Rural round-up

April 6, 2019

FARMSTRONG: Putting people first comes first

A thriving Canterbury dairy farmer puts as much thought into looking after his staff as he does stock and pasture. 

Duncan Rutherford manages an operation with 14 staff, 2300 cows and some sheep and beef on a 3300-hectare property. 

He and his family are still dealing with the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. 

“It was a reasonable challenge all right. A couple of houses got fairly damaged and one is still being repaired.  . . 

Exporters’ Brexit concerns grow – Peter Burke:

New Zealand primary produce exporters’ concerns continue rising about the confusion in the British parliament over Brexit.

NZ’s agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says given the possibility of a no-deal, exporters are making contingency plans for such an event.

But they also still hope a deal will be agreed so they won’t have to trigger plans for a no-deal. The whole thing is a terrible mess, Petersen told Rural News last week. . . 

Young farming couple applauded for farm sustainability – Angie Skerret:

A farming couple applauded for their commitment to farming sustainability have a simple message for other farmers – make a plan and make a start.

Simon and Trudy Hales, of Kereru Farms, are one of eleven regional winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards – taking out the Horizons regional award.

The Hales are the fourth generation to farm the land, and have worked hard to make positive changes on their 970ha sheep and beef farm near Weber. . .

A2 Milk says lift in dairy prices may impact in FY2020 – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Company said recent increases in dairy pricing will have an impact on gross margin percentages in the 2020 financial year but it doesn’t anticipate any significant impact this year.

Dairy product prices rose for the ninth straight time in the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction. The GDT price index added 0.8 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago and average prices are now up 28 percent since the auction on Nov 20.

“We do not anticipate any significant impact to gross margin percentage during FY19 as a result of recent increases in dairy pricing as reflected in Global Dairy Trade Indices. . . 

Dairy industry tells EU ‘hard cheese’ – Nigel Stirling:

The dairy industry is digging its heels in over the European Union’s attempts to seize dozens of cheese names for the exclusive use of its own producers.

The EU has long sought to use its free-trade agreements to extend its system of Geographical Indications (GIs) and its trade talks with NZ have been no exception.

As part of the talks the European Commission has given NZ negotiators a list of 179 food names and hundreds more wine and spirit names linked to European places it says should be given legal protection over and above that provided by this country’s own system of GIs protecting names of wines and spirits introduced several years ago. . . 

Scott and Laura Simpson’s focus on data collection pays off in Inverell drought – Lucy Kinbacher:

SOME of the toughest decisions are made during unfavourable seasons but for Inverell’s Scott and Laura Simpson their efforts during the good times are making their management easier. 

The couple are into their fifth year of ownership of the 1700 hectare property Glennon, which was previously run by Mr Simpson’s parents. 

At the time they had a herd of Brangus content types so the pair moved to incorporate more Angus genetics and breed more moderate females.  . . 


Tyranny by minority

January 25, 2019

The Government’s ‘fair pay’ agenda is anything but fair:

The recommendations of Iain Lees-Galloway’s Fair Pay Agreement Working Group show the Government’s industrial relations agenda amounts to compulsory unionism by stealth, National’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“Businesses and workers should be frightened. The recommendations from the working group are as radical as we originally feared – backward, one-size-fits-all and rigid.

“Just 10 per cent of an industry would be able to trigger mandatory nationwide employment negotiations. Business owners would lose control over an important part of running their enterprise. Workers would be forced into line with the union movement.

That is tyranny by a very small majority.

One of the most worrying aspects is the lack of opt-out provisions for businesses. That means both small and large businesses across New Zealand will be coerced into more restrictive, costly employment agreements. That is a step towards compulsory unionism.

“The Government needs to quickly dismiss these radical recommendations and give certainty to businesses and workers that they will not be coerced into these restored national awards. They hurt our economy in the 1970s and they will hurt it now. . .

These measures would take New Zealand back to the bad old days where unions ruled and both business and productivity suffered.

These are regressive and dangerous policies which reward the union donors to the Labour Party at the cost of everyone else.

But there’s no corruption in New Zealand, is there?

 


Higher min wage = higher prices + fewer jobs

December 20, 2018

The minimum wage will go up to $17.70 next April, the highest relative to the average wage in any country in the developed world.

On the surface it’s good news for workers.

Below the surface there are risks to jobs and the very real prospect of increased taxes and prices eroding any benefit of higher wages.

Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford points out, it needs to be at least matched by an increase in productivity.

“Research shows that any minimum wage increase has a cascading effect on workers paid above the minimum wage too. This particularly hits SMEs who are unable to pass on or manage their costs easily.

“We urge the Government to accelerate productivity-enhancing policies such as investing in strategically important transport networks, freeing up labour supplies to desperate primary industry employers, and raising the quality of tertiary education graduates.

“MBIE’s minimum wage review estimates the employment restraint impact from today’s announcement at 8,000. But Kiwis have already started to see an impact from the significant minimum wage hikes foreshadowed.

“The past four quarters added 6,000 new jobs per month on average, a marked slowdown from the preceding two years when over 10,000 new jobs were added per month on average, despite the currently hot labour market. . . 

Milford also points out that without tax reform much of any increase will be clawed back in tax.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association also points to problems if wage increases aren’t matched by increased productivity.

 The EMA’s Chief Executive Kim Campbell says, “When you take into account the current rate of $16.50 (up from $15.75 per hour) that came in on April 1 this year, you are looking at a 27 per cent increase in the minimum wage over a four-year period.

“That change was 4.8 per cent (75 cents), to be followed a year later by another 7.3 per cent ($1.20) increase on April 1, 2019. New Zealand already has the highest minimum wage in the OECD relative to the average wage.

“These are significant costs for business to swallow, particularly for those in the small-to-medium [SME] sector or for those large employers with significant numbers of young and entry level staff on the minimum wage.  

And who pays?

Mr Campbell said it was uncertain what impact such a large increase might have on the hiring intentions of employers but he expected such a large wage increase to be passed on in charges to customers and consumers.

“We do know that large increases in minimum wage structures in Canada and the United States led to large increases in unemployment numbers, but we are in an already very tight labour market in New Zealand where employers simply cannot find the staff they need.

“I think we are more likely to see increases in costs to consumers as a result, as many employers are already working to very skinny margins.

“Minimum wage increases also tend to flow through an organisation as other, higher-paid employees want to retain their pay relativity levels and seek adjustments to their own wage rates.

“That puts additional payroll pressure on employers who may also opt out of offering additional benefits to new employees to maintain differentials with existing staff.”

Mr Campbell says the main concern is that while additional costs and conditions were being heaped on employers through multiple changes in employment legislation, there was no focus on measures to boost productivity.

“There is no research anywhere in the world that shows simply boosting wages (and therefore costs) leads to an increase in productivity,” Mr Campbell says.

It doesn’t increase productivity and it can and does have other perverse outcomes.

When wages for resthome carers was increased the difference between their wages and that of registered nurses led to some nurses opting to work as carers rather than nurses.

The added responsibility and stress that came with the nurse’s role simply wasn’t enough to justify the smaller difference in pay.

Arbitary increases in wages also leads to employers seeking ways to do more with fewer staff.

A friend who is in horticulture increases mechanisation every time changes to wages and conditions make it more expensive and difficult to employ people.

Nationals employment spokesman Scott Simpson says:

“You simply can’t just legislate your way to prosperity – if you could you’d simply make the minimum wage $50. But artificially inflating wages is no substitute for an economic plan. . .”

The plan that’s needed for increased productivity to sustain higher wages must include tax reform – at the very least a change in tax brackets to reflect inflation.

It must also include other policies which encourage businesses to take the risks and make the investments necessary the for growth which safeguards existing jobs and provides opportunities for new ones.

 


Rural round-up

October 16, 2018

Farming with depression a daily battle for young Waikato Farmer – Gerald Piddock:

Paige Hocking takes it one day at a time in battling depression while working on a dairy farm.

She seldom makes long-term plans because she never knows when the black dog might wander in.

It all starts in the morning when she wakes up on the 125-hectare farm she works as a dairy assistant near Waiterimu in Waikato.

The 21-year-old was diagnosed with depression three years ago. She describes its effects as like shaking up a bottle of soft drink. . .

Scheme’s success testament to conscience of rural community – Richard Davison:

Water quality in New Zealand’s creeks and rivers has become a hot-button issue during recent years, and much has been made of the failure to live up to the nation’s “100% Pure” branding.

Given recent headlines declaring Otago’s waterways to be “horrific”, and with only 60% considered better than “fair” over the course of a 10-year analysis, it would be easy to believe the message has not been getting through to where — and to whom — it matters.

Those often bearing the brunt of blame for deteriorating water quality have been farmers, but their characterisation as wilfully ignorant, environment-wrecking profiteers could not be further from the truth, according to Landcare Research environmental scientist Craig Simpson. . . 

Bees taking farmer on busy journey – Sally Rae:

Julie Kearney is getting a buzz out of bees.

Mrs Kearney and husband Tony farm sheep and beef cattle on Shingly Creek Station, a 2000ha property on the Pig Root.

Nearly three years ago, the fifth-generation farmers were discussing how they did not see many bees on the farm.

So Mrs Kearney completed a certificate in apiculture through Taratahi and she now has 14 established hives. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis compensation mired in delays as plot thickens – Keith Woodford:

The messages coming from MPI, and also mirrored by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s recent comments, are that good progress is being made with Mycoplasma bovis eradication and that MPI is getting on top of its problems. The reality from where I stand is somewhat different.

As of 12 October, official data shows there have been 400 claims lodged for compensation, starting back in the late 2017. Of these, 183 have been either partially or totally paid, leaving 217 waiting in the system. Of those that have been paid, MPI provides no data as to how many are partially paid and how many are total.

In the last four weeks, MPI has averaged 14 payments per week, with an average total weekly payment of around $1.1 million.   At that rate, it will take about four months to clear the existing backlog to get even partial payments. . . 

Massive leap forward for New Zealand sheep genetics:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has just launched a new $5 million genetic evaluation system – a transformative step for the country’s sheep industry.

B+LNZ Genetics General Manager Graham Alder says the new evaluation is the result of four years of research, developing new cloud-based computing systems and testing.

“It is based on Single Step technology, whereby genomic information is incorporated into the evaluation, alongside traditional genetic measures. The result is a faster, more accurate evaluation, which allows New Zealand ram breeders to make better, more-timely decisions around the selection and dissemination of profitable and consumer-focused genetics. . .

New NZ Young Farmers CEO plans North Island road trip to visit members:

NZ Young Farmers’ new chief executive will “couch surf” her way around the North Island next month.

Lynda Coppersmith has announced plans for a road trip to meet members in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and the Waikato.

She will also join 40 teachers on a Teachers’ Day Out event in Hawke’s Bay on November 6th. . . 

’Jaw dropping’ : New Zealand offers lessons in tackling climate change – Peter Hannam:

Scott Simpson, New Zealand’s National Party environment spokesman, stunned a trans-Tasman investment meeting last week by stating that climate action was “too important to be playing politics with”.

Or rather, it was the Australian delegates who were shocked, so used are they to the toxic debates in Canberra.

“It made my jaw drop, that’s for sure,” said Emma Herd, chief executive of the Investor Group on Climate Change. . .


Common ground on climate change

June 16, 2018

National leader Simon Bridges wants to take the politics out of climate change:

“Today I have written to the Prime Minister and Minister for Climate Change offering to work with them to establish an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission which would support emissions reductions by both advising on carbon budgets and publishing progress reports on emissions,” Mr Bridges says.

“National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – current and future – of addressing climate change and responsibly playing our part in a global response.

“Long-lasting change requires broad and enduring support, so I want to work with the Government to make meaningful bipartisan progress on climate change.

“This will be challenging and require compromises on both sides. But the prize is too great not to try, and the consequences on our economy, jobs and the environment are too serious if we don’t do so responsibly.

“The design of the Commission will be critical, but both the Productivity Commission and Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment have offered a clear steer as to what they see as an enduring model to drive long-lasting change.

“I am confident that we can work constructively together to establish an enduring non-political framework for all future governments when considering climate change issues.

Mr Bridges also said that simply getting the institutional arrangements such as carbon budgets right isn’t enough – we also need to address the specific policy choices that will be taken to reduce emissions over time.

“Of course there will be ongoing debate and differing views about what steps are appropriate. National want to see sensible, practical solutions, not extreme policies that would damage the economy and unnecessarily drive up costs for Kiwi households.

“National have a core set of principles that will guide the work we do on climate change:

  • taking a pragmatic, science-based approach,
  • utilising innovation and technology,
  • getting the incentives right to drive long-term change rather than short-term shocks
  • acting as part of a global response, and
  • considering the wider impacts on the economy, jobs and incomes

“Addressing climate change isn’t easy. We all know that.

“But if we are all pulling in the same direction we can help ensure that our beautiful natural environment is preserved for our grandchildren and their grandchildren,” Mr Bridges says.

 

This announcement came in a speech at the Fieldays:

. . . My time as Economic Development Minister underlined for me the importance of the primary sector and regional New Zealand.

There can be a lot of talk from politicians about diversification away from primary industries – moving away from farming into areas like IT and finance.

Promoting other industries is good, but we must remember that you are the engine room of the economy.

Other industries could take lessons from how the primary sector operates.

It is full of people that are outward looking and back themselves.

People who constantly innovate so they can be the best at what they do.

People who care about conservation and the environment.

People who know that if you put in the hard yards, you reap the rewards.

These values are at the heart of what it means to be a New Zealander.

These attitudes are part of the reason why New Zealand is filled with fantastic opportunities right now.

They’re why in the two years before the last election, 10,000 new jobs were being created every month.

Why the average annual income increased by $13,000 between 2008 and 2017 – twice the rate of inflation.

They’re why the proportion of Kiwis in work is the third highest in the developed world.

New Zealand is a successful, prosperous, confident country, filled with people and businesses that can foot it with the best in the world.

I know that as Leader of the Opposition I’m supposed to complain about everything.

But that’s not my style.

I genuinely believe we are doing really well as a country, although we can always do better.

This success wasn’t always the case – ten years ago 30,000 people were leaving New Zealand every year to move to Australia, because that’s where the opportunities were.

As of last year there are more coming the other way.

We’ve made great progress – but we must keep pushing hard to ensure all Kiwis enjoy the gains.

I’m concerned that more and more of the Ardern-Peters Government’s policies will put those opportunities at risk.

While they talk a lot about good intentions, the policies like higher fuel taxes and a reversion to 1970s style pay agreements are anti-growth. They’ll shut down opportunities for our young people to get a job, and they’ll increase costs on New Zealand families.

Almost half of businesses believe the economy will deteriorate over the next six months. Half. That’s not an environment where people are hiring another employee or investing for growth.

I talked about values earlier, and there is one other value that I believe makes New Zealand so special.

And that’s our belief in doing the right thing, in giving a helping hand to those in need.

People like the single parent who needs taxpayer support to help raise their children.

And the worker who has just been laid-off and is trying but struggling to find their next job.

Most recently we’ve seen it in the primary sector too, with the M Bovis outbreak.

This is an extremely challenging time for farmers and the rural community.

These are animals that you have bred and cared for, and now your livelihoods are on the line.

I’m not going to dwell on how we got where we are, but I am pleased that farmers finally have certainty.

I feel for those who are having their stock culled – truly taking one for the team

For National’s part, we’re not going to play politics with this issue. That’s my commitment to you.

Our primary sector team of MPs, led by Nathan Guy, is here to support farming families and to advocate for you through this painful process.

I want to talk about more than just M Bovis today.

You know we always have to look ahead – to next year and the year after, to how you want your farm to be operating in five years’ time, and perhaps even to how your children and grandchildren could take over one day.

Just like you, much of what I do is driven by what I want for my kids when they grow up.

My wife Natalie and I have three amazing young children. Emlyn who is six, Harry who’s four, and little Jemima who is a whole six months old.

As a politician sometimes there are sacrifices you make, and that includes spending less time with your children.

But it also means that when I go to Parliament, I’m driven by the desire to make New Zealand an even better place for all our kids when they grow up.

One of the big long-term challenges we face is protecting the environment.

In a hundred years, when we’re all long gone, I want to be sure our grandchildren will be living in a New Zealand that is still the envy of the world because of its stunning natural environment as well as its prosperity.

I want them to live in a pristine New Zealand, where they can take their children to swim at Piha, or tramp in the Waitakere ranges like I did growing up.

I want our grandchildren to know that all of us have done what we can to protect the environment – our most precious natural resource. 

I doubt there are any New Zealanders who don’t think like this.

We can have the best sportspeople, the finest scholars, and the most innovative entrepreneurs.

We can have a world class economy and the prosperity to pay for education, hospitals, infrastructure, social services and care for our vulnerable.

But none of that is worthwhile if we haven’t protected the natural environment as well.

I’ve charged our environmental MPs, led by Scott Simpson, Todd Muller, Sarah Dowie and Erica Stanford with the task of modernising our approach to environmental issues. To run a ruler over our policies. To ask the questions and to push us harder.

And that is also true of climate change.

I know there might be some surprises about a National leader talking about climate change at Fieldays.

But I know this sector is committed to conservation and environmental sustainability.

You don’t get enough credit for that.

We’re not doing anyone any favours if we can’t have a robust conversation about the steps we need to take to protect our natural resources.

New Zealand feeds the world. We produce more food per person than any other OECD country.

Unfortunately being a large food producer means our per capita emissions are high.

But we are also the most efficient food producers. The world needs to be fed and we know how to do it well. 

But simply being the most efficient isn’t enough. We need to do more to reduce emissions further. I know that, and every farmer I talk to knows that too.

Despite our small individual profile of one fifth of one per cent of global emissions, our size does not abdicate us from our responsibility.

National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – present and future – of addressing climate change, and playing our part in the global response.

We’ve made good progress recently, but we need to do more.

We implemented the world-leading Emissions Trading Scheme, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic productivity.

When I was Transport Minister I implemented a significant package of measures to increase electric vehicle usage, so that we use fewer fossil fuels.

New Zealand is a great place for electric vehicles, because almost 90 per cent of our electricity is renewable. That’s the fourth highest in the developed world. 

There are now as many new electric vehicles in New Zealand each year as there have been in Australia, ever.

I want us to do more of that.

Since 2008 our greenhouse gas emissions fell, despite a growing economy and growing population.

That is a big deal. In the previous 18 years emissions increased by 25 per cent.

But we now need to wrestle them down further.

I am proud to have been a part of the previous National Government which signed New Zealand up to the Paris agreement with its ambitious challenge of reducing our emissions to 30 per cent less than 2005 levels by 2030.

I was there in Paris as the Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues and I stand by our commitment.

It will be challenging to achieve, and will require an adjustment to our economy. But we must do so.

In order to drive long-lasting change, broad and enduring political support is needed for New Zealand’s climate change framework – on the institutional arrangements we put in place to support a reduction in emissions.

Both the Productivity Commission and Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment were clear about this.

Stability is required to allow people and businesses to plan and respond.

It requires a consensus between the major political parties on the overall framework through which we address climate change issues. . . 

Seeking consensus with a common ground approach to climate change is the only way to make enduring progress.

The principles National wants to guide the process are sensible and sustainable.

  • taking a pragmatic, science-based approach,
  • utilising innovation and technology,
  • getting the incentives right to drive long-term change rather than short-term shocks
  • acting as part of a global response, and
  • considering the wider impacts on the economy, jobs and incomes

The test will be whether other parties will accept them or put politics before progress.

 


Why no fuss about this?

February 27, 2018

The fusserati are upset about a 60 Minutes interview with the New Zealand Prime Minister.

I agree is was an example of poor journalism with some questions crossing the line to prurient.

But if there’s going to be a fuss, why no fuss about the PM claiming a National Party achievement as one of hers?

Was it deliberate or doesn’t she know what her government’s done?

 


Rural round-up

September 9, 2017

Alliance Group beefing up facilities to meet demand for blood products –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group will invest $1.7 million in two plants in order to meet growing demand for New Zealand-sourced blood products.

In Pukeuri in Oamaru it will build a new facility created to help boost the recovery of blood-based products for sale to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries, the cooperative said in a statement. The meat processor will also improve the recovery of offal and upgrade the pet food area, it said. . . 

Kelso farmers raising bobby calves for beef – Nicole Sharp:

Kelso dairy farmers Ken and Bruce Eade have been rearing their bobby calves for the beef industry for the past three years.

The father-and-son duo farm 270ha with their wives, Nancy and Tanya, in West Otago and after they bought their heifer block, down from the main farm, they decided it made economic sense to hang on to the bobby calves, they said.

Bobby calves being kept back for beef

”We thought we might as well run some bull-beef there too,” Bruce said. . . 

New environmental focus for irrigation funding:

A change to the constitution of Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) will allow it to fund water storage projects with direct environmental and economic benefits, rather than on the basis of purely economic grounds, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This is an important change to CIIL’s mandate which recognises and reinforces how important water storage and distribution projects are to the environment,” says Mr Guy.

“The current rules limit CIIL’s purpose to considering the long-term economic benefits from projects that it invests in, but it makes sense to broaden the scope given the wider benefits of these projects. It will now be able to provide concessionary loans to local authorities for projects that directly lead to environmental benefits.”

The change was originally requested by CIIL and has now been formally approved by Cabinet. . . 

Irrigation changes needed to deliver prosperous and resilient rural areas:

“The change to the constitution of Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) to allow it to fund water storage projects that directly lead to environmental benefits is a very positive step and should be extended to recognise resilience and social benefits as well,” says Infrastructure New Zealand’s Chief Executive Stephen Selwood.

“To date, existing rules guiding the government’s irrigation investment arm have placed a too narrow focus on direct economic benefits.

“This has resulted in disproportionate emphasis on maximising land use productivity and insufficient recognition of wider economic, social and environmental benefits. . . 

Agrichemical recovery scheme gains extended Government recognition:

A nationwide programme to recycle agricultural plastics and dispose of agrichemicals has had its status as a ‘product stewardship scheme’ extended by the Government, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today

Mr Simpson met with representatives of Agrecovery to formally reaccredit them for another seven years as a product stewardship scheme under the Waste Minimisation Act.

Agrecovery collects unwanted chemical drums and containers from agricultural brand owners throughout New Zealand. The scheme is widely supported by farmers, growers, local government and agrichemical and dairy hygiene companies. . . 

Bright Future for Sustainable Forestry in NZ

A young New Zealander Alfred Duval has been launched onto the world stage. Celebrated for his outstanding achievements as an emerging leader in sustainable forestry.

Duval was awarded the inaugural Prince of Wales Award for Sustainable Forestry in Rotorua on Tuesday 5th September at the NZ Institute of Forestry’s annual awards ceremony.

The new prize was set up earlier this year, to reward and encourage a young New Zealand forestry professional working in the vital area of sustainable forest management. Similar initiatives have been established in Australia and Canada. . . 

Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade investigates European tie-up – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group’s online auction platform GlobalDairyTrade is looking at a tie-up with the European Energy Exchange to extend the dairy offering available in the region.

The two operators have signed a letter of intent to investigate whether they should set up a joint venture establishing and operating an auction mechanism for dairy products originating in Europe, they said in a statement. The companies will talk to buyers and sellers about joint price discovery through an auction designed for Europe. . . 


%d bloggers like this: