Agriculture

Mike Williams on the stupidity of Peter Butler

Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams has been having a blinder these past few weeks.

Of course, he has been helped by the stupidity of Hawkes Bay local body candidates or outgoing mayors.

It’s obvious that the retiring Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor, Peter Butler, doesn’t read my weekly musings in Hawke’s Bay Today.

Had he bothered to do so he would have known that a powerful factor in local election success is name recognition.

Not long ago there was reference to the fact that when voters are confronted with long lists of candidates they will very often opt for a name they know.

Peter Butler’s attempt to make sitting regional councillor Tom Belford reveal his email and telephone records for a 17day period last month amounts to a timely and very valuable gift to Councillor Belford.

It put him on the front page of Hawke’s Bay Today just when the Hawke’s Bay electors are filling in their voting papers.

It’s hard to comprehend what possessed Mayor Butler.

His “official request” for Tom Belford’s telephone and email traffic was never going to be fulfilled before the local polls closed and even if this showed Mr Belford communicated with all of the people and organisations on Butler’s list, who cares?

It would only demonstrate that Councillor Belford was doing his job.

Peter Butler would not comment on why he had requested the information. We can only suppose that he’s a secret supporter of Tom Belford.

The Hawke’s Bay local elections are more interesting than those going on in Auckland.

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The Press on Water Quality

Yesterday the Press editorial was scathing about water quality.

New Zealanders cannot stand by while our rivers become so polluted we can no longer swim in them.

This week The Press reported that the number of Canterbury rivers safe for swimming has reached its lowest point in at least five years. Now, nearly one-third of the monitoring sites on Canterbury rivers have been deemed unsafe to swim in, according to Environment Canterbury (ECan). This compares with five years ago when one in four sites were considered unsafe for swimming.

Now, some of our most popular swimming and camping spots such as Coes Ford are blighted by a toxic algae which can cause rashes, nausea, and numbness. It can be fatal to dogs and other animals. The warm summer expected with El Nino is only likely to see the situation worsen.

Depressingly, in 2010, ECan’s new commissioners – brought in after elected members were sacked due to failings in water management – set as one of their goals improving the swimmability of the region’s rivers.

Yet under these commissioners, river quality has worsened. Sites along the Waimakariri, Hurunui, Selwyn and Ashburton rivers are rated “poor” or “very poor”.

Dairy farming is often fingered as a prime contributor to water pollution.  And with good reason.    Read more »

More good news, WTO moves to abolish agri-subsidies

New Zealand agricultural exporters have received a much needed boost today with the announcement that the WTO has agreed to end export subsidies for agricultural exports.

The elimination of export subsidies for agricultural exports is a watershed for world trade that will help boost dairy prices, Fonterra says.

A World Trade Organisation ministerial conference held in Kenya and attended by New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay has agreed on the WTO Nairobi package, which will eliminate the ability of WTO members to subsidise their agricultural exports.

That is an outcome successive New Zealand governments have sought for decades, with trade envoys identifying agricultural subsidies, along with tariffs, as one of the biggest obstacles to free trade.

Fonterra chairman John Wilson said the historic breakthrough would be good news for dairy farmers.

“For years the use – or even the threat – of export subsidies have resulted in world dairy prices below their true level, reducing returns to dairy farmers,” Wilson said.

“Export subsidies have long been acknowledged as the most damaging form of subsidy and their removal from agricultural trade is a watershed for global trade,” he said. “The Nairobi outcome takes global trade rules one essential step further towards a level playing field for dairy trade.”

McClay said it had been illegal to subsidise the exports of industrial goods for more than half a century, and it was a major achievement to have that extended to agriculture.   Read more »

He might have had confidence in Woodhouse at the start, I bet he didn’t by the end

Michael Woodhouse has made a complete balls up of Health & Safety legislation and had to suffer actually very good questions from Andrew Little.

John Key may have laughed off some of the questions but the bottom line is this, there is no way that butterfly and worm farming are more risky than dairy farming. Labour can bash National endlessly with this and it is simple for any deadhead, except Michael Woodhouse, to understand.

This is National’s light bulb and shower head moment and there is plenty of time to play on this. Labour can ask day after day after day whether or not butterfly farming or some other innocuous occupation is safer or or not than dairy farming and people will laugh, because it is that ridiculous.     Read more »

Gareth Morgan calls out bludging farmers

It is not often that I agree with Gareth Morgan, but he has a blog post about how farmers can pay for their own irrigation without bludging off the taxpayers or ratepayers.

Irrigation New Zealand and Federated Farmers are calling for public subsidies for irrigation projects. In their view, this year’s drought, and the prospect of more in the future given a changing climate, has underlined the need for increased water storage. In their view it is no different from building roads and other infrastructure, which benefits everyone. Do they have a point? Who should pay for water storage and irrigation in this country?

The short answer is yes and no. They do have a point, but only so long as water users and polluters paid for the costs of the water they access and the environmental damage they wreak.  This consistency – which is purely the logic of the industry lobbyists extended – would yield enough money to improve water infrastructure. But no way should Average Joe and Jo Kiwi pay a cent for someone else’s pipes and dams – which seems where the lobbyists are bludging for handouts.

The Ruataniwha scheme is a classic case of bludging. The HBRC is promoting a scheme which all ratepayers will have to cough up for, it will poison a river, and provide water to just 200 farmers. At the same time they are prosecuting another council for pumping sewage into the same river they are happy to poison with their dam.   Read more »

Is Dairy Rooted?

The boom in the New Zealand economy has been led by massive dairy intensification. It is also the driver behind silly socialist projects like the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme where townie councillors have bought into government and Federated Farmers spin about the future being dairy and they are promoting economic models based on boom years that are unsustainable in bust years. Even so the proposals can’t work without massive subsidies or government grants even in boom years.

Yet no one has really stopped to question what the real long-term price of milk solids is, and if it is a sustainable long-term path to prosperity for New Zealand.

After last years boom prices there was not much consideration to what was going on world-wide, especially with the Chinese Market.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, their business editor wrote a good article comparing dairy in New Zealand to iron ore in Australia. I slammed it at the time, but have had a bit more of a think about it, plus some additional research over the holiday break.

Uppity Kiwis feeling boastful about their dollar approaching parity with the mighty Aussie might do well to stick to rugby for their kicks. Their China-driven boom is coming to an end as quickly as Australia’s. And they have less to fall back on when it does.

Meanwhile, reports of Gina Rinehart going long on dairy farms could prove as reliable a warning as many another billionaire diversifying outside his or her area of expertise.

The New Zealand economy’s resurgence has owed much to China’s demand for milk products and getting in early for a comprehensive free trade agreement with the Middle Kingdom.

Trouble is, China has been busily investing and encouraging others to invest in increased and globally diversified milking. Just as iron ore miners have ramped up production both from existing provinces and new projects from Africa to Mongolia, New Zealand’s farmers are facing increased competition from South America to Russia and all points in between, including Australia.

[…]    Read more »

Bitter Aussies moaning about our FTA with China

Australia is in the grip of a debilitating wind down of their economy after the mining boom popped. I’ve always said that Australia had a two track economy, one in the bush based around minerals and mining and the cities. The two are not as inter-related as many suspected.

The cities have been struggling for some time, while the bush boomed. Then it all came crashing down and the minerals sector caught up with the rest of Australia.

Things are not good for their economy.

Our economy is growing, but the Aussie commentators still attempt to bring us down to their level.

Uppity Kiwis feeling boastful about their dollar approaching parity with the mighty Aussie might do well to stick to rugby for their kicks. Their China-driven boom is coming to an end as quickly as Australia’s. And they have less to fall back on when it does.

Meanwhile, reports of Gina Rinehart going long on dairy farms could prove as reliable a warning as many another billionaire diversifying outside his or her area of expertise.

The New Zealand economy’s resurgence has owed much to China’s demand for milk products and getting in early for a comprehensive free trade agreement with the Middle Kingdom.

Trouble is, China has been busily investing and encouraging others to invest in increased and globally diversified milking. Just as iron ore miners have ramped up production both from existing provinces and new projects from Africa to Mongolia, New Zealand’s farmers are facing increased competition from South America to Russia and all points in between, including Australia.

People have got to eat.

This time last year I was in Uruguay, a country that, in several ways, is the New Zealand of South America. It’s small, agricultural, relatively peaceful (the lowest murder rate of the continent), has a similar population of 3 million or so and a large diaspora, manages to perform disproportionately well in its chosen football code, is socially advanced on several levels (gay marriage, legalised marijuana) and has ridden cows to posterity, courtesy of Chinese demand.

Chinese investment in Uruguay is obvious and remarked on by the locals: Chinese cars on the roads, new buildings sporting Chinese brands. And Uruguay is just one small corner of the global market China has been developing as a source of commodities and consumers. It’s been doing that developing both as a matter of Beijing policy and individual entrepreneur’s search for opportunities.

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Bugger, another global warming catastrophe claim busted

It looks like, contrary to the alarmists views, that global warming is actually helping wheat production, not hindering it.

Forbes reports:

Global wheat production set new records in 2013 and 2014, contradicting alarmists’ claims that global warming is reducing wheat harvests.

Global warming alarmists and their lapdog media allies decided Christmas Week 2014 should be filled with claims that global warming is crushing wheat production. Grist, Reuters, the UKGuardian, and the Columbus Dispatch are among the many news organizations parroting alarmist assertions that global warming is reducing wheat harvests. The Reuters article, for example, cites a study co-authored by several global warming alarmists to claim, “In recent decades, wheat yields had declined in hotter sites such as India, Africa, Brazil and Australia, more than offsetting yield gains in some cooler places including parts of the United States, Europe and China.”

Reuters did not indicate whether it had fact-checked the straightforward claim that global crop yields have been declining in recent decades. Reuters also failed to provide any countering viewpoint, giving readers the impression that declining global wheat yields are universally recognized. Knowing, however, that global warming alarmists and their ventriloquist dummies in the media often make straightforward factual claims that are proven false by objective, verifiable data, I decided to fact-check their straightforward claim about declining global wheat yields.

Not only are global wheat yields not declining, they are rising at a spectacular pace. According to objective U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, global wheat yields have risen by 33 percent since 1994. Moreover, there has been a 4 percent increase in areas harvested for wheat, indicating increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, improved soil moisture, and global warming are making more lands suitable for wheat harvests. Cumulatively, the 33 percent increase in wheat yield per acre and the 4 percent increase in land harvested for wheat add up to a near 40 percent increase in the global wheat harvest since 1994.

The spectacular gains in wheat yields show no signs of slowing down as the Earth continues its modest warming. The year 2014 saw the highest global wheat yield in history, exceeding the 2013 yield that had also set a new record.

Looking a little closer at wheat production data, the alarmists’ propensity for telling lies extends far beyond lies about global wheat production. It turns out the alarmists and their media allies are also telling lies about wheat production in the very nations and continents they claim are experiencing wheat production declines — India, Africa, Brazil and Australia.

Alarmist lie? Well I never. Same with media…who would have ever thought it?

Let’s start by looking at Africa. Egypt is the only African nation that cracks the global top 20 in wheat production. In Egypt, wheat output has quadrupled during the past three decades, with the past 10 years producing the 10 highest wheat crops in Egyptian history. This is quite a contradiction to Reuters’ claim that “In recent decades, wheat yields had declined in hotter sites such as India, Africa, Brazil and Australia….”

And it’s not just Egypt, either. Africa’s second largest wheat producer, Morocco, produced its largest wheat crop in history in 2013.

On the other side of the African continent, South Africa alsoproduced record wheat yields in 2014, continuing a trend of rising South African wheat yields that extends back to the 1980s. Taking advantage of rapidly rising wheat yields, South Africans have been able to cut the area cultivated for wheat production to merely one-third of 1980s levels while still maintaining steady total wheat production. This has enabled South Africans to produce additional crops on former wheat farms and return much of the cropland to its natural condition for Africa’s iconic wildlife.

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Bad news for the hippies, organic food isn’t more nutritious

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Hippies love paying more for their “organic” food.

Apparently because it is more nutritious.

Well that myth can now be busted, it isn’t, leaving the hippies in a cloud of smug with just the extra cost and none of the benefits. Awww.

Of all the food-related countercultural buzzwords that have gone mainstream in recent years, organic ranks among the most confusing. Like its cousins (cf. local, free-range, or worst of all, natural), the term’s promotion by grocery stores everywhere has caused it to escape the strict definitions laid out by the USDA . But from Stanford University comes new research suggesting what we should have known all along: organic food isn’t actually more nutritious than traditionally-farmed goods.  Read more »

No one wants water from the Dodgy Socialist Dam

Fenton "Jong-un" Wilson

Fenton “Jong-un” Wilson

Regular readers will know that the extremely dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council has been attempting to build a socialist utopia in Hawkes Bay, forcing ratepayers and taxpayers to build a bloody great big socialist dam to provide water for 150 farmers.

This is a project that would never go ahead if the private sector had been involved.

Aside from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Chairman Fenton “Jong-Un” Wilson wanting to turn the Tukituki River Toxic, there has been a very limited uptake of the water from the farmers the socialists are trying to force to buy into the dam.

A non socialist councillor, Tom Belford, points out how non socialist dams work.

HBRIC is intensively lobbying CHB farmers to sign water purchase contracts in sufficient quantity to pay cash flow for the Ruataniwha dam project.

HBRIC says contracts for 40 million cubic metres of water annually will suffice. Some believe that number must be closer to 60 million.

The pressure is on, as evidenced by the heavily promoted sales meeting sponsored on Tuesday by Federated Farmers and Irrigation NZ in Waipawa. Two farmers described their successful experiences with South Island irrigation schemes. Unfortunately, they were comparing apples to oranges.

In those schemes, there’s no taxpayer or ratepayer subsidy, farmers must purchase shares upfront as investors in the distribution infrastructure (and therefore pay for asset value) and drive its gradual expansion. Water is taken from massive rivers – no dams were built. Farmers pay a variable rate for water, and only for the water they use. None of these conditions apply to the Ruataniwha scheme. No one noted those key differences, the meeting was deliberately misleading.

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