the animation are pushing the case for someone – community groups, businesses, the government – to provide food in schools.

But over at Offsetting Behaviour Dr Eric Crampton shows that providing food doesn’t necessarily do any good:

A few months ago, Social Service Providers Aotearoa asked me to review the literature on school breakfast programmes and provide an assessment of whether public funding of school breakfast programmes offered value for money.  . .

I was only looking at school breakfast programmes, and so I can’t here comment on school lunch programmes. I’m not sure why we’d expect results to vary greatly, but it’s worth having the caveat.

Anyway, on my best read of the literature, it’s hard to make a case for that we’d get any great benefit from the programmes. Rather, we often find that they don’t even increase the odds that kids eat breakfast at all. Many shift breakfast from at-home to at-school, but among those who hadn’t bothered with breakfast before the programme, not many wind up starting when schools provide it. You can then get kids reporting that they’re less hungry as consequence of the programmes, but it’s awfully hard to reject that the main thing going on is that kids are eating at 9 at school instead of at 7 at home and are consequently less hungry when asked at 11. . . .

So, some bottom lines:

  • School breakfast programmes really don’t seem to increase the likelihood of that kids eat breakfast at all;
  • To the extent that they improve outcomes in some studies, we really can’t tell:
    • whether the effect is from changing the timing of breakfast, in which case we should instead have a morning tea break;
    • whether the effect is any better than just giving those families an equivalent cash transfer. . .

Hungry children won’t be happy children, ready and able to learn as well as those who are properly fed.

Poor nutrition and sub-optimal learning in childhood will almost certainly lead to problems later in life.

But the research shows the solution to children who don’t have enough to eat isn’t as simple as providing food.

Not all schools have chosen to be part of Fonterra’s milk in schools programme which shows a blanket approach wouldn’t be welcome.

It’s a complex problem and the solution must be one which really makes a positive difference.


Rural round-up

March 8, 2013

The sheep industry outperforms Fonterra. True or false – MIiking on the Moove:

Sheep farmers receive 44% of the retail price of their products. So if a portion of lamb retails for $100 the farmer will receive $44.

The sheep industry is struggling with low profitability. The last 20 years has seen sheep farms converting to dairy because they offer a higher return.

Among sheep farmers, there seems to be an attitude that their meat companies are doing a poor job of marketing & selling lamb, both domestically and internationally.

There is a cockiness among dairy farmers around the returns the dairy industry are making. They seem to think the reason for the industries success is because they have an outstanding level of awesomeness and that the people running Fonterra posess superior business acumen, compared to the sheep industry.

I often hear both sheep and dairy farmers comment that, if the meat industry could just replicate Fonterra, then the industry would be a success. . .

CPP to bet on NZ dairy?–  Offsetting Behaviour:

This, I like.

Recall that Canada runs a ridiculous dairy cartel. When I teased the Dairy Farmers of Canada about the high price of baby formula in Canada, they said I wasn’t playing fair as Canada doesn’t even produce baby formula; it’s all imported. Meanwhile, Chinese companies are set to invest a few hundred million adding to New Zealand’s already extensive capacity in that area.

But Canada has the world’s best dairy system, if you ask the guys running the cartel.

What happens if you ask the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board?
Mark Wiseman, chief executive of the $A170 billion fund, will visit Australia this month amid the group’s expanding portfolio of interests across the Tasman. …

Canadians look south to invest in agriculture:

Canadian investment funds have big plans to become involved in Australian land, ports and other infrastructure projects, driven by food export potential.

The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board has set up a team to examine opportunities.

Mark Wiseman, chief executive of the $A170 billion fund, will visit Australia this month amid the group’s expanding portfolio of interests across the Tasman.

Canada’s pension system has total funds of $A1 trillion. Other funds have also shown an interest in Australia.

Investors are being forced to search for higher returns outside the old northern hemisphere markets.

Mr Wiseman says he anticipates low growth in Europe and the US for years. He believes agriculture offers huge potential.

“Australia is one of the jurisdictions [where] we’re looking at the agricultural industry broadly, right from land on up through the infrastructure to support it, including things like ports,” he says in the UBS Global Leaders Insights Series on Sky News Business. . .

DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum takes science to the regions:

DairyNZ’s latest research will be showcased at a nationwide series of Farmers’ Forum events during April and May.

The informative and practical seminars will be held in Whangarei, Hawera, Woodville, Invercargill and Greymouth.

DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle, says each year the Farmers’ Forum provides a great opportunity for dairy farmers to see how their levy is invested and to learn about dairy industry research and development work relevant to their region’s farming issues.

“Our Farmers’ Forum has become an annual gathering and every second year we go out to the regions and customise forum topics based on locally relevant issues,” says Tim. . .

New Zealand Employers Commends Solomon Islands Seasonal Workers:

Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon Clay Forau was pleased to hear positive feed backs and comments from various Employers in New Zealand on the work output and performances of Solomon Islands nationals employed under the Recognized Seasonal Employers Scheme.

‘I am pleased as well as the Government to hear that our workers are doing well in New Zealand’, says Minister Forau. Our workers are settling in well and are adjusting to the New Zealand culture and environment.

On Monday, the Hon Minister and his delegation were in Nelson on New Zealand’s South Island, where they met with two of the employers and both have commended highly Solomon Islands seasonal workers. . .

A2 Corporation added to NZX 50 Index:

A2 Corporation Limited (“A2C” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that the Company will be added to the NZX 50 Index, effective at market open on Monday 18th March 2013.

The Company moved from the NZAX to the NZX Main Board on 7th December 2012, following the successful completion of the December equity raising.

A2C’s Managing Director Geoffrey Babidge said “inclusion in the NZX 50 Index is an important milestone in the Company’s development and over time should help continue to broaden the shareholder base and increase overall investor awareness of A2C. “ . . .


What kills kiwis

January 21, 2013

Sci blogger Siouxsie Wiles asked what Kiwis die of last week and has now provided the answers:

She’d used social media to survey people about what they thought would kill them and this shows the perception vs reality:

Offsetting Behaviour points out that misconceptions about what kills us could have policy implications.


We’re free!

January 10, 2013

New Zealand has topped the Human Freedom Index:

Until now, no global index measuring human freedom consistent with a classical liberal approach has existed. Today, as part of the Human Freedom project sponsored by Cato, the Fraser Institute, and the Liberales Institut, . . .

Using indicators consistent with the concept of negative liberty—the absence of coercive constraint—we have tried to capture the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic liberties in each country: freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly. The freedom index is composed of 76 distinct variables including measures of safety and security, freedom of movement, and relationship freedoms such as assembly or legal discrimination against gays.

In this preliminary index New Zealand ranks as the most free country in the world, followed by the Netherlands and then Hong Kong. Australia, Canada, and Ireland follow, with the United States ranking in 7th place. . . .

The index is a chapter in Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom (.pdf) (published by Fraser and Liberales) which has the following table. It shows the rankings, the numbers are the ratings for personal freedom, economic freedom and the freedom index:

1 New Zealand 9.2 8.22 8.73
2 Netherlands 9.5 7.45 8.47
3 Hong Kong 7.8 9.02 8.39
4 Australia 8.8 7.83 8.33
5 Canada 8.7 7.92 8.33
6 Ireland 9.0 7.68 8.33
7 United States of America 8.7 7.93 8.30
8 Denmark 8.9 7.71 8.30
9 Japan 9.2 7.38 8.28
10 Estonia 8.9 7.65 8.28
11 Switzerland 8.6 7.96 8.26
12 Norway 9.2 7.34 8.26
13 Finland 8.8 7.54 8.16
14 Austria 8.7 7.59 8.13
15 Luxembourg 8.7 7.53 8.12
16 Chile 8.2 7.99 8.12
17 Iceland 9.0 7.16 8.10
18 United Kingdom 8.4 7.78 8.08
19 Slovakia 8.6 7.57 8.07
20 Costa Rica 8.8 7.35 8.05
21 El Salvador 8.5 7.58 8.04
22 Uruguay 9.4 6.67 8.03
23 Spain 8.8 7.19 8.00
24 Albania 8.6 7.38 7.98
25 Portugal 8.9 7.08 7.97
26 Bahamas 8.8 7.08 7.94
27 Malta 8.8 7.06 7.94
28 Panama 8.5 7.32 7.92
29 Sweden 8.6 7.26 7.91
30 Mauritius 8.1 7.61 7.88
31 Hungary 8.4 7.39 7.87
32 Belgium 8.5 7.14 7.83
33 France 8.4 7.20 7.78
34 Czech Republic 8.7 6.88 7.78
35 Germany 8.0 7.47 7.75
36 Guatemala 8.3 7.15 7.73
37 Poland 8.6 6.88 7.73
38 Peru 8.0 7.36 7.68
39 Singapore 6.6 8.75 7.67
40 Italy 8.5 6.75 7.62
41 Lithuania 8.2 7.03 7.61
42 Bulgaria 8.0 7.18 7.60

43 Slovenia 8.5 6.61 7.56
44 Korea, Republic of 7.7 7.33 7.53
45 Cyprus 7.6 7.50 7.53
46 Jamaica 8.0 6.97 7.48
47 Taiwan 7.4 7.56 7.48
48 Latvia 7.9 6.98 7.44
49 Papua New Guinea 7.8 6.94 7.39
50 Brazil 8.5 6.18 7.35
51 Haiti 8.0 6.68 7.34
52 Honduras 7.5 7.12 7.31
53 Nicaragua 7.8 6.85 7.30
54 Paraguay 7.9 6.62 7.27
55 Ghana 7.3 7.17 7.23
56 Argentina 8.4 6.01 7.22
57 Croatia 7.9 6.54 7.20
58 Thailand 7.3 7.06 7.17
59 Guyana  7.6 6.74 7.16
60 Trinidad and Tobago  7.5 6.78 7.13
61 Fiji  7.7 6.56 7.11
62 Namibia  7.6 6.61 7.10
63 Belize  7.5 6.72 7.09
64 Bolivia  8.0 6.15 7.07
65 Greece  7.1 6.92 7.03
66 Romania  7.6 6.43 7.03
67 Philippines  7.3 6.76 7.02
68 Mexico  7.1 6.88 7.00
69 South Africa  7.3 6.55 6.94
70 Madagascar  7.5 6.28 6.88
71 Botswana  6.8 6.89 6.85
72 Dominican Republic  7.5 6.22 6.84
73 Ecuador  7.6 6.04 6.80
74 Bahrain  6.3 7.23 6.74
75 Oman  6.0 7.50 6.74
76 Barbados  7.4 5.97 6.68
77 Mali  7.2 6.15 6.66
78 Zambia  6.1 7.27 6.66
79 Ukraine  7.5 5.46 6.49
80 Rwanda  6.3 6.61 6.44
81 Colombia  6.6 6.24 6.41
82 Jordan  5.6 7.18 6.38
83 Turkey  5.8 6.91 6.37
84 Indonesia  6.2 6.49 6.36
85 Kuwait  5.2 7.50 6.35
86 United Arab Emirates  5.2 7.45 6.31

87 Benin  7.1 5.49 6.27
88 Malawi  6.6 5.95 6.27
89 Russia  5.9 6.57 6.25
90 Guinea-Bissau  7.4 4.93 6.15
91 Kenya  5.2 7.00 6.12
92 India  5.6 6.48 6.06
93 Morocco  5.8 6.29 6.04
94 Uganda  4.9 7.15 6.00
95 Tanzania  6.0 5.94 5.96
96 Egypt  5.0 6.82 5.93
97 Nepal  6.3 5.44 5.89
98 Senegal  6.2 5.56 5.88
99 Malaysia  5.0 6.71 5.84
100 China  5.1 6.44 5.76
101 Congo, Republic of  6.7 4.77 5.73
102 Niger  6.1 5.35 5.71
103 Sierra Leone  6.0 5.37 5.68
104 Nigeria  5.4 5.93 5.68
105 Israel  4.4 6.86 5.60
106 Togo  5.5 5.62 5.54
107 Gabon  5.4 5.64 5.54
108 Cote d’Ivoire  5.3 5.67 5.48
109 Venezuela  6.5 4.35 5.42
110 Tunisia  4.7 6.00 5.36
111 Bangladesh  4.7 5.95 5.31
112 Central African Republic  5.2 5.16 5.18
113 Chad  4.8 5.35 5.07
114 Cameroon  4.2 5.86 5.03
115 Burundi  5.2 4.65 4.93
116 Iran  3.6 6.08 4.83
117 Algeria  4.5 5.02 4.77
118 Congo, Democratic Republic of  4.7 4.84 4.76
119 Syria  4.3 5.07 4.67
120 Sri Lanka  3.4 5.89 4.64
121 Pakistan  3.1 5.80 4.47
122 Burma  4.0 3.49 3.72
123 Zimbabwe  3.2 3.57 3.38
Average  7.1 6.7 6.9
Median  7.5 6.9 7.1

Offsetting Behaviour has a post on the index and Kiwi Freedom.


Contraband cheese

October 1, 2012

Smuggling might not be the oldest profession but it’s been around for as long as rules restricting trade.

It doesn’t usually involve something regarded as a staple food, but police in Canada are on the trail of contraband cheese:

. . . It seems someone has been smuggling cheap pizza ingredients north across the US-Canada border. Smuggling cheese across the border – may not seem as serious as drugs or contraband but it’s still very profitable and illegal. . .

The reason it’s profitable is Canada’s highly protected dairy industry.

The solution to the problem is simple – Canada should stop protecting inefficient farmers.

Opening the borders will increase choice and supply and reduce costs for consumers. It will also encourage efficiency among Canadian farmers who will have to meet the market or get out of the industry.

Hat tip: Black markets in everything cheese edition  at Offsetting Behaviour.


Rural round-up

August 19, 2012

First product off the line at Fonterra Darfield:

The first bags of whole milk powder have rolled off the production line at Fonterra’s new $200 million manufacturing site near Darfield in Canterbury and are bound for South East Asia, China and the Middle East.

Brent Taylor, our Director of Operations – NZ Milk, says it was smooth running for the new plant, which produced 40 metric tonnes of product in its first full day of operations.

“It has taken less than two years to bring the project together and it is a significant achievement for us and good news for Canterbury and the wider Christchurch rebuild, he says. . .

Tree Harvesting Invention Named New Zealand Winner of the James Dyson Award :

A tree harvesting device has won the New Zealand leg of the twelfth annual James Dyson Award, a product design competition.

Current harvesting methods require return visits to a forest, causing soil erosion and damage to surrounding trees. Nick Ross, an industrial design graduate from Massey University, has devised a solution that cuts trees right from ground level, and feeds them straight into the machine. An extraction process is then engaged to return needles back to the soil for nutrients, while the branches gathered in a separate container can be re-used as an alternative energy fuel. . .

Meanwhile in the asylum – Offsetting Behaviour:

I like to think of New Zealand as being the Outside of the Asylum.

Outside of the Asylum, farmers are free to sell their produce.

Today’s news from inside the asylum: hosting a 10 year old’s birthday party and selling a bit of farm produce at the event
hosted on your farm gets you thousands of dollars in fines
. . .

Gibbston Valley Winery celebrates two special ‘birthdays’

A Central Otago winery celebrating its 25th commercial grape harvest with a black tie dinner next month will also mark a milestone of a different kind.

The Gibbston Valley Winery anniversary dinner event on September 1 will kick start the award-winning winery’s support of national charity Cure Kids, with all proceeds from the night’s auctions going to the charity.

In keeping with that support, the dinner will also celebrate the remarkable story of Cure Kids ambassador and Queenstown resident Sophie Newbold, who celebrates her 18th birthday on September 14. . .

Boot camp to inspire development of New Zealand Inc – Allan Barber:

This week a high powered Boot Camp, attended by a group of key New Zealand agribusiness executives, will take place at Stanford University, California, with facilitation by Professor of Marketing Baba Shiv whose research expertise is in neuroeconomics.

The Boot Camp is the brainchild of Keith Cooper from Silver Fern Farms and John Brakenridge, Chief Executive of NZ Merino, who visited Stanford to discover new ideas on how to market Silere lamb from the two companies’ JV established last year with assistance from the Primary Growth Partnership fund. . .


Rural round-up

August 2, 2012

Meat price outlook positive in spite of short term wobbles – Allan Barber:

The exchange rate and uncertainty in the Eurozone remain the biggest negatives for red meat exports in the short term, but the outlook is still positive heading into next year.

It’s very hard to pick what will happen in Europe which will inevitably have a large impact on lamb prices for the foreseeable future. Southern Europe and the UK are technically in recession and are unlikely to improve much, at least until the ECB manages to sort out how it will cope with the trials of Greece, Spain and others. . .

 

Elworthy-managed fund psends $2m on Gisborne land, emerges with 9,200ha of forestry – Paul McBeth:

Craigmore Forestry Fund, which is managed by Forbes Elworthy’s Craigmore Sustainables, paid $2 million for 511 hectares land it wants to convert into forestry, as it looks to build plantations down the east coast of the North Island.

The fund has built up 9,200 hectares of land running from the East Cape to Riversdale, where it plans to either manage existing forestry operations or plant trees on farming land, according to summary decisions from the Overseas Investment Office. . .

  A permeating puzzle – Offsetting Behaviour:

Canadian supporters of supply management note that they’re helping to protect Canadians from “permeate” milk. Or at least my Twitter friend from the Canadian Dairy Lobby keeps needling about use of permeate.

Permeate is a concentrated byproduct from cheese-making that, in diluted form, can be added into fluid milk. You can also get it through ultrafiltration: ultra-filter the milk, then add stuff back in varying proportions depending on the blend you want to achieve. It’s relatively high in lactose, so it could make milk less friendly for those with lactose intolerance, but it otherwise seems pretty innocuous. Most supermarket milk in New Zealand uses permeate; it’s been a bit controversial in Australia. . . 

Ravensdown first fertiliser company to break billion dollar milestone:

Ravensdown, the 100% farmer-owned co-operative, has become the first NZ fertiliser company to surpass a billion dollars in revenue. The co-operative also helped shield shareholders from world price volatility for imports such as urea for a large part of the reporting period.

Revenues for the year to 31st May 2012 were a record $1.07 billion, an increase of 15%. The co-operative plans to distribute $53.5 million to shareholders. This represents a total of $40.48 per tonne of fertiliser purchased which is made up of a rebate of $15.10 per tonne plus a bonus share issue of 17 shares per tonne (tax paid) valued at $25.38 per tonne. . .

 Synlait Milk Scoops Agri-Business Award:

Synlait Milk has scooped the Agri-Business Award in the Sensational Selwyn Awards, which recognise business excellence in the Selwyn District.

Over 500 people attended the biennial awards dinner held on 28 July at the Lincoln Events Centre. Finalists for the award included Coppersfolly Limited and Ellesmere Transport Company Limited.

Since operations began in 2008, Synlait has grown to become one of Selwyn’s largest companies, processing over 500 million litres of milk a year from around 150 Canterbury farms, and employing 128 staff. . .

 Māori partner with agbio leaders to drive growth through science:

The Federation of Māori Authorities says supporting the world’s top agricultural biotechnology conference being held in Rotorua in September is an opportunity to connect its members with the best minds in the business.

The Federation has come on board as a Platinum sponsor of ABIC (Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference) 2012, which will bring industry leaders, researchers and scientists, investors and policy makers from around the world to New Zealand.

ABIC 2012 is hosted by NZBIO, the New Zealand biotechnology industry association.

The Federation of Māori Authorities represents New Zealand businesses with a combined asset base valued at NZ$8 billion, much of which comes from interests in seafood, forestry, dairy, sheep and beef, horticulture and energy. . . 

Dairy Compliance Improved:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s compliance monitoring of dairy farms shows a marked increase in the level of full compliance.

Full compliance is up to 80% across the region, with the majority of the 20% non-compliance being of a technical nature rather than having a direct adverse environmental effect. . .

 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

June 24, 2012

Southland dairy farmers face rates hike:

Southland Regional Council is proposing to increase the rates burden on dairy farmers in its draft long-term plan.

But there will be some easing of that next year, if the plan’s confirmed.

The council considered submissions on the draft plan, last week, with many commenting on the proposal to increase the Dairy Differential Rate to $767,000, almost double the current dairy rate of about $390,000.

The council says that’s to cover the cost of increased environmental monitoring and resource planning required in the next 18 to 24 months because of the growth in dairying in Southland.

Dairy farmers complained that good farmers would be unfairly hit with the cost of enforcing compliance on a few poor performers. . .

Dairy puzzle – Offsetting Behaviour:

Dairy products are cheaper in New Zealand than in Canada, where the dairy cartel keeps prices high.

But the Dairy Farmers of Canada VP Ron Versteeg points me to an interesting puzzle: FAO stats showing NZ consumption of some dairy products is lower than that in Canada.

Here’s an FAO table showing NZ and Canadian consumption. Or, at least, I’d expect that this has to be per capita consumption rather than production given that total NZ production is higher than total Canadian given relative herd sizes. . .

 
Synlait Milk, the processor that turned to a Chinese investor after failing to attract local equity capital, narrowed its annual loss last year, even though surging raw milk prices eroded its gross margin.
 
The Canterbury-based company made a net loss of $3.1 million in the 12 months ended July 31 last year, smaller than the loss of $11.7 million a year earlier, according to financial statements lodged with the Companies Office.
 
The milk processor lifted revenue 28% to $298.9 million, though its gross profit shrank 11% to $21.1 million in a year when international milk prices reached record highs. . .

Federated Farmers’ Anders Crofoot to chair AHB and NAIT Stakeholder Council:

Federated Farmers National Board member, Anders Crofoot, has been appointed to chair the Stakeholder Council that will oversee the merger process between the Animal Health Board (AHB) and the National Animal Identification & Tracing (NAIT) scheme.

“I am deeply humbled to chair what will be a significant development in New Zealand agriculture,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Board spokesperson on national identification & tracing.

“The Stakeholder Council is made up of representatives from industry as well as local and central government. The council includes Beef + Lamb NZ, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, DairyNZ, Deer Industry New Zealand, Meat Industry Association, New Zealand Deer Farmers Association, NZ Stock & Station Agents’ Association, Local Government New Zealand, Ministry for Primary Industries and of course, Federated Farmers. . .

Rustlers cost farmers thousands:

Farmers say they are losing thousands of dollars of stock a year at the hands of rustlers, and not enough is being done to stop them.

Warning: Video contains footage some viewers may find disturbing.

They want police to have a greater rural presence, but police say before that can happen farmers need to start reporting the crimes.

“Eleven of them were taken, and the twelfth one had its legs crossed and tied with silver duct tape, and fell on the ground – and that’s how we found that we had had them stolen,” says farm owner Beverly Duffy, describing the latest spate of killings her farm has been hit by. Three months ago the same farm lost a dozen sheep – more than $2,000 overnight. . . . 

New Zealand grass-fed beef on the menu for chefs in Japan and Korea:

Award winning Christchurch chef Darren Wright has been in Korea and Japan promoting New Zealand grass-fed beef to a lineup of influential chefs and media.

 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Market Manager Japan/Korea, John Hundleby says Chef Wright cooked a range of beef dishes at a number of events. His offerings included beef ravioli made from short-ribs, beef tortellini and tenderloin steaks.

 “Since Korean and Japanese people are far more familiar with the cooking qualities of grain-fed beef which is more common in the two markets, a highlight at these events is always the demonstration of how to cook a good grass-fed beef steak.” . . .


Rural round-up

May 13, 2012

Cartels versus babies – Offsetting Behaviour:

Canada’s dairy cartel keeps milk product prices up. Baby formula is one pretty obvious example.
Here in New Zealand, a 900 gram can of baby formula (starter, for newborns) ranges in price from $15 for one that’s on special, to $20-$21 for the most popular brands, to $34 for the ones that give babies superpowers. We supplemented with the brand that’s now $21 per can. The NZ price range then, per kilo and in Canadian dollars at $1 NZ = $0.79 Cdn, is $13-$30; the one we typically bought was $18 Cdn. Unfortunately, the link might redirect to Countdown’s main site. A screenshot is below. . .

Omarama family wins clip of the year – Sally Rae:

The Sutherland family, from Benmore Station, has been awarded the Otago Merino Association’s clip-of-the-year title.   

Bill and Kate Sutherland, and Andrew and Deidre Sutherland,      from Omarama, received the award during The New Zealand Merino Company’s conference in Christchurch . . .   

Change a vital part of fine-wool revolution – Sally Rae:

Changes are inevitable. Not only is that now the motto of  luxury Italian woollen fabric manufacturer Reda, but it was    also a statement that was repeated during the New Zealand    Merino Company’s recent conference in Christchurch.   

The conference brought together about 600 growers and industry partners from around the globe. . .  

Farm holds long family history – Sally Rae:

 The Maclean family, of Omakau, will next year mark 60 years of breeding Southdown sheep.   

Don Maclean started the Bellfield Southdown stud in 1953 and the stud now encompasses 120 ewes.   

 Bellfield was one of 11 properties visited during the New  Zealand Southdown southern tour which was hosted in Otago and  Southland last week.   

 The property is farmed by Donny and Cathy Maclean, their  daughter Kate, and Mr Maclean’s parents, Don and Win . . .

Rates rises close to $5,000 – Gerald Piddock:

Waimate farmers are crying foul after being faced with a dramatic increase in rates for the 2012-2013 year.

The proposed increases will see some farmers pay out nearly $5000 more in rates than they did last year, Federated Farmers South Canterbury Waimate branch chairman Colin Hurst said.

“One farmer’s rates are increasing 37 per cent from just over $13,000 to around $18,000. . .

Barns to keep cows cosy in winter weather – Shawn McAvinue:

What prompts a 94-year-old dairy farm owner to build structures of biblical proportions to keep animals from the driving rain? Shawn McAvinue reports.

Eastern Southland dairy farm owner Dugald McKenzie, 94, looks up at the frame of one of the two wintering barns he is having built on his dairy farm near Edendale and estimates the size of the structure.

“It’s not quite as long as Noah’s Ark, but it’s slightly wider.”. .

Talleys immovable in dispute – Jon Morgan:

After 10 weeks of worker protests, punctuated by fruitless talks and exchanges of lock-out and strike threats, the Affco-meatworkers dispute is no closer to resolution.

The bitterness of the dispute – over pay and conditions for 1000 union workers at eight plants – comes as no surprise to anyone in the meat industry.

The protagonists, the Talley family on one side and the Meatworkers Union on the other, are an irresistible force coming up against an immovable object – or, as one industry source puts it, “a rock hitting a rock”. . .

“Manawhenua” the value placed upon land within the Maori culture – Pasture to Profit:

“Manawhenua” is one of the operating values of the Kapenga M Farming Trust. The exact English translation of “Manawhenua” is difficult to explain. However it relates to the pride and soul of Maori people & their attachment to traditional lands. Manawhenua is about creating links between the people & the land. The concept of ‘mana whenua’ has many layers of meaning. It tells of important relationships that Māori have with whenua (land) and of the value placed upon the land within the culture . . .

Sealord’s mussel farms up for sale:

Sealord Group is selling its last few South Island mussel farms and closing its Tahunanui factory, bringing down the curtain on what was once the biggest mussel operation in the South Island.

All 50 workers – 10 operating the farms and 40 at the Beatty St factory – are being offered new roles within Sealord.

The company announced yesterday that it wanted to focus more on its core fishing business. . .

Synlait Milk to supply colostrum to ASX-listed Immuron:

Synlait Milk, the Canterbury milk processor controlled by China’s Bright Dairy, has signed a deal to supply colostrum to ASX-listed biopharmaceutical company Immuron.

No value was put on the agreement.

Synlait spokesman Michael Wan said the company planned a production run of the “hyperimmune colostrum” in October.

While volumes would be small compared to Synlait’s total production, it was high-end in terms of value. . .

Primary industry working together to grow its people:

The Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) was officially launched in Wellington last night.

The initiative was warmly received by an audience of influential leaders in the primary industry. The Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. David Carter presented at the launch along with several other speakers.

PICA is a collaboration between DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, New Zealand Young Farmers, AgITO, Lincoln and Massey Universities, Federated Farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

High expectations met by North Island Farming to Succeed programme:

Daniel Baker says this year’s North Island Farming to Succeed programme has shown him that farm ownership is possible for his generation. Daniel is currently a sole charge farm manager milking 280 cows near Te Awamutu for the Ferris family.

“I’ve been dairy farming since I left school at 16,” says the 28-year-old. “I grew up with an agricultural background in sheep and beef, rearing calves, dairy farming and my father’s agricultural contracting business. I chose to go into dairy because of lifestyle reasons.”

He was motivated to apply for Farming to Succeed after hearing good things about the programme from previous attendees . . .


%d bloggers like this: