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”
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?”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”