Cunliffe chickens out, Norman steps in

November 6, 2013

Advertising on the Farming Show used to be the most expensive on the Radio Network.

It probably still is because it’s now broadcast nationwide. It’s listened to by a broad audience and not just beyond town boundaries.

I do an occasional spot on the show and often meet people from all around the country, urban and rural, who’ve heard me.

Host Jamie Mackay has a successful recipe with a blend of farming and wider rural issues mixed with sport, music and politics.

It’s the sort of show you’d think an aspiring Prime Minister would want to appear on but one has chickened out:

There’s a certain irony in the position I find myself in with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

You see, David C has red-carded me.

Meaning, for the first time since 2000, when then Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed to a weekly slot, I will not be interviewing the Labour leader on the Farming Show.

Rightly or wrongly, Cunliffe says he won’t get a fair hearing, that we will make fun of him. Heck, we make fun of everyone, including ourselves.

Jamie does make fun of some of his interviewees but the political segments are usually pretty straight. In fact with my ever so slightly blue bias I think he sometimes let Cunliffe’s predecessors and agricultural spokesmen away too lightly.

Had Cunliffe or his media team bothered to listen to the show archives, available here, they’d have known that he’d get a fair go.

I think he has unfairly pigeon-holed me. He needs to understand some of my political history before he consigns me to the National Party lackey file. . .

Brought up in a family where Norman Kirk was admired more than Keith Holyoake, Jamie voted for Social Credit in his first two elections, in 1984 he voted against Rob Muldoon and for Bob Jones, didn’t get round to voting in 1987 and had his first vote for National in 1990.

Even then it was a vote more for a candidate than a party because I liked the cut of a young buck the Nats had dragged down to his home province of Southland from The Treasury in Wellington.

His name was Bill English and he looked like he at least had a bit of spark in him.

However, considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now? 

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. . . .

So here’s my message for PC David C, which unfortunately I can’t pass on personally. 

If you really want to be the next prime minister, get your teeth into some issues that affect middle and low-income NZ – jobs, education, health, and the minimum wage are traditional Labour strongholds.

Attack National where you have an inherent political advantage and where it might have dropped the ball.

On second thoughts, I might save that message for my new Farming Show correspondent, Dr Russel Norman.

I heard Jamie a couple of weeks ago saying Cunliffe wasn’t coming on the show and he said the same thing this week.

I thought he meant just those days, after all what politician would turn down the opportunity for nationwide publicity on the radio?

But no, it wasn’t just couple of instances that didn’t suit his diary, he’s given the show a flat no for the worst of all reasons, that he wouldn’t get a fair hearing and he’d be made fun of.

How precious is that?

A politician who can’t stand the very gentle heat of the Farming Show isn’t going to cope with the much hotter temperature in other media and parliament.

He wouldn’t have been made fun of unfairly on the show but he will be now.

Jamie’s column is in the current edition of the Farmers Weekly which is delivered free to every rural mail box in the country and sold in book stores and dairies. It’s in the FW’s digital edition and on the website (to which I’ve linked above).

It will be on the Farming Show website soon.

I’ve already heard Jamie mention Cunliffe’s no-show and he’ll keep doing it. he’ll probably mention it to his cousin, political journo Barry Soper, who has does a spot on the show each Friday.

Prime Minister John Key has a weekly interview on the show. He sometimes get a little borax poked at him by Jamie and handles it well. His customary good humour and ability to laugh at themselves will continue to provide a contrast with Cunliffe who was scared of a gentle ribbing.

Deputy PM and Finance Minister Bill English, Minister  for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Deputy Speaker Eric Roy,  are also regulars on the show. So are Labour’s Primary Industries spokesman Damien O’Connor and former MP now Vice Chancellor of Massey Steve Maharey. In the past former PM Helen Clark, then-National party leader Don Brash, former Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton, former MPI Minister David Carter and Cunliffe’s former leader David Shearer were all on each week.

Since Cunliffe won’t front, Jamie has invited Russel Norman to replace him.

All of these people are or were willing to front Jamie regularly but Cunliffe isn’t.

But worse than this – one of his challenges was to assert himself as leader of the opposition, a position Norman had assumed while David Shearer led Labour.

Instead, he’s handed his rival a free pass to a slot that should have been his own on the Farming Show.

In doing so he’s shown himself a little too concerned with his own image and a little less confident of his own ability than he would like the world to think.

#gigatownoamaru doesn’t chicken out.


Rural round-up

May 10, 2013

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill introduced:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has introduced a Bill to Parliament today to update and strengthen animal welfare in New Zealand.

“The Bill will allow us to create enforceable regulations that set out how farm and domestic animals should be treated. It also gives wider powers to deal with people who breach welfare laws,” says Mr Guy.

“This comes from a comprehensive review of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 which found that while the principles are sound, the time is right to update and improve how it operates. This will make the legislation easier to enforce, and make it clearer and more transparent.

“It matters how we treat animals, both to ourselves and for our international trading reputation. This Bill will make that reputation even stronger.

“This is important to New Zealanders because around 68% of households have a pet, and we earn around $20 billion a year by exporting animal products such as meat, milk and wool. . .

Animal welfare case guilty plea welcomed:

Federated Farmers believes Milkpride admitting guilt in Rotorua today sends a strong deterrent message.

“With sentencing yet to be passed we are pretty much limited to what we can say,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Farmers like me were troubled by what we saw and the public deserve to know it is not representative of dairy farming. In this case, farming was both on trial but farming was also part of the prosecution.

“I wish to acknowledge the work of DairyNZ’s early intervention team, Federated Farmers members and the Ministry for Primary Industries itself. . .

Farm health and safety and rural suicide high on agenda at conference:

Federated Farmers health and safety spokesperson Jeanette Maxwell will discuss the work to improve quad bike safety on farms and, more importantly, the Federation’s steps towards reducing the rural suicide rate in FarmSafe’s rural safety conference in Wellington next week.

“The politicians, policy makers and influential agri-business people attending the Rural Safety – A Forward Focus conference next Wednesday will have a very good opportunity to discuss what is happening with on-farm safety and what can be done to improve it,” Mrs Maxwell says.

“I am looking forward to hearing from Coroner Brandt Shortland about the coronial inquiry into quad bike safety and then participating in the stakeholder discussion on the future of quad bike safety afterwards. . .

It’s hands-on for Smedley cadets – Jon Morgan:

Of 80 young men and women applying each year to go to Smedley Station, the agricultural training farm running sheep, cattle and deer in the Central Hawke’s Bay hills, only 11 are chosen.

Once there they come under the spell of station manger Terry Walters, his wife Judy and their team of managers.

It’s two years they will never forget, says Walters.

“They play hard and they also work bloody hard.”

One word sums up the station and its training programme: Respect.

“It’s respect for the farm, the training staff, their fellow cadets, their gear, their dogs, their horse,” he says. . .

Southland farmers urged to register for DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum, 15 May:

DairyNZ’s national series of Farmers’ Forum is coming to Invercargill on Wednesday, 15 May.

The event is free to levy-paying farmers and their staff who are urged to register this week for the informative and practical seminars to be held at Ascot Park Hotel from 9.30-2pm.

Each year the Farmers’ Forum provides a great opportunity for dairy farmers to see how their levy is invested and to learn about dairy industry research and development work. . .

Massey University agricultural programme ranked 21st:

Massey University is celebrating having its agricultural programme ranked among the top universities in the world.

In the 2013 QS University World Rankings released this week, Massey University’s agricultural programme was judged to be the 21st finest in the world.

Vice chancellor Steve Maharey said it’s good news for Massey and good news for New Zealand given the importance of agriculture to the country.

Mr Maharey said the highlight of the ranking in his opinion was the five star ranking Massey received for its research in agriculture.

He said having the strength of the university’s research recognised will reverberate around the world. . .

Shortage Lifts Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that the combination of a slightly weaker NZ dollar compared to most main trading currencies; restricted wool supply and recent dearer wool markets in other countries aided the lift for most types at this weeks’ South Island auction.

Of the 8,340 bales on offer, 83 percent sold. The weighted currency indicator was 0.46 percent down on last sale of 2nd May but started the day below this level, strengthening as the sale progressed. . .

And from Smile Project:


Rural round-up

February 7, 2013

Red meat sector ‘risks oblivion’:

New Zealand’s red meat industry risks oblivion in the coming decades unless it adopts its recently proposed $65 million development programme, says ANZ.

ANZ says the red meat industry development initiative is critical to the sector’s survival.

“The danger we face is that we are not alone in seeking to exploit the international market for red meat,” said Graham Turley, ANZ’s managing director, commercial and agri.

“If we are serious about wanting to develop vibrant, globally dominant and highly profitable agricultural industries, we will need all stakeholders in the industry to work together to bring about change. . .

New agriculture institute at Massey:

Massey University has established a new Institute of Agriculture and Environment.

It will provide knowledge to maximise the potential of the primary sector while protecting New Zealand’s precious natural resources.

Massey vice-chancellor Steve Maharey says a highly productive and environmentally sustainable agricultural system is vital to the nation’s future economic wellbeing. . .

$38m funding for greenhouse gas research – Allan Barber:

The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) has just announced that it has secured funding for a further seven years’ research into greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. $2.3 million per annum will be contributed by industry partners to be matched by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment with the balance to come from AgResearch in its capacity as leader of the research project.

The consortium has been in existence since 2002 and to date has spent about $45 million of 50/50 joint venture funding from industry and government. Its members are Fonterra, Beef & Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, AgResearch, Landcorp Farming, DEEResearch, PGG Wrightson Ltd and Fertiliser Association Joint Venture. . .

World agriculture expert and doctor explains root cause of health issues:

You are what you eat”. A common saying passed down from one generation to the next. However, is it really as simple as that?

World-renowned American scientist and physician Dr Arden Andersen claims that the solution to common health complaints is more complex than simply a balanced diet. The explanation to our problems can be found in our soil.

Dr Arden Andersen is coming to New Zealand this month to share his secrets for healthy and sustainable living. He will be in Hawke’s Bay on Saturday 16 February at Havelock North Function Centre for a captivating one day course entitled ‘Real Medicine, Real Health’. . .

Sheepdog trialling alive and well:

Sheepdog trialling was once a popular fixture on Kiwi television. For 16 years we watched a man and his dog controlling a flock, hoping not to get that troublesome rogue sheep.

So what’s happened to the sport in the over 20 years since it left our screens?

Since the theme song faded away in 1992, sheepdog trialling has dropped off the radar. However, it’s not dying, and there’s a good reason why.

“Without sheepdogs there wouldn’t be a sheep and beef industry, and without sheep and beef there wouldn’t be a New Zealand economy,” says Sheepdog Trial Association president John Harvey.

The National Yarding Challenge finals were held recently in Taupo, with the hill trials in May. Rex Berkahn, 81, won the first two televised competitions in 1977 and 1978. . .

Top of the North first stop for TeenAg Competitions 2013:

Teenagers from all walks of life, from all over New Zealand, are being encouraged to enter the nationwide TeenAg Competition as it enters its third year. Nearly 300 students competed at Regional Finals throughout New Zealand in 2012 and the Competition is shaping up to be even bigger and better in 2013.

The first Regional Final takes place in Whangarei at the Barge Park Showgrounds on February 9th alongside the Northern Regional Final for the ANZ Young Farmer Contest and the AgriKidsNZ Competition. Competitors don’t need to belong to a TeenAg Club to enter the Competition and entry is free. . .

Green Meadows Beef Raises The Steaks:

Green Meadows Beef, a new family business that produces 100% grass-fed, free-range beef, is bringing a fresh approach to beef marketing and delivery so that New Zealanders can enjoy healthier, tastier and more ethically produced meat.

The Carey family founded Green Meadows Beef after realising that the best New Zealand beef is exported and never made available to the local market. The Carey family believe that Green Meadows Beef has a much better flavour, taste and colour compared to the beef presently available to New Zealanders. . .

And from Positivity:

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