Monday, 9 April 2012

Platinum Primary Producers Conference

# Big Farming Story of the Week: Platinum Primary Producers Conference.

Imagine two million stock units sitting in one room in Masterton (metaphorically not literally). Imagine 12 million hectares in the Wairarapa for three days. That is the scale and sheer farming grunt of the PPP Club, an annual gathering of 40 or so of Australasia’s biggest famers. If you’re a mover and shaker in agriculture, you’re in that room. I’m glad I’m in the media these days because it would be easy to get farming penis-envy. My former 160 hectare sheep farm somehow just doesn’t stack up against Zanda McDonald’s multi-million hectare Queensland operation (he owns 1% of the state)!

# Big Political Story of the Week: DIRA. Oh Dear!

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Act passed its first reading in Parliament last week. This piece of proposed legislation is second only to the Emissions Trading Scheme for its ability to confuse. In the course of my job as a rural radio broadcaster, I get all the press releases and talk to the industry leaders about such matters. As a small Fonterra shareholder, I also have a vested interest in getting my head around what’s happening with the cooperative’s capital structure and the regulations surrounding milk pricing. Admittedly, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m confused. How a head-down, bum-up cow cocky working 12 hour days gets his head around it is beyond me.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: Ted lets his hair down in Wedderburn.

I had the good fortune to MC a rugby club function in Ranfurly where Graham Henry, at the behest of the Hore clan, fronted at a fundraiser for the mighty Maniototo Maggots. I was a bit hesitant to take on the gig, having been a critic of Henry’s reappointment after the World Cup debacle in Cardiff in 2007. Initially I felt like a scolded schoolboy fronting up to a grumpy headmaster. But as the day wore on into the night, and Ted showed an increasing appreciation for some of Central Otago’s finest pinot noir at the wonderfully welcoming Wedderburn Tavern, I discovered his bark was much worse than his bite. Just goes to prove, you should never judge folk until you meet them.

P.S. I managed to coerce him into naming the top fifteen of his eight year tenure: Mils Muliaina, Doug Howlett, Conrad Smith, Tana Umaga, Cory Jane/Richard Kahui (bracketed), Dan Carter, Piri Weepu, Kieran Reid, Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock.

# Bouquet: Farm Utes.

I learned to drive in an old Series 1 1950s Landrover. Like most kids growing up on a farm (OSH didn’t exist in those days), that involved chugging along behind the sheep whilst droving on the road or going round and round in the paddock while dad fed out hay. Flat-tack on the open road it would go 40 miles per hour (65 km/h). We eventually traded that up to brand new 1977 Landrover. Flat out screaming, downhill, downwind, it went 100 km/h. Then we had a dinky Suzuki ute, followed by an early diesel Holden Rodeo and then I made the epic leap forward to an iconic Toyota Hi Lux. None of which had air conditioning, power steering or central locking. Then I became a townie.

I’ve just taken a brand new Mazda BT50 4WD Double Cab for a jaunt through Central Otago. It’s an automatic 3.2 litre, 5 cylinder, turbo-charged diesel beast with all the bells and whistles. At 100 km/h it was barely turning over at 1800 rpm. Farm utes have come a long way since I was a boy!

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


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