Monday, 6 February 2012

The Crafar Farms

# Big Farming Story of the Week: The Crafar Farms.

I wonder whether Alan Crafar, when he set out on his farming career many moons ago, would ever have believed he’d become a household name and his surname synonymous with the debate over foreign farm ownership in New Zealand.

I’ve interviewed Crafar once before and my impression of the man was that of a simple, hard-working, entrepreneurial cow cocky who got too big too quickly with the aid of some injudicious lending from some financial institutions. If we’re to believe the rumour mill, Shanghai Penzing paid just over $200 million for the Crafar Farms. Crafar’s debts were said to be in the vicinity of $200 million. So Crafar wasn’t the only one to cock up!

Having recently jumped through some hoops to borrow some money for an equity share in a dairy farm, I want to reiterate a point I made on radio last week. I liken the amiable Crafar’s influence on borrowing to that of the evil Osama bin Laden’s on air travel. Both activities have been made incredibly more difficult as a result of Alan and Osama’s being!

# Big Political Story of the Week: Foreign Ownership of New Zealand Farms.

Every man and his dog wants to be a Kiwi cocky. Now we can add Titanic and Avatar producer James Cameron to the list. The Hollywood A-Lister wants to milk cows in the Wairarapa, going from 3D blockbusters to 4DD cow teats.

P.S. Talking of Titanic, go see Leonardo DiCaprio’s excellent portrayal of infamous FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar. Likewise, avoid Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy like the plague.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: Zzzzz Zimbabwe Zzzzz Cricket Tour.

Yeah Right! What a snore-fest! Contrast that to the Australian Tennis Open where Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal played arguably the greatest tennis match ever. However, the duration of the men’s (353 minutes) and women’s (90 minutes) finals once again reiterates the folly of equality in tennis pay cheques.

Anyone who has run a marathon and been convincingly beaten by a woman, will tell you women are physiologically better designed for endurance events than men. I’m all for equal pay for doing an equal job. So how about it girls? Front up and play best-of-five sets like the blokes.

# Brickbat: Having to buy a calendar!

It’s one thing being red-carded from someone’s Christmas card list, but not receiving any calendars in the mail is surely the height of unpopularity. I normally rely on my old mate, Met Service Weather Ambassador Bob McDavitt, to ‘front’ up (no pun intended) but even the Santa Claus look-alike has forsaken me with his festive season snub. The nearest thing I got to a usable calendar was the Ken Ring’s 2012 Weather Almanac. But how reliable is the Moon Man’s book?

# Bouquet: Buying a calendar!

So for the first time in my media career, or hitherto farming life, I’ve had to resort to buying a calendar for 2012. Now before you jump to the natural assumption that I must be tarred with the Steve Wyn-Harris frugality brush, I mention this only by way of passing commentary that the once-plentiful farming calendar is now a relatively scarce commodity. In by-gone years, certainly when I was farming, the RD mailbox was cluttered with calendars at Christmas time as stock firms, fertilizer cooperatives, meat companies, transport operators and the local garage offered thanks for your patronage with a daily reminder of their presence for the next twelve months. It might be a sign of tougher times and tighter margins but I suspect the once bountiful calendar is a victim of the digital age.

So with the sort of parsimony Wyn-Harris prides himself on, I purchased a 2012 Muhammad Ali calendar on sale with a 70% discount. It features an Ali quote each month. I thought I would leave you with January’s:

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them. A desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill. Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong”.

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


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