Monday, 8 August 2011

The Dollar!

# Big Farming Story of the Week: The Dollar!
Who needs to go to a Gold Coast theme park. If you want a really good rollercoaster ride just start following the ups and downs of the New Zealand dollar. Lately there’s been a hell of a lot more ups than downs, with $NZ now firmly ensconced in the high US80 cent range. There’s even talk of a doomsday scenario of reaching parity! But before farmers start jumping from the nearest tall building, be it milking or woolshed, it’s worth taking a trip down memory lane.

Back on July 10, 1967, when New Zealand moved to decimal currency we initially pegged our dollar at $US1-39. By 1971 the New Zealand dollar was worth $US1-21. By 1985 when we floated our exchange rate, our currency had depreciated to US44 cents. Since then we’ve gone as low as US39 cents and as high as the recent US88 cents.

There’s no denying a high dollar makes farming hard work. But we’ve been there and done that before, albeit back in 1967 nearly all of our exports were sent to Mother England and paid for in British pounds. Let’s also not forget we’re still very competitive compared to the Aussie dollar on the world stage. So chin up, all is not lost!

# Big Political Story of the Week: The Commerce Commission decision on milk pricing.

I’m glad there was a sane and sensible response to claims of price gouging by Fonterra. Quite simply, the price is set by the international commodity price. Milk is a staple of our diet but so are bread, meat, fruit and vegetables. In percentage terms nearly all of the aforementioned have increased more in price than milk.

I’ve met a few hard-up cockies in my time but never a hard-up supermarket owner! You want cheaper milk? Well either the government subsidizes it (and we all pay) or the supermarkets take a loss-leader leaf out of their Aussie counterparts’ book.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: The “Second-Stringboks”.

I’ve been religiously following All Blacks v Springboks tests since 1970 when my father got me up in the middle of the night to huddle around the wireless radio to hear how my favourite All Blacks Brian Lochore, Colin Meads, Ian Kirkpatrick, Earle Kirton and Bryan Williams were faring against the evil foe . And it wasn’t only the referee they had to worry about! There was also the Springboks. So in 41 years of this epic rugby rivalry I can say, without wanting to detract from an excellent All Blacks effort, I’ve never seen a weaker South African side than that witnessed in Wellington.

# Brickbat: Dickheads at the Cake Tin!

And that’s not a dig at Peter de Villiers or the Springboks. Along with some farming mates from Riversdale, I paid top dollar for a seat, only to have my view obstructed by flag-waving morons in front of us who mistakenly thought they were at a Robbie Williams concert. Don’t start me on the drunken drongos behind us and their inane utterances! Why do people pay good money for a sporting event when they have no appreciation of the game or little respect for those around them?

# Bouquet: The IHC Calf Scheme and Andrew Hore.

At the risk of repeating myself, I must say how buoyed I was by the response to last week’s plea for farmers to contribute to the IHC calf scheme. To that end we’re launching a campaign on the Farming Show and with a little help from my friends at FMG we’re kicking it off with a generous donation.
Like the New Zealand dollar, All Black Andrew Hore has certainly had his ups and downs in 2011. After a horror Hurricanes season the likably laconic cocky from Central Otago played arguably his finest test match against the ‘Boks in Wellington. It was a case of Richie McCaw eat-your-heart-out with Hore absolutely outstanding at the breakdown. I wonder how much of that he attributes to honing his skills with a few games in the loose forwards for his beloved Maniototo Maggots club side in Ranfurly?

Jamie Mackay is the host of the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Farming Show which airs on Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB.


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