What happens when government controls prices?

18/11/2013

Tweet of the day:

I don’t think any government here has ever had that much control on prices.

But it’s not that long ago that tariffs and subsidies meant the government here did influence how much we paid for a lot of basic necessities.


Making a fuss or making a difference

11/11/2013

Making a fuss gets headlines and that’s what Green MP Jan Logie and Australian senator Lee Rhiannon have done in Sri Lanka.

. . . Ms Logie and Australian Green Party Senator Lee Rhiannon had their passports confiscated by immigration officials before a planned press conference this afternoon.

The pair were on a fact-finding trip ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit this week.

Ms Logie and Ms Rhiannon were being held in a hotel room, but are now on their way to the airport to fly out of the country. . .

But have they made a difference?

Of course not.

The Green Party is now pressuring Prime Minister John Key not to go there for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

But he will be accompanied by media who will have opportunities to highlight issues.

He’ll also have an opportunity to speak to leaders face to face. Sir Don Mckinnon explains:

Sir Donald McKinnon says it is difficult for the Commonwealth to be tougher on Sri Lanka because it is difficult to get full agreement on how to address the issues.
 
“There are those who will say, ‘You’ve got to hit them harder,’ those who will say, ‘You’ve got to help them out of this hole they’ve dug for themselves.’
 
He says Prime Minister John Key is most likely to raise concerns about how the country is progressing on human rights at the leader’s retreat.
 
“And, you know, as one who sat through many of those where you just have the leaders on their own, plus the Secretary-General, they are extraordinarily candid with each other because they all believe that one can pull down the others.”
 
When asked what New Zealand could hope to gain from this meeting, Sir Donald McKinnon said New Zealand would want to see progress occurring in Fiji “which I think probably will occur”.
 
“This is the chance for any one leader, John Key included, to sometimes resolve issues that become irresolvable.  If the officials and the foreign minister, the diplomats can’t, sometimes a face to face with a leader can resolve it. . .

Not going would make a fuss, going could make a difference.

It won’t be a big one, but any progress will be better than none.

#gigatownoamaru is working to make a positive difference as the southern hemisphere’s first gigatown.


Rural round-up

02/09/2013

NZ/Sri Lanka agree way forward on dairy issues:

The New Zealand and Sri Lankan governments have agreed to work toward a Dairy Sector Cooperation Agreement following a one day visit to Colombo by Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

The visit followed the serious difficulties Fonterra has experienced in that market over recent weeks and the temporary closure of its Sri Lankan operations.

Mr McCully and Fonterra Chairman John Wilson met Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa to discuss progress in resolving the difficulties and future opportunities to expand cooperation in the dairy sector.

“Sri Lanka is keen to substantially build its domestic capacity in the dairy sector. Mr Rajapaksa clearly understands the world-class expertise and experience that Fonterra can bring to that. He was very interested in hearing how Fonterra might be able to assist. We took the opportunity to underline the greater certainty that Fonterra will need in the Sri Lankan market,” Mr McCully says. . .

Fundamentals still right: farm leader – Sally Rae:

It may have been a ”hellishly tough month” for Fonterra but the co-operative’s forecast milk price underlines that the fundamentals of the New Zealand dairy industry remain strong, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink says.

Last week, the co-operative revised its 2013-14 season forecast to $7.80, up 30c from the previous forecast late last month.

New Zealanders should ”rejoice” that the immediate financial damage from the recall and market access issues would not dent the economy, Mr Leferink said.

”With an eye to the future, we’ve got to accept that we cannot afford a repeat of this month’s problems, but right now, this confidence in the dairy industry is a huge relief. . . .

Rural folk urged to change drinking ways:

Rural communities need to change the present culture of binge-drinking and drink-driving, those in the emergency services say.

Otago rural area acting commander Inspector Andrew Burns, of Dunedin, said alcohol was a factor in the ”vast majority” of crimes in rural areas.

People were consuming alcohol differently in rural communities and the problem was not as ”visible” as it was in cities, but it was still a problem, he said.

”In the rural community it’s no different [to urban settings],” Insp Burns said.

”With a lot of domestic violence, alcohol is a factor and in violent crime it’s usually a factor.” . . .

Time to face up to rural mental health needs:

Federated Farmers is joining the Rural General Practice Network in calling for specific funding for rural mental health. This follows the latest annual release of suicide statistics by the Chief Coroner.

“When there are more suicides in New Zealand than road deaths, drownings and workplace accidents combined, there is a serious need to change tack,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety spokesperson.

“Last year, 541 New Zealanders took their own lives and we know the cost of suicide painfully well in rural New Zealand.

“As the Chief Coroner, Judge Neil McLean recently told 3 News, “Farming is tough. You’re at the whims of nature and markets and you have no control over this and it’s hard and demanding work in isolation. . .

Soaring milk prices boost for farmers – Hugh Stringleman:

Milk prices have taken off in a way not seen since the commodity boom of 2007-08, promising total farmgate returns of about $8/kg milksolids in a season that has only just begun. 

The country’s 12,000 dairy farm owners, their sharemilkers and staff members can whistle their way to work in the pre-dawn darkness.

Widespread rain, warm temperatures, steep pasture-growth curves, and good prospects for supplementary feeding should work to boost national milk production and turbo-charge the economy.

Federated Farmers dairy section chairman Willy Leferink said last week’s forecast increases by Fonterra and Westland co-operatives were almost too good to be true. . .

Aussie breakthrough for NZ deer velvet – Rod O’Neill:

New Zealand’s deer velvet industry is claiming a big win, with producer and processor Mountain Red poised to begin exporting into Australia after having its product licensed by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.

It’s been a long hard battle to access the Australian market, said Mountain Red director Karen Morley.

The licence means Nelson-based Mountain Red’s range of therapeutic products can be distributed in Australia and even be prescribed by general practitioners practising integrated medicine.

“We’ve spent a hell of a long time trying to get into Australia,” Morley said. “The regulations are so hard.” . . .


Trouble outside t’ mill

24/08/2013

Fonterra is facing protests outside its factory in Sri Lanka:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has today taken the precautionary step of temporarily suspending its consumer operations in Sri Lanka because of the unstable situation at the moment.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Fonterra has two immediate priorities: protecting its people, and protecting its farmer shareholders’ assets.

“The temporary suspension is the right thing to do.  It is a precautionary measure to ensure our 755 people working there are safe.   We have closed our plants and office in Sri Lanka, and have asked our people to stay at home.

“At the same time, we must do all that we can to protect our farmer shareholders’ investment in Fonterra’s Sri Lanka manufacturing and commercial operations.”

Mr Spierings said Fonterra has provided every possible assurance to the Sri Lankan authorities about the safety and quality of Fonterra’s products, and remains committed to the Sri Lankan people.

“Recent events, however, have made it difficult to maintain day-to-day operations, and we need to get them resolved.

“Fonterra Sri Lanka is currently subject to a court Enjoining Order which has shut down our ability to sell product, advertise it or make public statements in any way with customers or consumers in Sri Lanka.

“Legal action is underway that is aimed at resolving the Enjoining Order.

“We are also working with Sri Lankan and New Zealand government authorities on a long-term sustainable solution for our Sri Lankan customers, communities and dairy sector,” said Mr Spierings.

Sri Lanka is one of the key markets for the New Zealand dairy industry.  The New Zealand dairy industry has been providing high quality dairy nutrition to people across Sri Lanka for more than 35 years.

Fonterra also plays an important role in helping develop the local dairy industry.  Earlier this year the Co-operative launched a Farmer Training and Education Programme to help develop dairy farming skills in Sri Lanka.

August has been a good month for the co-operative’s GlobalDairyTrade auction but that aside, this has probably been the worst month Fonterra has had since it was formed.


Fonterra has work to do

23/08/2013

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says the relationship between China and New Zealand remains strong but Fonterra has work to do.

“While trade and economic issues currently dominate the agenda, my discussions in Beijing have been wide ranging and have emphasised the extent of our shared interests,” Mr McCully says.

“This visit, which was planned some months ago, is timely in light of recent issues involving dairy products from New Zealand.”

Mr McCully today held discussions with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and State Councillor Yang Jiechi.

“Mr Wang and I spoke openly and constructively about issues with some dairy products and the response by Fonterra and government agencies,” Mr McCully says.

“The New Zealand Government has high expectations for New Zealand exports, including the application of strict food safety standards. When issues arise we expect good disclosure and remedial action.

“Both Chinese and New Zealand ministers acknowledge that Fonterra has work to do in the coming weeks to rebuild consumer confidence.

“China is an extremely important trading partner and we are committed to responding to this issue in a timely and cooperative manner.”

It’s not just in China that Fonterra has work to do.

I was in Auckland on Wednesday. The taxi driver who took me into the city was Sri Lankan.

He’d been a dairy farmer here and discussion turned to Fonterra.

He’d read a story in Sri Lankan media on-line which suggested that whatever was left over after the whey was removed from milk was doctored with other ingredients and sold as milk powder.

I said he shouldn’t believe everything he read on the internet.

He said that the story was quoting a medical doctor.

I said that still didn’t make it right and that no company which depended on trust would be involved with that sort of thing.

He wasn’t convinced.

That’s how easily doubts can be raised and reputations lost, especially in countries which don’t have our reputation for lack of corruption and therefore don’t have the trust we have in our institutions and systems.

Once doubts are raised it takes a lot of work, and time, to allay them.


Rural round-up

03/04/2013

Planning: our rural romance mustn’t stop us building homes:

This evening many of us may find escape by watching the first of 42 hours of the BBC’s chronicle of 100 years of rural life, The Village, set in the lushly dramatic countryside of Edale and Hayfield in the Peak District.

A few of us – 165,095, in England and Wales, to be precise – might be doing so in the comfort of a second home, deep in the heart of Cornwall, perhaps, facing rolling green fields with not another dwelling in sight.

Yet, whatever the romantic view of our green and pleasant land, in fact and fiction, in our towns and cities, an all too real crisis of space and homes is already upon us.

As rents rise, mortgages are elusive and home ownership for increasing numbers of young people becomes a distant dream, the refusal to concede so much as an inch of greenfield terrain by organisations such as the National Trust appears less and less reasonable. . .

Focus on rural crime – Jill Galloway:

In a first, crime prevention advocate Crimestoppers is launching a campaign aimed at giving rural communities greater confidence to speak up about suspicious or criminal activity.

It is called “Shut the gate on rural crime”, and is supported by New Zealand rural insurer FMG and New Zealand Post.

Chief executive of Crimestoppers Jude Mannion said there were about 50 calls a day from all around New Zealand – urban and rural areas.

“Things like stock theft are now more professional and organised than they were. And in rural areas there are fewer people and that brings a problem of isolation.” . .

City docs ‘go rural’:

HEALTH Minister Lawrence Springborg’s plan to turn Beaudesert Hospital into a training facility for rural doctors has been given a positive prognosis from young city GPs keen on taking their much-needed medical skills bush.

The urban based doctors were recently at the South East Queensland medical facility for a ‘Go Rural Queensland – a day in the life of a rural doctor’ workshop run by Health Workforce Queensland.

While Beaudesert might only be a one-hour’s drive from Brisbane, the town’s medical services still operate in a rural context that would appear foreign to how services are delivered in the city, according to Health Workforce Queensland CEO Chris Mitchell. . .

Feed dispenser takes top award – Gerald Piddock:

A dispenser that provides dairy cattle with a daily dose of mineral supplements has taken top honours at the South Island Field Days innovation awards.

Called the Conedose, the machine dispenses molasses mixed with mineral supplements to cattle in the dairy shed.

It was designed by Southland-based company Winton Stock Feed and won the class one New Zealand-made farm machinery award at the South Island Field Days at Lincoln.

The Conedose dispensed non-soluble minerals, which other feeders could not do, Winton Stock Feed operations manager Paul Jackson said. . .

Mesh covers could beat TPP – Gerald Piddock:

A simple mesh cover could be the answer to halting one of the country’s most devastating tomato and potato pests.

The covers are being trialled at the Lincoln University Future Farming Centre to see if they stop the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) from invading the plants.

The results so far look extremely promising despite the trials being in their first season, centre head Charles Merfield says. . .

Beef, Lamb & Chelsea: A Recipe For Success:

In an exciting new partnership, Beef + Lamb New Zealand has today announced a partnership with Chelsea Winter, winner of Master Chef New Zealand 2012.

Winter’s recipes will be gracing butchery shelves and supermarket in abundance from this month.

Winter is joining the team as the face of mEAT magazine, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s free, quarterly guide to beef and lamb.

“This is a really exciting partnership and we have had so much fun developing fresh new recipes to complement the new-look mEAT magazine, which I am sure readers are going to love,” says Winter. . .

Richie Mccaw Visits Fonterra’s Sri Lanka Operations:

Fonterra’s global ambassador Richie McCaw has gained an up-close view of Fonterra in Sri Lanka last week during a two day tour of the Co-operative’s operations in the country.

McCaw said it was great to see first hand how Fonterra was growing its business in the region.

“It’s my first time in Sri Lanka and it made me realise how big Fonterra and Anchor are in the region. You drive through Colombo and see Anchor signs everywhere – it’s amazing that Sri Lankan kids are drinking the same milk that I grew up on in Canterbury.

“You sometimes forget that Fonterra’s got such a global reach. The kids and farmers that I met during the trip all told me that Fonterra and Anchor are a big part of their lives – not only because of the products Fonterra supplies but because the Co-op has become part of the community over the last 35 years,” said McCaw. . .

From here via Campaign for Wool we have tartan sheep:

One of our favourite April Fools Day hoaxes has to be the Tartan Sheep: The London Times ran a photo of "tartan sheep" said to have been bred by Grant Bell of West Barns, East Lothian. However, the Times warned, "Before you complain of being fleeced, check out the baa-code for today's date." http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/af_database/permalink/tartan_sheep


Fonterra gets gagging writ

20/03/2009

Fonterra has won a gagging writ to stop a smear campaign against it in Sri Lanka.

Colombo District Court has ordered Mawbima Lanka Padanama (MLP) – a local lobbyist critical of imported foods – from making false statements about Fonterra’s milkpowders, reported the Daily Mirror newspaper in the city.

MLP had claimed Fonterra added non-dairy fat to its milk.

This is a particularly nasty form of anti-competitive behaviour, and given the nervousness about food saftey it is one which is likely to have an impact on consumers.


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