Monday, 11 April 2011

The Fonterra Global Dairy Trade Event

# Big Farming Story of the Week: The Fonterra Global Dairy Trade Event.

After the 8.2% drop in the March 15 auction, last week’s result was anxiously awaited. In the wash up, a drop of 2.4% was viewed as a good result. The law of gravity was always going to come in to play and the combined 10.6% drop of the last two auctions only just negates the 9.8% rise of the February 15 and March 1 auctions. Besides, if international prices went any higher, we’d have every man and his dog around the globe having a crack at dairying. We’ve been there, done that, with boom and bust. A stable payout beginning with a 7 will do quite nicely thanks!

# Big Political Story of the Week: The Economy.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, along comes the Canterbury earthquake and the billion dollar-plus bailout of the dodgy finance company industry (see brickbat below). There’s not a single soul in the country who begrudges paying for the havoc wreaked by the Canterbury quakes because there, but for the grace of God, go all of us. What does stick in the craw, however, is the prospect of us, the taxpayers, shelling out for the greed, stupidity and commercial imprudence of others.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: The All Blacks Midfield.

The debate over Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith versus Sonny Bill Williams and Robbie Fruean is shaping to rival some of the great All Black rugby rivalries over the years. You can add this one to the likes of Fergie McCormick v Mick Williment, Chris Laidlaw v Sid Going, Allan Hewson v Robbie Deans, Buck Shelford v Zinzan Brooke and Grant Fox v Frano Botica,

And an honourable mention to Otago bowler, Neil Wagner, for his five wickets-in-an-over effort against Wellington. Technically it’s a double hat trick and a five-for in one over!

# Brickbat: South Canterbury Finance.

As a prelude to my comments, I want to acknowledge Allan Hubbard is still seen as a financial demigod by many, especially in his home province, and that there can be no denying he has lent a helping hand to many business people when others didn’t want to know, especially farmers.

That said, what has gone on at South Canterbury Finance is inexcusable. Heads have to roll. A billion dollar bill is nothing short of criminal.

And, an abhorrent mention to Clayton Weatherston, for appealing his murder conviction. Our legal system is an ass for allowing such an injustice.

# Bouquet: Jim Hopkins.

For 21 years of service to the Young Farmers Contest. Being an MC can be a thankless task, especially in an open arena where you’re battling large crowds who don’t always want to listen. But Hopkins has always done the job with great humour, aplomb and sage use of the Queen’s language. He’s been an admirable advocate for rural New Zealand. We wish him all the best for his tilt at higher political honours!

# Bugger: The New Zealand Dollar.

I know! I know! We’re a commodity currency and when world primary commodity prices are high, our dollar goes up in sympathy. I also recognize a high dollar is not all bad. Imports are cheaper and it is, after all, a reflection of our net worth on the global economic market.

However, there can be no denying New Zealand farmers would benefit greatly from a dollar that is closer to US70 cents than 80. I’m not old enough to remember the wool boom of the 1950s or the milk and honey of the Holyoake years. What I do know though, is that in the thirty-odd years I’ve been directly involved with agriculture, I can’t recall a time when all the farming planets were in such alignment. We’ve got high international commodity prices, a burgeoning Asian economy on our doorstep, a lack of supply on world markets for what we produce and the absence of a major summer drought anywhere in the country to stymie production.

All we need now is a self-proclaimed messiah with a magic wand to make the dollar drop. Where’s Winston Peters when you need him?

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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