Poll finds a growing public appreciation of NZ’s primary exports – and new trade stats underscore their importance

NZ’s  primary  exports  held  up  well  in   April, again proving  the  country’s  farming  industries are  sustaining  the  economy   despite many  sectors being stricken by the  Covid-19  pandemic.

Almost   coincidentally,  a  UMR  probe  of    public  opinion about farming revealed a sharp swing  in  perception.

Instead  of  the  negativity   that had been  undermining  morale – particularly in  the  dairy industry,  triggered  by  anti-farming  lobby groups which conjured  up the slogan “dirty dairying”  to turn urban opinion against the  industry – the  UMR polling  showed  attitudes have tilted deeper into positive  territory.

UMR Research,  a  skilled operator  in  its  field  (better  known as   the  company  which does  polling  for  Labour), found  in  its  sampling   63%  of  those  polled  had a  positive  view  of sheep and beef  farming, a  rise  of  9% compared   with  a  previous  poll on  the same  issue  eight months ago.

Similarly, the perception  about  dairy farming  had  also  strengthened   by  9% , from  51%  to  60%.

Horticulture   has  the  top rating of 65%, while  fishing clicked over  to 53%, up from 47%. Continue reading “Poll finds a growing public appreciation of NZ’s primary exports – and new trade stats underscore their importance”

Dairy farmers will be in the vanguard of NZ’s economic recovery – but it looks like they shouldn’t count on much govt help

NZ’s  dairy  industry  has  a   clear  role  to  play  as  one  of  the   country’s saviours in the  battle to recover  from the global impact of the  Covid-19 pandemic — even if there is  little evidence  that ministers  in the coalition government recognise  its  importance.

The industry, as  it has  done so  often  before,  will  just have to  do  it on  its own.

Luckily, the giant co-op,  Fonterra,   has  stabilised,  after racking up a  massive  $600m  loss  last year and there’s  a refreshed sense  of  where the  dairy industry  stands  in the  economy’s  hierarchy,  as  other pillars (tourism, international  education, air transport, construction)  tumble  over the  pandemic precipice.  Morale  at  the   grassroots  level  is  rising  again.

So  what’s  the  message    for  dairy  farmers as  the  2019-20 season  ends  and  they look ahead to  the next?   Batten  down  the  hatches  or  seek to  expand  production?

It’s  not  an  easy  one  for  many  Fonterra  suppliers, as  they move out  of a debilitating drought. But they have the  encouragement from  the  co-op  – the  payout  for the  season  just ending, though  at  the lower  end  of the range  earlier  signalled,  will  still be between  $7.10 and $7.30kg/MS.  That’s  above the  break-even point,  said  to be  around  $5.90.   Continue reading “Dairy farmers will be in the vanguard of NZ’s economic recovery – but it looks like they shouldn’t count on much govt help”

Agriculture a difficult issue in US-UK trade negotiations; what a surprise

London’s Financial Times reports on a struggle within Britain’s cabinet on how much to cut farm tariffs in any US-UK trade deal.  It’s not the most edifying reporting – and the economics are even more questionable.

Of course, there’s always artificiality in the briefing of intra-government squabbles.  Political slogans predominate and reporters struggle to present the real views of ministers who can be incapable of understanding, let alone articulating, the underlying economic arguments.  But here the gap between presentation and reality is truly remarkable. Continue reading “Agriculture a difficult issue in US-UK trade negotiations; what a surprise”

Food producers can do without the green shackles when they are driving the post-virus economic recovery

What’s  to   celebrate in the  wake of   the crushing  blow  to   the  economy  delivered   by the Covid-19   pandemic?

Certainly it’s a relief    NZ  has emerged  less  scarred  than other  countries.  Whether the country absorbed   more   economic  pain  than  was necessary will be   debated fiercely.

As   ministers   begin  the  search  to  fill  the economic hole left  by the  collapse of the  tourist industry  and  by  permanent  damage – perhaps –  to sectors like international education,  PM  Jacinda  Ardern  says  she  wants “specific” and “ specially designed” initiatives for  different  industries.

Finance  Minister  Grant  Robertson,  in  talking  of  the  government’s  “strong recovery plan”,   says all ministers have been tasked  with reaching out  to their sector to help develop this plan. Deputy  PM  Winston Peters believes  the  fragility of the highly  interconnected  global  economy has been exposed, and  NZ  must become more  self-reliant. Continue reading “Food producers can do without the green shackles when they are driving the post-virus economic recovery”

Whatever it is called, Gypsy Day will go ahead this year and cows will be mooved – but under strict COVID-19 controls

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor eschewed the words “Gypsy Day”, in a press statement yesterday that addressed dairy farmers’ concerns about what would happen on June 1.  He preferred “Moving Day” and said Moving Day will go ahead as planned this year, but with strict controls to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Reporting this news, Farmers Weekly explained that Moving Day is also known as Gypsy Day and occurs on June 1 each year when many dairy farming families, sharemilkers, contract milkers and employees move to new farms to start new jobs and milking contracts.

Yet another expression was incorporated in a Federated Farmers press statement headline on April 9:  GYPSY / MOOVING DAY.

In the statement, the feds said they were aware of the level of concern among dairy farmers over how the annual 31 May/1 June “Gypsy Day” or “Moving day” shift would work under the COVID-19 controls. Continue reading “Whatever it is called, Gypsy Day will go ahead this year and cows will be mooved – but under strict COVID-19 controls”

Pandemic nobbles the polluters and prompts a rethink about climate change’s place in policy priorities

As the Covid-19 pandemic plunges the  world  into a  recession – deeper probably   than the global  financial  crisis – thousands  of  New Zealanders are losing  their jobs  and the  country’s  economy is  already  under  enormous  pressure. Some authorities  predict  it will precipitate a  revolution in  how  we live.

What, then,  about that other revolution which climate change warriors insist is essential  if  we  are not to face  extinction? Can it be relegated in policy priorities as  the government  seeks   to  plot  a  way through the  human  and  economic  misery  of the pandemic?

Covid-19 has cleared the skies of pollution. Carbon emissions  from the worst polluters  (airlines and  land  transport)  have  shrunk  almost to  zero.   International  tourism has come to a  halt,  cruise  liners  are  being laid up, and the global  warming   which  appeared to be such a threat  only  weeks   ago  is  moving at a  much slower  pace.

Those  in the  Extinction Rebellion  movement  who  preached   business as usual is the  enemy in the campaign  against  global  warming  have fallen  silent.  Business  as usual  looks to be  a  nirvana NZ  is  unlikely to  reach again  any time soon. Continue reading “Pandemic nobbles the polluters and prompts a rethink about climate change’s place in policy priorities”

O’Connor recognises how pandemic has affected the economy and its primary players

Agriculture  Minister   Damien  O’Connor  says   the primary sector   will  play a critical  role  in  NZ’s  economic   recovery  once the country    emerges   from the  Covid-19 lockdown.

It is the first  time  (at  least  within  Point of Order’s close  surveillance of the  issue)  that  a coalition  minister has acknowledged   how the pandemic  has shifted  the  dial  inside  the   economy.

O’Connor   says  there   is no shortage of  demand for  what NZ  produces.

Our primary sector is part of the solution to global food security concerns in the short-term”.

 The government is working alongside the primary sector to help ensure workers get to the places they are needed. Continue reading “O’Connor recognises how pandemic has affected the economy and its primary players”