NZ’s biggest trade deal

October 6, 2015

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – New Zealand’s biggest free trade agreement.

“This agreement will give our exporters much better access to a market of more than 800 million customers in 11 countries across Asia and the Pacific, and help Kiwi firms do business overseas,” Mr Key says.

“In particular, TPP represents New Zealand’s first FTA relationship with the largest and third-largest economies in the world – the United States and Japan. Successive New Zealand governments have been working to achieve this for 25 years.”

TPP has been a significant focus for the National-led Government, as part of its wider plan to diversify the economy by building strong trade, investment and economic ties around the world.

“As a country, we won’t get rich selling things to ourselves. Instead, we need to sell more of our products and services to customers around the world, and TPP helps makes that happen,” Mr Key says.

TPP will eliminate tariffs on 93 per cent of New Zealand’s exports to our new FTA partners, the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Peru.

Dairy exporters will have access to these markets through newly created quotas, in addition to tariff elimination on a number of products.

Tariffs on all other New Zealand exports to TPP countries will be eliminated, with the exception of beef exports to Japan, where tariffs will reduce significantly.

TPP also reduces non-tariff barriers to trade, ensures fair access for New Zealand firms doing business in TPP countries and provides greater opportunities to bid for government procurement contracts overseas.

“We’re disappointed there wasn’t agreement to eliminate all dairy tariffs but overall it’s a very good deal for New Zealand,” Mr Key says.

“We’ve seen with China how a free trade agreement can boost exports of goods and services and deepen trade and investment links.

“The overall benefit of TPP to New Zealand is estimated to be at least $2.7 billion a year by 2030.

“That’s more jobs, higher incomes and a better standard of living for New Zealanders,” Mr Key says.

“Many concerns raised previously about TPP are not reflected in the final agreement. For example, consumers will not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP and the PHARMAC model will not change.

“Now the negotiations have concluded, people will see that TPP is, overall, very positive for New Zealand,” Mr Key says.

The conclusion of TPP follows recent trade agreements with Korea, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, ASEAN/Australia and Malaysia. The Government is continuing negotiations with a number of other countries and is actively pursuing the launch of an FTA with the European Union.

John Key's photo.

Trade Minister Tim Groser and the team of people who have been working on this for years deserve the praise they are getting.

This deal isn’t as good as it could be but it is a lot better than what we have now.

The Minister says it will deliver significant benefits to New Zealand and build on the hard-won gains from previous free trade agreements:

“This comprehensive agreement offers much better access for New Zealand goods and services in 11 important markets across Asia and the Pacific.

“TPP breaks new ground for us. It is our first FTA relationship with the United States – the world’s biggest consumer market – as well as with Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru.

“As a result, New Zealand will now have FTAs covering our top five trading partners – Australia, China, the United States, Japan and Korea.

“We’ve seen from previous FTAs, including the China FTA, how positive they have been for New Zealand trade and investment, and therefore in supporting jobs and growth for New Zealanders.

“Not being in TPP, on the other hand, would put New Zealand at a competitive disadvantage compared to other countries,” Mr Groser says.

Tariffs will be eliminated on 93 per cent of New Zealand’s trade with its new FTA partners, once TPP is fully phased in. This will ultimately represent $259 million of tariff savings a year – around twice the savings initially forecast for the China FTA.

As a result of TPP:

  • Tariffs on beef exports to TPP countries will be eliminated, with the exception of Japan where tariffs reduce from 38.5 per cent to 9 per cent.
  • New Zealand dairy exporters will have preferential access to new quotas into the United States, Japan, Canada and Mexico, in addition to tariff elimination on a number of products.
  • Tariffs on all other New Zealand exports to TPP countries – including fruit and vegetables, sheep meat, forestry products, seafood, wine and industrial products – will be eliminated.

TPP also reduces non-tariff barriers to trade and ensures fair access for New Zealand firms doing business in TPP countries.

“TPP sets high standards in many areas,” Mr Groser says. “New Zealand is already an open, transparent and trade-friendly country, which means only a fraction of TPP’s obligations will require changes to our current practices.”

The most significant change is an extension of New Zealand’s copyright period from 50 years to 70 years. The cost of this to consumers and businesses will be small to begin with and increases gradually over a 20-year period.

“Other potentially far-reaching or costly proposals raised earlier in the negotiations were not included in the final agreement,” Mr Groser says.

“Consumers will not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP and few additional costs are expected for the Government in the area of pharmaceuticals. There will also be no change to the PHARMAC model.

“Regarding data protection for biologic medicines, New Zealand’s existing policy settings and practices will be adequate to meet the provisions we have finally agreed on,” Mr Groser says.

Investor-state dispute settlement provisions have been included in TPP, as they have in previous FTAs.

“This will give New Zealand investors more confidence and certainty when doing business overseas and does not prevent the Government regulating for legitimate public policy reasons.

“TPP also contains a provision that allows the Government to rule out ISDS challenges over tobacco control measures,” Mr Groser says.

“Overall, TPP is a very positive agreement for New Zealand, further improving access to international markets, which supports our exporters to grow and create new jobs.

“New Zealand supports the release of the text before it is signed by TPP governments but arrangements are yet to be finalised.

“TPP, like any free trade agreement, will go through New Zealand’s Parliamentary processes. We expect it to come into force within two years.”

There’s a Q&A here and more information on outcomes for specific industries here.

Some of us are old enough to remember Fortress New Zealand as it was before we opened our doors to trade.

The misguided doctrine of patronage and protectionism fostered inefficiency and divorced producers from the realities of the market. It limited what we could buy, made much of what was available more expensive and/or of poorer quality, gave far too much power to politicians and bureaucrats and provided far too much opportunity for corruption.

The TPPA hasn’t got rid of all protection. That means it isn’t as good as it could be, especially for dairy but it is an improvement on existing access and we’ll find other markets.

The people who will be hurt most by the failures in the agreement are those still behind the fortresses which add to their costs and limit their choices.

Their politicians have failed them by allowing the interests of a powerful, but small, group of sectional interests to trump the best interests of their countries.

Quote of the day

October 6, 2015

. . . And when we say ugly, we mean ugly from each perspective – it doesn’t mean ‘I’ve got to swallow a dead rat and you’re swallowing foie gras.’ It means both of us are swallowing dead rats on three or four issues to get this deal across the line. Tim Groser

Still hope for TPPA

September 30, 2015

Trade Minister Tim Groser is going to Atlanta for negotiations which could conclude the conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Groser had been playing hard to get for the meeting, indicating a willingness to attend only if there was an improvement on the “wholly inadequate” offers of dairy market access from the heavily protected agricultural sectors in the US, Canada and Japan. . . 

Groser said last week that New Zealand negotiators could “see a very good deal for New Zealand in everything except dairy and I don’t know to characterise the deal there because it’s not a deal we could accept.”

Since then, there’s been a flurry of reports in US and Canadian media suggesting that the US is pressuring Canada to accept more dairy products from the US as part of a deal that would begin to prise open the US dairy market for New Zealand and Australian dairy products. . . 

Dairy market access is especially politically sensitive in Canada because the country faces a federal election on Oct. 19 and the country’s dairy sector is highly protected, using a system of supply management intended to match local dairy production volumes with domestic demand.

However, it appears the Harper government’s political calculus is that a dairy deal would hurt its electoral chances most in Quebec, where it is already comparatively unpopular, and that there would be political damage in being seen to walk away from a new Asia-Pacific deal and some kudos in being able to demonstrate trade opportunities for Canadian firms. . . 

This means there is still hope for the TPPA in spite of strong opposition from protected industries and those whose politics blind them to the benefits of free trade and the costs of protection.

Dairy interests must be very powerful in Canada because everyone else pays dearly for its trade barriers which increase prices and reduce choice.

Eric Crampton has a suggestion to change that with this speech he’d like to have heard from a party leader:

“Right now, Canadian dairy prices are much higher than they need to be. Mothers pay too much for infant formula; families pay too much for cheese. And the system as a whole doesn’t even benefit dairy farmers any longer: getting into the industry is expensive because buying quota eats up whatever benefits the system provides to farmers. But there is a better way.”

“We are committed to protecting the quality of dairy products on store shelves – as we are with every food product sold in Canada. But we don’t protect food quality with 300% tariffs for vegetables, fruit, or thousands of other products that cross our borders each and every day. For that, we use food inspections. The dairy quota system isn’t necessary for protecting food quality.”

“Today, we are buying back all of the dairy quota and opening the borders. Farmers should not see their retirement savings wiped out by a policy decision from Ottawa. We are able to afford to do this because dairy prices, in a competitive world market, are low enough that we can fund the buyback with a levy on all dairy products sold in Canada while still keeping prices lower than they are now. And those levies will disappear when the bill is paid in full. Canadians will have better access to the world’s products, and Canadian agricultural producers will have better access to world markets.” . . 

The economics are simple, the politics are not but Not PC shows how difficult life would be without trade in a post on the $1,500 sandwich.

. . . What would life be like without exchange or trade? Recently, a man decided to make a sandwich from scratch. He grew the vegetables, gathered salt from seawater, milked a cow, turned the milk into cheese, pickled a cucumber in a jar, ground his own flour from wheat to make the bread, collected his own honey, and personally killed a chicken for its meat. This month, he published the results of his endeavour in an enlightening video: making a sandwich entirely by himself cost him 6 months of his life and set him back $1,500. . . 

Few but the strongest anti-trade people would suggest we go back to that sort of subsistence existence.

But here in one of the freest economies in the world some people still don’t understand how much we’ve gained from free trade. The transition from the highly protected economy we had wasn’t without casualties but the gains were worth the pain.

The TPPA will bring more gains and since our borders are already so open we have little to lose.

Rural round-up

September 28, 2015

Freehold on Mackenzie Crown land not an easy ticket to millions, farmers say – Tim Fulton:

Farmers accused of making big profits from Crown land deals in the Mackenzie Basin say they are doing the bare minimum to make a living.

High Country property researcher and Lincoln University academic Dr Ann Brower says the Crown is missing out when tenure review land is sold freehold by farmers.

The median on-selling price per hectare was 493 times the Crown’s original sale price, she said. . .

Signs of movement on dairy as TPP negotiators meet in Atlanta – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – News media in the US and Canada are reporting signs of a deal coming together on access for dairy products into North America as trade ministers gather in Atlanta, Georgia, for the latest round of talks attempting to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment pact.

The Atlanta talks are being billed as potentially the final round of talks, although New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser has yet to commit to attend them, despite being in the US this week for climate change talks in New York.

He said almost a week ago that there was still no adequate offer from the key TPP dairy-producing countries – the US, Canada and Japan. Market access for dairy products and automobiles, and patent extensions for new generation bio-logic pharmaceuticals, are reportedly the only remaining sticking points of substance between the 12 countries negotiating the new Pacific Rim agreement, which US president Barack Obama is committed to concluding as part of a strategy to assert US geopolitical interests in Asia and counter the rise of China. . . 

No heavy hand – Neal Wallace:

Shanghai Maling president Shen Wei Ping has given an assurance he will not use his casting vote to exert control over Silver Fern Farms should shareholders agree to a partnership between the two food companies.

In an interview during a visit to Dunedin, Shen said the clause giving the Shanghai Maling Aquarius chairman the casting vote on the appointment of the chief executive and annual business plan, was an auditor requirement for reporting the company’s financial results.

He said the proposed deal between the Chinese company and SFF would be a true partnership with board decisions by consensus. . . 

Taggart returned as Ballance director:

Murray Taggart has been returned as a Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ward C director in the South Island after a three-way contest for the position.

Also seeking the directorship were Temuka intensive cropping and livestock finishing farmer Nick Ward and former chief executive of Silver Fern Farms Keith Cooper.

Mr Taggart, who is also chairman of meat co-operative Alliance Group, joined the Ballance board in 2009. He is a past director of CRT Society and Southern Farms NZ, past chairman of the National Meat and Wool Council and Federated Farmers, and past member of the National Board of Federated Farmers. . . 

Generic marketing questioned – Matthew Cawood:

WHEN you have powerful brands, do you need generic marketing?

Agrifood consultant David McKinna posed that rhetorical question to the recent 2015 Meat Industry Conference as part of his discussion on the rise of brand marketing.

“You don’t see your breakfast cereal in generic marketing campaigns. You don’t see generic campaigns for toothpaste. The brands do the job,” he said.

“Your industry has spent a lot of money on generic marketing. As they say in advertising, fifty per cent of it works, but we don’t know which bit.”

Dr McKinna foresees a future in which generic marketing takes a back seat, but doesn’t disappear entirely.  . . 

Government delivers National Policy Direction for Pest Management:

The National Policy Direction for Pest Management has come into effect.

MPI’s director of biosecurity and animal welfare policy, Julie Collins, says established pests are estimated to cost New Zealand’s primary sector up to $3.3 billion annually.

“Even small improvements to New Zealand’s pest management system could save millions of dollars in the long term.”

“The National Direction will support national and regional management of challenging pest issues such as wilding conifers, by ensuring consistent approaches to the way rules are set across New Zealand and that landowner obligations are clearly signalled and underpinned by robust analysis.” . . 

Wendy Harker making Holstein history in NZ – Sonita Chandar:

She may have made history by being elected the first female head of Holstein Friesian New Zealand but the new president says it will not define who she is or what she does.

Wendy Harker, a Te Awamutu breeder, is the first woman to take on the top role in the association’s 105-year history.  She has sat on the board for six years as a council member.

“I have been a part of the national team for six years,” she says. . .

Connie Sue Farmer-Wollenberg's photo.

Rural round up

September 25, 2015

AgResearch confirms 83 lay-offs, hires 27 for new roles – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – AgResearch has confirmed speculation it is axing jobs, announcing plans to lay off 83 scientists and technicians because of declining investment in some areas of research and development, while hiring 27 for new roles.

AgResearch chair Sam Robinson said the Waikato-based crown research institute had to balance shifts in its sector’s research needs, and therefore revenue, with the need to respond to emerging science opportunities to maximise the impact for New Zealand’s pastoral sector.

“Declining R&D investment in some areas means that we are currently facing a significant and ongoing funding challenge in those areas,” he said. “While both private sector and government revenue is increasing in other areas, our net science revenue is forecast to be $5.3 million less for FY16 compared to FY15,” he said. . . 

Federated Farmers disappointed with AgResearch redundancies:

Further job cuts at AgResearch back up Federated Farmers concern that science capability in agriculture continues to be eroded through inadequate funding and a lack of strategic planning.

“Agriculture science is a long term investment which is difficult for governments on a short term three year election cycle, but we owe it to our future farmers, and all New Zealanders, to make the investments now, develop our capability and build the basic sciences which provide the necessary grunt to ensure commercialisation of innovation is optimised,” says Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston.

“We appreciate that AgResearch needs to ensure its capacity aligns with the work it has ahead of it, but the continual downsizing at AgResearch is a symptom of this bigger problem.” . . 

Napier road washout cancels wedding, isolates farmers – Simon Wong:

A wedding at a remote venue near Napier has been forced to cancel after heavy rain washed out the only road to the site.

McVicar Rd, which runs along the Mohaka River in Te Haroto, has cut off the 10 permanent residents including farmer and Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar.

The only road to his farm and the neighbouring Mountain Valley Adventure Lodge, where the wedding was to be held this weekend, has been completely washed out. . . 

Are microbes the key to geographical differences in wine?:

A new study of six of New Zealand’s major wine-growing regions has found that differences in flavour and aroma of wine from different areas may depend more on microbes than was previously thought.

Classically the reason that wine, and other agricultural crops such as coffee, from different places tastes and smells different was thought to be due to a range of environmental reasons such as climate and soil minerals. The idea that organisms such as microbes played a role in this was not appreciated until very recently.

Previous work by Associate Professor Mat Goddard and Research Fellow Sarah Knight from the School of Biological Sciences published in Nature’s microbial ecology journal ISME demonstrated that different regions of New Zealand have different types of the main yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that ferment juice into wine. . . 

Positive Psa-V result on Whangarei kiwifruit orchard:

Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has received a Psa-V positive test result on Hort16A and male vines on a kiwifruit orchard in Whangarei. This is the first confirmed case of Psa-V on an orchard in the Whangarei region.

All growers in the region have been advised of the situation by KVH, including best-practice advice going forward. KVH will hold a meeting for Whangarei growers next week and will be carrying out extensive monitoring in the region over the weekend.

There are a total of 49 orchards in the Whangarei region comprising of approximately 144 canopy hectares.

KVH Chief Executive, Barry O’Neil, said this new find in Whangarei is very disappointing and will be particularly hard for local growers and the regional committee. . . 

Minister welcomes passage of Korea FTA Bill:

Trade Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the passing of the Tariff (Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea) Amendment Bill in Parliament today.

“Under this FTA, approximately 98 percent of tariffs on New Zealand’s current exports to Korea will be progressively eliminated,” says Mr Groser.

“This FTA will play an important role in strengthening the relationship between New Zealand and Korea. It delivers significant benefits across a range of areas including goods, services, and investment by breaking down trade barriers, facilitating the movement of goods and services, and establishing a framework for resolving any trade-related issues in the future. . . 

Zespri looks forward to sales growth in South Korea following passage of Tariff Amendment Bill:

Zespri welcomes the passage of the Tariff Amendment Bill through parliament yesterday, which is a significant step towards the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea. The agreement will provide significant benefit for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

Ratification of the FTA this year would mean a 33% reduction in tariffs on exports of New Zealand kiwifruit to South Korea for next year’s kiwifruit season. During 2014, Zespri growers paid approximately $22 million in tariffs, with the rate set at 45 percent. The tariff for kiwifruit will reduce to zero over the next five years. . . 

Tariff Amendment Bill a Significant Win for Kiwifruit Growers:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes yesterday’s passing of the Tariff Amendment Bill in parliament – a positive step toward a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

NZKGI president Neil Trebilco said cutting the tariff is a big win for kiwifruit growers.

“The agreement will eliminate a 45 per cent tariff on New Zealand kiwifruit over five years, creating significant savings for growers.”

“The agreement will also bring about parity with Chilean competitors who have been on a zero tariff since concluding their own Free Trade Agreement in 2004.” . . 

Fastline's photo.
Not just during harvest and not just farmers – many who service and supply farmers and work in businesses which turn what comes off the paddock in to what’s put on the plate, also work long and irregular hours. And of course, lots of other people work long and irregular hours in lots of other jobs.

Rural round-up

September 24, 2015

Groser: TPPA not a gold-plated deal – Patrick Smellie:

New Zealand negotiators expect to conclude a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) deal with some improved access for dairy exports to the highly protected markets of North America and Japan but it won’t be a “gold-plated deal”, says Trade Minister Tim Groser.

He acknowledged that comments from Prime Minister John Key on Monday, that whatever deal was achieved would be “at least the very best we can do”, had been interpreted as a sign of a poor deal on dairy in the offing.

But Mr Groser told BusinessDesk that New Zealand negotiators weren’t in “capitulation mode”. . . 

No drought-breaker but ‘darn good help‘:

A farmer in the heart of the North Canterbury drought is welcoming the rain currently falling in parts of the region, describing it as a good morale boost for many farmers.

Vince Daly runs a 160 hectare cropping farm in Cheviot. He said the NIWA weather station on his farm showed the soil moisture level on his farm has gone from 32 percent to 37 percent this week so far. Normally it is at 100 percent at this time of year.

Mr Daly said 43 millimetres of rain had fallen but farmers further inland have, so far, not been so lucky. . . 

Aorere Wins NZ RiverPrize:

NZ Landcare Trust’s Aorere River Project won the inaugural Morgan Foundation NZ Riverprize at the International Riversymposium Gala Dinner in Brisbane last night.

Richard Thompson Chair of NZ Landcare Trust’s Board of Trustees said “What a fantastic result for the Trust and the Aorere community. This is an amazing result given the strength of the competition… it really underlines the value of this project and the work carried out by NZ Landcare Trust.”

NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr Nick Edgar accepted the award on behalf of the Aorere River Initiative. “I think this is a real victory for community-led grassroots river management in New Zealand. Without the Aorere river community, the story really wouldn’t have happened.” . . 

Rural areas feeling agricultural sector slowdown:

Almost a third of businesses in regions see revenues fall

Three quarters of agricultural businesses expect economy to decline

Businesses in New Zealand’s rural areas are already feeling the effects of a significant slowdown for the agricultural sector, according the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey of over 1000 businesses nationwide, which includes over 200 rural SMEs.

Over the last 12 months, just 18 per cent of rurally-based SME operators have seen their revenue rise, compared to the SME average of 31 per cent. Almost a third (32 per cent) have seen revenue decline in the year to August 2015 (25 per cent SME average). . . 

Fonterra director Farrelly replaces Norris on Fund board – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group director Ian Farrelly will replace Ralph Norris as one of the dairy exporter’s representatives on the board of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund manager.

Farrelly will join the board of the fund’s manager at the close of its annual meeting on Nov.27 when Norris retires, Fonterra said in a statement. Farrelly has been on the board of Fonterra since 2007, having clocked up a 20-year career in banking including 15 years as head of ASB Bank’s rural division. He operates a 400-hectare calf rearing farm in Te Awamutu and has dairy farm interests in Canterbury and Waikato. . .

Lasers: the transformation to come –  Lynley Hargreaves:

Cather Simpson wants every child and parent in New Zealand to know the word photonics – and to consider photonics science or engineering as a career. An Associate Professor at the University of Auckland and Director of the Photon Factory, she’s worked on problems as diverse as robotic surgery and sorting dairy herd sperm by sex. Now as part of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, Associate Professor Simpson is working to give school children, and the general public, a glimpse of the future of laser manufacturing.  . . 

Official start of new PGP lamb programme:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official start of a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme involving premium quality lamb products.

“The ‘Targeting New Wealth with High Health’ PGP programme aims to reach existing and emerging markets with a new class of premium lamb products with improved health qualities,” says Mr Guy.

“This is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). It will help our producers tap further into the increasing demand for premium and healthy foods, and add value to our exports. . . 

Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly (NZ) – September 2015:

Rabobank’s Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments.

Key highlights
Agribusiness Monthly

Dairy – Global commodity prices have shown signs of recovery in recent weeks, as international buyers look for short-term cover, given that prices appear to have reached a floor.

Beef – Steady demand from the US continues to fuel farmgate prices, with record levels reached this September (NZD 6.10/kg cwt). Prices have edged up 33% from last year, supported by seasonal tightening of supplies.

Sheepmeat – Farmgate prices have continued to improve into September 2015, with supply tightening heading into lambing season. . . 

Rural round-up

September 14, 2015

Federated Farmers welcome court ruling on genetic modified crop:

A Western Australian Court of Appeal ruling on genetically modified (GM) crop liability has been welcomed by Federated Farmers as a landmark decision which clearly sets out fundamental responsibilities of good neighbours that apply equally well in New Zealand and around the farming world.

In 2014, organic farmer Steve Marsh sued his neighbour, GM farmer Michael Baxter, for damages after sheaves of GM canola blew onto his property, resulting in his partial decertification as an organic farmer. Mr Marsh also sought a permanent injunction preventing his neighbour from growing GM crops.

At the time the case went to court, anti-GM groups, confident of a win, hailed it as potentially precedent setting. . . 

25 pieces of advice for 25 year-old farmers – Matthew Naylor:

I have been a farmer in my own right for a quarter of a century.

I know that I look unfeasibly young to make such a claim; I started work at 15 and pretty well managed to avoid higher education.

Twenty-five more years of toil and I will be looking at the age of retirement from the other side.

To commemorate this halfway milestone, I have compiled the little that I have learned over my 25 years of experience into 25 pieces of advice for 25-year-old farmers.

  1. Set a clear and simple business plan and stick to it. Tell it to anyone who will listen – your family, colleagues, customers, competitors and even the postman.
  1. Kill weeds when they are small – this rule applies to any problem you encounter in life. . . 

Street doctor tells rural people to watch their health – Jill Galloway:

A doctor who specialises in treating people in rural regions says farmers need to get their own health checked more often.

Dr Tom Mulholland talked to about 50 people at the old Parewanui school near Flock House, Bulls this week.

“Farmers are good at looking after their stock and their land, but not so good at looking after themselves and their top paddock [their heads].”

About half the group listening to him talk were men. . . 

NZ stands firm on lamb export deal:

New Zealand will not agree to a review of New Zealand’s quota of lamb exports to Europe despite pressure from British farmers, the government says.

Livestock board chairs from Britain’s farming unions, meeting in Brussels, have called for the review. They say New Zealand has moved from sending frozen lamb to chilled lamb and from carcasses to bone-in cuts, representing a substantive change to the original deal signed in the 1980s.

But Trade Minister Tim Groser points to later trade negotiations which changed that agreement. . .

Avocado congress should ‘raise industry profile‘:

The World Avocado Congress get underway in Peru today.

The congress is held every four years and New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular, who is in Peru, said it was a great opportunity to raise the profile of the industry.

Ms Scoular said the congress, which runs for a week, allows countries to share science and research information. She said tree productivity and irregular bearing of avocados would be a hot topic because it was a global issue. . . 

Whitebait, birds receive conservation boost:

Whitebait will be making a comeback into Christchurch and more will be done to protect the habitats of Canterbury’s colony-nesting river birds, says Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner.

The Community Conservation Partnership Fund is providing more than $126,000 to the Whaka Inaka project to restore whitebait habitat in Christchurch, and more than $33,000 to the Braided River Partnership project to improve the success of colony-nesting birds along Canterbury rivers.

“Whitebait spawning in Christchurch has declined, particularly after the earthquakes caused significant habitat damage. The Whaka Inaka project will provide an immediate temporary spawning habitat for whitebait along 3km of Christchurch river banks,” Ms Wagner says. . . 

A falling dollar not all bad news – Rick Powdrell:

I was just thinking lately how things can change so abruptly in a year.

Farmers are once again facing tough realities of global export trade, price volatility and geopolitical unrest.

This time, last year, dairy was buoyant with record payout and nothing looking at halting the juggernaut.  Sheep meat prices were positive for the season; beef was in the ascendancy and wool finally rebounding.

Fast forward and dairy is struggling with sheep meat failing to deliver on anticipated returns. Still, beef is extremely strong and wool has continued its gradual recovery. . .


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