Surpluses at risk

August 7, 2018

Treasury is warning the government that forecast surpluses are at risk:

. . . It pointed out the latest set of indicators painted a mixed picture of the economy with wages continuing to grow strongly while retail spending weakened.

It said the slump in business sentiment, a cooling housing market and fears of a trade war could knock the economy and the tax take.

If that happened, the government might be forced to curb its spending plans, Treasury said.

The government keeps saying it’s business-friendly but its actions don’t match its words.

Damien Grant writes about the risk policies like the 10 days leave for victims of domestic pose for your business:

We, the business people of this land, are those who create wealth, build roads and dispense antibiotics at 3am. We are responsible for making the payroll, collecting the State’s revenue and satisfying the tyrannical demands of customers.

We are not responsible for solving this country’s problem with domestic violence. At least, we should not be. When we employ someone we are obliged, by law, to give them 10 paid public holidays in addition to 20 annual leave days and up to five sick days. On average, one day in eight, a Kiwi worker can have off on full pay.

Apparently this isn’t enough.

The Domestic Violence-Victims Protection Bill passed this week. Now an employer, who has the misfortune to employ someone impacted by domestic violence, must gift this person another 10 days paid leave.

Forever.

That’s like providing another whole year’s statutory holiday entitlement for any employee who qualifies.

It does not matter if the employee wasn’t the victim, so long as they were impacted by the violence. Nor does it matter if this crime happened decades before they began working for their current employer.

What employer would question someone’s claim to have been affected?

Once you can prove that you have been a victim of domestic violence you are, forever, entitled to be compensated by those whose only mistake was to offer you a job and you cannot contract out of this right. Which means some employers will quietly avoid employing staff they suspect will seek this new entitlement, limiting the employment options for victims of domestic violence. . . 

National was criticised for not supporting the legislation but it was right to be cautious:

When the bill first came up at Parliament it had a strong National Party backing, but following a select committee process in which amendments were made to reduce an employer’s say in the matter, the party got cold feet.

Justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell said that was mostly because of the impact it could have on small-to-medium sized businesses which, he said, could end up in arbitration or strained for time or finance.

“There’s often a second- or third-order effect, and we have to be careful that we understand what those effects may be. At the moment we feel this bill could have an adverse outcome so we’re being very cautious and very careful with it.” . . 

Domestic violence is a scourge but imposing extra costs and uncertainty on all businesses isn’t the solution, especially when, as Kerre McIvoer writes, it won’t help domestic abuse victims: 

I fail to see how this new provision for victims of abuse will save any lives whatsoever.

Every single victim of domestic abuse who has phoned me on talkback over the years has said they were so ashamed and embarrassed by their situation, they couldn’t bring themselves to let friends or family know what was going on behind closed doors. Particularly the men.

The notion of asking for help was anathema to them and abusers know that. Despite the fact that it’s the abusers who should be feeling shame, they are master manipulators.

So the concept of someone who has been knocked about, emotionally and physically, being able to find it within themselves to approach their boss and come clean about their domestic situation seems unlikely.

And it’s not just the financial burden for small- to medium-sized employers that’s most concerning – what about the health and safety ramifications?

If one of their employees tells them they are living with a violent partner then begs them not to tell anyone, and later that employee ends up dead, will the employer be held liable for not divulging that their staffer was at risk? . . 

I absolutely agree that our domestic violence stats are a source of shame and our violent homes are a breeding ground for future offenders. But I really don’t think Logie’s bill is the answer.

And while I don’t have a solution, I would suggest that others do. When Counties Manukau police attend a violent domestic situation, they give it a couple of days to allow all parties to cool off, then go into the home with trained counsellors and try to work out the root of the problem.

The children are asked their opinion – it’s a holistic, wrap-around approach to domestic abuse which gives the people involved the chance to save themselves and their family.

Putting money and energy into that sort of initiative makes a whole lot more sense to me than making businesses cough up 10 days extra leave.

Business is risky.

The more costs and uncertainty the government imposes on businesses, the more risky they become. The more risky businesses become, the less likely they are to invest, the less secure existing jobs become and the less likely new ones will be created.

Less business investment, fewer hours for existing employees and fewer new jobs for would-be workers all result in less tax paid, that means lower surpluses and that in turn constrains government’s ability to fund existing and new initiatives.


Rural round-up

July 4, 2017

Rare birds flourish in Canterbury cows’ paddocks – Conan Young:

A colony of 300 critically endangered birds has found an unlikely place to nest – in the middle of a paddock full of dairy cows.

The discovery was made late last year – black billed gulls building their nests on the Canterbury farm and then successfully raising their chicks, oblivious to the cows grazing nearby and the odd shower from a pivot irrigator.

Ornithologists were amazed to see the birds nesting in an area they had not been seen in for three years.

Last year’s unusual discovery was revealed on Thursday at a seminar organised by Braid – a group dedicated to saving the South Island’s braided rivers and the creatures that live there. . .

Common pesticides can harm bees, but the jury is still out on a global ban – Phil Lester:

Some of the world’s most widely used pesticides can be harmful to bees, according to the first large-scale studies aimed at measuring the impact of compounds called neonicotinoids on bees’ health. But the effects vary widely between different compounds and different countries, suggesting that more regional research will be needed to clarify the exact scale of the problem.

Neonicotinoids, which are typically coated onto seeds before planting rather than being sprayed onto crop plants, were developed with the aim of harming only those animals that eat the plants. But they are also found in the pollen and nectar of treated plants, potentially affecting beneficial organisms like bees. . . 

South Devon cattle ticket to world – Sally Rae:

South Devon cattle have taken Allanton farmer Brian Thomson all over the world.

And what he has discovered is that the breed, which originates from the southwest of England, adapts to whatever environment it is farmed in.

Mr Thomson recently stepped down as the president of the World South Devon Association after a three-year term.

He has been to every triennial world conference since 2005, seeing the breed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the United States and South Africa. . . 

McClay announces FTA negotiations with Pacific Alliance:

Trade Minister Todd McClay has announced the launch of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru and says better market access and lower tariffs will be of real value to New Zealand exporters.

“This is a big win in the fight for better access for New Zealanders to important overseas markets. We’ve worked hard for trade talks with the Pacific Alliance over the last two years and today’s announcement will be welcome news for our exporters,” Mr McClay says. . . 

Fonterra Global Foodservice Takes Supreme ExportNZ Award:

Fonterra Global Foodservice has taken out the supreme award for the 2017 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the $1.6 billion foodservice business (which is 80% exports) and growing at around 20% per annum, returning strong margins and true added value to the dairy industry and New Zealand. In tonight’s awards, it also won the Westpac Exporter of the Year (export revenue over $25 million) category. . . 

Supreme Award for Fonterra at 2017 ExportNZ Awards:

Winning the Supreme Award at the 2017 ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato is recognition the Co-operative’s product innovation is meeting changing customer expectations, says Fonterra Chairman John Wilson.

At an event in Auckland last night, ExportNZ Auckland and Waikato (divisions of the Employers and Manufacturers Association) gave their top award to Fonterra Foodservice after the Co-op earlier won the Westpac Exporter of the Year (total sales over $25 million) category. There were 25 finalists across seven categories of the awards, sponsored by Air New Zealand Cargo. . . 

Bayer Auckland/Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017 announced:

Congratulations to Tim Adams from Obsidian who became the Bayer Auckland/Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year for the second year in a row on Friday 30 June at Goldie Estate.

Congratulations also goes to Jake Dromgool from The Landing in Kerikeri who came second and to Nick Pett from Cable Bay who came third.

The Auckland/Northern region was added to the Young Viticulturist of the Year competition last year and now in its second year the competition has grown already with seven contestants taking part.  . . 


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


Rural round-up

April 3, 2016

Study shows agri-foods big benefit to economy:

A new study has found the New Zealand agri-food sector contributes around one fifth of the country’s GDP.

The study by the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University aimed to measure the sector’s economic impact and to analyse how the sector could continue to grow to support the well-being of New Zealanders.

One of the authors, Professor Caroline Saunders said the study had exploded a myth about agriculture’s contribution to the economy. . .

Rural women juggle work and home – Kate Taylor:

The first meeting of the day for three Hawke’s Bay agri-business women is with each other as they wait for the school bus. It must count as a business meeting… they share each other’s business cards.

There’s a twinkle in the eyes of Ravensdown agri-manager Caroline Kirk, Kells Wool buyer Maureen Chaffey and Lean Meats/Atkins Ranch livestock manager Karen Atkins as they joke about multitasking.

But there’s no joking when they talk about the support of their parents or in-laws and their other half to do what they do.

The trio live down a five kilometre no-exit road in the farming district of Raukawa, south west of Hastings.  Every morning at 7.45am they drive to the school bus corner then drive out to work. They laugh about covering all the bases with farmers with their fertiliser, wool and meat. . . 

Hurunui Water Project gets $520,000 boost:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed new funding of $520,000 for the Hurunui Water Project centred around Hawarden in North Canterbury.

“A reliable source of water in this very dry part of the country has major potential to increase production, grow exports and create jobs,” says Mr Guy.

The funding comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund and will help refine the scheme layout and scope the comprehensive work programme. This will help them deliver on Stage 1 in which 10,000-15,000 hectares will be irrigated.

“Once complete the full scheme has the potential to irrigate 35,000 hectares of land. Around 70% of that land will be used for sheep and beef production, with the other 30% being for arable, dairy and other uses.” . . 

Fitch sees milk price recovery beyond 2016 – Fiona Rotherham:

Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings said continued growth in European milk production to ramp up exports will further delay a recovery in global milk prices until beyond the end of this year.

The supply growth has been compounded by weak demand, mainly due to subdued Chinese demand and a Russian embargo on major Western dairy exporters.

Average prices on the GlobalDairyTrade auction fell by around 38 percent in 2014/15 and around 20 percent in the 2015/16 season to mid-March. . . 

Top Dairy Operation Wins Supreme Title In 2016 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A well-managed dairy and forestry farm owned by Parininihi ki Waitotara (PKW) is the Supreme winner of the 2016 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The award was presented to PKW Farms LP, farm manager Matt Kelbrick and farm supervisor Roger Landers at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 31 (2016). The team behind PKW’s No.2 Farm in the Ohangai district also collected the Massey University Innovation Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

PKW is a Taranaki-based Maori Incorporation that owns 20,000ha of dairy land and a range of other business interests, including crayfishing, forestry and commercial property. . . 

Fish and seafood trade could double under TPP:

The benefits to New Zealand’s fishing and seafood industry will be very significant once all tariffs are eliminated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Trade Minister Todd McClay told a Nelson Chamber of Commerce audience that the region, the home of Australasia’s largest fishing port, that he believes the agreement will enable the industry to double its exports to one billion dollars.

“Last year, we exported $581 million in fish and seafood into TPP countries. . .

Farmers Are Awesome's photo.


Rural round-up

April 1, 2016

Nutritional Sales Underpin Half Year Underlying Profit of $12.3 Million:

Synlait has reported an underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) of $12.3 million for the first half of the 2016 financial year (HY16).

In contrast to $0.4 million in HY15, this improved performance is primarily the result of increased nutritional sales in canned infant formula.

“We’re glad to deliver a solid result for the first half of FY16. Our significant investment in customer and product development, people, plant and operating systems in recent years is beginning to transform our earnings,” said Chairman Graeme Milne. . . 

European market conditions depress Westland’s payout prediction:

Global market conditions for dairy products point to at least two more seasons of low milk payouts in New Zealand, Westland Milk Products told shareholders today as the co-operative revised its predicted payout for the 2015-16 season to $3.90 – $4.00 per kilogramme of milk solids, down from last month’s prediction of $4.00 – $4.10.

Westland CEO Rod Quin said the major driver of the revised payout remains the global oversupply of milk, compounded by the ongoing high availability and aggressive approach by the European dairy market.

Quin and Westland Chair Matt O’Regan have recently returned from Europe where they met with customers, farmers, processors, traders and industry advocates. . . 

Fonterra makes best of a bad job – Allan Barber:

The PR spin has been pretty active signalling a much improved half yearly result which was duly delivered this morning. The company confirmed a 40 cent dividend for the full year with the interim dividend being paid next month as usual and the final dividend being paid in two tranches in May and August instead of October.

This improvement in cash flow will do something, but not a lot, to comfort farmers labouring under a debt burden. Unfortunately it will do absolutely nothing to support sharemilkers who will have to rely on their share of the milk payout. Predictions for the rest of 2016 are notable for their conservatism, probably in recognition of a disappointing track record when forecasting the extent of the current downturn. . . 

Fonterra’s six-month results – good news but some underlying issues – Keith Woodford:

As expected, Fonterra has announced a greatly enhanced six-month profit for the period ending 31 January 2016. The profit of $409 million (NPAT; i.e. net profit after finance costs and tax) is up 123% from the same period in the previous year.

The expected full year profit of 45-55c per share implies an annual profit of about $800 million compared to $506 million for the full year 2014/15.

These figures are all very much in line with expectations . The reason for this is that when milk prices to farmers are low, then Fonterra has low input costs. Accordingly, there is more scope for corporate profit. . . 

Keep sharing the load by talking about it:

No matter which branch of farming you are in, you will face tough times, says Nelson farmer and Horticulture NZ President Julian Raine. When that happens, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

Speaking to the Farming Show’s Jamie Mackay as part of the Getting Through Adversity radio series, Julian said that even with the best planning, erratic weather events can cause mayhem. Jamie suggested that growing fruit crops is arguably one of the riskiest pursuits in farming: “One adverse event at the wrong time and suddenly your whole crop is wiped out. If you are a sheep farmer, for example, you at least have lambing spread over three weeks, or if you are dairy your risk is spread over nine months of milking.” . . 

Meat exporters ready to reap benefits of TPP:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement eliminates all tariffs on beef into our biggest market, the United States, within five years of coming into force.

Trade Minister Todd McClay, speaking at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce this morning, says New Zealand exported meat products worth over $2.8 billion to TPP countries in 2015 and the gains once TPP comes into force will be significant.

“Our beef into Japan currently attracts a 38.5 per cent tariff. That has made it extraordinarily hard for our exporters to compete with other countries with lower tariffs. . . 

Ongoing market challenges weigh on New Zealand farmers, with confidence close to 10-year low:

The significant and persisting challenges in market conditions continue to weigh heavily on the nation’s farmers, with New Zealand’s rural confidence at the second lowest level recorded in the past 10 years, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Completed earlier this month, the survey found more than half of farmers surveyed (53 per cent) had a pessimistic outlook on the agricultural economy over the coming 12 months. This was significantly up from 30 per cent with that view in the previous survey, in late 2015. . . 

Dairy downturn: councils prepare to tighten belts:

Councils in rural areas might be forced to cut spending if the dairy downturn lasts for a long time, Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule says.

A Westpac-McDermott Miller regional economic survey has shown big falls in confidence in major dairy areas including Waikato, Taranaki, and Southland.

Mr Yule said the businesses in many rural towns were already hunkering down as farmers tightened their spending, and that could spread. . .

NZX to teach farmers about new milk contract:

NZX expects to receive regulatory approval for the new fresh milk futures and options product within two weeks.

Chief executive Tim Bennett said there was a demand for the fresh milk contracts product after Fonterra scrapped its guaranteed milk price product for the upcoming season. . . 

NZ helping to restore Fiji’s dairy sector after Winston:

The New Zealand government says it will help restore Fiji’s dairy industry which is losing thousands of litres of milk and was devastated as a result of last month’s cyclone.

New Zealand announced additional aid to help Fiji’s recovery on Wednesday.

A lot of that money is going into the continuing infrastructure rebuild led by the New Zealand Defence Force. . . 

Helensville Farmers First To Claim Supreme Title In Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

“Environmental champions” Richard and Dianne Kidd are Supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 30 (2016), the Helensville couple was also presented with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

BFEA judges described Whenuanui Farm, the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . .

From paddock to packet: The family behind NZ’s most successful independent chips – Ryan Bridge:

You’re about to meet a family of potato farmers who beat the odds to grow one of the country’s most successful independent chip businesses.

The Bowans are from Timaru and not only do they grow spuds, they transport them to their own factory and make the chips too.

Together they are Heartland Potato Chips.

It all started when Raymond Bowan decided to grow his own potatoes as a teenager. His son James Bowan has taken over running the family potato farm and unlike his old man, he doesn’t do it by hand anymore, there’s a flash piece of kit to help. . . 

Food development facility opportunity for creative entrepreneurs:

Those looking to be innovative with their food are wanted at the FoodSouth food development pilot plant on the Lincoln campus, but there are no Heston Blumenthal creations on the menu.

The final part of a national food innovation network, the facility provides three purpose-built independent food safe development spaces along with a variety of processing equipment — an extruder, ovens, dryers, enrober, mixers, and a mobile product development kitchen among them.

It enables businesses to develop product prototypes for market validation, trial new equipment, carry out scale-up trial work and sample manufacture in 20L to 200L batch sizes, conduct process development and improvement, and validate quality systems. . . 

It’s in the family for new A&P Association President:

Sheep and beef farmer Warrick James has been elected as President of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association for 2016 at the Annual General Meeting at Riccarton Park Racecourse on 30 March.

Based in Central Canterbury near Glentunnel, Mr James was confirmed as President of the 154th Canterbury A&P Show in front of outgoing President Nicky Hutchinson and Association Members.

“It means a lot to be President of the Canterbury A&P Association. We host the largest and most prestigious Show in the country – it really is the pinnacle of the A&P movement. Having been involved from a young age with my family and seeing my own children take part over the years just makes this even more special.” . . .

Trio spread cheer on woolshed tour – Suzette Howe:

At a time when life’s a bit tough for rural communities, a trio of Kiwi performers are setting off on a woolshed tour to boost morale. 

They’re coming armed with their own stage curtain, a bar and plenty of laughs.

Over the next five weeks the talented ladies will transform more than 20 working wool sheds into live stages the length of the South Island.

They’re travelling by horse truck, carting hundreds of chairs, a bar, and full production set.

Farmer Georgie Harper says it’s hard to say no when the performance is brought to you. . . 

Itinerary and booking information at The Woolshed Tour.


Rural round-up

February 5, 2016

Demand pushes ewes up to $200 – Annette Scott:

A shortage of sheep and recent pasture growth has seen ewe prices skyrocket against all odds at the South Island ewe fairs this past week.

With the dismal state of lamb prices and the dry start to summer, ewe fairs were not expected to fire this season.  

“I don’t know where the confidence is coming from. The processing companies are certainly not giving much confidence,” PGG Wrightson south Canterbury livestock manager Joe Higgins said. . . 

Pressure on NZ’s farmland discussed – John Gibb:

The challenge of achieving sustainability and growing pressure on New Zealand’s rural landscape were highlighted during a national geography conference at the University of Otago yesterday.

New Zealand Geographical Society president Emeritus Prof Harvey Perkins, of Auckland University, and Prof Eric Pawson, of Canterbury University, gave a joint keynote presentation on New Zealand ‘‘going global”.

They also focused on ‘‘the tensions of rapidly shifting external relationships and the remaking of domestic rural landscapes”. . . 

Fonterra Introduces Market-Linked Price for Organic Milk:

The success of Fonterra’s organic business has prompted the Co-operative to introduce an independent organic milk price linked to market returns for organic products.

From June 2016, organic milk payments will reflect the performance of the organics business. Organic farmers currently receive a fixed premium together with the conventional Farmgate Milk Price for their organic milk supply. Organic farmers can choose to move to the new payment approach or stay under the existing payment system. . . 

TPP will help remove regulatory barriers:

The main benefit for the deer industry from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will be the ability to challenge any potentially unfair regulations imposed by importing countries.

“Regulatory barriers can sometimes do more to impede trade than tariffs and quotas. Under the TPP, there will be an independent disputes mechanism that will allow our exporters to appeal regulations in importing countries they believe are unjustified or unfair,” says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup. . . 

Red meat sector welcomes signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement:

The signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement today in Auckland is a significant step towards reducing the amount of tariff and non-tariff barriers on New Zealand red meat exports, according to the Chairmen of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Trade Minister Todd McClay signed the TPP Agreement today with the 11 member countries, including from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. . . 

He’s farming again after drought – Alan Williams:

David Hyde is a happy farmer who credits his positive attitude for coming through the north Canterbury drought still loving being on the land. He told Alan Williams how he coped by adapting his usual farming practices to meet the challenges.  

David Hyde says he can start farming again after January rain ended the severe and long-running drought on his Scargill Valley farm in north Canterbury.  

The lucerne that had browned off by late last year has raced away in the last few weeks and will soon be cut for balage – something not normally expected in early February in north Canterbury. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes TPP Signing:

New Zealand’s peak body for commercial fruit and vegetable growers, Horticulture New Zealand, has welcomed the official New Zealand signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement today.

Horticulture is New Zealand’s fourth largest export earner, sending fresh and processed products to more than 120 countries, valued at more than $2.5 billion every year.

The estimated saving for nine key product lines (kiwifruit, apples, avocado, buttercup squash, capsicum, cherries, onions, potatoes and vegetable juices) is just over $25 million a year for the growers now exporting these products to Japan, the USA and Vietnam. . . 

Kiwifruit winner in TPP Agreement:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will generate significant value for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and Zespri welcomes the signing of the Agreement today in Auckland.

Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager explains the TPP will eliminate tariffs on kiwifruit exports into all 12 Asia-Pacific nations when it comes into force, with the biggest impact to be seen in Japan.

In 2014, the industry paid over $15 million in tariffs into Japan which is Zespri’s largest country market . . 

World’s largest fruit trade show shines spotlight on Kiwi ingenuity.

The world’s fresh produce industry is gathering in Berlin this February to showcase its wares as well as discussing global trends in fruit and vegetable production and consumption.

Among them will be New Zealand’s leading horticultural producers and the creators of some world-leading Kiwi technology.

Fruit Logistica 2016 is a trade fair with a global scope. It provides an excellent opportunity for growers and equipment manufacturers to get in front of the European market, which takes over half a billion dollars of our horticultural exports every year. This year’s exhibitors include Zespri, Plant & Food Research, Wyma, BBC Technologies and Compac. . . 

Exciting Mānuka honey scheme launched:

A new initiative to boost the mānuka honey industry in Northland and provide educational and employment opportunities has been launched today at Northland College by Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell, Education Minister Hekia Parata and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The Mānuka Planting Initiative at Northland College is part of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan which was launched this morning.

Mr Flavell, who is also the Associate Economic Development Minister, says the initiative will help prepare and upskill unemployed adults living in Kaikohe. . . 

Aotearoa Fisheries appoints new directors to Sealord:

Aotearoa Fisheries Limited is making changes to its appointed directors to Sealord Group Limited in order to have a complete alignment of its appointees with its own board. Aotearoa Fisheries owns 50% of Sealord on behalf of all Māori, and as such appoints half of the Sealord board of directors.

As part of the recent Maori Fisheries Act review Iwi expressed a strong desire for the Aotearoa Fisheries Limited appointed Sealord directors to come directly from the Aotearoa Fisheries Limited Board. Aotearoa Fisheries Limited Chairman Whaimutu Dewes said these changes will give effect to this desire. . . 

Dairy Awards Entrants in the Spotlight:

Entrants in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are being put through their paces, as judges deliberate who the first regional winners will be.

Judging is currently underway in the 11 regional competitions of the 2016 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of Year competitions.

More than 450 people entered the awards, with the first of the regional winners to be announced in Taranaki on March 4. . . 

Brancott Estate and BlueChilli seek the next big idea in wine tech:

Brancott Estate revolutionised the wine industry when they pioneered Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in 1975. Now they are looking for the next pioneer in the wine industry with the announcement of winexplorer, an innovation challenge designed to revolutionise the way wine is enjoyed.

“When we decided to plant Sauvignon Blanc vines in Marlborough in 1975, we created one of the world’s most popular wine styles and turned New Zealand into one of the world’s premier wine growing regions. Now we are looking to change the wine world again by identifying ideas that will fundamentally change the way people enjoy wine.” says Patrick Materman, Brancott Estate Chief Winemaker and a winexplorer judge.

“Whether it’s an idea about how people choose what wine to drink, or how they share that wine with their friends, if it’s big, bold and revolutionary, then we want to hear it.” . . 

Wine Flight to take off:

More than 60 of the world’s most influential wine media, trade and sommeliers will enjoy a unique “Wine Flight” today thanks to Air New Zealand and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Two Air New Zealand Q300 aircraft are scheduled to take off from Blenheim this afternoon and cruise at 11,000ft, taking in spectacular views of some of New Zealand’s best known wine regions, including Marlborough, Nelson, Martinborough/Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne.

On board the VIP passengers will enjoy wines from some of the regions they’re flying over, including a Nelson Albariño, a Martinborough Pinot Noir and a Hawke’s Bay Syrah. . . 


Minor ministerial changes

January 21, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced some minor changes to his ministerial line-up which includes the reinstatement of Peter Dunne as a Minister outside Cabinet.

Internal Affairs and Local Government Minister Chris Tremain, who has announced his intention to retire from Parliament at the upcoming general election, will be resigning from the Ministry.

Peter Dunne will be appointed Minister of Internal Affairs, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Conservation. Mr Dunne will be a Minister outside Cabinet as he was prior to his resignation in June last year.

Michael Woodhouse will be promoted to the vacancy in Cabinet, and will retain all of his current responsibilities.

Paula Bennett picks up the role of Minister of Local Government, in addition to her current portfolio responsibilities.

The new Minister outside Cabinet will be Peseta Sam Lotu-liga, who will be appointed Minister of Pacific Island Affairs and Associate Minister of Local Government. Mr Lotu-liga is the MP for Maungakiekie and was first elected to Parliament 2008.

“I want to thank Chris Tremain for his work as a Minister, and previously as Senior Government Whip,” Mr Key says.

“Chris will be a real loss to the National caucus when he retires at the election and I wish him well for the future.

“I am pleased to welcome Peter Dunne back as a Minister. We have worked together well in the past, and United Future continues to be a valued partner in government.

“While 2013 brought its challenges, both Peter and I start this election year looking forward, not back.”

Mr Key also congratulated Mr Lotu-liga on his elevation to the Ministry.

“Sam has very strong ties with the Pasifika community and has represented their interests in caucus well.

“He is well placed to build on the work that Hekia Parata has done in this portfolio this past term.”

In other changes, Todd McClay will take up the role of Associate Tourism.

The Governor-General will swear in the new Ministers on Tuesday 28 January, prior to Parliament getting underway for the new year.

“The National-led Government’s strong Ministerial team will continue to take New Zealand forward and deliver on what we have promised,” Mr Key says.

Chris Tremain has done good work as a Minister but his decision to not contest this year’s election has provided an opportunity for promotion and re-jigging of some roles.


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