Monday, 30 January 2012

A nightmare for a knight!

# Big Farming Story of the Week: A nightmare for a knight!

Sir Henry van der Heyden is none too pleased with the government’s proposed changes to raw milk regulations. The canny Dutchman reckons if the mega-cooperative has to supply more milk to its competitors at a subsidized price then the resultant profits will head off shore and hinder, rather than help, access to affordable milk on the domestic market.

Minister of Agriculture David Carter, on the other hand, reckons Sir Henry is bleating and hasn’t done his homework on the numbers. It’s a complex argument, with merit on both sides, but I can’t help but feel Fonterra has been left holding the baby while its competitors get to sell the baby formula.

# Big Political Story of the Week: A nightmare of a knight!

Another knight, in the form of 80s asset-stripper Sir Michael Fay, is leading a consortium that somehow thinks it has a God-given right to acquire the Crafar Farms at a bargain basement price. While they’re penny-pinching on the price they’re prepared to pay for New Zealand’s largest individual grouping of dairy farms, this well-heeled group of gents is certainly not skimping on legal fees and public relations costs as they challenge a likely Overseas Investment Office decision to sell to the Chinese consortium.

Fay knows a bargain when he sees one and his track record would certainly suggest he knows how to extract his proverbial pound of flesh from any business transaction he’s involved in. However, a word of advice in your ear Sir Michael! Sack your PR company! Whoever advised you to front the consortium, and bleat on about keeping New Zealand assets in New Zealand hands, offered you poor advice. You reek of double standards.

By all means Sir Michael, use your bloated bank balance to keep Kiwi farms in Kiwi hands. But pay the going rate and get one of your farmer mates to front the campaign. Fair dinkum Kiwis don’t like seeing fat cats getting fatter wallets at their expense.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: Oh to be in Oz!

They might have snakes, poisonous spiders, locusts, flies in biblical proportions and Julia Gillard but there can be no denying Australia is the home of sport at the moment. Admittedly the much-anticipated Indian cricket test series has been more one-sided than a Canterbury crowd but, oh, the tennis in Melbourne has been to die for.

# Brickbat: Shoot the Mongrels!

I love dogs. I spent the first 32 years of my life living, breathing and working with them. When I became a townie I decided, quite rightly, big dogs belong on farms or in the country where they can roam freely and be sworn at (in the case of farm dogs) in relative isolation. I’ve never really understood why you’d want a large dog in a large town or city, let alone a large vicious dog.

I have real sympathy for the families of the six children who have been savaged in the past month by vicious dogs. No parent, no matter how incompetent, would ever knowingly inflict that upon their child. Yet it happens because parents make dumb decisions. They knowingly allow (in most of the above cases) their children into an environment where the likes of Staffordshire and Pit Bull terriers, Rottweilers and Dobermans roam.

Last year ACC received almost 10,000 claims for dog attacks, costing about $4 million. That money would be better spent in our hospitals rather than on an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Labour’s agriculture spokesman Damien O’Connor, a man prone to making common sense, was bang-on (no pun intended) when he said all vicious breeds of dogs should be shot. Problem solved.

# Bouquet: China.

David Shearer says we shouldn’t be putting too many eggs in a Chinese basket but BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander has a completely contrary view and he has the numbers to prove it. Within the next decade China will overtake Australia as our largest export market and, more interestingly, he says China is returning to its natural order in the world economy. Two centuries ago China was responsible for 25-33% of the world’s GDP. That fell to 2% under the insular communist reign of Mao Tse-tung. Today it is 13% and climbing. It’s a bandwagon we need to be on.

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


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