Monday, 18 April 2011

Calm seas for farming

# Big Farming Story of the Week: Calm seas for farming.

Other than an annoyingly high dollar, it’s pretty much plain sailing for many farmers who are enjoying record returns and a reasonably kind season. Only Marlborough and North Canterbury remain relatively dry. In the past year wool has more than doubled in price, lamb and beef returns have increased by more than a third and dairy products are up 20%. Farmers should make hay while the sun shines!

# Big Political Story of the Week: “Self-serving unionists and a gaggle of gays!”

Maverick West Coast Labour MP Damien O’Connor came up with best one-liner since Steve Hansen’s “flush the dunny and move on”. This one might even join the immortals such as Ed Hillary’s “We knocked the bastard off”, Peter Jones’ “I’m absolutely buggered”, Justice Peter Mahon’s “Orchestrated litany of lies” and Mark Todd’s “That’s a curly one”.

The PC Brigade in the Labour Party was not amused but I almost detected an amused smirk from the under-siege leader Phil Goff. I’ve never met Goff but I’ve interviewed him enough times to think the Clevedon hobby farmer wouldn’t be a bad bloke to share a beer with. In the Labour Party terms he’s probably a centrist/right member and I wouldn’t mind betting a good part of him agrees with O’Connor’s message, if not his delivery. Never say never, but Labour looks terminal in election year. Oh for a Helen Clark, Michael Cullen or Steve Maharey to right the listing Labour list.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: The Masters. Ah the magnificent Masters.

I’m only a weekend warrior when it comes to golf. I have neither the patience, temperament or ability to master sport’s most technically demanding game. That didn’t stop me savouring every moment of the 75th Masters at Augusta. And it didn’t stop me feeling for young Rory McIlroy when he had a meltdown triple-bogey most hapless hackers would be proud to call their own.

An honourable mention goes to Sonny Bill Williams. Like many I’ve had to eat humble pie and admit I was wrong in thinking $BW wouldn’t make the transition to the top All Blacks XV. In boxing parlance, he is the real deal. Legendary Lions’ star Barry John introduced New Zealand to round-the-corner goal kicking in 1971. Now, $BW has added his own indelible calling card to the game of rugby - the offload.

# Brickbat: Campbell Live’s crusade against milk prices and Fonterra.

The tabloid current affairs show has a sniff of Fonterra blood in the milk vat and is circling for the kill. Yes milk is expensive. Yes it’s a staple. And yes John Campbell is right to go in to bat for the families for whom milk is now a luxury item. But he’s tilting at the wrong windmill. The price of milk is not a result of price gouging by Fonterra or its 11,000 shareholder farmers. It’s a reflection of the price of dairy products on the world market. Fonterra has already shown itself to be a responsible corporate citizen by freezing the price of milk, any further subsidy can only come from one source – the government.

What’s next in Campbell’s crusade? Fruit, vegetables, beef, lamb? Bought a porterhouse steak or a leg of lamb lately? Watch your back sheep and beef farmers. You’re next!

# Bouquet: Central Otago.

By the time you read this or, conversely, light the fire with it, I will have all but finished cycling the Central Otago Rail Trail, 150 glorious kilometres from Clyde to Middlemarch through the nation’s most beautifully barren landscape. This country is heaven on our back doorstep. We must, at all costs, conserve and preserve it.

# Bugger: No July 22 All Blacks test at the new Dunedin Stadium.

OK Fiji was never going to be much chop but that didn’t matter because the All Blacks would have been christening the new stadium. Otago v Manawatu in the ITM Cup just doesn’t hold the same appeal. Bring on Elton John on November 26!

Footnote: Jamie Mackay is the host of the Farming Show which airs on Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB. In a past life a Southland sheep farmer, these days he comments on farming, politics and sport for a living from the relative safety and comfort of his radio studio in Dunedin.


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