Rural round-up

February 4, 2019

Running Dry – Can NZ thrive without irrigation? – Eric Frykberg:

The government has pulled its backing for big irrigation projects, but smaller ones are still getting financial support. For Insight rural reporter, Eric Frykberg explores whether this middle path will be enough to keep farmers and growers in business and improve the quality of water in streams and rivers?

Stu Wright’s family is part of the fabric of Selwyn district, inland from Christchurch. They’ve worked the land near Sheffield for 125 years.  

The murky drizzle hanging over the furrows of his farm in the foothills of the Southern Alps, near Sheffield are at odds with his on-going struggle to keep his crops well hydrated.

Here he grows seed potatoes, garlic, radishes and rye.

But the way his family have farmed for over a century is no longer working. . . 

Virus has mixed results – Neal Wallace:

The new rabbit-killing K5 haemorrhagic virus has achieved an average kill rate of 47% of rabbits in Otago but rates on individual farms vary from very low to 80%, leading to farmer scepticism about its effectiveness.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead says while the 47% average is higher than forecast in the import application for the RHDV K5 virus, high immunity levels in parts of the province reduced its effectiveness.

Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies has had reports from farmers saying they have not seen any evidence the new strain is working. . . 

 

Woolhandler aiming to go ‘all out’ at champs – Richard Davison:

A Milton woolhandler plans to go “all out” for honours in the Otago champs.

The two-day Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships are taking place in Balclutha on February 8 and 9, and competitors will be vying for both podium places on the day and cumulative points towards circuit titles – and ultimately a better shot at nationals.

For Milton woolhandler Cheri Peterson, who started in the shed professionally in 2007 aged 21, this season’s circuit began as simply another opportunity to hone her skills at the table, but has acquired a sharper competitive edge as it progresses. . . 

 

Eight southern tracks to go in NZTR plan – Steve Hepburn:

Gore may get a reprieve but even more galloping courses may be under threat.

Following on from last year’s Messara report, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing produced a report yesterday calling for the reduction of courses around the country. And it is looking to close more courses than Australian John Messara proposed, with Waikouaiti and Riverton fingered for closure among 23 venues.

NZTR said in a release it wanted to drop to 27 venues across the country by 2030. The would leave just nine tracks in the South Island. Eight tracks south of Timaru would close.

The plan was not in reaction to the Government-commissioned Messara report, which proposed a widespread reduction in tracks throughout the country, NZTR said. . . 

New Zealand 2019 apple and pear crop forecast released :

The New Zealand apple and pear industry is forecasting a modest increase in the gross crop for 2019, according to the annual crop estimate just released. A forecast gross crop of 604,500 metric tonnes is 2.5% up on 2018 production.

New Zealand Apples & Pears Chief Executive, Alan Pollard, says that “Notwithstanding some hail in Central Otago, growing conditions across the rest of New Zealand this season have been very good. Adequate rainfall means that all regions have good quantities of irrigation water, and sunlight and warmth are at some of the best levels that we have seen”. . .

U.S. Dairy Farmers Say Billions of Exports at Risk – Lydia Mulvany:

The U.S. dairy industry stands to lose billions of dollars over the next two decades if trade agreements with Japan, one of the biggest buyers, don’t materialize, according to a U.S. Dairy Export Council report released Wednesday.

The Japanese are gobbling up more cheesy pizzas and proteins like whey, at the same time that its own dairy industry is seeing a decline. Exporters are aggressively competing to supply that growing demand, and the European Union has a leg up on the U.S. due to a trade agreement that went into affect at the end of last year. Other major exporting countries are set to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact from which the U.S. withdrew. . . 

 


No exceptions for tariffs under TPP

January 31, 2014

The Trans Pacific Partnership must eliminate all tariffs on agricultural and seafood products:

A coalition of 18 New Zealand agricultural and food organisations, led by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Fonterra Cooperative Group, has written to the Ministers of Trade and Primary Industries outlining its concern that some TPP members are seeking to avoid tariff elimination on some products.

The letter sets out to Ministers Tim Groser and Nathan Guy that the coalition will not support a TPP agreement that does not include comprehensive liberalisation in the agricultural and seafood sectors by all participating countries.

The group says it is vital that the agreement provides comprehensive tariff elimination as set out in the objectives of the 2011 TPP Leaders meeting in Honolulu. The group is concerned that:

  • If any one country is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unravelling of the agreement.
  • Allowing any one country to claim an exception for “sensitive” products sets a dangerous precedent for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region seeking to join the TPP Agreement at a future date.

A Ministerial meeting to discuss TPP issues is expected to be held in late February 2014.

A little exception for some tariffs would be like being a little bit pregnant – it wouldn’t stop there.

Tariffs protect the inefficient at the cost of better producers .

They also add costs for consumers who pay more and have less choice.

An immediate end to all tariffs might be unrealistic but the TPP must ensure that is the goal that must be reached sooner rather than later.


Rice market reforms big step towards free trade

January 14, 2014

Agriculture has been a large stumbling block in free trade deals with Japan but that is about to change:

NOT even the most ardent reformers around Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, believed that he would dare to scrap the policy, known as gentan, under which the government has paid farmers to reduce rice crops since 1971. But on November 26th the agriculture ministry said the system would be phased out by 2018. Rice growers, said Mr Abe, will be able to produce crops “based on their own management decisions”.

Allowing a free market for rice, the country’s sacred staple food, will not by itself transform Japan’s inefficient agricultural sector, which has declined precipitously in recent years. But it is an unavoidable and welcome first step. The gentan system was originally designed to shield the country’s cosseted farmers from short-term fluctuations in prices. By 2010 the policy kept roughly a third of Japan’s paddy fields out of rice production, costing vast sums each year in compensation to farmers for lost income. . .

Subsidies almost always start with good intentions but they have unexpected consequences, distorting markets at great cost to consumers, producers and tax payers.

The country’s millions of small rice-growers have thrived on the handout for decades, along with Japan Agriculture (JA), a giant network of local farm co-operatives. Many landowners pocket the government’s money while growing nothing at all. About two-fifths of the land taken out of rice production is left entirely idle. Unused land prompts regular public hand-wringing about the abandonment of the life-giving soil to weeds and rubbish.

Japanese agriculture’s biggest problem is that all but 2% of farms are smaller than five hectares and many comprise just a few fields, a fragmentation preserved by the gentan system and by other regulations. Tiny, often part-time farmers, with few economies of scale, antiquated methods and old equipment hobble the industry. The sticky rice favoured by Japanese consumers ends up costing twice or more what rice does in other countries.

To protect its wildly uncompetitive farmers, Japan has erected one of the world’s highest tariffs: the duty on imported polished rice is 777.7%. Mr Abe’s surprise decision in March to bring Japan into talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free-trade grouping, has brought these duties under pressure. Even though a final deal on TPP is far from certain, the talks are still a powerful force for change. . .

This is a significant move and an important step towards free trade.

It will involve some short term pain but Japanese producers and consumers, and exporters in other countries, including New Zealand, which want to trade there will have a lot to gain in the medium to longer term.

We’re not going to be trying to sell the Japanese rice, but will benefit from the reduction in tariffs on other products we do sell there.


Welcome progress on TPP

December 15, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser has welcomed the significant progress made during the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial meetings in Singapore.

“I am pleased to report that we have substantially advanced the negotiation here in Singapore.  My colleagues and I were able to make good progress across the negotiating agenda, keeping true to the objectives Leaders have set for the negotiation.  In many areas we have identified potential landing zones that will guide the final phase of work.”

While more work remains to be done, Mr Groser said that momentum is accelerating in the negotiation and he was confident that conclusion of a comprehensive, high quality, 21st century agreement was in sight. 

“However, we will not short change ourselves.  We will take as long as needed to achieve a deal that eliminates trade barriers for New Zealand exporters and can advance our vision of regional economic integration in the Asia Pacific.  The gains a high quality TPP would generate for the New Zealand economy demand we get this right.”

TPP Ministers and negotiators have agreed to next meet in January.

Business organisations in New Zealand have reacted positively to the announcement of substantive progress.

“If it takes longer for TPP to be concluded so be it,” said Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director of the both the NZ International Business Forum and NZ US Council.

“Trade Minister Tim Groser and his officials deserve congratulations for their perseverance in continuing what we know is a challenging negotiation.”

Mr Jacobi said New Zealand businesses wanted to see a high quality, substantive and comprehensive outcome to TPP.

“It’s positive that Ministers have been able to identify what they call “landing zones” in the majority of areas under negotiation. To land TPP clearly requires additional work. We should continue to do all we can to support the achievement of a TPP that meets New Zealand’s interests and makes a strong contribution to growth and jobs.”

Former Labour leader and former Trade Minister Phil Goff says New Zealand would be a winner with the TPP.

New Zealand would benefit more than most countries from a concluded Trans Pacific Partnership deal, former Labour trade minister Phil Goff told the Herald last night.

“We have the least barriers and therefore we have the least we have to give away,” he said. “Other countries have to give away much more.

“While there are all sorts of problems involved in this negotiation, you have to look at the wider picture and the wider picture is that each country will benefit from a successful conclusion to it but New Zealand will benefit more than most.” . . .

This view isn’t shared by all his colleagues nor by potential coalition partners the Green and Mana Parties.

It’s a pity opponents to the deal can’t see past their ideology to the benefits free trade brings to producers and consumers.

The only losers will be the favoured few businesses which benefit from lack of competition and the bureaucrats and politicians who gain power, and money, from tariffs and subsidies.


Rural round-up

November 14, 2013

End in sight for TPP talks – Nigel Stirling:

Trade Minister Tim Groser says negotiators are on track for an end-of-year deadline to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks but whether it is met will depend on the leaders of the countries involved.

At last month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Bali TPP leaders, including New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, exhorted negotiators from the dozen Pacific Rim countries involved to step up efforts for the deal to scrap trade and investment barriers.

Groser said NZ’s chief negotiator David Walker had been involved in an intense round of meetings since the Bali talks. . .

Record price in N Canty:

An irrigated 129ha North Canterbury farm has sold at auction for $6.7 million, or $52,300 a hectare, a record price for a North Canterbury dairy farm.

PGG Wrightson Christchurch agent Peter Crean said Gairloch, sold by his colleague Athol Earl, was converted to dairy in 1995 and has milked about 450 cows, with production peaking at 188,000kg milksolids last season.

“We have a strong board of motivated buyers at present with few local dairy properties of this calibre available, so it was no surprise that the sale achieved such a positive result,” Crean said.

Five bidders took part in the auction and the room was full of others including bankers, farm valuers and neighbours, he said. . .

Minister pays tribute to drought heroes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has paid tribute to Rural Support Trust members at a function in Parliament tonight, thanking them for their work during the drought earlier this year.

“This was the worst drought in 70 years and a very tough time for many rural communities.

“Rural Support Trusts worked tirelessly to lift farmer and community morale. I want to salute them for the work they did in sitting around the kitchen table with so many farmers, supporting them to find a way through.

“They opened doors to vital support service and helped people to make better decisions for themselves, their families and their livelihoods.

“Many farmers are staunch and reluctant to ask for help. Their farms can be geographically isolated, and the stress can affect the whole family. . .

Speech to the Global Food Safety Forum – Nathan Guy:

. . .I’m very pleased that the Global Food Safety Forum has chosen New Zealand as the location for its first such event outside China.  New Zealand is a fitting choice, given the strength of the relationship between our countries, the importance of China as a growing market for New Zealand’s high-quality food exports, and our well-deserved reputation for having a world-class food safety system.   

Today I want to emphasise the critical importance of food safety – for the environment that supports us all, the health of consumers, and the strength of our economy. In particular, I want to emphasise how critical it is that we all play our part in that system.

New Zealand is in the business of food. We produce, process, retail, import and export food. Agriculture, fisheries and forestry, are central to our economic wellbeing, contributing 12.7% of GDPand representingover 11.8% of employment.

Food exports account for 54 per cent of New Zealand’s total export value and our food and beverage exports go to around 200 markets. . . .

New Zealand’s fisheries performing well:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has now released its 2013 summaries of the Status of New Zealand’s Fisheries which confirms most New Zealand fisheries are performing well.

Highlights from the 2013 review show that:

Both stocks of hoki have now increased for seven consecutive years and both are now well within or above their management targets. As a result it has been possible to increase the quota from 90,000 tonnes to 150,000 metric tonnes

The recent discovery of a new aggregation of Chatham Rise orange roughy has led to a favourable revision of the status of this stock. . .

What it takes to compete in the global dairy industry- Dr Jon Hauser:

The dairy industry is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, a prized dairy asset in southwest Victoria, is up for grabs. There is currently a 3 way bidding war between local publicly listed dairy company Bega, farmer co-operative Murray Goulburn, and the Canadian dairy giant Saputo.

This week United Dairyfarmers Victoria organised a meeting of farmers in Warrnambool. The UDV is a farmer representative group charged with lobbying government and industry on behalf of Victorian dairy farmers. They invited me to talk about the global dairy market – what it takes to compete, and what industry capital and marketing structures are best suited to serving farmer interests. This article reproduces the main content of the presentation. . . .

New CEO for Dairy Women:

The Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board has appointed Zelda de Villiers as its new chief executive.

De Villiers, managing director of DeLaval New Zealand, has more than 20 years’ experience in the international agricultural industry.

She has also worked for DeLaval International in Sweden and NZ, where she has been based since 2009.

Before joining DeLaval, she spent the first 10 years of her career in the agricultural finance and rural banking sector in South Africa. . .

Farm Open Day showcases transformation of sunshine into food:

One of Canterbury’s most productive and most visited farms will open its gates to the public of Christchurch on Saturday 23 November 2013, with its inaugural Farm Open Day.

The Farm Open Day to be held at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) from 1.30pm to 4.30pm will enable visitors to find out how grass becomes milk, milk gets to the supermarket and all the bits in between.

“Farming is the amazing transformation of sunshine, nutrients and water into food (and fibre)” says Dr Andrew West , Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University and Chairman of SIDDC (South Island Dairy Development Centre). “The Farm Open Day will showcase that transformation from sunshine, nutrients and water through plants, into animals and into our kitchens, dining rooms and cafés.” . . .

Getting school students to cherish our water:

With the summer break just around the corner, us Kiwis will be heading to the beaches, rivers and streams to relax, swim and have some fun. But all that depends on the quality of the water. Lincoln University’s extension programme, Waterwatch, is an interactive programme that involves school students monitoring the ‘health’ of their local rivers or streams.

According to the 6th biennial survey Peoples’ Perceptions of the State of the New Zealand Environment released in 2011, the most important environmental issue facing New Zealand is ‘water pollution and/or water’. So freshwater is an area of particular concern to New Zealanders.

Thanks to the support of The Canterbury Community Trust, Waterwatch is able to provide a fun, flexible and accessible programme of hands-on activities that encourage the sustainable management of, and responsibility for, our waterways. . .


NZ will win with TPP

October 14, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser said there was no need for concern about the content of the Trans Pacific Partnership:

“When this deal is done, I am certain that I and the Prime Minister will be able to come in from of New Zealanders and say: ‘this is virtually all upside’.”

“In relative terms, New Zealand will gain more than any country in TPP … the structure of these massive protective barriers that will come down will benefit New Zealand more than any country in this negotiation.” . . .

. . .  Mr Groser . . . said concerns about intellectual property and patents under the TPP had been “wildly exaggerated”.

He said the United States is the “most innovative country in the world” so their intellectual property law could hardly chill innovation.

New Zealanders would not be paying more for drugs as a result of TPP, Mr Groser said.

“I’ve said categorically Pharmac is not on the table.”

ANZCO Foods chair Sir Graeme Harrison said New Zealand has a lot more to gain from the TPP now Japan’s in the negotiations.

He said:

New Zealand could bring in $5 billion per year in our exports now Japan was involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), compared to $3.5 billion without Japan.

The increase in exports to Japan could mean a 2% gain in GDP, with many of the gains in the primary industries, he said. . .

He said Japan’s inclusion has made the TPP more worthwhile for the United States, which in turn will work in New Zealand’s favour.

“All of this comes together with two countries, the world’s first and third largest economy, both believing in a rules-based trading system, that are on our side, and we can have quite an influence in that process.”

Both were speaking on The Nation yesterday. You can watch the full interviews here.

New Zealand has a very small domestic market and we have one of the most open economies in the world.

We’ve already gone through the hard part of giving up protection and puts us ahead of most of the other countries which are negotiating the TPP.

We have a lot to gain and very little to lose from the successful completion of the TPP agreement.


TPP on track for completion this year

October 9, 2013

The leaders of countries working towards the Trans Pacific Partnership are aiming to have negotiations completed this year:

We, the Leaders of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam, are pleased to announce today that our countries are on track to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.  Ministers and negotiators have made significant progress in recent months on all the legal texts and annexes on access to our respective goods, services, investment, financial services, government procurement, and temporary entry markets.  We have agreed that negotiators should now proceed to resolve all outstanding issues with the objective of completing this year a comprehensive and balanced, regional agreement that achieves the goals we established in Honolulu in 2011, ensures the benefits of the agreement are fully shared, and takes into account the diversity of our levels of development.

A final Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement must reflect our common vision to establish a comprehensive, next-generation model for addressing both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries.  The deepest and broadest possible liberalization of trade and investment will ensure the greatest benefits for countries’ large and small manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers, as well as workers, innovators, investors, and consumers.

We see the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with its high ambition and pioneering standards for new trade disciplines, as a model for future trade agreements and a promising pathway to our APEC goal of building a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.  We are encouraged by the growing interest in this important negotiation and are engaging with other Asia-Pacific countries that express interest in the TPP regarding their possible future participation.

Stakeholders across the region have provided valuable input to TPP negotiating teams both on-site at rounds and in our respective countries.  As we work to conclude these negotiations, we will further intensify consultations with stakeholders to craft a final agreement that appropriately addresses the interests of our citizens. We look forward to review and consideration of the outcome of our work, consistent with each of our domestic processes.

This is a significant achievement and shows a big move on the part of major economies like Japan, the USA and Canada which are still highly protected.

Improved access to markets will provide wonderful opportunities for New Zealand and the more countries with which we can trade freely the better able we will be to weather economic storms.


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