Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Week's a Long Time in....... the News

After slagging the Dompost over that disgracefully contrived "expose`" of farmer's unfair dodging of tax-paying, (which incidentally failed to give account to the fact substantial GST was generated and hauled in from the annual agricultural turnover, and that's as it should be in any shift in emphasis from direct to indirect taxation, plus...,
as with any business, farms would have been fully paid forward, and over-paid at that, with PAYE based on the previous normal year's result, so that beneficiary depicted on the front page echoing the "unfair" put in her mouth by the reporter, would have cruised through her year on a loan from the business community)...
Anyway, where was I....
I now find myself, hardly a week later, acknowledging DomPost for the way it depicted the wool industry in this weekend's "Your Weekend" liftout, in a lead article why wool lost its cool, and the international fight to get it back, worth a read, and pleasing to see the reporter got the basics right.
Jeremy Moon's comments and story were interesting, Icebreaker's up for near $160m of sales, and good on him for that.
I can verify personally his Merino wool product is fantastic.
I've had the heavier long-sleeve skivvy for a few years now, zip-up neck, thumb-holes for the odd extreme cold day pull-down, dosen't pong, only ever washed it a couple of times, great on the bike or up Ruapehu.
Just recently, as result of spotting a product release newsbit (in the Dompost!!), I bought one of those Apollo Beast T-shirts, and I'm rapt..., more subtly warming than the heavier one described above, and so light you hardly know its there.
They're not cheap at $90 a throw, but I've gone and ordered 2 more, I'm going to work in them on the farm, and I'm sure it will be a year round affair, knowing as I do now you cant beat natural fibres in any weather and any season.
Annual 14,000km motorcycle tours around USA from cold West Coast to mid-west desert and plains, convinced me real quick, synthetic garments are dead meat, they pong in 24 hours flat, soil faster, and dont wick moisture.
Life's full of circles, I'll be like, I remember as a kid, the old man working year round in his old black sleeveless jackie-how, only I'll be in the latest rendition of the national, sustainable, product.
Can't say I'm totally enamoured with the Council of NZ Wool Interests, but they're just about the only show in town currently, and I have to say their promotion efforts are worthy.
I hope my enthusiastic belief and support in/of our own wool product is a help. Too often you'll see wool producers getting round in synthetic jackets and cloaks.
I've always had a Swan-Dri jacket all my farming career, actually only two ever, never had to wash them, wore them till they fell off.
Now I've got a Bushmate, made by that outfit up Auckland way,
Moon's comment that Merino can't handle the whole market gamut, and that maybe breeders should look at a dual purpose sheep growing a fine enough fleece to handle socks and jackets has a heap of merit.
I went into the local Farmlands one day a few years ago and the manager was in a state of amazement, a busload of Canadian tourists had just emptied the whole rack of Swannie jackets, probably wasnt the only town they'd done such a raid in.
And, as I've mentioned in previous posts here and on-the-road blog, I'll never wear synthetic socks again, currently all cotton, but maybe one day soon, high-tech shrink-proof wool.

Friday, June 10, 2011

NAIT Deferred

I'm in a sweat over the whole NAIT issue, however noble the vision is.
For the life of me, I cant see what the difference between a visual bar-coded tag and an EID one is, in the realm of traceability.
I guess it does give the X-box generation who will eventually take over running the show a button pushing continuation into their careers, but I dont think an electronically based system is wise.
Anybody who's been without power after natural disaster like a flood or earthquake for any length of time will be able to attest to what life in a power outage is like, electronic toys totally useless.
And we're contemplating basing a whole industry on it?

One of the major irks I suffer with the tagging requirements is tag loss.
At least 30% of my beef cows have lost one or both their tags by CFA time, probably more like half of them.
Right now I've got a 5 year old bull that needs moving on, lost one tag, which means, under ASD rules, I have to go through the inconvenience of sourcing a replacement tag, not to mention actually getting it into the ear of a 1500kg animal who's not going to be all that enamoured about the job.
Re-tagging after loss of one tag needs to be seriously looked at, I mean, what exactly is the point of a backup tag?

So OK, one might say EID's going to make life easier, if you've got a tag-reader.
Tag readers dont replace missing tags for you.
I've started using EID's and already, some of my 2010 born calves have lost their backup number tags, which ushers in a new problem.
To find out who the missing animal is, have you ever tried reading the number on an EID tag without glasses, or a reader?

Too many of our policy inventors havent walked the necessary mile in their victims shoes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

More Industry Navel Gazing

Dont know whether the KPMG got commissioned by anybody important to us farmers, or whether its just another group of headbangers sounding important, but its report released yesterday has some interesting comments, compiled from interviews with "more than 80 agribusiness leaders".
They say a national agribusiness strategy is needed so industry wants and vision can determine long term decisions.....
Uh huh...
The key recommendations contained therein open up worthwhile issues for discussion:
> Introduce a bio-security levy on passenger and product arrivals, they say for researching incursion threat
   - but I'd say, better spent on expanded border policing
> Tax incentives to allow young farmers to invest in farming businesses
   - disagree, incentives are a distortion to rational money flow
> Skills incentive program to attract qualified people into the rural orbit
    - disagree, its that incentive word again, and I think they're including in this one targeted student loans
       I'd sooner student loans implement a system where they actually got paid back
> Charge farmers for water taken for irrigation
    - fair enough, but what about where farmers have paid to build their own scheme?
> Greater degree of integration on carbon strategy
    - dump the lot
> Industry task-force to establish needs of international markets on sustainability so that a production code can be set up
    - arent we already there?
> Greater meat company control over stock ownership to better manage plant throughput
    - that's easy, they can put their money where their mouth is and buy it, some companies already do,
      or the other way round, why didnt they suggest more farmer ownership of meat companies
> Greater collaboration along the value chain on meat, wool, wine and dairy
    - well, dairy's been there for some time, wool, we gave it a decent shot, meat, coming along, so's wine
> Explore organic market opportunities
    - great, except polls say few seem to want to pay the extra, in the face of cheaper conventional stuff

and I've left the doozey for last...
> Minimum stockmanship standards to be met before a farmer is (get this), licensed to own animals...

So how will this work?
Another layer of bureaucracy adding cost and decreasing profit, and with a further prospective role to play if/when NAIT gets properly rolling too. You can bet your balls some boffin will dream up a national births, deaths and marriages register for farm animals, if it isnt already in the pipeline, (and I bet it is), so that will have to have a qualified professional to oversee farmers returns, and comment on every death over and above "normal", (and who's going to say what's normal).

This whole suggestion of permitting me to do my business on an asset bought and paid for with my own family's blood, sweat, and tears, is just a bad joke.
Another example of the non-farm community extracting tribute by way of witch-doctor mongering.
Like with the possibility of farmers having to be licensed to own and run quads, the people charged with qualifying us, will probably know less about the subject than we do.
I havent been visited by the OSH Quad Squad yet, but how many of them coming to tell me how to suck eggs will have run a farm motorcycle (without serious accident) since 1966, how many of them will own and run 5 motorcycles, quads and ATV's (and pay the ridiculous registration fees on each), how many of them will have held a full motorcycle road license since 1970, how many of them will have ridden 20,000km in the states in USA where helmet-wearing isnt in the law and not seen any negative impact on statistics, let alone on a farm for 45 years.
How many of them will even have been born before then?
Of course, they'll come up with accident statistics, but they'll probably skim over the fact that over 40% of fatalities on quads are smart arses from towns who think their country cousin's machinery is mainly for demonstrating their thoughtless toy-thrashing prowess on.

The constant higher moral ground barrage on farming isnt helping it's future.