Monday, 12 March 2012

Big Farming Story of the Week

# Big Farming Story of the Week: The Summer of 2012.

What summer? Rain is good in the summer months because it grows grass. Livestock convert grass to protein to cash for a cash-strapped country. That’s fine and dandy but livestock make protein better and more quickly with a bit of sun on their back. Crops cannot ripen or be harvested without a bit of sun on their back. I heard an anecdotal tale of one farmer heading grain at 30% moisture. That’s unheard of! Seeing a Kiwi summer’s now officially of the radar, here’s hoping for an Indian one.

# Big Political Story of the Week: The Auckland Wharfies get the sack.

It’s not quite the Waterfront Dispute of 1951 when 1,157,390 working days were lost in an ultimately senseless strike, but could this be the catalyst for another period of industrial unrest, the likes of which we have not seen since the dark old days of the ‘seventies and ‘eighties?

I do get concerned when I hear striking watersiders referring to each other as comrades. That vernacular belongs back in 1951 with communism and the Cold War. My view is the world has moved on in the past 61 years. Workers are now protected by legislation – minimum wage, four weeks annual leave, ACC, you name it.

Are unions an outmoded anachronism? A hark back to the days of Victorian sweat shops when workers really did need protection from abusive employers? I think there’s a still place for collective bargaining, especially in lower paid jobs. However the reality is good workers are valuable assets and the market ultimately decides their value, not some tub-thumping unionist with a British accent shouting “come on brothers, we’re out!”

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: The Highlanders.

Superbly led by a couple of front row farmers in the form of Jamie Mackintosh and Andrew Hore, the Highlanders (at the time of writing) have been the darlings of the Super 15. There’s an earthy honesty about the Highlanders that the nation is definitely warming to. They are a team in the truest sense - some great players - but no prima donna superstars. There’s no sideshow circus boxing distractions, when a player hops off a plane from Japan he jumps straight on to the paddock and heaven help any player who turned up to a Jamie Joseph training after too much Christmas pudding.

# Brickbat: The National Government.

Everyone agrees we live in tough times. There can be no arguing the government needs to tighten the purse strings when it comes to its own spending. Goodness knows there’s been enough fat in the system in the past. But Brutal Bill English is doing a sterling hatchet job. Providing, of course, you’re not a faceless Wellington bureaucrat in a meaningless policy analyst job.

Social welfare, quite rightly, will feel the brunt of the government’s spending reforms. That is where we waste the most money in this country. The cost of pandering to political correctness is a close second, followed closely by the political system itself where politicians enjoy nothing more than racking up air points at our expense. Education has been gutted but I’d still question some of the inane and worthless course qualifications young people are undertaking.

I once met Anne Tolley at the Gisborne A&P Show and she seemed charming and personable. If you didn’t know her though, you’d think she was the Devil reincarnate! She’s arguably been the most unpopular Minister of Education ever and now she’s been given the poison chalice of Minister of Police, having to oversee what are effectively spending cuts for the Boys in Blue. All she needs is the Minister of Health’s job and she would have the trifecta of hospital passes.

By all means John and Bill, cut the fat and the freeloaders from the system. But cut the health and police budgets at your peril.

# Bouquet: Black humour.

Goes to the wag who declared the Crusaders v Highlanders game to be Liquefaction v Liquidation. Sometimes laughing at oneself truly is the best medicine.

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


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