Rural round-up

January 17, 2020

Meat industry pans climate-change teaching resource that recommends cutting meat, dairy – Dubby Henry:

A recommendation that students eat less meat and dairy to take action on climate change has raised the ire of New Zealand’s meat industry.

The new resource – Climate Change: Prepare Today, Live Well Tomorrow – is from the Ministry of Education and is aimed at Level 4 teachers teaching children aged 7-10 about climate.

Suggestions for taking action include talking more about global warming, reducing electricity use and driving and flying less.

But it’s a short blurb that suggests reducing meat and dairy intake that has riled the meat industry’s lobby group, Beef + Lamb NZ. . . 

The problem with veganuary – Jacqueline Rowarth:

As people are encouraged to take part in “Veganuary” in the New Year, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates the problems with the idea of eating less meat to save the planet.

Veganuary – the northern hemisphere initiative involving becoming vegan for a month – will not solve climate change.

Becoming vegan forever will likewise do little, despite the calls to “give up meat to save the planet”. . . 

New Year’s Honour a family achievement for Nelson farmer and conservationist – TIm Newman:

Nelson farmer Barbara Stuart says her New Year’s Honour was a recognition for her whole family’s work for the environment.

The Cable Bay resident has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list, for services to conservation. 

Stuart said she was very privileged to receive the award, but it had been an effort made by her whole family. 

“You don’t feel you deserve it, but I sort of see it as award for the family for the work that earlier generations have done – I feel it’s a recognition of all of those things.” . .

Central Otago shearer on the benefits of Tahi Ngatahi

Shearer Tamehana Karauria works in Central Otago. He’s one of 800 shearers, wool handlers and farmers who’ve signed up for online, video-based learning platform Tahi Ngātahi. The initiative aims to reduce workplace injuries by 30 per cent.

Tamehana first picked up the hand piece working with his family in Gisborne and has been in the industry ever since.

What’s a good week look like for you?

As long as the sun’s shining, the sheep are dry and we’re at work, I’m in my happy place.

How does Tahi Ngātahi work?

It is all done through the Tahi Ngātahi website. You watch the videos and answer the questions. Some of the questions can be tricky, so you’ve got to watch the videos properly. . . 

Forestry investment far from straight forward venture – Scott Mason:

As forest fires, and climate change debate, rage across the Tasman (and our thoughts and best wishes go out to our Australian cousins), the topic of forestry in NZ has arisen over the Christmas break.

Most of the barbecue conversations have been quite generic, for example focusing on what the true impact of the planting of a billion new trees will have on our ecosystem as we strive towards addressing our carbon neutrality goals via a massive carbon sink consuming hundreds of thousands of acres, whether intense forestation of otherwise productive land will have a material negative cash-flow consequence for NZ in the short term (e.g. milk sells annually, trees are harvested every 25 years or so), and whether the regularity of forest fires in NZ will also increase as we experience forestation and climate change.

We even debated the concept of farming carbon credits, versus (or to exclusion of caring about) wood, and the long-term impacts that could have on good forestry management. . . 

What will happen with dairy markets in 2020? – Chris Gooderham:

Despite the uncertainty in 2019, the market value of milk in the UK was the most stable it’s been for a decade. But as we enter the next decade, how long will that stability last? We take a look at the key dynamics that are playing out in the dairy markets at the moment.

Globally:

  • Global milk production is set to grow by just 1% in 2020. The majority of the additional milk is expected to come from the US and EU. Australian production has been declining as it struggles with impacts of record high temperatures and drought, and the recent widespread bush fires. Growth in New Zealand production is expected to be relatively flat.
  • Global dairy demand is forecast to rise by 2.1% for fresh product and 1.5% per annum for processed products, according to the latest FAO-OECD predictions. Demand may however be impacted by a slowdown in economic growth over the coming year, particularly from the oil rich countries who are large importers of dairy. . .

 


Higher wages fewer jobs

January 15, 2020

The  increase in the minimum wage costs jobs:

Confirmation that the Government’s unbalanced minimum wage rise could cost 17,000 jobs and lump taxpayers with a $125 million bill is an alarm bell for small businesses, National’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Todd McClay says.

MBIE’s recently-released Minimum Wage Review 2019 reveals the Labour-led Government’s proposed change to $18.90 per hour on April 1 will cost the economy 6500 jobs and increase Government expenses by $62m a year, as well as drive up inflation.

Moving to a $20 an hour minimum wage by 2021, which the Government is proposing, could cost the economy 17,000 jobs and increase expenses by $125m a year.

“The minimum wage changes will see small businesses struggle more at a time when the Government should be supporting them, not working against them,” Mr McClay says.

“The Government is making it harder for small businesses to employ people, harder for them to invest in training and development, and harder for them to get ahead.

“These projections could prove to be much larger if our economy continues to slow and the labour market weakens, as it has already under the Labour-led Government.

“Everyone wants high wages for workers, which is why National increased the minimum wage every year in Government. But we believe the minimum wage should go up in a balanced way that doesn’t go too far, too fast.

Employers expect modest increases in the minimum wage but this government’s fast-tracking bigger increases is too much too quickly, at too high a cost.

“Hard-working Kiwis are already doing it tough because of the Labour-led Government’s poor policies, which are driving up the price of petrol, rent and other living costs.

“The best way to put more money in workers’ pockets is to let them keep more of what they earn. What good is raising the minimum wage if workers are being taxed to the eyeballs?”

Would tax cuts be better than increasing the minimum wage?

An orchard owner in Central Otago is rallying against minimum wage increases, arguing reducing the income tax of a portion of low-wage earners would help them more and do less harm to small businesses.

But a tax expert says it makes more sense to give low-wage earners more social support than to ‘‘tinker’’ with the tax system. . .

The business owner said she did not want to be named out of concern people might react angrily to her view the minimum wage should not be increased.

‘‘I’m all for people getting more money in their pocket.

‘‘The Government needs to look at how they can ensure lower-paid people get more in their wage packet, without damaging especially smaller companies.

‘‘What is the point of more money in a pay packet if the result of that is that it is going to cost jobs, and it gets swallowed up by higher prices for the basics, like fuel and electricity and rents and groceries?’’

Wage rises are a cost to business . If they’re not at least matched by a gain in profit businesses have to increase prices to compensate. That feeds into the economy and soon eats into any increase in pay. If people are paid more but have to pay more for goods and services they’re no better off, and if there are fewer jobs those who lose, or can’t get, a job are worse off.

She said she had a better idea of how to get more money to low-wage earners.

‘‘If they’re going to up wages all the time why don’t they bring the PAYE [rate] down?

‘‘Lower-paid people can have an immediate solid increase in their take-home packet.’’

If you follow the principle of less tax on things we want to encourage and more on things we don’t, tax cuts on wages is good. The trouble is most lower to middle income people pay little or no net tax.

Tax specialist and managing partner at Findex in Dunedin Scott Mason said he had a lot of sympathy for business owners struggling with the increasing cost of wages.

He agreed with the orchard owner the increase in minimum wages could lead to employers not hiring new staff.

‘‘They’ll defer taking an employee on for a longer period of time. Which then has a counterintuitive impact on the economy, accepting of course we’ve got pretty full employment at the moment.

But reducing the income tax low-wage earners paid was ‘‘tinkering with our overall tax settings’’.

‘‘The reality is those on minimum wage — when you take into account their tax rate and their social benefits — aren’t generally net taxpayers anyway.

‘‘We’re basically using the tax system, the people who are net taxpayers, to subsidise [low-wage earners] further.

‘‘It may or may not be right — it’s just a much wider debate is the point I’m making.’’

He said it would be a better idea to increase social welfare to help those more in need.

‘‘If you were going to use the tax system to do it, you’d be better off tinkering with the likes of Working for Families or those sorts of things rather than changing tax rates.

‘‘If you change the tax rate then it affects all taxpayers.’’

If you increase WFF it affects all taxpayers too because that’s who pays for it.

What we need is increased productivity and profits and a reduction in business taxes could help that.

That in turn could lead to sustainable growth in the economy which would, in time, lead to sustainable increases in wages.

That would be much better than wage increases by government decree which have nothing to do with the value of the work employees do, nothing to do with a businesses ability to pay that additional cost and a lot to do with job losses.

 

 

 

 

 


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