Beaten by statistics

Roger Barton is taking exception to being overlooked by statisticians.

In Home Block6 Minutes

Roger Barton is taking exception to being overlooked by statisticians.

I’VE TURNED INTO A CONSCIENTIOUS objector. Others might just call me objectionable. One of the “others” is likely to be Statistics NZ. I’m not filling out my annual Ag stats.

I’ve based this on two planks. One that I believe they use them against us and not for us and secondly about two years ago Barbie and I were asked if we would meet with their leadership team to look at ways of increasing the value of the exercise to farmers. We also helped set up other similar meetings. As part of the exercise, we were promised a written summary of the discussion. This summary never arrived. I have solid grounds for being objectionable.

One thing we don’t need is a statistician to tell us that cost of inputs has risen enormously in recent times. In Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s darkest hour the cost of farm inputs went up 22% in the 1982/83 year. He meddled with the system trying to force hands but it failed and the nation paid the consequences.

It’s history repeating itself. While the general populous do their best to get by, we have a Government that points its finger at everyone and everything except itself. The grocery industry is getting a fair bit of attention over what is seen as excess profits but for whatever insane reason a maximum tax intake is seen as positive (by some anyway) and then they go on their merry way blowing the advantage extra revenue should offer. When will government, of any hue, subject their own expenditure to the rigours they like others to observe? Answer – never.

There is a maxim I struck years ago which says “expenses rising to meet income”. In good times people get lax about value and easily let the spoils of better returns get eroded. Farmers are now coming to the end of one such period.

Inside the farm gate we have had an extremely wet winter and spring like most. Three weeks after it stopped raining, I remarked to Barbie that the next rain we got would be the best one in eight months. Kapow, we got 40mm and a follow up of 6mm. Great for crop germination and establishment.

To divert slightly about our wet winter locally I see that a local farmer with energy and nous has been key to solving a major access problem to Hinakura. A slip that had been threatening finally unleashed its fury and cut the easy access to Martinborough necessitating a long drive to do everyday tasks.

Initial budget was circa $125k and it finally cost $165k. Costs were exacerbated by appalling conditions. What really got me was the Greater Wellington Regional Council saying it couldn’t be done unless millions were spent. If there was a nomination for “Doer of the Year” this man should be the recipient.

A while ago we hired a professional to assess our liabilities under the emissions tax regime. We use a bit of N around here so that adds to the sum payable. We are also an oddity with the amount of native bush we have. Including 243 hectares of our total of 500ha being in QE2 covenants. Alas it would appear that any additional retirement areas and plantings we have done will have no value to us. I could be really bloody minded and open the gates again. Immoral yes but not illegal. Do the relevant ministers’ advisers really think they have landed on an acceptable solution with the inability to claim this good work as part of sequestration? Or have the ministers been “cunning” and they will flip-flop on this measure and look like our friends after all. Either way they should hang their heads in shame.

This season will be a season of “lasts.” The last time I will brand a bale AAH, the last time I will yard our lambs for docking, I hope to be useful for that task with our son at least. The last time getting what I refer to as “winders elbow’ from doing break feeding.