Rural round-up

October 6, 2017

Methane, nitrous oxide levels can be reduced – Nicole Sharp:

Methane and nitrous oxide levels can be reduced on-farm and mitigation options are already available for farmers.

AgResearch science impact leader Robyn Dynes spoke to a group of rural professionals in Invercargill recently about what mitigation options were available to reduce greenhouse gases.

Methane is produced by cows when feed is digested by rumen microbes and 87%-92% of it is produced in the rumen.

Four options either available to farmers at present or being worked on would help reduce methane levels, Dr Dynes said. . . 

Focus goes on safety – Yvonne O’Hara:

Central Otago wool harvesting workers and contractors have contributed to an industry-first online health and safety education resource.

Members of the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association’s ”Tahi Ngatahi” working party were in the region last week to hold three focus groups to ”flesh out” content for the series of short and sharp videos and other information for the online units.

The group hopes the resource will be launched in April or May next year. . . 

Westland shareholders back governance changes:

Westland Milk Products shareholders today strongly endorsed a package of changes designed to improve and update the co-operative’s governance.

Westland Chairman Pete Morrison said, “Shareholders at today’s Special General Meeting in Hokitika approved the changes with 93.5% percent in favour. This will ‘future proof’ the structure and tone of the governance of our co-operative, and better equip Westland for the opportunities and challenges ahead of us.”

Morrison said one of the key recommendations in the report, a programme to identify and upskill potential shareholder directors, was well received, with feedback from shareholders during the consultation and at the SGM emphasising that continuity and succession planning was important. . . 

Dairy sector strong as it gazes at uncertain future:

Trans Tasman Political Pulse

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The dairy sector may be facing a future filled with political uncertainty, but the Fonterra result shows it is working from a strong base with potential to grow further and strengthen the wider economy.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, Fonterra delivered a solid result, marked by foodservice sales growth into China. Its returns ensure farmers’ protability is back close to long-run averages of $990/ha, with a further lift of protability projected in the current season.

The dairy industry is a vital engine for the economy, but it needs solid Govt backing, particularly as it competes in global markets. Currently, 87% of all NZ dairy exports are restricted by quotas or tariffs of more than 10%. . . 

B+LNZ and MIA concerned by UK media reports of a EU-UK deal on WTO quotas:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the New Zealand Meat Industry Association are concerned by reports that the EU and UK have reached a “deal” to split the EU’s WTO tariff rate quotas following Brexit.

“Given the importance of the European Union and United Kingdom for New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports, stability and certainty is vital,” said James Parsons, Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. “The tariff rate quotas form part of the EU’s WTO commitments and are legally binding rights and obligations. . . 

PGG Wrightson Plants its Future Growth With Promapp:

A PGG Wrightson, a New Zealand Stock Exchange listed company and a leading provider of products, services and solutions to growers, farmers and processors, has announced that it is now deploying Promapp business process management software across its recently expanded Retail and Water division.

In a strategy designed to support the organisation’s ongoing focus on effective service delivery, business improvement and risk management, Promapp will provide the organisation’s staff with a centralised repository for storing and managing critical processes as well as an enhanced facility for reporting on the status of processes, improvement actions and risks. . . 

No automatic alt text available.

Farmer – I”m more than you think: mechanic, meteorologist, scientist, machine operator, financial planner, agronomist, computer operator, animal caretaker, family.

Advertisements

Rural round-up

August 29, 2017

A2 Milk outperforms once again – Keith Woodford:

The a2 Milk Company (ATM) took a big step forward with its 2016/17 results which were released on 23 August. Sales were up 56 percent from the previous year to $549 million, and post-tax profits tripled to $NZ90 million. The market was impressed.

Everyone knew that a strong result was in the offing, and so the shares had already risen 50 percent over the preceding three months, and almost trebled in value on a 12-month basis. The share price then rose another 15 percent over the following three days to close at $5.74 at week’s end.

The most important messages within the annual report were not about the present but the future. The picture drawn by CEO Geoff Babidge was of a fast-growing company with no debt and lots of free cash in the bank to fund ongoing developments. . . 

A School of Rural Medicine to be established:

The Government will establish a new School of Rural Medicine within the next three years to produce more doctors for our rural communities, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

“Every New Zealander deserves quality healthcare services, and we want to grow the number of doctors in rural and regional areas to make it easier for people in those areas to access other key health services,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“The new School of Rural Medicine will be specifically geared toward meeting the challenges faced by high need and rural areas of the country, and will produce around 60 additional doctors per year. . . 

Primary industries feel under siege as prospect of Labour-led government firms:

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The divide between regional and urban politics is being thrown into ever sharpening contrast as the election campaign unfolds. Agricultural industries and rural communities feel under siege in the looming election.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, weeks ago the chances of a Labour-led government seemed unlikely, but now the chance of this happening seems possible with policies which could prove ruinous for NZ’s main export industries.

Labour will tax users of water, including farmers (but not those companies using municipal supplies). Both the Greens and Labour are committed to bringing agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and say the carbon price should be higher. They have not stated how high they want animal emissions to be taxed. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to vote on ending Ruataniwha funding, writing-off $14M debt – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will vote this week on whether to stop any further investment in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme and write-off a $14 million debt owed by its investment company.

The vote on Wednesday comes as a result of a report into options following the Supreme Court decision to reject a Department of Conservation land swap need to create the storage scheme reservoir. 

The council’s investment arm, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co (HBRIC), owes $14 million to the council made up of $7 million of charges and $7 million of cash advances, according to the council report. For its part, HBRIC has an intangible asset of $19.5 million on its books related to the feasibility and development costs of RWSS. This was funded with the $14 million advance from the council and $5.5 million from external debt. . . 

Feds Wonder Why We Would Need A Tourist Tax?:

Labour’s suggestion of taxing international visitors to raise funds to pay for tourism infrastructure raises questions about why we can’t find the money already from existing tax.

Federated Farmers has been concerned about the pressure councils, particularly small rural councils, are under to maintain services for tourists, including public toilets and other facilities.

“We agree that tourism is placing increasing pressure on our nation’s infrastructure and these costs are being unfairly borne by regional economies.

“But surely it is possible to find the additional targeted funding for councils in need from within this already increasing area of tax take?” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Behind the hype of lab-grown meat -Ryan F. Mandelbaum:

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells. One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger. And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat. Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals. But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture. Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market. . .

Wine exports reach record high:

The export value of New Zealand wine has reached a record high according to the 2017 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers. Now valued at $1.66 billion, up 6% in June year end 2017, wine now stands as New Zealand’s fifth largest goods export.

Over the past two decades the wine industry has achieved average annual export growth of 17% a year states the Report. “With diversified markets and a strong upward trajectory, the industry is in good shape to achieve $2 billion of exports by 2020” said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

More Kiwis than ever are enjoying speciality cheese:

As Kiwis prepare to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month, sales data shows we are enjoying more locally made cheese than ever before.

Nielsen data shows supermarket sales of New Zealand Specialty cheese have increased in value by 6% in the 12 months to August 2017 . What’s more, in the first quarter of 2017 Nielsen says 771, 383 Kiwi purchased specialty cheese, an increase of more than 20% compared with the same period in 2014 .

Every October the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) members host a variety of tastings, inviting cultured Kiwis to events across the country to meet cheese makers and taste their wares. . . 

Largest ever Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

2017 sees the largest National Final ever held for the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition. Taking place next Tuesday 29th August at Villa Maria in Marlborough, there will be a total of six national finalists representing six of our wine regions: Tim Adams – Auckland/Northern; Ben Richards – Hawke’s Bay; Ben McNab Jones – Wairarapa; Laurie Stradling – Nelson; Anthony Walsh – Marlborough and Annabel Bulk – Central Otago.

Bulk is the first woman in the competition since 2011, so it is great to see viticulture is very much a serious career option for both men and women. . .  


Rural round-up

August 23, 2017

Hard work earned admiration of all:

WHEN it came to work ethic, it would be hard to look past legendary North Otago market gardener Reggie Joe.

For more than 45 years, Joe’s Vegie Stall on State Highway 1 at Alma has been a landmark. From humble beginnings as a small roadside stall with an honesty tin, the business expanded to a busy operation, attracting a loyal following of customers.

His wife Suzie acknowledged it was his garden and customers that Mr Joe put first, followed by his family for whom he did it all.

His ambition in life was simple; to create a better future for his four children. Having known hardship firsthand, he was determined they would receive a good education.

Mr Joe died peacefully, surrounded by his family, in Dunedin Hospital on June 8, aged 82. . . 

Primary industries feel under siege as prospect of Labour-led govt firms:

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The divide between regional and urban politics is being thrown into ever sharpening contrast as the election campaign unfolds. Agricultural industries and rural communities feel under siege in the looming election.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, weeks ago the chances of a Labour-led government seemed unlikely, but now the chance of this happening seems possible with policies which could prove ruinous for NZ’s main export industries.

Labour will tax users of water, including farmers (but not those companies using municipal supplies). Both the Greens and Labour are committed to bringing agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and say the carbon price should be higher. They have not stated how high they want animal emissions to be taxed. . . 

Farming leaders pledge to make all rivers swimmable – Gerard Hutching:

Farming leaders representing 80 per cent of the industry have pledged to make all New Zealand rivers swimmable, although they don’t say how or by when.

Confessing that not all rivers were in the condition they wanted them to be, and that farming had not always got it right, the group said the vow was “simply the right thing to do”.

Launching the pledge by the banks of the Ngaruroro River in Hawke’s Bay, spokeswoman for the group and Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said the intent behind the commitment was clear. . . 

Swimmable means swimmable:

Agricultural leaders have, for the first time ever in New Zealand, come together to send a strong message to the public.

We are committed to New Zealand’s rivers being swimmable for our children and grandchildren.

DairyNZ chair, Michael Spaans, says “this is a clear message from New Zealand’s farming leaders that we want our rivers to be in a better state than they are now, and agriculture needs to help get them there.

“I have joined my fellow leaders to stand up and say that I want my grandchildren, and one day my great grandchildren, to be able to swim in the same rivers that I did growing up. . . 

Farmers’ river pledge welcomed:

A new pledge by farming leaders to improve the swimmability of New Zealand’s rivers has been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“This pledge from farming leaders shows the real commitment farmers have to tackling these long term issues,” says Mr Guy.

“Farmers are closer to the land to the land than nearly anyone else, and they care deeply about leaving a good legacy for their children. . . 

Hundreds expected for launch – Sally Rae:

When a book on the history of the Wilden settlement is launched this month, it will also serve as a reunion.

Wilden — The Story of a West Otago Farming Community — has been written by Dunedin man Dr David Keen.

The driving forces behind the project were retired Wilden farmer Bill Gibson, now living in Mosgiel, and Neil Robinson, from Wanaka.

In the late 1860s, the discovery of gold at Switzers, now Waikaia, further sparked West Otago’s development. . . 

Keen advocate of the tri-use sheep – Sally Rae:

Growing up on a sheep and beef farm in Invercargill, Lucy Griffiths and her siblings were not allowed to leave home without  a woollen garment.

The many benefits of wool were drummed into them from an early age, not only as a fibre to wear but also as one to walk on and use in innovative ways.

But somewhere since then, strong wool had “lost its gloss”, and Mrs Griffiths wants to play her part in re-educating consumers about those benefits.

She is one of three new appointments to the board of Wools of New Zealand, a position she felt was a “big mantle of responsibility”. . .

Dispath from NZ no. 3 conflict, collaboration and consensus – Jonathan Baker:

New Zealanders are generally though of as pretty relaxed; but having spent ten days here it’s clear that the current debate around farming is anything but. From the Beehive (NZ’s parliament) to the kitchen tables of farmers, there is a very strong sense of tension. Most I talked to present farmers on one side and ‘townie’ environmental groups on another.

The main cause of the tension is the state of New Zealand’s water quality. This issue has jumped up the public agenda over the last 10 years and is now a pretty substantial issue in the upcoming election. Environmental groups, notably Greenpeace have done much to start this debate and the impact of their ‘dirty dairy’ campaign can even be felt in the UK. . .

My great-grandfather fed 19 people, my grandfather fed 26 people, my father feeds 155 people I will feed 155 and counting . . . embracing technology a family tradition.


Meanwhile in other news

May 12, 2016

While the Panama papers and examining the entrails of The Bachelor are getting headlines the government books are in a healthier state than forecast:

The $167 million operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) surplus for the nine months to 31 March was $334 million better than forecast, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Core Crown revenue was $206 million higher than forecast, largely due to core Crown tax revenue being $702 million higher than forecast by the Treasury in December.

These aren’t big numbers in relation to the government’s total finances. But given the global financial position and the impact of low dairy prices, this is an achievement.

This was partially offset by core Crown interest and dividend revenue being $456 million lower than forecast.

Mr English says because of sustained, moderate growth in the economy, the Crown accounts are in good order ahead of the delivery of Budget 2016 later this month.

“We’ve been successful in turning an $18.4 billion deficit in 2011 to a surplus last year. In Budget 2016 our focus is shifting more to repaying debt.

“Budget 2016 will reflect this Government’s continued commitment to responsible fiscal management. At the same time it will build on the good progress we’ve made over the previous seven Budgets, with further investment in a growing economy and public services.

“We measure success by results, rather than the level of spending.”

It’s not what they’re spending but the impact that spending that matters.

One area that always takes a lot of spending is welfare.

The government is taking the investment approach which means spending more in the short term for longer term social and financial gain.

A report from Deloitte and NZIER says that the investment approach needs to become a mainstream way of working across more of the social sector.

State of the State New Zealand 2016: Social investment for our future advocates broadening the use of the social investment approach to manage New Zealand’s future fiscal challenges and support better outcomes for Kiwis.

NZIER Deputy Chief Executive John Ballingall says the State of the State takes a close look at government finances and the burdens New Zealanders could face in the future.

“A combination of our ageing population, low productivity and revenue growth, and the need to reduce government debt will impose huge fiscal pressures in coming decades – particularly in social spending. More importantly, too many people in New Zealand are experiencing poor life outcomes and too many of their children are at risk of following them,” says Mr Ballingall.

Deloitte partner and public sector leader Dave Farrelly says it’s the sum of these factors which drove us to focus the report on social investment, an approach to funding social services focusing on root causes to prevent the need for these services in the future.

“For example, with social investment the task is not to deliver the next 100 prison beds for the same cost as the previous 50. It’s to remove the need for those new prison beds altogether,” says Mr Farrelly.

“Today social investment is like a start-up – a small number of people are working incredibly hard to bring a big bold vision to life. Tomorrow, social investment needs to become a mainstream way of working,” he says.

In the six months of research for the report, Deloitte and NZIER spoke to some of the most senior and influential leaders in the public, non-government and private sectors – all of whom provided a unique perspective on social investment.

State of the State proposes a package of bold reforms to realise the aspiration for social investment in New Zealand. The recommendations are:

1. Release, every four years, a government-wide statement to define the outcomes and targets for at-risk New Zealanders
2. Establish a new agency to commission specialist social services for people at risk of poor life outcomes
3. Embed the social investment approach to funding quality and sustainability in the new agency’s operating model
4. Enable better access to government-held data and detailed evaluation reports

“We suggest a structural reconfiguration that some will find challenging, while acknowledging we don’t yet have all the answers,” says Mr Farrelly.

“But we must be bold in tackling these challenges today to maintain our way of life in the future,” he concludes.

Social investment is working and the reforms Social Development Minister Anne Tolley is promoting will do more.

Trans Tasman notes:

. . . The reform being pushed through by Tolley is perhaps the most far-reaching undertaken by the Govt and could stand as its greatest legacy if it achieves its goals. Already it has made some headway in improving the lives of Maori children who are more than twice as likely as Pakeha children to grow up in households experiencing hardship, and fare worse in most indicators. A report by the University of Otago-based Child and Youth Epidemiology Service shows increasing numbers of Maori pre schoolers are getting early childhood education. There’s also been a halving of school suspensions for Maori students, an increase in immunisation rates, fewer young Maori smoking,and falling hospitalisation rates for Maori children for injuries from assault, neglect or maltreatment. Tolley is understood to have secured an additional funding, probably of the order of $500m in this year’s budget for the reform. . . 

Turning around benefit dependency and all the financial and social costs that go with it will not be neither easy nor cheap but the investment approach is working and it’s a much better story than many of the others which are getting attention at the moment.

 


NZ 3rd for material living standard

July 31, 2015

Trans Tasman points out that child poverty lobbies are wrong on living standards:

Lobby groups which bleat about child poverty in NZ took a knock this week when independent research showed NZ households have the third highest material living standard in the world for households with a teenager. The research also dealt a blow to those who contend there is growing inequality in NZ society. Using a new measure for wellbeing, Researchers at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research found NZ ranks just behind the US and Canada, and ahead of Aust and all the Scandinavian countries.
Motu is a not-for-profit, non-partisan research institute and received funding for this work from the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of NZ. Dr Arthur Grimes, one of NZ’s most respected economists, says “our new measure focuses on actual consumption of households, which is a better measure of living standards than income. What we found is that we have very high material wellbeing levels. I think this should call into question the widespread negative impression of living standards in NZ compared with other developed countries.” Grimes and Motu researcher Sean Hyland worked from a dataset of household possessions for almost 800,000 households over 40 countries, including all OECD countries.
“Our results show NZ is still a great place to bring up children, at least in material terms. Not only do we have wonderful natural amenities, but contrary to what GDP statistics tell us, most kiwi families have a high standard of material wellbeing relative to our international peers” The study also looked at the degree of inequality in household material wellbeing, which fell in most countries, including NZ, over the period 2000-2012. In 2012, NZ ranked twentieth of 40 countries in terms of inequality, with levels similar to those in the US, Canada and the UK.
Grimes points out most public policy concern is with the living standards of ordinary people, especially those closer to the bottom of the wealth distribution curve, whose living standards are well captured in the data. “If we look across the Tasman, Australia’s households are not quite as wealthy as their NZ counterparts but inequality in Aust. is lower than that in NZ. Overall, these figures suggest we may need to reassess how we look at this country’s economic performance.”

This doesn’t mean everyone has enough nor that we can ignore the needs of those who don’t.

But it does contradict the people who keep trying to tell us that inequality is growing and that up to one in four children are living in poverty.


Slower growth still growth

July 10, 2015

Chicken Little would feel right at home with opposition politicians and media who are wanting us to believe the sky is falling.

This season’s dairy payout was low and next season’s might not be much better but banks aren’t going to be forcing farmers out of business.

Providing farmers are prudent and work with their banks they’ll get through.

Dairying is a large part of the economy and those who service and supply farmers will find business tougher as farmers spend less, but the impact of that still won’t push us into the recession some of the gloomier forecasters would have us believe is coming.

Trans Tasman puts it into perspective:

“Complacency” is what Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson called John Key’s attitude to the economy this week. His leader Andrew Little went further, saying NZ faces a “perfect storm” of economic bad news. Both called for the Govt to do something, although just what remained a bit vague, apart from a generalised call for more spending to stimulate the economy. Key’s “What? Me Worry?” persona can grate at times, but this is all a bit over-egged.

Much of the egging came from the media, of course, with broadcasters being the worst. One has come to expect a certain amount of arm-wavy economic illiteracy from TV news, but what was more surprising was hearing Radio NZ follow suit, discussing the economy as if a recession 
is imminent.

Essentially there is a buy-in to the Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei’s claim the Govt needs to “start spending again” to avoid a recession. It’s a statement which appears oblivious to the Govt loosening the fiscal purse strings in the May budget, and also of the fact no reputable economist thinks a recession is imminent. Rather, it is a slowdown from a bit more than 3% to probably around 2% growth in GDP.

This means both Treasury and the Reserve Bank’s most recent forecasts are wrong, and not in a minor way. The presumption of 3% GDP growth this year, and for the next two years, now looks just that – highly presumptuous.

But it is not a recession. Growth is still happening. It is just considerably slower than expected. Interest rates and the NZ dollar are adjusting – finally – to take account of this.

Growth may be slowly, but slow growth is better than no growth and still, thankfully, there’s no imminent danger of the sky falling.


Quote of the day

May 22, 2015

. . . An enormous gulf has opened up between what used to be the core Labour voter, particularly in provincial regions, and the metropolitan elites, with their state-funded salaries and public sector pensions. The consequence is the current generation of Labour politicians are stumped when it comes to enunciating policies for the delivery of a better life for working people.

There is now a fundamental unease in the NZ population the collectivism inherent in the original concept of the welfare state doesn’t necessarily deliver the results originally envisaged. It is based on evidence the safety net the welfare state was intended to provide has been turned almost into a lifestyle for many who spend years on benefits. Now when the Govt says testing for spending effectiveness (in welfare programmes) will be core to the new processes it is introducing, and funding will be re-prioritised to providers to get results, Labour doesn’t seem to have an answer, or an alternative. . . Trans Tasman


%d bloggers like this: