Rural round-up

13/06/2015

 Farmer Wellness Big Breakfast – Nathan Guy

The title of my speech today is “Managing Through Tough Times”.

I came up with the idea of this function when I was out running about six weeks ago and felt the time was right for the Government to communicate two very important messages to our farming families and communities.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge that these are challenging times for many farmers and the wider rural community, particularly in the dairy sector, but that we expect much improved conditions in the longer term.

Secondly, I wanted to reinforce the message that if farmers are struggling, or have concerns about how things are going, you are not alone and help is out there.

We know there are plenty of challenges this year, as there always is with farming. . .

$500,000 boost to help rural mental health:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced a $500,000 funding boost to support mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities.

“Rural depression is a significant issue. The physical isolation as well as the uncertainties of being reliant on the land creates different pressures to those living in an urban setting,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industries have each contributed $250,000 to the one off funding boost. . .

Federated Farmers Fielday Seminars: “The essence of farming: water, land, capability”:

Agribusiness expert, Jaqueline Rowarth, has told a Federated Farmers seminar at the Mystery Creek Fieldays this afternoon that investment is necessary for ensuring supplies of sufficient farm water, but meanwhile maintaining water quality.

She said this investment is only possible if primary produce meets the huge challenge of attracting good prices.

Professor Rowarth told the 50 odd people at the seminar New Zealand has both water quantity and quality, which farmers are capturing and using responsibly. . .

 

Greenhouse gas study tour winners announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced the two winners of the 2015 Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) – World Farmer Organisation Study Tour in Argentina later this year.

Doug Avery and Zach Mounsey have been selected as winners by a panel including Mr Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew after giving presentations at Fieldays this year.

“The purpose of this study tour is to increase global understanding and engagement on agricultural greenhouse gas research. These two winners will have an important role as ambassadors for New Zealand in sharing environmental management practices that support sustainable productivity. . .

Breeder confident of sheep’s safety:

A Canterbury sheep breeder with stock on board a major shipment to Mexico says she has been in touch with the destination farm and has no concerns about the animals’ safety.

Penni Loffhagen, who is one of the biggest Suffolk stud breeders in the country, has sold 15 young pedigree sheep to a Mexican farm for breeding.

Her ewes and rams are among 50,000 sheep now at sea on the way to Mexico. . .

They’re not ‘our’ sheep – Kiwiblog:

Newstalk ZB reports:

Labour wants assurances that tens of thousands of sheep and cattle being shipped to Mexico won’t be killed when they get there.

The shipment leaves Timaru today.

Leader Andrew Little told Newstalk ZB’s Rachel Smalley the regulations are clear – you can export live sheep for breeding purposes, you can’t for slaughter. . .

PGG Wrightson lifts annual earnings outlook for a second time, warns of weak farmer confidence – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, the rural services firm controlled by China’s Agria Corp, lifted its annual earnings outlook as second-half trading comes in ahead of expectations, but warned weak farmer confidence may weigh on future sales.

The Christchurch-based company expects annual operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be between $66 million and $69 million in the year ending June 30, above the February forecast for earnings between $62 million and $68 million. That in itself was an upgrade from previous guidance to beat last year’s earnings of $58.7 million. . .

New Zealand Avocados Achieve Record Sales Volume:

New Zealand’s largest ever avocado crop has been successfully harvested, packed and marketed with a massive 7 million trays sold during the 2014-15 season.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, today announced the new record volume which was 43 per cent higher than last season, and up from a previous industry high of 6.1 million trays sold in 2011-12 and a great industry return.

“Growth in the consumption of avocados in our key markets continues to be very impressive. . .

Best Young Butchers in the Region:

Two of New Zealand’s top young butchers have been named following the Alto Young Butcher & Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year Lower North Island regional final yesterday.

Havelock North local, Justin Hinchco from New World Havelock North took out the Alto Young Butcher category and Vernon Atutahi from New World Marton finished first place in the Competenz Butcher Apprentice category. . .

 

Body condition score to become a breeding trait:

Body condition score (BCS) is to be included as a new trait in Breeding Worth (BW) from February 2016.

Breeding Worth provides farmers with an economic measure of genetic merit (profit per five tonne of dry matter) and is calculated for all dairy cattle. During a National Breeding Objective Review in 2012, BCS (particularly late lactation BCS) was identified as an important trait with economic value to farmers. . .

 

Wool values ease:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the North Island offering this week, made up predominantly of short coarse Second Shear wools compared to the more varied South Island longer selection last sale on 4th June, saw prices ease despite the weakening New Zealand dollar.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies came back by 1.95 percent with a 98 percent clearance of the 9,400 bales on offer. . .

NIWA’s Fieldays stand a winner:

NIWA’s Fieldays team is today basking in the glory of winning the Best Indoor Agribusiness Site awarded by the National Agricultural Fieldays organisation for the 2015 event.

Dr Mark Bojesen-Trepla, NIWA’s manager of marketing and industry engagement, said the win was a great endorsement for the team who had worked extremely hard to put together a space that would be eye-catching and relevant to farmers.

“We are delighted our efforts have been formally recognised but are also looking forward to meeting more farmers during the rest of Fieldays and showing them how we can help.” . . .

 

 


Politics Daily

12/06/2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break. I’m not pretending to be balanced. While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end. You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Election

Claire Trevatt @ NZ Herald – NZ Game of Thrones – does Cunliffe dare to play?

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Caucus can safely roll Cunliffe from next week

John Armstrong, Adam Bennett & Isaac Davison @ NZ Herald – Election 2014: Parties ready but are you?

CameronSlater @ Whale Oil – The magic “Seven reasons” that will drive this election

Pattrick Smellie @ Stuff – Early date a savvy move from PM

Vernon Small @ Stuff – Curious case of deal with Craig

David Farrar # Kiwiblog – National’s potential election deals

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Paranoid Winston Peters dumps candidate?

Nookin @ Keeping Stock – A guest post on a new Labour policy

Pete George  @ YourNZ – Civilian Party and United Future announce campaign deal

Beehive

Chris Finlayson – Agreement in Principle signed with the iwi and hapū of Te Wairoa

Chris Finlayson – Screen NZ formed to boost NZ’s profile on world stage

Todd McLay – Intergovernmental FATCA agreement signed

Tony Ryall – Health Minister opens $67m Whakatane Hospital

Steven Joyce – International education numbers set to grow

Gerry Brownlee – Performing arts precinct off to an exciting start

Hekia Parata – Pegasus School opens

OCR

Brian Fellow @ NZ Herald – Wheeler yanks the leash

Tony Field @ TV3 – OCR rise good for savers

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – OCR goes to 3.25%

Crime

Rachel Smalley – Labour politicising a terrible tragedy

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Smalley tears into Labour

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Violent crime

Education

Inventory 2 @ Why don’t they mention the PPTA?

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour against paying the top teachers more

Other

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Misrepresenting the current abortion law

Cameron SLater @ Whale Oil – David Cunliffe upsets Chief District Court Judge

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog –

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Fine tuning immigration to drop Auckland House prices? Reserve Bank says yeah… Nah

Pete George @ YourNZ – Labour vs Reserve Bank on immigration

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Trevor Mallard continues to show that for Labour, facts are optional

Matthew Beveridge – Compare and Contrast: Chris Tremain and Todd Barclay


Information beats confrontation

20/08/2013

John Campbell’s confrontation with John Key on Campbell Live last Wednesday was a wonderful example of how not to do an interview.

Campbell was crusading, confrontational and angry. He made his views on the GCSB Bill blatantly obvious.

This morning Rachel Smalley’s interview (not yet online) with the Prime Minister was a complete contrast.

She was calm, measured, and gave no indication of her views on the issue.

She was after information, not confrontation, and she got it.

That included a repeat of the explanation of what access to metadata will mean under the new law:

Mr Key says the cyber-security function is to “protect” information, rather than accessing content.

He says the GCSB will be able to look at some email metadata, but that will not include addresses, the times emails were sent or received, or their content.

“Essentially it flows through a filter, and as it flows through that filter, it doesn’t record for anything other than a hundredth of a second,” he told media.

“It’s looking for the viruses which are coming into the system – it’s not looking at content, it’s not looking at who sent the email, it’s simply looking for the viruses and we don’t record … where the emails came from, who got them, any of that sort of stuff.” . . .
Mr Key is categorically ruling out “wholesale surveillance” of emails.
In cases where the GCSB wants to access the content of New Zealanders’ emails, Mr Key expects the agency to apply for very specific warrants, and seek the New Zealander’s consent, unless there are very good reasons not to.
Parliament’s intelligence and security committee will be able to see what type of warrants are being signed off and ask questions about those.The bill’s most controversial provision makes it legal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of the SIS, Defence Force and police, if they have a warrant.

Whether or not viewers were reassured by what the PM said will almost certainly depend on their bias.

A lot, though not all, of the opposition to the Bill is politically motivated and Labour has made the mistake of opting for short-term point scoring rather than taking the opportunity to look like a government in waiting.

The wee parties can do what they like knowing they’ll never lead a government but sooner or later Labour will.

It could have looked like it was fit to do so by working with the government to address legitimate concerns about the legislation.

Instead of which it’s just playing me-too to the Green and Mana Parties and New Zealand First with David Shearer just another opposition party leader like Russel Norman, Winston Peters and Hone Harawira.


Snake oil salesman can’t sell two exchange rates

17/09/2012

People calling on the government to do something about the exchange rate only look at only the benefits, without acknowledging the costs.

But as Economic Minister Steven Joyce explains we can’t have one exchange rate for what we sell and another for what we buy:

  A lot of exporters – I mean every exporter let’s face it, likes a lower dollar.  What they would love really is to have a lower dollar which they’d sell stuff, cos they’d sell their stuff for more, and they’d like a higher dollar for the stuff they buy.  They’d like two exchange rates.  And I understand that, cos I’ve been involved in an export industry myself, and you’d always love two exchange rates.  Unfortunately the world only gives you one, that’s right.  So their input costs are significantly lower.  So if you take oil and gas and a lot of those things that come in on world prices, the input costs are lower.  And yes it’s more challenging with some of the export costs or the sales costs, sales revenues that you get, but it is a mixed story. A lot of manufacturers are doing very well, some struggling, particularly the more commodity based ones. . . .

There is no question exporters would get better returns if the dollar was lower but everyone would also face higher costs for everything we import. That’s not just luxuries like electronic toys, it’s necessities including fuel, machinery, medicines and medical equipment and a lot of food.

. . .  Well fundamentally the real opportunity at the moment, and everybody knows this, is that it’s the Australian dollar, and we’re currently at quite low levels against the Australian dollar, about 78 cents, and you can’t have things changed, different exchange rates for different countries as we know.  If we went down further against the Australian currency, which is what for example Mr Wally recommends.  He suggests that there should be a 20% devaluation in the New Zealand dollar, 25% I think he’s looking for, but that would put us at 58 cents Australian which is just ridiculous.  And also it would put us against about 60 cents US, which people would say well that’d be nice.  But then of course you’d actually be talking about very substantial rises in living costs for New Zealanders.  So unfortunately you only have one exchange rate.  The exchange rate is the assessment of what people things of the future of the New Zealand economy.  The quickest way to get it down would be to do some very reckless things that would actually put our economy at risk.

The interviewer, Rachel Smalley then asked him about Winston Peters’ Reserve Bank Amendment Bill.

StevenWell with the greatest respect to Winston, he’s been around for 27 or 30 years. . . . he’s never come up with a solution.  If there’s a problem in this country he’s part of it, because he’s been around for such a long time.  He had a time as Treasurer and never promoted these views as Treasurer, so now because he’s worried, and because he’s rightly worried about you know the big commodity manufacturers, and I am too, he’s promoting a snake oil solution that would achieve nothing. Because here’s the deal…

RachelOkay, his Amendment Act does have the support though in part, in general by David Parker, the Labour Finance Minister.

StevenWell I’m sorry that gives me no comfort whatsoever.

RachelHe says we face competitive devaluation abroad and we ignore it at our peril.

Steven Well I’m sorry, it’s truly ludicrous, and fundamentally it is a snake oil salesman solution, and Parker was called on the left this week by his own supporters on the left, who said what he’s arguing for, is he’s sitting in front of exporters and saying I want to make life easier for you, and then he’s turning around to New Zealanders and saying it will have no impact on you.  And fundamentally that is not the case, it’s dishonest and you can’t say it.

The dollar’s value is making business harder for exporters but the snake oil Peters and Parker are trying to sell would make life much more difficult for everyone – unless they can find a way to have two exchange rates.


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