Rural round-up

September 27, 2019

Southland farmer pens powerful open letter to Jacinda Ardern – Esther Taunton:

A Southland farmer has written a powerful “open letter” to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, urging her to hear farmers’ concerns over proposed freshwater standards.

Ashley Lester’s letter said the eight-week consultation period on the Government’s policy reforms fell during the farm’s busiest time of year.

“To clarify, my team are working 12-hour days to take care of my stock, seven days a week,” she wrote. . .

Water, Protest and Engaging with the Process — September 2019 – Elbow Deep:

The Ministry for the Environment is holding a series of meetings around the country as part of their consultation process for the discussion document Action for Healthy Waterways.

Once the consultation has finished and all the submissions have been summarised, the Ministry will pass their advice on to Cabinet who will then issue a National Policy Statement for Freshwater.

That’s it. There’s no select committee hearing and no need for a law change, the NPS will provide direction to regional and district councils as to how they should carry out their responsibilities under the Resource Management Act.

Realising I needed to learn a lot more about the proposals I attended the Ashburton meeting along with some three hundred other concerned locals, and I’m very glad I did because I learned a lot. Not from the officials giving the presentation, as you might expect, but from the well informed members of the audience. . . 

 

Can Fonterra find a fresh future from a curdled past? – Gyles Beckford:

In 2001 the country’s dairy industry elite unveiled plans for a colossus to bestride the globe.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter needed a name – and the ad-men dreamed up Fonterra – a word derived from the Latin phrase ‘fons de terra’ meaning “spring from the land”.

Inaugural chairman John Roadley said the new name would initially mean little to shareholders, staff and the public.

“Our challenge is to ensure Fonterra means something special to our shareholders, our staff and all New Zealanders within our first year,” he said. . .

Fonterra creates jobs in South Taranaki after job cuts, $605 million loss announced – Jane Matthews:

As it struggles to deal with record $605 million losses, dairy giant Fonterra has set out a plan create more than 30 jobs at its South Taranaki site.

But Eltham’s 34-job gain has come at the cost of 65 in Paraparaumu, north of Wellington, where the company is closing a speciality cheese factory.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell announced the move on Thursday as the company revealed its massive losses during the last financial year. . .

Family turns boutique cheese maker – Toni Williams:

A boutique sheep-milking operation on the edge of Ashburton town is making cheese in the district while the sun still shines.

But decisions on its future will need to be made soon.

Hipi Cheese, owned and operated by Jacy and Allan Ramsay, of Ashburton, started more than four years ago as they worked through their sheep milking processes. Their first milking was in November 2017.

The couple, who both work other jobs, have a micro-farm block of just under 2ha which stocks 24 mostly East Friesian milking ewes but in the past few seasons has included Dairymead genetics with ”a dash of Awassi” . . .

Crops thirsty for more rain – Matt Wallis:

With no substantial rain and the forecast leaving us forever guessing, crops have “hit the wall” as soil moisture reserves have all but depleted coinciding with above average daytime temperatures, wind and multiple frost events.

The current state of the NSW crop is far from perfect and at a crucial stage now of pod filling and flowering while northern Victoria is now beginning to experience symptoms of the NSW crop as the conditions push further south.

While time may be on the side of those further south of the Murrumbidgee, much like Geelong’s chance of adding another premiership to the cabinet, the hour glass is quickly running out. . . 

 


A tale of two caucuses

June 26, 2019

National leader Simon Bridges announced a minor reshuffle of portfolios yesterday:

“Paul Goldsmith will become the spokesperson for Finance and Infrastructure following today’s announcement from Amy Adams that she will leave at the next election.

“Paul is the natural choice for the Finance role. He has done an outstanding job holding the Government to account in the Economic and Regional Development portfolio.

Shane Jones will be very happy with this change, though he shouldn’t relax, the two taking over Paul’s portfolios will be just as effective at holding the Minister to account.

“Regional and Economic Development will now be split across two spokespeople. Todd McClay will look after Economic Development, while Chris Bishop will take over the Regional Development and Transport portfolios.

“Chris has done a brilliant job as spokesperson for Police and deserves to take on more responsibility.

“Jo Hayes has been appointed the spokesperson for Māori Development and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations following the departure of Nuk Korako. Jo is a passionate advocate for Māori.

“Gerry Brownlee will pick up the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Brett Hudson will take on the Police portfolio and Tim Macindoe will become the Shadow Attorney-General.

“Other changes include Michael Woodhouse as the Associate Finance spokesperson, Maggie Barry taking over the Disability Issues portfolio, Stuart Smith will be the spokesperson for Immigration, Todd Muller will be the spokesperson for Forestry, Nicola Willis will take on the Youth portfolio and our newest MP Paulo Garcia will become the Associate Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank both Amy Adams and Alastair Scott for their valuable contributions to the National Party and Parliament. Amy was a brilliant Minister across a range of portfolios. The changes she made to domestic violence laws as Justice Minister have made families in New Zealand safer. Amy has excelled as our Finance spokesperson and has been an outstanding member for Selwyn.

“Alastair should be proud of the work he has done to prevent drug driving, and for the way he has represented and advocated for the people of Wairarapa. I’m pleased they will be here for the rest of the term to help us form policies for the 2020 election.

“National is the largest and most effective Opposition this country has ever seen. I’m proud to lead such a talented and hardworking team.” 

There are no surprises there and there will probably be none in tomorrow’s reshuffle of Cabinet but there is a major difference between the two caucuses – there’s plenty of talent in National’s with many MPs capable of becoming Ministers.

By contrast Labour’s is a shallow pool and, as Barry Soper noted:

. . .The reshuffle will be minor because most of those who should be in Cabinet are already there. And the amount of time Ardern’s taken getting around to shuffling the chairs just goes to show how hard leadership is for a person who clearly finds it hard to be hard. . . 

Ardern doesn’t have much to choose from and, if past form is a guide, will be reluctant to demote the poorest performers.


Rural round-up

March 2, 2019

Proposed water tax a ‘burden’ on low-water  regions – Stuart Smith:

The proposed new water tax that was announced as part of a swathe of other new taxes potentially facing Kiwis will disproportionally impact on low-rainfall regions like Marlborough.

There are eight new taxes in Michael Cullen’s proposal: the Capital Gains Tax (CGT), tax on vacant residential land, agriculture tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, environmental footprint tax, natural capital tax and a waste tax.

Much has been said about the CGT but the suggested water tax, too, would impact all Kiwis negatively and in particular our farmers, horticulturalists and wine growers in low-rainfall areas. . . 

Partnerships between men and women are critical for farming success – Bonnie Flaws:

With many farms run by married couples, the role of women in farming is a critical one, a female dairy farmer says.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a former dairy woman of the year, said male farmers could see everyday how women contribute to the business, and they respect that.

“I would say the percentage of women in farming is at least 50 per cent. Nearly every farming business has a partnership that has historically not been seen. But they’ve always been there.” . . 

Studies smoke out fire behaviour – Richard Rennie:

The risk of summer fires is a constant farmers and foresters learn to live with. But the Port Hills fire in 2017 and the Nelson fire last month have brought a human threat to wildfires many Kiwis thought was confined to Australia and North America. With wildfires now affecting rural and urban people Richard Rennie spoke to Scion rural fire researcher Dr Tara Strand about how we are getting smarter at understanding rural fires.

A TEAM of Scion researchers is part of a 27-year history of research into New Zealand’s rural fires, a quiet brigade of climate experts and fire analysts whose job is to help make rural firefighters’ jobs more effective and safer. . .

Grape yield under threat – Joanna Grigg:

Marlborough is experiencing a hydrological drought.

Lack of rain in the mountain catchment has left the Wairau River low, Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsdworth said.

And summer storage capacity on the plains has been found wanting as a result. January rain of 18mm was soon sucked up by 30C plus temperatures in February.  . .

Matamata to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final :

A Waharoa dairy farmer is facing fierce competition in her quest to be named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Sophia Clark will take on seven other contestants in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final in Matamata next month.

It will be the 30-year-old’s fourth attempt at clinching a coveted spot in the national final. . .

Scott St John leaves Fonterra Fund manager’s board as units hit record  low – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra director and veteran capital markets executive Scott St John has left the board of the shareholder fund’s manager, the same day the units plunged to a new low.

A notice to the Companies Office last night noted St John ceased being a director of FSF Management Co, the manager of the dual-listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which gives investors exposure to the cooperative’s earnings stream. He is still a director of Fonterra. . .


Class of 2014

September 23, 2014

Prime Minister-elect John Key, his deputy Bill English and the new national MPs:

Bill English and I were proud to welcome National’s 15 new MPs to Parliament this morning.

 


Knowing when to go

December 18, 2013

Kaikoura MP Colin King lost a selection contest against vineyard owner Stuart Smith.

. . . “National’s selection process is highly democratic. Nothing is pre-determined and I congratulate Stuart for securing the nomination,” said Canterbury-Westland Regional Chairman Roger Bridge.

“Stuart has been an advocate for Marlborough communities for many years and will offer voters a strong voice in John Key’s National Party at the next election.

“I also wish to acknowledge Colin King. Colin has worked hard as the MP and served these communities well

Mr Smith is a fourth generation South Islander, former Chairman of the New Zealand Winegrowers Association, and a founding member and current Chairman of the community-owned Southern Valley’s Irrigation Scheme.

Based in Blenheim on the Smith-Small family-owned vineyard Fairhill Downs, he is married to Julie and is father to three teenage children.

“I am very grateful for the confidence that the Party have shown in me tonight,” said Mr Smith.

“National’s plan to build a stronger economy is delivering real opportunities for us in Marlborough and North Canterbury, but regional New Zealand is facing many challenges and there is still much more to be done.

“I will be working hard to win the support of our communities to ensure we can keep building on this progress after the next election. 

Colin King, who was elected as the MP for Kaikoura in 2005, is encouraging local members and supporters to get in behind the new candidate and help return National to Government next election.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to serve as the MP and I have greatly enjoyed making a contribution to the growth of our region,” said Mr King.

“While I am disappointed that I will not be able to represent Kaikoura after the next election, I want to express my support for the National-led Government and encourage members and supporters in the electorate to get in behind Stuart and National in 2014.

“The next election will be vital for the future of our region. I will be working hard to support the Government to keep delivering on its positive plan.”

Losing a selection is a sad way for an MP to end a career but National’s rules leaves selection to members in the electorate.

Sometimes they have a different idea about when it’s time for an MP to go than the MP does.

UPDATE – Gravedodger pays tribute to King at No Minister:

First met Colin when as a very good shearer he shore a few hundred of my greasy old corriedales in what is now the Waipara Wine district c1974.
He was a very different guy then, intelligent, well read, and smart enough to recognise that being fit, logical and organised was better than the traditional, drinking cussing, inefficient unfit model that Godfry Bowen transformed, only he was 40 years younger.

Saw Colin win the Golden Shears title at Masterton from a right hand stand, that being a lefty, forced King to waltz each of his 20 sheep through 180 degrees to align it with the handpiece and  then maneuver the shorn animal to a porthole in the wrong position. He still won and then twice more after the dinosaurs that ran the show arranged for a designated “Lefty stand”.

When he stood for the Kaikoura seat nearly nine years ago he reinforced my belief that National party candidates were grounded in life skills that gave an enormous advantage in their approach to the very limited power they have to make meaningful change. . .


Two Nat MPs to be challenged

November 1, 2013

Marlborough grapegrower and fourth-generation farmer Stuart Smith is to challenge sitting MP Colin King for the National Party’s Kaikoura electorate candidacy for next year’s election.

This is the second challenge of a sitting MP.

Former banker and owner of Matahiwi Vineyard Alistair Scott is challenging John Hayes in Wairarapa.

MPs should always be aware they have a use-by date and it’s better to retire gracefully than lose a challenge.

However, if they are as good as they think they are they can survive a challenge and be stronger for it.

Challenges can be messy for a party and cause problems within electorates.

But they can also invigorate them, bringing in new members and offering refreshment.

Prime Minister John Key and Justice Minister Judith Collins both won their seats after challenging sitting MPs.

Sometimes the challenger doesn’t win as once the challenge is public more contenders join the race.

This happened in what was then Wallace when someone challenged the sitting MP who decided to retire. Several others were nominated, one of them was Bill English who won the candidacy and the seat.

National selections are democratic – providing an electorate has enough members it is they who choose the candidate under a proportional voting system.

#gigatownoamaru gains points across the political spectrum.


Rural round-up

September 4, 2013

Synlait Milk raises forecast milk price for FY2014 season:

Continuing high international commodity prices have seen Synlait Milk increase its forecast milk price for the FY2014 season from $7.00 per kgMS to $8.00 per kgMS.

The Company also lifted its advance rates for the season effective from August paid September from $4.50 per kgMS to $5.00 per kgMS.

Synlait Milk announced last week that it will process more milk than forecast this season following a decision to take a significant allocation of DIRA milk that will increase total production volumes of its ingredients products.

Synlait Milk Managing Director John Penno says the Company remains confident in achieving its forecast financial result for FY2014. . .

Vet becomes farmer with no regrets:

The lives of a qualified veterinarian and a computer science graduate from the Philippines took an unexpected turn when they arrived in New Zealand.

Unable to work in his chosen field in New Zealand unless he took a refresher course, Don Mananes, now lives with

wife Khristine and daughters Denisse (9) and Diane (4), on a dairy farm at Waiparu, near Riversdale, where he works as a farm manager and AI specialist. The family loves the lifestyle, which is different from the city lifestyle they had back home. . .

Mental health still a work in progress:

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) was established in March and ”brings together health, social and political agencies with a rural focus to provide a unified voice and resource to help find solutions for the health problems facing rural communities.”

Southern Rural Life invited chairman Dr Jo Scott-Jones to discuss GPs’ roles in mental health in rural communities.

The role of the rural GP has always been one which has had to provide a wider range of services than in urban centres where there is easier access to support from other providers. . .

Heard it on the grapevine – Kat Pickford:

Fairhall grape grower Stuart Smith has been recognised for services to the country’s wine industry.

New Zealand Winegrowers chairman Steve Green announced Mr Smith’s induction to the roll of fellows at the 29th annual Romeo Bragato conference yesterday.

More than 600 vintners, viticulturists, trades people and suppliers are at the three-day conference being held at the Marlborough Convention Centre this week.

The sell-out event was the industry’s largest, and included the Bragato dinner tonight, when the Moore Stephens Young Viticulturist of the year and the Bragato Wine Award trophy winners would be announced. . .

Land deals first inkling of the future – Kat Pickford:

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the beginning of Marlborough’s commercial wine industry.

The small group of farmers, lawyers, engineers and orchardists who pioneered viticulture practices to suit the region’s climate talk to reporter Kat Pickford about the journey that led to the phenomenal growth and international success of Marlborough wine.

Blenheim businessman John Marris had his feet up by the fire on a typical Marlborough winter evening in August 1973 when he took a phone call from his boss looking for 200 hectares of bare land on behalf of a mystery buyer.

The freshly minted real estate agent immediately sensed something was up. Rural property was not selling in Marlborough, and he wanted to talk to this guy to find out how serious he was.

In 1973, the value of bare land was about $550 a hectare, and there was not a lot of it on the market. . .

King Country chook lays massive egg – Catley Edwards:

A King Country chook is the toast of the henhouse after laying an egg the size of a mini ostrich egg.

When cracked, the egg revealed its surprise contents – a yolk and another egg.

One of Taumarunui woman Sheryl Standfield’s 12 free-ranging brown highliner hens laid the monster, which weighed in at 165gm, had a girth of 12.7cm and height of 12cm. . .

 


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