Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Fact and fantasy

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  • Farmer Green, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I'm simply saying that there is a limit to the size of the national deficit ; the difference between export receipts and import expenditure.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    you are equating protection of our waterways with a loss of export earnings

    No , I am equating reduced production with reduced GNP, if prices received /unit production do not rise to compensate.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Farmer Green,

    “But the problem isn’t limited to agriculture.”

    Agreed ; a large proportion of the phosphorus entering our waters is coming from the cities and towns via the sewage outfalls to waterways.

    You need to supply some data for that assertion. While it is certainly true that urban environments pollute our waterways they generally don't introduce as much phosphorus as fertiliser runoff.

    And you are trying to muddy the waters of the discussion. Our farming practices do introduce fertiliser to our waterways and more importantly with relatively simple changes (according to Dr Joy, I personally don't know but I trust his judgement) in practices they could reduce the runoff into waterways.

    Instead of constantly attacking the messenger and trying to deflect attention from the problem, perhaps it would be better to sit down and accept there are issues and work out how to minimise the damage while maintaining our most valuable industry.

    Having that discussion between knowledgable people is the most important goal.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3313 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to Russell Brown,

    A large component of NZ's ranking in that PLoS study is due to the very low Biodiversity score but the Yale study ranks NZ quite highly and rapidy improving on that mark.

    Are there any other global comparison studies where we rank closer to the bottom than the top other than that PLoS one ? It does feel a bit cherry picked.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 345 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    You are preaching to the converted: Farmer Green made the necessary changes 40 years ago.
    If you read you will see that Farmer Green has agreed with everything that Joy says about the actual science.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Farmer Green,

    I’m simply saying that there is a limit to the size of the national deficit ; the difference between export receipts and import expenditure.

    And a great number of economists would disagree. To be fair I don't have much faith in economists. But also again you are deflecting the discussion to the assumption that nothing can be done without harming the economy - that is not proven and many people argue very strongly that it is possible to protect the waterways without significantly reducing production.

    I am equating reduced production with reduced GNP, if prices received /unit production do not rise to compensate.

    And this is the wrong discussion. If you start from the premise that nothing can be done to improve the quality of the waterways without harming yield you are left with never having the discussion.

    That is what is so appalling about The Herald editorial and the comments made by the PM and others. They simply don't even want to hear there is a problem let alone sit down and try and figure out a solution.

    If you go into the discussion saying "our waterways are being harmed - what can we do (cheaply) that will protect them?" then you have a much greater chance of succeeding.

    In the end you may be right and yield and GNP might go down. But if you start from the point of saying I'm not even going to listen to Dr Joy because I know yield and profits will go down then you can never learn anything.

    From what I've read and heard from the experts in the field there are a number of changes that could indeed improve water quality without affecting yield. And other changes that have a very large effect on water quality and small effect on yield.

    It seems to me that actually trying to find a solution is better that "seeing no evil".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3313 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Farmer Green,

    You are preaching to the converted: Farmer Green made the necessary changes 40 years ago.

    I'm sorry I really don't get that impression from the things you are saying.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3313 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Open the other eye.

    "Farmer Green is inclined to the view that an immediate redesign of the dairy industry , in particular, limiting the use of nitrogen , irrigation , imported supplements , dairy support etc to lower stocking rates would have a noticeable and desirable effect overnight. The economic impacts need not be fatal, if an added value strategy was adopted at the same time."

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Farmer Green, can you elaborate on what changes you made? You're farming dairy, right?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8441 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Here is what Federated Farmers is saying about the One Plan :-
    "One Plan

    There has been a bit of noise over the financial implications of the One Plan ; unfortunately a variety of people quoted in the media and the media themselves can not tell the difference between a percentage of costs and a percentage of profit.
    The MPI report by Landcare, quoted a potential reduction in Profit of 22-43 percent ; the Horizons evidence, presented to the Environment Court, talked about an increase in Farm Operating Costs of around five percent on average, with 16 percent as an extreme.

    When you actually sit down and do the maths on what a five percent increase in costs would do to your profit, they are pretty much telling the same story.
    I guess some people just are not up with the play, and a bit out of touch. Of course a 16 percent increase in costs will be the end of some.

    As for the statement that the council will not be putting farmers out of business, two comments : firstly what the council is saying is that they will sit down with farmers and work out what they can do.
    Was that not what the Commissioners’ decision said :that’s what “Reasonably Practicable” is.

    I also recall the council saying they did not like that statement because it meant they would have to go and talk to all the farmers.
    The reality is that they will now have to, on a practical basis, do what the Commissioners’ decision said, if they do not want to stuff up the regional economy. It is now a lot more complicated than it should have been and going to be far more expensive for the council and all ratepayers.
    Why not a bit of honesty here, admit that rule 13.1 is unworkable in its current form; the change to Overseer has made table 13.2 irrelevant and has played further havoc with the whole concept behind the LUC allocation method.

    My second point is that we must always look at the rules as being the rules. Yes the chairman and staff can promise things and I have do doubt they will try to deliver, but if they happen to get hit by a bus tomorrow, or at next year's election new councillors are demanding the rules are enforced, then we have to treat the situation as if the rules will be enforced to the letter.

    So gentle tweaks to the rules are not going to do it, I have said it for five years now that the LUC method is not practical and it needs to go. We need a plan change notified immediately that focuses on that. Targets need to be based on what is actually achievable, looking at the bell curve for leaching in the region and determining a point on that curve that those below it should endeavour to be moved above it. This targets those who actually have room to move."

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Do you mean that the citizens, en masse, would have preferred to have fewer microwave ovens, LCDs , new cars ,synthetic carpets ,heat pumps, imported foods , computers etc. etc. etc., rather than have the increased export dollars that resulted from the sucking up of the water?

    The citizens were never presented with a choice. They were presented with a fait acompli that the water was going to be sucked up, and despite their stated wishes by way of their electoral choices that sucking-up was going to continue.

    Taking a longer view, citizens were never asked if they were happy to bequeath their children unswimmable waterways in return for a higher standard of living. Maybe they'd have said yes - in fact, given the reactions to any suggestion that toning down the environmental footprint might be a good thing, I don't think it's a stretch to be fairly sure that the answer would have been in the affirmative - but maybe, presented with the bald truth instead of post fact PR spin, they might've decided that it was better to focus on non-agricultural pursuits as a way of getting export dollars.

    It's not like the only way we can get money from overseas is by selling agricultural products. That it's the way we make most of our money now is not an eternal truth, and it reflects policy settings that have fucked with our environment that it remains the super-dominant export earner. We could earn money in other ways, if the policy settings were to change.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3901 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to BenWilson,

    The changes are many. The most important is the low stocking density during spring when most soil damage occurs as a result of mob stocking on autumn saved pasture.
    So no calving in springtime.
    Milk production is the same volume every day for 365 days per year , which allows all the milk to go to added- value uses , and none is turned into low value commodities.

    No feed, nitrogen or "dairy support" is purchased, restricting the nutrient load on the soil to what the farm can sequester by itself from the air (nitrogen , carbon, hydrogen and oxygen).
    And the overall stocking rate for cows in milk is about 0.5/Ha.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Farmer Green,

    So what is the populace prepared to forgo in response to the reduced national income?

    Why must it be an either-or? Why can't we just stop bloody subsidising the polluters and, instead, divert the money into low-footprint, high-value exports like software development? If we could just keep our hands on some of the great tech that's developed here, instead of seeing it sold off to foreign investors who don't have to sit in line behind property speculators and farmers when they want to get money from the bank, we'd be a lot further along the path of reducing our near-total reliance on agriculture.

    Hell, why don't we just stop exporting logs and start exporting wood products? No real change to environmental footprint, since most of our electricity is generated from renewables, and the income difference is enormous. We could stop exporting straight milk powder, too, and start exporting the value-added products that the powder is going to be turned into at the far end. We don't have to give up things, we just have to give up being utterly fucking moronic about what we export.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3901 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    There appears to be little support for the view that treated sewage discharges to water should be stopped.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    ” We don’t have to give up things, we just have to give up being utterly fucking moronic about what we export.”
    Agreed . So what do you suggest?
    How should the desired changes be brought about?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Farmer Green,

    I’m simply saying that there is a limit to the size of the national deficit ; the difference between export receipts and import expenditure.

    Stopping borrowing from overseas in order to fund our property obsession would be a spectacular start. That's the vast, vast majority of our trade imbalance.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3901 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    why don't we just stop exporting logs and start exporting wood products

    Mostly because we'd be competing with much lower wage (and low environmental standards - see pulp mills) manufacturing nations, and would have to either reduce wages or subsidise exports. (Unless we can convince the rest of the developed world to introduce wage and condition linked tariffs, and tolerate paying $2k for a new iPhone).

    The other paths would be increased automation, which isn't that practical with something like wood processing, or producing high value luxury products. Not out of radiata, I suspect?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4443 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Farmer Green,

    There appears to be little support for the view that treated sewage discharges to water should be stopped.

    Of course not, provided it's actually treated, not just sat in a collection pond for a couple of weeks before being sprayed about and left to run into waterways.

    Fully-treated sewerage is potable, and even modest treatment reduces the pollutant levels dramatically. But we're not talking about urban areas discharging their treated sewerage to, mostly, the sea, we're talking about farmers who won't fence off waterways, or do anything else to reduce the pollution that their activities is causing.

    The developments in sewerage treatment over the last two decades mean that most urban areas are discharging lower levels of pollutants than they have done historically. It's a nonsense to try and blame that for what's happening to our waterways.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3901 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    producing high value luxury products. Not out of radiata, I suspect?

    Why not? Interior mouldings can be, and are, made from NZ pine, and are popular overseas. Just throwing up our hands and saying "It's too hard" doesn't help us get away from being a low-wage farm.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3901 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    we don't have a national standard

    A problem spanning all governments since our world-leading Resource Management Act was introduced has been failure to set national standards for regional councils to use, despite their requests.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16605 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Not out of radiata, I suspect?

    It's been a while since I had any involvement in forestry, on the training end I should note, but my recollection is that pine veneer is a well used high end product and that forestry firms activley cultivate and, through careful silverculture pratice, harvest for.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2229 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sacha,

    A problem spanning all governments since our world-leading Resource Management Act was introduced has been failure to set national standards for regional councils to use, despite their requests.

    National were quite happy to set a voluntary target, however, and allow councils to vary it based on their local conditions. It's not much of a step from doing that much work to just setting a fixed standard, except that a fixed standard would require rural councils to start policing farmers and whilst the councils recognise the value in doing so the farmers (and National) are far, far less convinced.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3901 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Why must it be an either-or? Why can't we just stop bloody subsidising the polluters and, instead, divert the money into low-footprint, high-value exports like software development?

    ..

    We don't have to give up things, we just have to give up being utterly fucking moronic about what we export.

    This. Governments who sneer about 'picking winners' yet continue to subsidise the 1950s in agriculture, transport, housing, exports, etc, deserve to be called out and removed from office. Support those who seem like they can do that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16605 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    The problem has been broader than water, but yes it's interesting how the multi-stakeholder Land and Water Forum is not trusted by this govt to set binding standards - or did their internal consensus not stretch that far?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16605 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Williams,

    silverculture

    we need more of that #alchemy

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16605 posts Report Reply

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