Dairy prices lift the gloom for farmers but their future meanwhile is being plotted by Beehive planners with a vision

Fonterra’s  boss  might have been  ultra-cautious   but  out on  the country’s dairy farms there  was a  subdued  cheer  at the  news  that the wholemilk powder price had leapt  14%  at  the  latest  GDT  auction..

The  GDT  index  rose  8.3%,  the biggest  rise   since  November  2016,  and the fourth   successive gain.   Fonterra’s  CEO   Miles  Hurrell  says  it’s  “really  surprising—no-one  saw a number of  this  magnitude”.

It dispels  some of the   gloom generated  by the  Covid-19 pandemic.  And it generates  the  hope  that  Fonterra pitched  its  forecast  for  the season too  low,  in  the  broad range  from $5.40kg/MS  to $US6.90.

Hurrell  suggested   suppliers    should not  get “too excited” by the WMP  result. Fonterra had put out excess product for immediate shipment, which resulted in “a bit of a flurry in that first event” ..

“[This] suggests to me that some of our customers out there had caught themselves short – had seen Covid having an impact on their business – but things had bounced back faster than what they’d realised I think”. Continue reading “Dairy prices lift the gloom for farmers but their future meanwhile is being plotted by Beehive planners with a vision”

Agriculture Minister is missing in (in)action while climate change warriors harry NZ’s dairy industry

The  world stands  on  the  brink of a  food crisis worse  than  any seen  in the last  50 years, the  UN has  warned  as  it  urged  governments to  act swiftly to avoid  disaster.

So what  is the  Ardern  government  doing about  it?   Shouldn’t   it  be working  to  ramp  up  food production?  After  all,  NZ   prides  itself  on being  among  the world’s  leaders  in producing  high-quality  food.

Instead,  Climate  Change  Minister  James  Shaw is celebrating  being  “ ambitious” in tackling  what he calls the climate crisis with,  he   says,

“ … necessary rule changes that will incentivise NZ’s biggest polluters to invest in the transition to a clean, climate-friendly economy”.

This  includes putting a price  on  farming  emissions.   Shaw  reckons it’s great that this puts NZ further ahead on climate action than many other parts of the world. Continue reading “Agriculture Minister is missing in (in)action while climate change warriors harry NZ’s dairy industry”

While malcontents assail historical links with Britain, Parker puts NZ on course to shape a trade partnership through an FTA

Latest from the Beehive

The best news from the Beehive since we reported yesterday is that New Zealand and the UK have formally launched free trade negotiations.

At least, it’s the best news from a national perspective.  Farmers in drought areas may well be more heartened by the government’s decision to pump an extra $3 million into the Drought Recovery Advice Fund.  This is designed to help hundreds of farmers and growers recover from drought “and prepare their businesses to better meet future needs”, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor reminded us.

Significant drought has affected many parts of New Zealand and this fund will provide relief across all of the North Island, the Chatham Islands, Christchurch, Marlborough, Nelson, Tasman, Selwyn, Kaikoura, and Waimakariri districts and regions.

But farmers should be just as delighted by Parker’s announcement that New Zealand is among the first countries to negotiate a trade agreement “with one of our oldest friends”. Continue reading “While malcontents assail historical links with Britain, Parker puts NZ on course to shape a trade partnership through an FTA”

Strong dairy receipts help lift the primary sector’s export growth – and its boost to the economy

The Covid-19  pandemic has  put  enormous  pressure  on  the country’s  primary  sector,  yet it  has  managed to  expand  export  receipts  by  $1.7bn  over  the previous year.

The  government,  or  at   least  several ministers  in it, are  celebrating  the  effort  of  the  primary sector  in  doing so,  and   recognise  the  sector  is a  key  driver  in rebooting  the  economy.

Yet  the  government,  with   its climate  change  measures  hitting    agriculture’s methane  emissions  and  its freshwater  reforms, has  done   little to  encourage  farmers to  expand  production.

When  Agriculture  Minister  Damien O’Connor says the government is focused on creating more demand, pursuing greater market opportunities to generate higher export returns and growing rural communities with new jobs,   the  response  down on the farm may be   no more than a  one-handed  clap.

Farmers  are  more  likely  to  be   grumbling  over the   government’s failure   to  drive down the  exchange rate.  Or  to do  more to build irrigation  schemes. Continue reading “Strong dairy receipts help lift the primary sector’s export growth – and its boost to the economy”

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”

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”

O’Connor is accused of being slow to act on bovine tb – but Nats have been slow to raise questions, too

The Nats are accusing Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor of being slow to act on a bovine tuberculosis outbreak in Hawke’s Bay.  Is it a fair cop?

OSPRI confirmed an outbreak in Hawke’s Bay in April last year, but a disease management response wasn’t put in place until October, National agriculture spokesman Todd Muller contends.

There have been more positive tests since then and one third of Hawke’s Bay will be under stock movement controls from March 1.

“Responses like this need to be fronted quickly for the sake of our valuable beef and dairy sector. The Minister needs to be across his portfolio and ensure these issues don’t sneak past him.”

But whether O’Connor has been caught napping depends on when he first learned (a) about the bovine tb and its rate of spread and (b) what was being done to deal with the outbreak – and when he should have first learned those things.

Continue reading “O’Connor is accused of being slow to act on bovine tb – but Nats have been slow to raise questions, too”

Primary Sector Council merges science with the metaphysical in vision to guide the food and fibre sector

The Primary Sector Council’s vision for the country’s vital food and fibre sector (you can check it out here) promotes the government’s programme for blending science with the Maori belief system.

In a press statement, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor welcomed the “vision to unite the primary sector”, although he did not mention advice to unite science with matauranga Maori.

But on the vision website we learned:

By bringing together Mātauranga Māori, community based knowledge and modern science, we will form a body of knowledge that can guide and elevate our practices everyday, empowering us to elevate ourselves above compliance.

The vision describes “an active approach” and brings the metaphysical concept of “mauri” into considerations –

Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is an active practice. Good Kaitiakitanga will involve taking action where things are out of balance and other parts of the system are being affected by resource use. Te Mauri o te Taiao provides a framework for everyone to effectively assess the mauri of all the elements within Taiao. We will look to develop assessment and monitoring tools to assist with implementing Te Mauri o te Taiao successfully. Continue reading “Primary Sector Council merges science with the metaphysical in vision to guide the food and fibre sector”

Yep, farm prices are booming and the outlook is bright – but cockies might quibble with O’Connor about the causes

Farmers  are  riding a  boom with  the latest  ASB index  for  primary sector  exports  surpassing its   2011  level.   Lamb prices  cracked the  $9/kg  mark   and  beef prices  are   at,   or close to,  record levels.  There is  the prospect  too that  Fonterra’s  payout could  reach  $7.50kg/MS,  one of its  best  ever.

Agriculture   Minister   Damien  O’Connor has not  been slow to  put his government in line   for the  credit  in reaching  these  high  levels—or   to argue  a  Labour-led   government is better for farmers than  National.

At  least  that   was the implication in an  answer he gave in  Parliament last  week.

So farmers and growers are getting better prices for their work under this government than the last National one”.

 O’Connor  is one of the  more  effective ministers  in  the Ardern  Cabinet  but he might have been  stretching it  a  bit  in implying  the  high prices are due to the government.

When  Labour’s Kiritapu Allan  asked   him what action  the government is taking to help this sector,  he  responded: Continue reading “Yep, farm prices are booming and the outlook is bright – but cockies might quibble with O’Connor about the causes”

Leading the world and saving it, too – but let’s brace for a drop in our standard of living (and wellbeing)

So  how  “transformational”  will  the   zero  carbon  legislation  prove to be?

Many  New Zealanders  have come to believe  global  warming  poses  a  real danger  to  their lives – but will the new legislation remove, or even lessen, the danger?

Under the legislation, agriculture   for the first time is brought into the emissions trading  scheme.  That’s won  support from Green lobbyists, but many  say it’s too little, too late –  “a  weak-ass  carbon  reform”.

On  the  other side,  the  criticism is  just as pointed.  There are  no tools to  measure  on-farm emissions and what  the  government proposes   could   shrivel  NZ’s growth rate  by  up to  $50bn   a year. Continue reading “Leading the world and saving it, too – but let’s brace for a drop in our standard of living (and wellbeing)”