Rural round-up


Farming director on SFF knew the time to go – Sally Rae:

When Fiona Hancox stood for the board of Silver Fern Farms, it was all about timing.

Six years later, the West Otago farmer’s decision to not seek re-election in this year’s farmer director elections for Silver Fern Farms Co-operative was also about timing.

While acknowledging it was sad to leave what was a “fantastic company and board” and also such an important part of her family’s own farming business — it was the right time, she said.

“I think I’ll be just be able to be pleased with what I’ve done,” she said. . .

Govt hasn’t got its ducks in a row on firearms licensing:

The Government’s focus on hitting legal firearms owners with more costs and regulations has meant those keen to participate in the Roar and duck shooting season may miss out.

Opening weekend of duck shooting season is just around the corner and the Roar is drawing to a close but many hunters are still waiting for their paperwork to be processed in order for them to hunt legally.

National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says police have been unable to get on top of the situation.

“Police are telling people it’s taking four months for a license renewal and six months for a new license. But in reality, for some it’s taking much longer than that. . . 

Ag export sector backs scrapping UK Tariffs – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand’s largest agricultural export industries have given conditional backing to calls for Britain to scrap tariffs on food imports.

Britain’s Trade Minister Liz Truss set up the Trade and Agriculture Commission last year, to plot a path forward for the country’s trading relationships with the rest of the world following its departure from the European Union’s customs union on January 1.

Former NZ trade minister Lockwood Smith, who joined the commission as an expert on international trade and helped write its final report published in February, has said its recommendation to Truss to open the border to food imports from countries with equivalent animal welfare and environmental standards as the UK is potentially a breakthrough moment for NZ dairy and beef exports shut out of the British market by high EU tariffs since the 1970s. . .

Using Mandarin to meat a need – Shawn McAvinue:

Southern students considering careers in the red meat processing and exporting sector were among the Meat Industry Association scholarship recipients for 2021. In a series, reporter Shawn McAvinue asks them about their study and plans.

A Nelson Mandela quote resonates with Meat Industry Association scholarship recipient Joelle Gatenby: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Her dream was to use her agribusiness and Mandarin language skills to “bridge the friendship” between New Zealand and China and sell more red meat to the populous nation.

She learned to speak, read and write Mandarin at high school and represented Columba College at national Chinese speech and essay competitions. . . 

Defining year for winter grazing practices:

While the Government has delayed the implementation of winter grazing regulations by 12 months, it has made it clear it will be keeping a very close eye on wintering practices this year.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s North Island General Manager Corina Jordan says farmers should follow the good practice management advice developed by B+LNZ, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and other industry partners and ensure they have a plan in place that identifies any winter grazing risks and outlines the strategies to mitigate them.

Based on recommendations from the farmer-led Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group, B+LNZ is planning to hold Forage Cropping Workshops this winter, which are a component of the organisation’s recently released Farm Plan.     . .

* Big agriculture is best – Ted Nordhaus and Dan Blaustein-Rejto:

In some ways, it is not surprising that many of the best fed, most food-secure people in the history of the human species are convinced that the food system is broken. Most have never set foot on a farm or, at least, not on the sort of farm that provides the vast majority of food that people in wealthy nations like the United States consume.

In the popular bourgeois imagination, the idealized farm looks something like the ones that sell produce at local farmers markets. But while small farms like these account for close to half of all U.S. farms, they produce less than 10 percent of total output. The largest farms, by contrast, account for about 50 percent of output, relying on simplified production systems and economies of scale to feed a nation of 330 million people, vanishingly few of whom live anywhere near a farm or want to work in agriculture. It is this central role of large, corporate, and industrial-style farms that critics point to as evidence that the food system needs to be transformed.

But U.S. dependence on large farms is not a conspiracy by big corporations. Without question, the U.S. food system has many problems. But persistent misperceptions about it, most especially among affluent consumers, are a function of its spectacular success, not its failure. Any effort to address social and environmental problems associated with food production in the United States will need to first accommodate itself to the reality that, in a modern and affluent economy, the food system could not be anything other than large-scale, intensive, technological, and industrialized. . .

* Hat tip: Offsetting Behaviour

Rural round-up


Office staff asked to help out in apple packhouses due to labour shortages  –

The corporate fruit and vegetable firm T&G Global is asking its office based staff to help out in apple packhouses.

This year all apple growing regions are facing severe labour shortages for both picking and packing the crop.

As a result T&G Global, originally known as Turners and Growers, is asking Hawke’s Bay staff to swap computer terminals for apple trays.

Its operations director Craig Betty said the firm was under real pressure to meet export schedules and needs 70 more people right now, so salaried staff and family members were being asked to help out. . . 

Covid-19 exposes global biosecurity systems as ‘fractured’ – expert – Riley Kennedy:

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a fractured global biosecurity system and a new approach is needed, a biosecurity expert says.

The paper by distinguished professor Philip Hulme from the government funded Bio-Protection Research Centre has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BioScience.

Hulme said Covid-19 had shown there needed to be an approach to biosecurity that integrated threats to human, animal, plant and environmental health, recognising that disease or invasions in one sector often spilled over into the others.

He said the Covid Tracer app and the National Animal Indenification and Tracing (NAIT) system, were two examples of where lessons can be learnt and shared among different industries. . . 

Duck shooting season in doubt for many this year:

Many hunters and farmers will miss out on this year’s duck shooting season because the Police are failing to address a backlog of firearms licence applications, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There are 10,000 applications waiting to be processed with 3000 of those just licence renewals.

“With opening weekend for duck shooting season fast approaching the Police should be adding more resources to help clear the backlog.

“Hunters missed out last year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They’re understandably itching to get back out on the pond, but they may miss out again this year because of an administrative backlog. . . 

FarmIQ links to Lead with Pride :

For Darfield dairy farmer Dan Schat, the decision to supply Synlait and participate in the company’s Lead with Pride initiative has proven to be a good one three years into farm ownership.

The Schats enjoy the double premium of supplying A2 milk and being on the Lead with Pride initiative, both making the company payments worth the extra effort the initiative involves.

Lead with Pride encompasses the four pillars of supply to Synlait, recognising and rewarding best practice in environment, animal health-welfare, social responsibility and milk quality. . . 

Produce industry launches UN initiative in New Zealand to address hunger and increase wellbeing:

Aotearoa’s $6 billion fresh produce industry today rolls out a localised UN initiative, as it celebrates the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).

The 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to highlight the nutritional benefits of fresh produce.

The official launch this evening at Parliament will be hosted by the Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, in partnership with United Fresh, New Zealand’s pan produce industry organisation, Horticulture New Zealand and Plant & Food Research.

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will showcase the government-funded Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative which addresses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an exemplary programme with a case study presented by the international group AIAM5 in August last year. . . 

This California start up has a meat test it says can help prevent the next pandemic – Chloe Sorvino:

Food ID, a San Mateo, California-based startup, has raised $12 million in a Series B round that it says will help improve the safety and transparency of the U.S. meat supply.

The funding comes from S2G Ventures and will be used to commercialize the company’s rapid-result tests that can detect antibiotics in animals and a range of other adulterants, like heavy metals in seafood. Food ID says it has been working inside some industrial slaughterhouses for more than a year and that its tests are finding many of the meats being sold as “antibiotic-free” are not.

“There’s a feeling that consumers understand what they are buying and there’s authenticity,” says Food ID cofounder Bill Niman, the legendary grass-fed beef rancher in Northern California. “We know that’s not totally true, and when that becomes clear to the suppliers and to the brands that depend on antibiotics costing a premium to consumers, we’re gonna be very busy.”

Niman says he is offering the meat industry its first comprehensive testing platform and can provide more accuracy and transparency for consumers, who are increasingly looking for antibiotic-free meat, and paying on average $1 more per pound for it. . . 

Fewer police, fewer prisoners


Labour’s promise to give us more police is on hold:

The Government has lived up to its soft-on-crime reputation by pushing pause on its plans to increase police numbers by 1800, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

In 2017, Labour promised to grow the Police’s ranks by 1800 over three years, but it never got close. Instead, it tried to fool the public by claiming its promise never included attrition. Former Police Minister Stuart Nash shifted the goalposts last year, saying the net increase of 1800 officers wouldn’t actually happen until 2021.

Now it’s been revealed that police stopped training because they got ahead of their five-year budget, according to the Police Association. The 1800 target is unlikely to be met until 2023.

“It is disappointing to learn that Police have deferred all upcoming intakes until at least May because it feels there is now ‘less of a need for recruits’,” Mr Brown says.

Less need? That’s not what the crime statistics show.

“There were more than 270,000 victims of crime in the year ending October 2020. I don’t think they would agree there is less need for police officers out on the beat.

A six-month drought of new cops hitting the streets doesn’t make sense when there has been a 13 per cent increase in gang membership over the past year and we have seen an increasing amount of gang and gun violence on our streets, Mr Brown says.

“Many of these promised new police officers were meant to be focussed on organised crime and drugs.

“This is yet another broken promise from the Labour Government, which shows it is not fully committed to stamping out crime and keeping New Zealand’s communities safe.

“National is committed to keeping New Zealanders safe and giving Police the resources they need. We will grow police numbers and increase the allocation of officers to rural areas, including expanding one-person police stations to two-person police stations.”

Remember that Labour not only pledged to increase police numbers, it also wanted to reduce the number of people in prison?

Could it be the delay in increasing police recruits is a cunning plan to reduce the prison population? No, not deliberately but that will be a consequence.

After all if there are fewer police there will almost certainly be more crime that isn’t solved and therefore fewer prisoners.


National’s refreshed responsibilities


Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.

Simeon Brown’s maiden speech


Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown’s maiden speech:

Thank you, Mr Speaker. As this is my first time speaking in this House, let me congratulate you today for your election as the Speaker of the House and your team, the Deputy Speaker, and two assistant Speakers. Thank you for your service in presiding over this House of Representatives and this debating chamber.

While I am thanking Parliamentary figures, I would also like to acknowledge Her Excellency the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy for her role in opening Parliament last week.

I am also grateful for the service of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of New Zealand, and for the service she has given to New Zealand over the past 66 years. We have the finest constitutional framework anywhere in the world.  It has served our country well, and I am sure will continue to do so far into the future.

With that in mind, I am particularly humbled to find myself in this room and incredibly honoured to be standing here representing the electorate of Pakuranga.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the people of Pakuranga for the faith that they have placed in me as their Member of Parliament and representative in this House.

I am conscious that it is my responsibility to represent the views and values of my constituents and I am eager to do that because I share their values. 

The values of Pakuranga are the principles that have made New Zealand great – a commitment to hard work, fair reward, personal responsibility, equal opportunity, and common sense.  These time-honoured values are cherished by kiwis across the country and are instilled in children by their mums and dads every day.

Mr Speaker, I am the second of five children born to Ivan and Sarah Brown, who are in the gallery today. I was born in Rotorua but my family moved to Auckland when I was 12 and I have lived there ever since. I was not brought up in a wealthy family.

We were comfortable, but there were challenging times.  My parents were able to provide me and my siblings with what we needed, but I know it wasn’t always easy…  However, when I look back, I see the truly important things they provided in great abundance.

I was raised by two loving parents, I was taught discipline, the importance of working hard to get ahead, and taking responsibility for my actions. Their love and commitment to each other has been their greatest strength and has been the best example that I could ask for.

I married my wife Rebecca at the beginning of 2016. I want to thank her for all of the love and support that she has given me on my journey to this place. She is my rock and I could not have come this far without her unconditional love, encouragement, and wisdom. 

Rebecca is from Sydney and is the daughter of Lebanese parents whose families moved to Australia to find a better life for their families.  Rebecca then met me and moved to New Zealand for what I hope she would agree is an even better one! Thank you for your love Rebecca.

A few years ago I graduated from the University of Auckland, where I studied law and commerce. I went on to work as a commercial banker with the Bank of New Zealand, working with a range of small to medium-sized businesses in Auckland.

This experience has given me an insight into the engine room of New Zealand’s economy and the fact that our country is built on the backs of men and women who take risks, who mortgage their homes and go out to try and achieve their dreams.

A Government is at its best when it backs its citizens and trusts them to pursue their dreams.  Too many governments in the past have obstructed those who want to get ahead.   I believe Kiwis can fly if they’re not tied up in red tape. 

I have been involved in politics for a good part of my life now.  My first experience in this field was attending my local residents’ association, the “Clendon Residents Group” and being elected the Secretary at my first meeting, as there was a need for some ‘fresh young blood’.

From there, I chaired the inaugural Manurewa Youth Council, was elected to the Manurewa Local Board in 2013 and served as the Deputy Chair.  I was thrilled to help progress a number of key projects and initiatives along the way.

One issue which I was particularly proud to have been involved with during this time was the passing of the Psychoactive Substances Act. That Act effectively banned the sale and supply of these dangerous products.

I am grateful that this Parliament passed that legislation, and I was proud to have played a part in getting policy put through Auckland Council and then through this House. There is more to do on this important issue, and the issue of protecting our young people from the harm of these products and other harmful drugs will always be one that I care deeply about.

I would like to acknowledge Angela Dalton, Cr Daniel Newman and the Hon George Hawkins who I worked alongside during my time in local government. Thank you for the opportunities you provided me and the advice you gave. You taught me that actions speak louder than words, a maxim I will always honour. 

Being elected as the MP for Pakuranga has been the biggest honour of my career, but winning could not have been done without the help of an excellent team of supporters and electorate team.

I am pleased to have so many good people to work alongside, and I look forward to continuing that work into the future.

My electorate chairman Peter Martin epitomises Kiwi commitment. My electorate and campaign teams include John Slater, Simon Williamson, Hadyn Padfield, Jenny Gibson, Chloe Masters, Katrina Bungard, Sarah Fenwick, Rahul Sirigiri, Nathan Wilson, Daniel Church, Carla Mikkleson, Te Haua Taua, Cedric Jordan, Michael Baker, Gaylene and Evan Whetton, Bill and Maggie Burrill, Erin Dillimore-Muir, Lynn Kidd and Josh Beddell. Their support has been fantastic and their advice has been flawless. 

I am proud to be their Member of Parliament, and I want them to know that I know that I would not be here without their help and support.

My appreciation also goes to National Party Board Members Peter Goodfellow, Andrew Hunt and Alistair Bell for their support.

Mr Speaker, it would take me 10 hours to properly thank all those who have helped me on my campaign and I don’t believe the house will grant me the opportunity to do that. 

Instead, I will ask the forgiveness of those I can’t mention by name and hope they know how much their support has been appreciated.

They should all be proud of the excellent result they achieved at the last election, increasing National’s Party vote significantly to the third highest in the country.

Of course, I cannot fail to mention my predecessor in Pakuranga.  Maurice, if you’re watching this, thank you for all the work you did for the electorate and the nation.  As you can see, we’ve built on your success.  I think a pool party in Los Angeles is definitely in order.

As I stand here today making my maiden speech, I am conscious that we are standing inside a war memorial commemorating the brave men and women who have fought for the freedoms and the peace which we enjoy as a nation.

When I contemplate their sacrifice I realise that I am fortunate to be standing here, because of the heroic and selfless actions of the generations who have gone before me, a new generation, my generation, is free to shape its destiny.

The traditional values previous generations have fought to uphold are what have brought me here, and are what I will be fighting. We are fortunate that today we do not have to defend these values by force of arms like previous generations did. 

But that does not mean that they are secure.  Today, we fight to maintain the democratic principles upon which our nation was founded, preserving the right to speak and think according to our conscience, the protection of the vulnerable and disenfranchised in public debate. 

Unfortunately, these principles were so well protected by previous generations that many today do not appreciate what life is like without them, and so do not value them as they should.

Freedom is not simply doing what we want to do, to satisfy our individual desires and needs. We are not ships in the night, but ‘He Iwi Tahi Tatou’, one people.  We are all interconnected, all part of something larger than ourselves.  We must use our freedoms to serve the common good for all in our society.

Moreover, the future security of our democracy and the health of our community are grounded in the past, out of which they grew. We must look back, in order to move forward.

G K Chesterton called tradition, ‘the democracy of the dead’, and this place, Parliament, with its traditions, is underpinned by the freedoms won for us by the ANZAC’s, the suffragettes, civil rights leaders, and those who throughout our history have fought for this country and its values – freedom informed by truth and all that is just – the willingness to do the right thing, no matter the cost, irrespective of fashion or contemporary whim.

As I look forward to my time in this place, I will also be looking back, conscious that I stand here on the shoulders of those who have come before me and seeking, by the grace of God, to help make our country an even better place for future generations.

Like so many others, Mr Speaker, it is that desire to make this country an even better place which has driven me to stand for Parliament and to serve in this House.

I am fortunate to have had many friends precede me into Parliament.  I have known people like Judith Collins and Simon O’Connor for many years, and am glad to be taking a seat alongside them. 

I am also delighted to see my good friend Christopher Penk beginning his career here and I look forward to learning the ins and outs of Parliament alongside him.  (I’m also looking forward to hearing what kind and flattering things he has to say about me in his own maiden speech!)

I joined the National Party because I share its values and believe that those values are what creates a prosperous and a successful country, where all New Zealanders are valued and have the opportunity to succeed. 

I am a conservative. I regret that some people have come to see that as an unacceptable title, but it is one I am proud to wear.  I am conservative because I care about people.   

I believe that Government is there to help make a difference in people’s lives, but not to run their lives. The role of Government is to help create the conditions where people are able to thrive from their own hard work and to succeed based on their own skills.

I believe that people succeed when the Government allows people to thrive and to make decisions for themselves. I also believe in good governance.

When Governments are forced to intervene in people’s lives, it must be for the right reasons, based on a desire to improve those lives, and that any intrusion must be as small as possible. Too often, decisions are hastily made, or laws are quickly passed with little thought about the unintended consequences they have.

Good laws are made through good process, through sound reasoning, and proper consultation.  I hope we will see principled actions and well-reasoned policies from this Government, not merely politically expedient propaganda… but I’m not going to hold my breath!

I believe that the crucial role of Government is to protect its citizens and the nation. The protection of the citizens of the country is central to the role of Government. Maintaining law and order and national security are areas deserving of more investment and will be welcomed by the people of Pakuranga.  We need more investment in tackling gangs and continuing to crack down on the supply of illegal drugs flowing into our country.

Mr Speaker, the Pakuranga electorate is full of entrepreneurs, business owners, and investors. The Government’s role in business must be to provide opportunities for businesses to grow and to succeed.

This means opening up new trade links, reducing red-tape and regulation, and investing in much-needed infrastructure projects. Two such projects close to my electorate’s heart are the East West Link and AMETI. I am tremendously disappointed to hear the new Government intends to put the brakes on this kind of growth and I will do everything I can to encourage them away from this myopic decision. 

Traffic congestion is a huge issue in Pakuranga, for people who live there and businesses which operate in East Auckland. These transport projects must be progressed, and I will champion them, and others like them, during my time in this place.

One of the other values which I will be a staunch advocate for during my time here will be the importance of free speech. As members of Parliament, we are fortunate to work in an environment where freedom of speech is generally protected. But we must ensure that freedom of speech is not merely a Parliamentary privilege, but something people everywhere can enjoy. All New Zealander’s should freedom of expression as that underpins a strong democracy.

Of course, with every freedom comes responsibility, and at times limitations, however, these limitations should be rare and a matter of last resort. I am opposed to the idea that governments should stop people saying things that offend or annoy others.  Governments should not be in the business of protecting people’s feelings and affirming every person’s sense of self.

A safe society is one where we debate ideas, rather than suppress them. A tolerant society welcomes all ideas and debates them on their merits, rather than determining what ideas are allowed and which aren’t.

We who work in this chamber must always remember that the government wields tremendous power.  Too often, private individuals are trampled by governments rather than protected by them. 

This applies to freedom of speech of course, but in other ways as well.  It is often the case in society that the weak can be neglected in favour of the strong, and those who shout the loudest get the most attention from the Government.

I believe that it is the role of this Parliament to protect the most vulnerable and to ensure that their rights are safeguarded. It is to our shame that New Zealand has a rising epidemic of elder abuse in our country. We must watch this, and other disturbing trends. 

I worry that our society is becoming harsher, less caring, and less compassionate.  It is not sufficient to merely spread these words throughout society.  They must be backed up with actions.  I believe that many of society’s problems are rooted in poverty.  However, unlike some, I am not solely focused on material poverty. 

There is a growing poverty of compassion, a poverty of respect, and a poverty of understanding between communities and generations. 

This must be stopped and I will do everything I can to help.  This is a far better way to build a kinder society than the redistribution of wealth because making New Zealand more caring, tolerant, and compassionate, will enrich us all.

Mr Speaker, I conclude by once again thanking my loving family, my incredible wife and my many supporters in Pakuranga. I look forward to my time in this House.


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