Good news for horticulture: govt is ploughing $8m into research to develop leaf protein concentrate

Damien  O’Connor, the  minister  who earlier this year distinguished himself   by  telling  the Australian  government to  show  more “respect” in its  dealings  with  China, has  at  last won a  battle in  Cabinet. He  got  his  colleagues,  some of  whom are always reluctant to do  anything to help the country’s primary industries and  farmers, to  agree  to  support a new programme to lead New Zealand’s plant protein sector development.

The government is partnering with Lincoln-based  Leaft Foods on a $20m research and development programme that could put NZ on the map as a leading leaf protein concentrate producer.

Through its Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund, the Ministry for Primary Industries is contributing $8m to the five-year programme to develop technology that extracts edible protein from NZ grown green leafy crops.

Leaft Foods’ technology will be used to produce high-quality protein in the form of gels or powders that can be used in a range of foods in the fast-growing global market for plant proteins. Continue reading “Good news for horticulture: govt is ploughing $8m into research to develop leaf protein concentrate”

Biosecurity Minister shows signs of a foot-in-mouth affliction – it doesn’t require culling but will he be put out to pasture?

According to his critics, Damien O’Connor may well have contracted a nasty dose of foot-in-mouth disease.

Whether his personal struggle with the condition is good or bad for a bloke who happens to be our Minister of Biosecurity is arguable.  The portfolio requires the Minister and his ministry to ensure against foot-and-mouth disease sneaking into the country (among a formidable list of threatening pests and diseases).

Foot-and-mouth is much more virulent than foot-in-mouth and an outbreak on our farms would be calamitous for the economy.

Foot-in-mouth, on the other hand, is common among politicians and tends to be more damaging to the afflicted politician and his/her party than to the national economy.

Accordingly, when it is detected, the authorities do not declare an emergency and immediately put down the politician and cull every other beast within a certain distance, as would happen with livestock, although a polls-sensitive PM might be tempted to demote the culprit and put him or her out to pasture on the back benches.

Mind you, a politician might be accused by Opposition politicians or media commentators of having foot-in-mouth disease when others think the accused politician’s remarks were eminently sensible.

Damien O’Connor found himself embroiled in a trans-Tasman brouhaha when he suggested Australia could improve its relationship with China by following this country’s lead and showing more respect to the Asian powerhouse. Continue reading “Biosecurity Minister shows signs of a foot-in-mouth affliction – it doesn’t require culling but will he be put out to pasture?”

O’Connor phones to mollify the Aussies after trumpeting the pay-off from mollifying Beijing

Trade  Minister Damien  O’Connor  trumpeted  this week that the  New Zealand  and  Chinese  governments had signed  an upgrade to  the free trade agreement  between the  two countries.

We suspect he will be more coy about his contribution to the New Zealand–Australia relationship because his trumpeting – loud enough to cross the Tasman – included advice to Canberra to “show respect” and act more diplomatically towards China.   

The Aussies have been riled by those remarks, according to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Senior Australian government officials are infuriated at Mr O’Connor’s comments, which they see as a continuing pattern of New Zealand not joining other allies in standing up to China’s growing assertiveness in recent months.

China’s relations with Canberra remain frozen as a consequence of the Morrison government’s call for a Covid-19 inquiry and a series of punitive trade actions has been taken against Australian export sectors. Continue reading “O’Connor phones to mollify the Aussies after trumpeting the pay-off from mollifying Beijing”

O’Connor’s trade challenges: persuading Biden to join CPTPP will be high on the agenda

Damien O’Connor, the new trade and export growth minister, has a large agenda but officials who know him are pleased at his appointment because he has an easy affability, unlike David Parker who sometimes could be brittle and opinionated.

O’Connor also has a capacity for hard work. Priorities are free trade agreements with Britain and the European Union. 

Probably the biggest challenge will be working with PM Jacinda Ardern to encourage the United States to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP.) The government places this at a higher priority than seeking a free trade agreement with Washington DC. 

They will also try to have the US re-engage with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as soon as possible.  Continue reading “O’Connor’s trade challenges: persuading Biden to join CPTPP will be high on the agenda”

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”