No Minister

Archive for the ‘Agriculture & Farming’ Category

The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks

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A farmer and historian in Britain, one John Lewis-Stempel, has published an interesting article in Unherd where he argues that the rise of wheat as the most widely grown crop in the world has, over the millennia, enabled tyranny!

Wheat has corrupted humanity

I was immediately caught by the opening paragraph:

“Beef & Liberty”. Such was the slogan of the 18th century London dining club, The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. The carnivorous Regency gentlemen were sensible in associating the scoffing of sirloin with freedom and the rights of Britons. Food, like the personal, is political.

Being a political tragic it’s ironic that I don’t enjoy the fact that everything is now political, even food, but I can’t deny it when I read of things like actor James Cromwell supergluing his hand to a Starbucks counter so he could lecture customers and staff alike for ages about the iniquity over their surcharge for vegan milk.

Privileged dickhead! I must re-watch LA Confidential so I can see him get his just deserts by being shot in the back.

In Lewis-Stempel’s article he covers the tyranny of wheat, from forcing us into factory-like patterns of tilling, sowing, weeding and harvesting, to being an easy crop for the State to inspect and tax – and confiscate – compared to animals or root vegetables, all the way to the modern tyranny of Monsanto:

…the grains were developed for their ability to cope with a chemical product that Monsanto wanted to flog. So if the farmer buys Roundup Ready seed, then he or she buys the tied-in Roundup herbicid. And Monsanto cashes in twice.

He also goes into some detail about the other chemicals needed to grow wheat and it’s not a pretty picture. The article ends on a note that will be music to the ears of NZ grass farmers:

To save the planet, pastoralism is the intelligent solution. The brain is 60% fat, and omega-rich fat from grass-fed meat is excellent for mental health. The sine qua non of free thinking. Beef and liberty! More meat, less wheat!

Agree or disagree, it’s a fun article so read the whole thing.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 12, 2022 at 9:06 am

Food

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For a guy who is basically in the business of making food I’m embarrassed to say that this news got away from me until now.

The Return of the Third Horseman

As viewed from an agricultural point of view, the world’s largest wheat exporter invaded the world’s fourth-largest wheat exporter. That alone condemns the Middle East to its most volatile and violent period in at least the last century.

One should always be leery of people making apocalyptic predictions; they usually don’t come true.

However in this case there’s a lesson from the recent past:

In 2010, dry weather across Western Siberia prompted concerns about the Russian wheat crop. In preparation for a poor harvest, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered temporary export limitations for wheat, Russia’s primary agricultural product. Within weeks global wheat prices had doubled; Prices tripled in Russia’s primary export market, the Middle East. Those increases contributed to the series of protests, riots, coups, revolutions and wars we now know collectively as the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War.

What’s happening now in Russian and Ukraine is a lot worse than that. Farmers are simply not getting Spring wheat planted, whether for reasons of war (Ukraine) or financial problems caused by the war (Russia). However, the article looks at another aspect, fertilisers, three in particular.

Phosphate: China is the largest producer and they’ve banned its export because they need it for a massive increase in their rice crop to compensate for the massive cut in the number of pigs due to the Swine Flu Epidemic a couple of years ago. They culled as many pigs as the rest of the world has in total.

Nitrogen-based fert. Produced using natural gas. Guess who is the largest supplier? Russia. So a threat to supply, which has already boosted the cost, especially in Europe, where it’s increased five-fold.

Potash: Russia and Belarus have 40% of the global supply.

All of these things can be worked around, but that can take years as new supply chains are created; building new pipelines, factories and so forth – all massive expenditure with the knowledge that if/when the Ukraine War ends and if/when sanctions against Russia end, the availability and price of these things might rapidly return to the 2020 status quo.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 5, 2022 at 9:34 am

I’ll take Manic Pixie Dream Girl for 5% inflation, Alex

The latest statements out of the dairy companies show the biggest monthly leap in payout prices that I can recall, greater even than the big boom of 2013/14.

And farmers vividly recall what happened next; the biggest crunch dairy farmers have ever experienced, which is why I’m looking at their forecasts of similar pricing into 2023 and taking those with a grain of salt.

Everybody likes to see a steady increase in value for what they produce, a steady growth in wage and salaries or other income.

But nobody, at least nobody with a sense of the future, wants to see these sorts of rises because they’re not real in the sense of steady increases in the number of your customers or their increased valuation of your product or service, or perhaps just their steady increase in wealth that makes them less penny-pinching.

No, these sorts of price increases mean that something is very wrong with the system. That money is floating around out there and being thrown at assets and commodities because in our bones we know it can’t last.

Milk is not in that graph but it should be. Farmers had a good sense of what was coming before most economists did, when we saw the price pressures building in 2021. We know from our history that we’ll benefit from inflation before anybody else because commodities go first – but we also know that it will bite us (and everybody else) in the ass later on, as the pressure feeds into the costs of fuel, fertilisers and a hundred other things needed to run a modern farm. Today’s bumper profits and excess cash flow can vanish real fast under those circumstances.

Still, it’s better than being in the situation of a wage and salary earner, especially in the lowest brackets. Those poor bastards are getting screwed right now and it is going to get worse and all the increased minimum wage and WFF kerfuffle is not going to count for much.

That note about the suspension of trading in Nickel forwards is not due to some fundamental problem obtaining Nickel but because some Chinese billionaire and his giant Nickel processing company found himself stuck with an $8 billion loss on short positions he took.

This is going to get worse before it gets better and I hate to tell you this, but in the short-term there’s not much that governments can do about it. They have lit the fuse, as usual, but the it’ll be the marketplace that clears the crap out of the way in its usual, brutal fashion.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 12, 2022 at 12:32 pm

Masters of the Universe

Oh but I hate these fucking people.

Watch and observe the superior cluelessness and surprise of this creature, and the smirking silence in which it is received at yet another confab of the World Economic Forum.

Perhaps if these assholes really were as smart and wise as they think they are they wouldn’t be implementing crap that screws up the lives of ordinary people, as this post explains on just one angle, an Unraveling, Not a Reset:

Now go read the Wikipedia quote from the IPCC again. The transnational globalists want to shut down petrochemical extraction because of alleged climate impacts. Doing so has already caused fertilizer shortages, but the globalists are fine with that because they want to significantly restrict and change industrialized agriculture as well.

Presumably they think they can escape food shortages and the impact on supply chains around the world. I doubt any of them know how to plant a vegetable garden or cut up a beast.

In the short run, the transnational globalists will attempt to use such events to assert increasingly totalitarian control of people, movement, goods, and more. It won’t take long for those attempts to exacerbate the chaos, the shortages, the conflict, and the disease. The tighter their attempted control, the greater and deeper the damage they will cause.

The funny thing is that the woman above reminded me very much of famous actress Katherine Hepburn, complete with a “mid-Atlantic accent”, trained for movies where her Connecticut Patrician voice would not play well.

That in turn reminded me that there once was an American elite who had very similar sorts of attitudes: the WASPS. That article has girth but I think it’s worth a read to get an insight into an elite who had begun to die off in the 1960’s. A couple of excerpts, starting with Katharine Graham, famous owner of the Washington Post and one of her friends, Joe Alsop:

He was in many ways a disagreeable man. A Cold War hawk, a foppish toff in a demotic age, he was the epitome, indeed the travesty, of WASP hauteur. In the morning, he would emerge from his bedroom at 2720 Dumbarton Street in Georgetown in a purple dressing gown piped with lilac, and he would spend much of the rest of the day putting people in their place. He growled at waiters, made scenes at parties, pushed to the front of every line, and bullied his wife, Susan Mary Jay. “Oh, that’s petty nonsense,” he would say when he cut her short in front of guests. In his relations with those lower in the scale, he had all the tact of Dickens’s Marquis St. Evrémonde, and he once tried to break the ice with a Minnesota farmer by nudging him with his stick and asking him, “What do you make of it all, old boy, eh?”

Sounds like a right charmer. And yes, he had a punchable face. Unsurprisingly a closeted gay, but one who told the KGB where to stick their blackmail when they got him on camera in 1957.

There seem to have been a lot of such snobbish aristocrats in the WASP class and the article delivers American writer Henry James as a classic example, delving back into their glory days in the 19th and early 20th century to examine what they built:

At the height of the Gilded Age [these Jamesian WASPs] sought to remedy the deficiency by incorporating, in their schools, museums, parks, and concert halls, bits and pieces of premodern poetry to create spaces that would touch neglected places in the American mind. Gardner established a Venetian museum in Boston; James’s friend Charles Eliot Norton, the Harvard humanist, indirectly inspired an experiment in civic humanism at Columbia in which young people were initiated in older poetries through the study of Great Books.

The civic humanism of the WASPs was secondhand and perhaps second-rate, yet it involved them in all that anomalousness of motive that characterizes even our most generous acts. You can’t foster more potent kinds of culture without wielding less-ideal forms of power.

Sure, you can be snarky about the spaces they built, but they’re a damn sight better than the Modernist monstrosities of spaces that followed them.

...revived Gothic, reworked Romanesque, and parodic Athenianism… “[an] effort to evade the logic of modern civilization by insincere gestures of respect to the culture, the feelings, the ornamental systems of previous ages.”

But precisely because it was plagiarized from premodern poetries that closely integrated the needs of the soul and the realities of everyday life, it made their spaces civically generous and aesthetically accessible in a way the lonely stages of alienated modern genius so often are not.

This also sounds familiar:

… they liked power, and once they had grabbed a certain amount of it out of the hands of Gilded Age plutocrats, they were in no hurry to share the deeper secrets of their own patent medicines. Their museums and concert halls were open to the public, but their most potent humanizing poetry was concentrated in their fenced-off schools, clubs, and houses. No mere pleb shared in the mock-Palladian glories of Joe Alsop’s 2720 Dumbarton Street.

What the hell have the new elites of the WEF done for the good of humanity with all their power? I think the following piece from journalist Batya Ungar-Sargon best sums them up:

The elites don’t even bother hiding their contempt for “the majority of people” anymore. It’s exposed the emptiness of the stories they tell to push their own interests. The sides aren’t Right and Left anymore. They’re the side that has that contempt and the side nauseated by it.

This clip is saying the quiet part out loud: Elites like to masquerade like there are major policy debates dividing them. But political polarization is a pantomime that disguises the crucial things they share–enormous wealth, capture of over 50% of GDP, the desire for control.

Working people know this. They know that it’s all kabuki theater at the top. It’s why they just don’t care who you voted for. Because the struggles that unite the bottom just outweigh whether you think abortion should be legal in the second trimester, or how you feel about Trump.

It’s disgusting to see these people nattering on about threats to democracy when they believe they should have control over every aspect of the lives of working people and it’s “bad news” that regular people are onto them and see them for the self-serving oligarchy that they are.

I think Jacinda Ardern is one of these people. So are Chris Luxon and David Seymour.

Written by Tom Hunter

January 31, 2022 at 6:00 am

Go on, give him a cuddle

I don’t recall any of our Angus bulls getting close to 3000 pounds but perhaps some did.

This is one big boy.

Written by Tom Hunter

January 18, 2022 at 6:00 am

It sure beats a backpack weed sprayer

Very cool news on the farming weedspraying front.

Farming robot kills 100,000 weeds per hour with lasers

Carbon Robotics has unveiled the third-generation of its Autonomous Weeder, a smart farming robot that identifies weeds and then destroys them with high-power lasers.

As it drives itself down rows of crops, its 12 cameras scan the ground. An onboard computer, powered by AI, identifies weeds, and the robot’s carbon dioxide lasers then zap and kill the plants.

The Autonomous Weeder can eliminate more than 100,000 weeds per hour and weed 15 to 20 acres of crops in one day — for comparison, Myers said a laborer can weed about one acre of his onions per day.

A robot!

With lasers!

Shit, it doesn’t get any better than that and this is the 21st century after all. I’m sure it can be adapted to work the slightly more random world of the average Kiwi sheep, cattle and dairy farm.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 1, 2021 at 12:14 pm

I wish I could celebrate the payout increase

They’ll be lots more dopey coverage of the recent surge in dairy prices, like this one from Radio New Zealand (RNZ as they style themselves now, Radio Aotearoa being a step too far for the moment).

Dairy prices up 3.7 percent as commodity prices reach record high

That article talks of global milk supply being constrained, but for those of us who dig deeper – and farmers have a great incentive to find out what’s going on – the terrible truth is that it’s simply another symptom of a global surge in inflation. Even that article hints at it by pointing out that every other commodity is surging in price also.

I don’t think there’s any question that this comes about because of governments printing money and stuffing it into economies that were only in recession because of lockdowns. Unlike the GFC era, when inflation worries abounded, the economies are not on their knees because of market problems. Back then the credit creation was filling real gaps, which is why inflation did not appear despite all those created trillions of dollars.

This time all that was needed was for government to take its Covid-infected foot off the throat and the economies would have roared back to life, as they were doing very well up to early 2020. Stuffing more money into a system whose production is still being held down may have sounded like classic Keynesian stimulus but was wrong for this scenario.

But aside from that general problem, the lead here is energy costs and that really is a supply constraint – as the Greens are gagging for. A few years ago I attended a Rabobank seminar on the global dairy industry and the guy giving it finished his discussion by pointing out a strange correlation for which no causal link had been established: oil and milk match eachother’s price rises and falls.

If that’s the case then this news is a double-edged sword:

Crude oil is up 65% this year to $83 per barrel. Gasoline, above $3 per gallon in most of the country, is more costly than any time since 2014, with inventories at the lowest level in five years.

Meanwhile natural gas, which provides more than 30% of all U.S. electricity and a lot of wintertime heating, has more than doubled this year to $5 per million Btu.

Even coal is exploding, with China and India mining as fast as possible. The price of U.S. coal is up 400% this year to $270 per ton.

The sword is a scimitar, as the drooling root vegetable known as “President” Biden is discovering.

That plea from Biden happened a couple of months ago and OPEC told Biden to go screw himself. Amazing to think that in January 2020 the USA was a net exporter of oil.

As that article points out, this is actually going to get worse in the Northern hemisphere winter:

Put it all together, as the weather gets colder,  energy costs will rise even faster. The increase in energy cost will raise the prices of goods produced from companies the use energy in the production and distribution of their products which will be passed along to the consumers.

As every farmer knows, we often get the benefit of being first in line for inflation, via commodity prices. But sooner or later those other cost increases, on fuel, fertiliser, power and machinery, arrive with a rush. Talk to any old farmer who remembers the First Oil Crisis of ’73 and then the crunch of ’74.

It’s arrived in New Zealand too, and the effects are already being seen, if not felt:

“The latest quarterly Labour Market Statistics show that on average wages went up by 2.4 per cent over the past 12 months. Unfortunately, inflation over that same period was more than double that figure, running at 4.9 percent, the highest rate in 25 years.

Fasten your seatbelts – and tighten them too.

Good grief, even the NYT has figured it out – and who’s to blame:

You can draw a direct line from a specific policy decision that Biden and congressional Democrats made this past winter to some of the inflation happening now.

In designing the stimulus that Congress passed in March, Biden’s administration went big, with $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief — on top of a separate $900 billion package that passed three months earlier. Put the two together, and $2.8 trillion in federal money has been coursing through the economy this year while economic activity has trended only a few hundred billion dollars a year short of what mainstream analysts would consider full health.

The dementia-riddled “President” must really be hurting the Democrats if even the NYT is throwing him under the bus.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 19, 2021 at 9:40 am

Monoculture and Magic

Saying that we’ve given up on Covid-Zero, then that case numbers will rise a lot, so much so that home self-isolation will supplant MIQ, and that the track-and-trace system won’t cope, are all “tells” that we’re being softened up to accept endemic Covid-19 as a victory after which life returns to normal, with no daily news of case numbers or even deaths, as is the case every flu season.

Two interesting, if longish articles.

The first is from The Spectator and it starts off by looking at how we’re feeding the world via monoculture, taking the specific example of pigs and comparing their slaughter nowadays to how it was done when Thomas Hardy described it in Jude the Obscure. Anybody who has ever slaughtered and cut up an animal (in my case sheep but never a pig) knows what’s involved: it’s a wonder I never turned vegetarian or vegan.

To accomplish all of this on the industrial scale necessary to feed the gaping maws of our teeming masses requires a great deal of pigs, of course, estimated at some 700 million heads worldwide, but also a commensurate number of abattoir workers. It is a thankless occupation — grisly, physically demanding, and necessitating a certain amount of cognitive dissociation from the macabre task at hand.

With the imposition of pandemic-related immigration restrictions, alongside various Brexit disruptions, we are told that the shortage of butchers and abattoir workers in the United Kingdom is such that there now exists a slaughtering backlog of at least 120,000 pigs, a number increasing by 12,000 more every day that passes. These pigs naturally continue to gorge themselves, in some cases expanding to 55 pounds or more over prime, meaning that their pens are now bursting at the joints.

It also means that the pigs don’t fit into the supply chain machinery, which means that Britain (and other nations) are looking at emergency pig culling, which was done in the USA in 2020. Last year I wrote an article (The Perils of the Modern Supply Chain) on the problems posed by the pandemic because of the modern emphasis of Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing, specifically in the case of the world of food production, but this article goes further than mine did by looking at the waste and the philosophy:

Now we have a new abiding symbol of modern industrial just-in-time agriculture: row upon row of euthanized pigs dumped into hastily-dug, wood-chip-lined shallow graves, beasts rotting in the sun, destined never even to “turn into pork,” at best serving as a very expensive compost additive. Surely this is the reductio ad absurdum of an entire way of life — our own — and yet more support for Leopold Kohr’s incontrovertible dictum that “whenever something is wrong, something is too big.”

However, this is merely another step in a process of mechanisation started over a century ago. I was pleased to learn of a book that draws attention to how much of this development came out of the famous stockyards and slaughterhouses of Ye Olde Hometown, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (1992) by one William Cronon:

“An industry,” Cronon continued, “that had formerly done its work in thousands of small butcher shops around the country must be rationalized to bring it under the control of a few expert managers using the most modern and scientific techniques. The world must become Chicago’s hinterland.” This was an epochal rupture with the past,

I appreciated the article’s exploration of the political and even spiritual implications of all this too, particularly where it likens how we’ve moved from treating animals this way to how we treat ourselves in our “urban pens”. I was especially struck by this passage:

It was in two recent Substack pieces, “We Are All Cattle Now” and “Bovine Coronavirus and Us,” that a German researcher writing under the nom de plume Eugyppius made the astute observation that “coronavirus vaccines have been used in animals for years, with extremely unimpressive results,” adding that:

Our own SARS-2 vaccines, despite their fancy mRNA and virus vector technology, are entirely of a piece with veterinary standards. They have a poor side effect profile, they provide only temporary and partial protection against infection, and they are deployed on a vast scale with no regard for the evolutionary pressure they place on the virus or their broader consequences for infection dynamics. These are normal standards in the context of industrial livestock, where most animals are not raised to live very long in any event, and the risk of occasional accidents — inadvertently favouring or even causing lethal superstrains, or inflicting widespread vaccine injuries — can be weighed against the economic loss associated with mortality from infections.

Speaking as a farmer I can’t tell you how appalled I am at the regular feeding of antibiotics in the US cattle industry. It’s likely only because the animals don’t “live very long” that we haven’t had a lethal disease jumping from cattle to humans – yet. Of course we have had bird flu out of the Asian meat markets.

===========

The second article is a blog piece that keys off a book published in 1890 by a James Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion, and the writer uses that book to take a sometimes serious, sometimes funny look at modern magical beliefs, A Study in Comparative Religion, which looks at two such beliefs, provides some history and modern context.

Frazer’s First Law of Magic: Similarity

Backward countries even have an example called a Cargo Cult where, for example, cell phones and aeroplanes are made out of wood and expected to function because they are similar to the real thing.

When we see people wearing masks alone in their cars or far from everyone in the outdoors, or we see Covid Karens and their like with breathing holes cut in their already useless masks it’s clear that, to themselves, masks are a totem object. The mask is not expected by the masses to have any scientific use but rather gains its power by resembling something else that does

Frazer’s Second Law of Magic: Law of Contact

Think here of lucky charms such as a rabbits foot or Peter Blake’s lucky Red Socks (1995.) Think of medieval pilgrim trails visiting various holy places to be near a holy relic claimed to be the shin bone or the skull or other cast-off body parts of some Christian saint or other

When it comes to COVID-19 Hysteria, ,what difference is an Ashley Bloomfield Tshirt, towel, or tote bag from other ritual totem objects?

Contact Tracing is the obsession of the population for which daily statistics are collected and the masses transfixed by. Given that Law 2 is literally called Law of Contact and Contagious Magic it could not be more transparent to anyone following along. The afflicted all want to know who has been contaminated, when, and where while our modern witchdoctors dutifully accommodate using all the power of modern broadcast technology.

The old Law 2 magic that stated cell phones could ignite petrol pumps was replaced by the new Law 2 myth that one had to “Scan In” to defeat the Contagion that preys upon the non-hyper-vigilant anxious-paranoid. Those who are not hyper-vigilant anxious-paranoid are regarded as suspicious and known by their chilled normalcy and failure to perform conspicuous rites such as Scanning In and Mask Wearing,

I also appreciated the comparison with the modern era of Frazer’s ideas of positive and negative magic (Sorcery and Taboo)

An old time Maori chief and tohunga priest casting a taboo would use the word “tapu” or “rahui” but for the Prime Minister and Director-General of Health it is called Lockdown. They taboo cities, districts, even the entire country on-again-off-again by changing prescriptions referred to as Levels.

The Prime Minister has singled out particular people and particular businesses during the daily spell-casting which serves as a warning to others who would be ruined socially and financially if they do not comply with the spell.

I also like the section on The Sovereign Magicians, featuring guess who…

Rulers and their priests (media and academic) are the major beneficiaries of a little amount of superstition, according to Frazer. When, as in the most primitive people, superstition is widespread nobody has a monopoly on magic. As the irrationality is driven out of everyday life the remaining users of Magic are considered especially powerful to those who believe they exist at all.

Not to mention the Chief Priestess herself. The article ends on a hopeful note:

If the mass taboo magic were to wear out the Orwellian Double Think superstructure it depends on beyond Ardernian running software patches (such as “It’s a tricky virus” or “Delta is a Game Changer”) then the psychosis would become exhausted and end.

At this point a good magician would get out ahead of the inevitable Taboo Market Crash by declaring victory over COVID-19 and making herself scarce before the tar and feathers come out.

Saying that we’ve given up on Covid-Zero, then that case numbers will rise a lot, so much so that home self-isolation will supplant MIQ, and that the track-and-trace system won’t cope, are all “tells” that we’re being softened up to accept endemic Covid-19 as a victory after which life returns to normal, with no daily news of case numbers or even deaths, as is the case every flu season.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 15, 2021 at 12:55 pm

Some type of heaven

Home. Today is a Fell day. I’m up on my beloved Howgill’s treading a familiar path. My company is that of Shadow, sheep and swifts that whirl then twirl about the folds of gentle fells. Warm winds blow that tangle hair. Saturday a day for solitude and silence.

The photo above is from the Twitter account of a woman who has become a bit of a social media phenomena over the last few years.

Luckily for her the exposure is just enough to help her business of making woolen clothing from her flock in the Howgill Fells of Westmoreland in the Yorkshire Dales.

Her farm is just 37 acres. I find it incredible that she can make a living from it, but I’m glad she does. I’m reminded of the book, Durable Trades, which rated the number one trade as being “Shepard”, which I still doubt, but perhaps it’s true, judging by Alison O’Neill.

You can read an overview about her here, and look at this video made in 2014.

Her website is here at Shepherdess.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 20, 2021 at 8:07 am

A small example of National’s failures

Readers will be aware that I’m not too hot on the National Party, despite having voted for them fairly consistently in both Party Vote and Electorate Vote since returning from the USA twenty years ago.

Frankly I’m not too keen on ACT either, despite having thrown my Party vote to them as recently as 2008 and 2020, and possibly again in 2023. Seymour’s recent talk on matters of Chinese Lung Rot responses has been disappointing, even as I understand the needle he has to thread with a fearful and frightened public.

But this latest piece of news, courtesy of Elle over at Homepaddock in her latest Rural Roundup, raises in one more area, just why National has been so poor in supporting their voters over the years. The link is to a specific National Party announcement, “Labour must stop flooding rural NZ with pointless and onerous regulation”, with this part in particular of note to me:

“As it stands, the Water Services Bill would expose tens of thousands of rural water schemes to disproportionate bureaucracy, just so they can continue supplying water between, for example, a farmhouse, a dairy shed and workers’ quarters,” Mr Luxon says.

“Despite warnings from National and major sector bodies at select committee, the bill will require Taumata Arowai to track down and register around 70,000 farm supply arrangements, each of which will need to write safety and risk management plans.

Well yes, we can all see where this is going. Bureaucratic boxes to tick that, like the OSH forms on worksites and dairy sheds (parlours darlings) across the country, will be filled in so that backsides are covered.

As an aside I was amused during my tractor/truck driving ag contractor work last season to so often brush past farm signs reading:

“WARNING: ALL VISITORS AND CONTRACTORS MUST SIGN IN”

But once more I have to point out that National has already failed in this regard. Before the Clarke administration left office they passed legislation that would tighten up considerably on water schemes in general (Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (Revised 2008)). Throughout the nine years of the Key administration the implementation of this moved closer and closer to rural water schemes.

It finally reached our district in 2018, when all the farmers of our district were called to a meeting held by the local Council to discuss the fate of our scheme.

The system was designed by the Council in the early 1980’s and then built largely by the farmers. From 1984 it was providing a gravity-fed, year-round, drought-resistant water scheme. To farmers like my Dad it was a god-send after decades of faffing around with springs, wells, dams, crude flitration systems and pumps.

And now we were told that the regulations had finally caught up with us and the system would require millions to upgrade to the new standards and even then, the houses would have to be disconnected from the supply, pushing us fifty years back into a past of spring, wells and pumps. This despite individual farms having steadily added increasingly better filtration systems to back up the system’s original ones.

Fortunately the Council were very much on our side in understanding what crap this all was – in forty years of operation not one sickness, let alone death, has been traced to the system. They concocted a letter to government explaining in classic Sir Humphrey fashion that, given all the new water discussions going on with Labour, the Council regretfully could not possibly move on changing the system until they were sure what was needed.

It bought us three years.

I’m afraid that I rather offended a National party woman farmer at the meeting who wanted to conduct a petition that could be carried to government by our local National MP. My suggestion instead was that if we all dug in our pockets for a few thousand dollars each we could easily get $150K or more together and – considering his “good looking horses” tax legislation – get it to NZ First on the understanding that Winston Peters could get a similar change made to the Black Letter law by specifically excluding our district from the Act.

It got a hearty laugh and “hear, hear’s“, but went down with her like a cup of cold sick.

The truth is that this legislation sat on the books throughout National’s nine-year reign. Perhaps we were not sufficiently aware of it ourselves but surely our National rural MP’s were? A huge cost impact for no effective gain in safety or water quality. Havelock North we are not, with farmers keeping a close eye on the system.

So now I’m expected to get all excited and revved up about National’s “fightback” against this new legislation? At this stage I’m looking at National and thinking, why bother now? The damage is done and will be further done before National returns to government.

At this stage the best we can hope for is that our spendthrift government may throw a few million our way so the system can be upgraded to meet their imposed standards, but even then, from a nation-wide perspective, it’s a waste of money that could be better applied to other things, like ICU beds perhaps.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 25, 2021 at 5:30 pm