Another hand-out for bludgers

Written By: - Date published: 9:09 am, April 26th, 2010 - 98 comments
Categories: benefits, capitalism, farming - Tags: , ,

These farmers. They’ve got a good scam going, eh?

Got us paying for their greenhouse emissions. Bludgers.

Get to put all their untreated sh*t in our rivers for free. Bludgers.

When a council won’t give them more free water, they get their corrupt government to disband the council. Bludgers.

Nats have suggested, we’ll be paying for farmers irrigation in Canterbury. Bludgers.

Even get the government to pay for their R&D and have a cry when asked to contribute to the cost. Bludgers.

Now, another scam. Back in the dairy boom they converted a whole lot of sheep, beef, and forest land to dairy. Never enough water. Barely economical at the height of the boom.

Predictably, along comes a drought. You know what the textbooks say happens next. Our glorious capitalist system should mean farms that can’t handle a bad time fail. Just like any other business. Land gets used for something better. It’s the market. But capitalists don’t really believe in the market. Come the bad times, the farmers want another hand out.

So government’s giving them the dole. Yup, the dole. These are working farmers. They own farms worth millions. Only problem is their cash flow has dried up. Any other business would have to borrow or go bust. Farms get a dole hand out from the Nats.

Kind of ironic eh? Nats running this anti-beneficiary campaign but the biggest bludgers are their mates.

Terrible economics too. Totally the wrong signals. Farmers can win in the boom but never lose in the bad times. Encourages more dairy on marginal land. Encourages poor allocation of natural resources and capital. Means you and me will be dipping into our pockets to pay the dole for rich farmers even more in the future.

Oh. And these dole receiving farmers who can’t run a business without government subsidies will be getting big tax cuts next month top rate and corporate probably.

National: government by bludgers, for bludgers.

98 comments on “Another hand-out for bludgers”

  1. marco 1

    Yep your right they do qualify for the dole when a drought is declared. Interestingly a provision brought in under…….Labour.

    • lprent 1.1

      With good reason as well. The dole isn’t going to pay their interest, however it will pay for food and basic utilities. So the business would still fold without a sympathetic bank…

      However it is quite a contrast with other types of businesses, which is what Zet is pointing out in his usual acerbic way

  2. tsmithfield 2

    I tend to agree.

    What often happens, as with many businesses, is that a business plan that works fine in the good times may not work too well in the bad times. A good business plan allows for the reasonably predictable worst case scenario.

    I think what would be better would be for farmers to set aside funds when they are having good years to fund the bad years. Farming is inherently unpredictable, so if a business plan does not allow for that unpredictability it probably should not be implemented from the get go.

  3. Bill 3

    Giving somebody in financial hardship the dole is fine.

    Altered criteria that allow farmers to hold their assets makes sense on the face of it unless you’d rather the land was abandoned altogether…I’d rather see discretion applied to the urban context than have everyone subjected to the lowest and nastiest common denominator. Why not give the dole to all workers facing redundancy and have their jobs held open ‘until the rains come’?

    Water rationalisation…bemoaning the fact that rivers flow to the sea instead of endlessly cycling around paddocks and fields… wanting more irrigation in Canterbury because it already has the most irrigation and water storage facilities (dams?) to aid rationalisation of water use…ie to aid the application of strict corporate communist market criteria to water allocation )…just might have more impact than a couple of hundred bucks per week.

    edit. I’m assuming farmers who are not farm owners.

    • Zetetic 3.1

      Carter was talking about farmers being ‘asset rich’ but ‘cash poor’. Implies farm owners.

      Bailing them out just encourages water intensive farming on land that’s too dry.

      • Bill 3.1.1

        So, are we saying that a business that has lost its market ( in this case through being unable to secure its production inputs) is to be allowed to continue and the business owners allowed to hold all their plant and machinery as well as personal assets?

        Are there no insurance policies to cover this? If not, why not. And if not, then why does the state?

        What happens to the farm employees…the labourers and share milkers etc? What about their assets?

        Contrasting with an urban business that cannot secure production inputs because of matters beyond its control, we know they go bankrupt and we know the employees get to jump through numerous hoops on their way to increased levels of poverty.

        Why the difference again? Why not a consistent application of logic?

        Questions, questions, questions.

        • Bright Red 3.1.1.1

          You’ve got to have something to make sure resources are being used logically – that could be the market emchanism, it could be some form of community planning but what we’ve got now is neither – there’s no downside, no check on the inefficient use of resources.

          Here, we’ve got what were pine forests being used for dairy. They’re marginal at the best of times and then a normal drought comes along and they need to be bailed out.

          If they get bailed out it just encourages the conversion of more forest and hill country to dairy.

          And we all ultimately end up worse off because, as we’re seeing, these farms aren’t profitable – they’re not an efficient use of resources. It would be better if the land was used in a manner that suits the conditions – eg forestry.

      • Rex Widerstrom 3.1.2

        Considering that (until the recent deluge) the vast bulk of Australia could be considered “land that’s too dry”, the alternative to supporting farmers through periods of unusual weather activity, be it flood or drought, is to give up on food production altogether. Let them eat dirt?

        New Zealand is hardly alone in supporting farmers whose operations w ould otherwise be self-supporting if it wasn’t for extreme weather, either.

        Beneficiaries are treated like crap in this country. But the solution is to encourage a system where everyone gets what they deserve, not pits some people in difficulty against others.

        • RedLogix 3.1.2.1

          Concise and to the point Rex… agree totally.

          • Killinginthenameof 3.1.2.1.1

            Mention of asset rich cash poor owner operator farms is bordering on nauseating to the degree of “mum and dad investors”. More and more farming is large corporates with managers as employees, got to remember who we are bailing out there.

  4. Hamish 4

    I have no problem with this. It make’s sense to support those who bring majority of the wealth to our country (depending on farm type, huh) in harder times.

    The main post is grasping at straws, imo.

  5. vto 5

    It’s only a drought relative to farmer’s own measurements. Relative to nature’s cyles there aint no drought. They should learn to farm within the bounds of nature’s cycles. In addition, a ‘drought’ is exacerbated by their own stripping of the vegetation from the land and draining of all wet areas. Doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

    And without wanting to simply thrash out more sentiment that could be seen as farmer-bashing it has to be said that they do seem to have a ‘sense of entitlement’.

    A sense of entitlement to the rivers. A sense of entitlement to the ‘rural way of life’. A sense of entitlement to be bailed out when the going gets tough. A sense of entitlement to the publics appreciation for their work. Where would NZ be without the farmers they cry…

    … well we would have a land covered in bush for a start. Clean waterways – imagine being able to swim in and drink out of a North Island river again!

    Just repeating myself from other threads – but farmers have some patch-up and clean-up work to do to get back to the ranks of respectability that they once, in hindsight wrongly, occupied. imo

    • Murray 5.1

      So where does Global Warming come into this.
      How can they farm within natures cycles when global warming is upsetting natures cycles and drought areas are apparently increasing?.
      I guess a logical conclusion to this thread would be that workers should have to sell the house they own when they lose their job, before receiving the dole.

      Pretty mean spirited and bitter.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        I guess a logical conclusion to this thread would be that workers should have to sell the house they own when they lose their job, before receiving the dole.

        That’s pretty much what they expect you to do. Not straight off of course. First off they’ll give enough to not quite cover the bills, then they’ll demand that you decrease you living expenses (yeah, that mortgage ain’t changing) and then they’ll cut the amount you get.

        Now, I don’t have any issue with people being given enough to maintain their health and keep a roof over their heads (which WINZ doesn’t do anyway) but I do have an issue with farmers being paid enough to keep their farms when it’s obviously a failed business venture.

      • mach1 5.1.2

        In 1996 when Max Bradfords reforms meant I was made redundant I had to cash up my power board super fund.. So with 12 years worth of contributions and a redundancy payment in my bank account I was denied any sort of benefit by WINZ and told to come back when I’d spent it and they’d review their decision.

        Petty and mean spirited alright which left me with a bitterness towards the tory arseholes that still abides.

        • Descendant Of Smith 5.1.2.1

          That sounds only partly true.

          Benefits such as unemployment benefits, are not asset tested in New Zealand.

          When my father was made redundant he had to wait for his final pay date, then his holiday pay plus a stand-down period for his redundancy ( redundancy is a payment to support you while you look for another job isn’t it?).

          He cashed in some of his super and didn’t have to spend it nor spend all his holiday pay.

          Maybe the interest from your 12 years of super as the problem perhaps?

          • George D 5.1.2.1.1

            Benefits such as unemployment benefits, are not asset tested in New Zealand.

            LIES.

            When I was last unemployed, I had to exhaust all my savings before I was eligible for a cent. If you have large non-liquid assets (ie., property owner) you’re safe from losing them, at least immediately. But if you’re poor you’re screwed.

            It means people are terrified of losing their jobs, and hang on to jobs which aren’t right for them.

            • Descendant Of Smith 5.1.2.1.1.1

              I’ve provided the links to the policy below – go read them yourself. You don’t have to believe me. Benefits such as unemployment benefit are not asset tested.

              When I was doing advocacy work some people who got themselves in strife were those such as yourself who spouted / believed this or a variant on it and so would do something silly like

              1. Go and pay off their debts / pay all their holiday pay off their mortgage and then expect to be paid a benefit for the same days they had been paid holiday pay for. You can’t be paid twice for the same days.
              2. Wait til they had no money left before applying when they could have applied much earlier and not used up all their savings..

              If you’ve got time to post something that is so easily provable as wrong at least take the time to go and read the facts for yourself.

              What you say could potentially cause distress for people who might actually believe you.

              • mach1

                Descendant Of Smith will be one of those deluded souls who think that WINZ staffers are there to help but in the real world they’re instructed to, first off the bat, deny eligibility and then to continually hold up the hoops in the hope that applicants simply go away. Don’t believe me, fine, but should you ever need to deal with any government agency while the Tories are running the shop I think you’ll be disappointed.

              • rainman

                UB is indeed not asset tested, but the accommodation supplement is. Of course if your partner earns even a modest amount you are not eligible for anything – notably including any help to actually find work or retrain, which seems counterproductive to me. This is fair enough (UB is for those in dire need) but doesn’t make it any easier to pay mortgages and basic insurances if your family income is cut by 2/3 or so.

                I’ve been only intermittently employed over the last 11 months and have yet to receive a single dollar from WINZ. Fortunately I didn’t spend all my earnings when I was earning well so have some savings to live from, although those were earmarked for retirement, and so I will likely be more state dependent later in life. Also fortunately, we didn’t take on a bigger mortgage when I was earning, and stayed in a small house – otherwise I would absolutely have had to sell by now.

                Accommodation supplement doesn’t pay anything until your cash assets are below $15k I think, and then only pays about 2/3 your costs. Quite where the rest is meant to come from if you have a big mortgage I have no idea. Certainly not from the UB amount, that’s about $300pw. And don’t try to earn anything (contract or part-time work, etc) as WINZ will cancel your application and apply a fresh stand-down period. (I made the mistake of getting a 3 week contract recently).

                Bottom line, the current system for medium-term unemployed people with a modestly-earning partner means you’ll soon have no cash assets, and have to cancel all insurances and other spurious expenses. Of course when those get reinstated when work is obtained later (hopefully) the premiums and conditions will be adjusted to suit (the insurance co’s). If you weren’t asset-poor when you started, you will be at the end.

    • Bill 5.2

      Was thinking that a smaller dairy industry with downstream value adding industries would be a win/win path to take….except for the corporates, but hey.

      I’m led to believe that milk from NZ is amongst the best in the world…although by the time I get it, it’s been so fucked with that it just doesn’t compare in any way to fresh milk.

      And the cheese is generally very ho-hum. And NZ chocolate is also mostly ‘meh’. The ice cream isn’t too cool either.

      Which leads me to tentatively conclude that corporate scale production throws all aspects of quality away in pursuit of quantity and profit flow….it’s not just the waterways, the land and the very much reduced employment opportunities. But the production techniques in tandem with the necessary food safety measures that were enacted to protect us from unpalatable practices of ‘faceless’ big business lays waste to the products themselves.

      Why do we put up with this corporate crap again?

      • rainman 5.2.1

        I was with you until the ice-cream.

      • Armchair Critic 5.2.2

        It’s almost like the quality requirements are only applied when they provide direct and immediate profit. Quality requirements that have indirect benefits are not enforced (yet).
        Is the answer to your question that there is no alternative, at the moment?

  6. tsmithfield 6

    Despite what I said above, there is also a national interest consideration. Dairy earns huge amounts for the country. So, some assistance could be argued for on a national interest basis. However, I think any assistance should be in the form of a loan which is repaid in good years.

    • Bright Red 6.1

      I agree. Interest-free lien on the property or something.

      I don’t really agree with crying national interest on certain industries (apart from startegically important networks – ports, electricity etc). Ordinary business should stand and fall on its merits.

    • uke 6.2

      But the “national interest” argument begs the question of why the government shouldn’t just take over all the farms.

      If the risks are nationalised – covered during downturns – then why don’t they take all the gain (not just the tax on expenses-deducted profits)?

  7. andy 7

    Funny how when I was made redundant I could not get any assistance because I had saved for a rainy day. I had to draw down all my saving befor I could get the dole.

    I have to say in the defense of farmers they do have some major cash flow issues in times of drought, and those dole payments would most likely go to food and essentials as any farm account overdraft would have to be for the animals. When things start looking a bit rough cash flow wise the banks and other lenders start taking a keen interest in the monthy accounts.

    • Murray 7.1

      Andy I know what you mean. I am a contractor, and although it hasn’t happened to me yet.
      When other contractors have had short term cash flow problems usually through delays in contracts
      they are told they have to sell all their equipment before the could get the dole.
      It is bloody annoying when your problems are through no fault of your own

      • Descendant Of Smith 7.1.1

        All WINZ policy manuals are on line.

        Manuals and procedures

        My advocate past comes in useful sometimes.

        Self-employed with no further work available

        Some small businesses have a drop in earnings and no scheduled work in the near future. When these businesses have no funds or cannot access any funds until further work becomes available, a client can receive the Unemployment Benefit. The business must have stopped for an indefinite period.

        Example

        A contract weed sprayer who has been unable to obtain any work for four weeks and has no work available for the next four weeks can be classified as being available for work.

        Obtain confirmation from the client’s accountant that business activities have effectively stopped and no income is being received.

        If, before the client applies, business has significantly reduced and/or has now stopped, you can disregard income from the business when assessing the rate of Unemployment Benefit that can be paid. However, the income must be taken into account for initial stand-down purposes.

        Work commences

        If a regular pattern of income or work starts to emerge or a future contract of 3 – 4 weeks is obtained, the Unemployment Benefit should be suspended or canceled. One-off contract work should be charged in the same way as casual earnings (less any business expenses).

        There’s more detail there. As I understand it these web pages are the same as the policy manuals that the staff use and clearly give much more detail than WINZ pamphlets, etc.

  8. RedLogix 8

    This does raise an interesting conundrum; how does society handle people who have:

    1. Invested a large amount of capital, time and energy into an enterprise that is fundamentally productive and useful.

    2. But through no immediate or obvious fault of their own find themselves in a cash flow crisis.

    3. And if not assisted through this bad patch will likely loose the lot.

    At this point I’d like to bring back to recall the landlord/property investor that became a bit of a headline story last year because Labour hightlighted his case. He was faced exactly the same circumstances as these farmers do…. asset rich yet facing a short-term cash flow crisis that was going to wipe him out.

    At the time I recall a lot of righties all pouring scorn on the man, insisting that he took the gamble on the gain….therefore he should face all the downside risk. Now of course we are talking about a the boot being a muddy farmer’s foot somehow the case will be different, that these fine upstanding, hardworking, decent minded, ‘back-bone of the economy’, blah, blah farmers have a right to being supported by the state.

    Personally I actually think they have a point. There is no point in wiping out large chunks of the agricultural sector every time there is a short-term lack of rain. There is an obvious national interest at stake. But at the same time you have to be careful you are not propping people up in situations that are only viable at the peak of the market, or just flat-out unsustainable in the long-term.

    And we have to accept that abandoned land remains a cost on the nation, as someone will still need to manage it for security, weeds, pests and the like. Plus of course the wider loss of viability to the local community as schools, roads, and services are all wound back in response to the loss of population.

    What does of course get everyones goat is the way Federated Farmers pushes an extreme right wing agenda (like quietly pushing for a poll-tax for example) while in fact most of their members are the beneficiaries of the not only substantial amounts of state support, but only remain in business because they are members of some of the biggest socialist collectives in the country,,, Fonterra being the obvious example.

    OK so on balance I’m happy for farmers to be helped through short-term crisis … if only they would politically return the quid pro quo.

    • felix 8.1

      But through no immediate or obvious fault of their own find themselves in a cash flow crisis.

      Sorry, I don’t buy this. Who didn’t know there was more dairying going on than the environment could sustain?

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    I assume they all get a tax audit when they apply?

    Just to make sure they’re on the up and up.

  10. Nick C 10

    Yep they should fail.

    • The Baron 10.1

      … along with a chunk of NZ’s export base. Nice idea.

      Here are people going to the wall and you can’t stop cheering, all because they don’t agree with you politically. Wow you people can be pricks.

      • felix 10.1.1

        That’s pretty funny Baron.

        • The Baron 10.1.1.1

          Is it? What’s funny about it? The fact that you evidently think it is A-OK to beat up on farmers because of your stereotypical view that they don’t vote Labour?

          Or the fact that you think your holier than thou world view entitles you to call the shots on who deserves state support in times of hardship, and who doesn’t?

          The point I’m making is that you’re looing pretty damn callous, tight fisted and outright destructive for a group of supposedly “progressive” and “inclusive” “social democrats”.

          But then again, that is typical Zetty.

          • Pascal's bookie 10.1.1.1.1

            Firstly, Nick C’s avatar should be a clue.

            Secondly, the moniker ‘Zetetic’ could be a clue.

            Thirdly, who said it’s ok to beat up on farmers because they don’t vote Labour? Be specific.

            Finally, it’s the hypocrisy, stupid.

            • The Baron 10.1.1.1.1.1

              And you don’t see the hypocrisy in the way you lot are behaving? You can’t laud the benefits of a welfare state then start picking the winners and losers – and claim your behaviour is ok because you think your opponent is doing it.

              Exactly what is hypocritical in what National is doing here – mind of course that this was an initiative introduced by your beloved, too. Come on – your turn to be specific.

              I thought the left prided themselves on principles- those I alluded to before. Instead, it seems your just a bunch of cruel partisan hacks. Specific enough for you, Pascal?

              • Pascal's bookie

                What ‘lot’ am I part of? Do I have an ilk even? I ever so much want an ilk of my own.

                But seeing you didn’t point out anyone who said ‘it’s ok to beat up on farmers because they don’t vote Labour’, not really specific enough, no.

                On the hypocrisy thing, there is a certain constituency that likes to talk about ‘bludgers’ and how they are carrying them. I think that it fair enough to point out when they too get the type of assistence that they would decry as ‘bludging’.

                A lot of the reaction is based around accepting a right wing premiss, ie, “given what rightwingers say they believe, why should we assist farmers who usually accept and promote right wing beliefs?”

                If you read the thread, you will see quite a few people saying that farmers should get this assistance. I agree with that, they should. I suspect Zet agrees as well.

                The point of the post is to challenge right wing rhetoric as I see it. That would be a zetetic sort of a way to approach things.

                Nick C I suspect, does not agree that farmers should get this help. He agrees with the discourse that calls them bludgers. He is, at least, consistent. But he is no sort of leftie.

          • felix 10.1.1.1.2

            Funnier and funnier, Baron.

            Also, what Pascal’s bookie said.

      • A post with me in it 10.1.2

        I believe the right cheer mightily when beneficiaries get the bash. There is no difference here.
        And stats show that most of them are short term and just people in need of temporary help.

        Hypocrisy abounds throughout human history and society because our brains are simply not wired for rational thought.

        But in their defence it is not the mantra of the LEFT to not support anyone and leave them to the wolves when it suits. That is the neo-con/libertarian philosophy.

        Me? I don’t think either should get the bash. But I think that requiring help SHOULD come with provisos just as for beneficiaries.

        For example:
        – Who says the government should not be paid back for the business loan?
        – Maybe they should receive a share of the business like any other investor?
        – Evaluation of said business for long term viability before anything is given?

        All these things are what currently happens to any business out in corporate land, of course with an investor substituted for the government.

        • Quoth the Raven 10.1.2.1

          But in their defence it is not the mantra of the LEFT to not support anyone and leave them to the wolves when it suits. That is the neo-con/libertarian philosophy.

          Libertarianism spans a vast array of political thought, socialist, communist, free market, free market socialist, mutualist and so on. It’s simply absurd to lump neo-conservatives with libertarians. It would be equivalent to me talking of some “social democrat/fascist philosophy”. You might try to engage in intellectually honest discussion once in awhile And as to leave them to the wolves we’re actually talking about people. Libertarians as other people of various other political persuasions believe there are alternative ways of organising. In this case alternatives to the welfare state. I’m guessing you’ve never heard of mutual aid.

          • A post with me in it 10.1.2.1.1

            I was mainly referring to the ACT brand of libertarianism which is by far the most popular in this country as far as I am aware.

            I am sure there are many flavors, all impure in one respect or another. Just like socialism.

            Mutual Aid is not an alternative. What you just linked to was a definition of a generic concept which could cover a huge range of solutions or even whacky ideas unrelated to this problem.

            Much like political tags such as “socialism” and “libertarianism” they are not solutions or even things. They are semantic boxes in which to confine concepts…

            ..lest anyone take them seriously??

            • Quoth the Raven 10.1.2.1.1.1

              Mutual Aid is not an alternative. What you just linked to was a definition of a generic concept which could cover a huge range of solutions or even whacky ideas unrelated to this problem.

              Organisations based on mutual aid are alternative ways of organising to what dominates today. For instance mutual welfare would be an alternative form of organisation to state welfare. Mutual insurance is an alternative form of organisation to corproate insurance and so on.

              BTW I certainly wouldn’t call ACT libertarians and I fairly sure the majority of libertarians no matter their varied stances would be loath to call Act libertarian.

            • A post with me in it 10.1.2.1.1.2

              I do apologize for insulting other flavours of Libertarians. My favourite flavour is “Rationalberry” personally.

              I myself am a lefty of a certain flavor but I don’t think that people getting things for free is a good idea. Leads to strange outcomes. Beneficiaries I am not worried about – they have already had to make sacrifices.
              Farmers are businesses and should be treated as such.

              Or did we forget that those farmers, should they lose their farms, are entitled to the benefit LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Until the government pays the mortgage of someone out of work, this should not be allowed either.

              Fonterra could quite easily have set up such plans but they have not.

              What I am suggesting is that the government get SOMETHING for their money. My list was not exhaustive.

              If you are thinking about a situation where the farmers set up some sort of support system of their own or with someone other than the government that is great.

              But they have not and here we are and that would not be an alternative solution.

            • The Baron 10.1.2.1.1.3

              Goddamn, if ACT is libertarian then Labour must be positively Trotskyist.

  11. Adrian 11

    Yeah, where would we be without farmers?. Well how about having to find the missing 73% of exports. As much as some would like to wank on, technology exports are not going to replace that amount of money at any time. The Nokia example is bullshit, all of those Scandinavian countries still rely hugely on surface based exports from timber to fishing to oil. Farming has been the mainstay of the country’s wealth for 150 years , in that time hundreds of different technological industries have briefly flared and crashed, from the English midlands to Detroit to Silicon valley. Nokia has probably got 5 years, tops. Great to have a country covered in native bush but a diet of fern roots would get pretty tedious, so lets run these farmers off the land when a 1-in 50 or 100yr drought hits, they must be hopeless, ( Crafars excluded) lets sell all their farms to say, the Chinese Government, Happy?. Actually, there is one good practice we could pinch from the Chinese, city dilettantes sent to the country for “re-education”. Double happy!.

  12. jcuknz 12

    While it sounds nice for the ‘dole payments’ to be made a loan it begs the question to what degree are these farms already indebted up to the hilt. The point is that the dole is given to any family which doesn’t have the means to meet its daily needs. The farming families qualify on that basis and it makes good sense not to force people out/off of their homes/farms. We have enough problems with the poor current ecconomy without more mortagee sales and homeless folk walking the streets…. more than are already doing this. This thread started with the typical and foolish recount of perceived ills which gains nobody any benefit.

  13. Bright Red 13

    drought is a normal part of farming.

    If a farm isn’t profitable enough to build up reserves to hadnle the predictable bad times, it’s not really economic is it? It’s being carried by the rest of us, including farms that are economic and able to handle normal climatic variation.

    Like Zet says, that just encourages poor allocation of resources and that’s bad for the economy at the end of the day, making the whole thing less efficient.

    Farms that can’t handle the normal climatic cycle shouldn’t be farmed in the way they are. Should be forest instead of dairy – for instance.

  14. Hamish 14

    Farmers work bloody hard, all hours of the day and night, and they contribute a hell of a lot to our economy.

    Dole bludgers don’t.

    How can you even suggest a comparison ?

    • Bright Red 14.1

      A farm that needs bailing out whenever there’s a drought, can’t pay for its carbon emissions, and dumps its pollution on everyone is not contributing to the economy – it is leeching off it.

      Obviously, not all farms are like this.

    • Maynard J 14.2

      The vast majority of people on benefits in NZ are on it for a short period of time, I believe about 95% are on it for under a year. That means that these ‘bludgers’ spend the rest of their working life paying taxes – they more than pay back what they receive in benefits. So your premise is wrong.

      Farms probably pay a lot in tax as well – but an unemployed farmer can get a benefit. Why should they also get a subsidy when there’s an utterly predictable business condition for which they should plan for? Why not protect other business everytime something bad happens, why is a drought different to an oil shock, to a recession? Hell, why desn’t the government pay for all businesses’ losses, and let them keep all the profit?

      When we were paying $15 for a block of cheese and milk solids were at their highest recorded level, why weren’t farmers keeping some of those massive payouts for the bad times?

      In saying that, zet, this post is logically absurd. If farmers are bludgers, and shouldn’t be getting money, should we cancel benefits? If not, why draw a parallel, even a false one, when the conclusion is logically ambiguous. I’d call this cutting your nose to spite your face.

  15. Kleefer 15

    Wow, this is the most economically rational piece of writing I’ve ever seen on this site and it really is a superb takedown of Welfare for Farmers, which both major parties are guilty of supporting.

    “Terrible economics too. Totally the wrong signals. Farmers can win in the boom but never lose in the bad times. Encourages more dairy on marginal land. Encourages poor allocation of natural resources and capital. Means you and me will be dipping into our pockets to pay the dole for rich farmers even more in the future.”

    That passage wouldn’t look out of place on Mises.org! Didn’t know there were any closet Austrian economists here. Now, if your writers could just apply this sort of economic logic to all the other silly socialist policies you and your readers support you may understand why the free market is not only the most efficient economic system but the only truly moral one as well.

    • Maynard J 15.1

      Kleefer, what is a “free market”? I know that there is an economic theory about them which defines one in an utterly theoretical world, but there’s no such thing.

      Kind of me like saying “well the cars and trains you use are flawed; me, I prefer wormholes”.

      Are you advocating the overthrow of all governments and the abolition of all legal and social framework that distorts the market, or do you merely want government to be reduced to a supporting role for the interests of large corporates (the latter being the version of the ‘free’ market that many ‘free marketeers’ seem to like the sound of, because that particular distortion suits their interests more than other distortions).

      • Quoth the Raven 15.1.1

        If the government is supporting large corporates than it isn’t free market. You’ll find if you actually look that those who honestly advocate for the free market are utterly anti-corporatist and many are anti-corproate altogether. All oppose any form of coproate welfare and most oppose limited liability, corporate personhood, intellecutal property and all other manner of legal privileges bestowed on corporations. Take Roderick Long for instance:

        Corporations tend to fear competition, because competition exerts downward pressure on prices and upward pressure on salaries; moreover, success on the market comes with no guarantee of permanency, depending as it does on outdoing other firms at correctly figuring out how best to satisfy forever-changing consumer preferences, and that kind of vulnerability to loss is no picnic. It is no surprise, then, that throughout U.S. history corporations have been overwhelmingly hostile to the free market. Indeed, most of the existing regulatory apparatus—including those regulations widely misperceived as restraints on corporate power—were vigorously supported, lobbied for, and in some cases even drafted by the corporate elite.[1]

        Corporate power depends crucially on government intervention in the marketplace.[2] This is obvious enough in the case of the more overt forms of government favoritism such as subsidies, bailouts,[3] and other forms of corporate welfare; protectionist tariffs; explicit grants of monopoly privilege; and the seizing of private property for corporate use via eminent domain (as in Kelo v. New London). But these direct forms of pro-business intervention are supplemented by a swarm of indirect forms whose impact is arguably greater still.

        It’s perfectly true that conservatives have often used the rhetoric of the free market to support cronyism and corporatism and it’s exactly that hypocrisy which Zet is trying to show in his post and a great job he’s done of it.

        This is a brilliantly scathing video on corporatism by a post-objectivist no less.

        • Maynard J 15.1.1.1

          We’ve had a chat, a long time ago, about this. A lot of people call for a free market is in reality nothing of the sort – but the claim all the economic, moral and social benefits when actually arguing for a weakening of individual rights, a strengthening of rules favouring the big players in the current market and the reduction only of those ‘socialist’ distortions that do not favour business.

          I’m not sure what many would think when confronted with a reality of that theory that would involve the removal of the legal fiction of a corporate as legal entity, and the rort of limited liability – I suspect I’d be more favourable than a lot who claim to endorse a free market!

          I know I am generalising, but in my discussions with those on the social/economic right, they almost invariably don’t understand what the economic right really entails, and mistake it for the opposite of social left policies.

  16. Farmers welfare is the founding model of the PPP in this country. Farmers always claimed private property rights but farmed for the unearned increment and massive state subsidies. Why should it be different today?
    The solution is one which rewards farmers for their labour and improved value, but socialises all the unearned increment of capital gains due to private ownership and the unaccounted massive social subsidies to the land. Land nationalisation would do it.

    • nzfp 16.1

      Hi dave brown,
      We don’t need to nationalise land to remove the injustices and realise the benefits you’ve refered to in your comment. We could still respect private property rights while curtailing land banking and unearned income on capital gain by implementing a land tax. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), English philosopher and social reformer, and an acknowledged major intellectual figure of the 19th century in his book “Principles of Political Economy” (Section 2, Chapter 3, Book 5) states:

      (V.3.4) §2. A tax on rent falls wholly on the landlord. There are no means by which he can shift the burthen upon any one else. It does not affect the value or price of agricultural produce, for this is determined by the cost of production in the most unfavourable circumstances, and in those circumstances, as we have so often demonstrated, no rent is paid. A tax on rent, therefore, has no effect, other than its obvious one. It merely takes so much from the landlord, and transfers it to the state. [my emphasis]

  17. Lee Paterson 17

    Is this not simply an economic issue? – when any business owner goes to the bank to borrow on assets for new work, the bank asks for a business plan… simple stuff like %down time, and %profit, known risks, unknown or unquantified risks, and exposure (leverage) on personal / business assets.

    I don’t mind an occasional “unusual” circumstance bailing out an otherwise productive business, but surely some responsibility has to fall to the business owner and their lender for letting them over leverage against relatively quantifiable risks.

    We have entered a time when marginal land is changing use to more intensive farming practices, because market appears to reward over risks, but it is probably going to bite the next generation of farmers when they go to their lender for money.. some hard (or at least hardER) questions need to be asked of what appears to be risky business practices.

  18. Bored 18

    Rod Oram in the paper yesterday had a very good take upon the high turnover of farms for capital gains, farmers earning bugger all from the farm income. This in itself is a very unsustainable model and only leads to bad practices.

    I can’t agree with people, especially farmers who go on about the importance of this sector to our economy and by implication the need to support them. It is really blackmail, a case of “you need us or else’. The real issue we need to face is getting the farm structural model right, using land for its sustainable uses, as opposed to the short term speculative GRASS MINING approach. And in the background adding value to farm products here with local labour.

    • vto 18.1

      Yes Bored, for all the berating of property and sharemarket and other speculation, New Zealand’s largest and most frequent speculators are farmers.

      It is well known that, in terms of making a dollar, they farm for the sole purpose of capital gain on the farm. Nothing else. Ffs they admit it themselves all the time. Then berate others for the same or similar.

  19. prism 19

    Presumably rising farm prices during the property wealth and prosperity boom have left some farmers who had exceeded the prudent limits of value based on return on investment, in an impossible position when there is a downturn.

    The idea that financial reality doesn’t apply to farmers, that they work harder than those stupid lazy townies, who are the dole recipients doesn’t wash. Recently a farmer spokeperson denied that farmers wanted the dole, but at the same time emphasised the disastrous drought and the problems it caused.

    There is a disjunct between the sneering attitude to beneficiaries, and the need to have support during a period of lack of income for farmers that they have to reconcile. They may be in a business, but not one to be discarded under the market system, and when sound farmers need help for living expenses they should get it from the government and not as a loan and regard themselves as ordinary citizens of the country, not superior and separate beings.

  20. Red Rosa 20

    Farmers naturally try to put the best figures forward for their contribution to the economy, but a hard look at the stats is interesting.

    FOB value of NZ exports for the June year 08 was wool 1.6%, meat 12.4 %, dairy 25.1% and ‘total pastoral’ 41.4%. ‘Total agriculture’ (includes hort and processed) was 52.6%. Probably 09 and 2010 were much the same.

    Fed Farmers like to quote 65%. This is a round figure for ‘primary exports’ – but to get to that, you need to add in forestry and fishing!

    Most of the noise comes from the pastoral (grazing) sector, which to repeat, contributes just over 40% of exports. Important of course, but not quite what is often quoted.

    And these are merchandise exports, FOB. You need a different set of figures to get the full picture of overseas earnings. Tourism in $ receipts is about the same as dairy. Then the almost total collapse of wool, and the big drop in meat, as income earners since the 80s really shows up.

    Certainly not like 50 years ago, when wool alone was over 30% of exports…..

  21. Rod Oram in the paper yesterday had a very good take upon the high turnover of farms for capital gains, farmers earning bugger all from the farm income. This in itself is a very unsustainable model and only leads to bad practices.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/3620702/Don-t-bet-the-farm-on-2015-prosperity

    Not a good look eh ?

    • RedLogix 21.1

      You don’t have to agree with every word Oram writes to be depressed by the fact that our feeble govt and amateurish business sector are pig-ignorantly heading in exactly 180deg the opposite direction to anything Oram suggests.

  22. Roger 22

    “Predictably, along comes a drought. You know what the textbooks say happens next. Our glorious capitalist system should mean farms that can’t handle a bad time fail. Just like any other business. Land gets used for something better. It’s the market. But capitalists don’t really believe in the market. Come the bad times, the farmers want another hand out.”

    I completely agree, farms that are economically unsustainable should be left to fail. The farmers should sell or convert their farm from dairy to something else.

  23. deemac 23

    NZ earns more from tourism than from dairying but still people talk as if it is the cows that are supporting us. Plus NZ dairying is going to lose the battle with alternative suppliers due to its outdated business model. So any more encouragement for dairying is helping hold back the NZ economy from planning for the future.

  24. Bored 24

    Longer term dairying will all be about local production. I am of course refering to an energy starved world where trucking milk to a super factory will not be an energy cost effective option. When you drive around Taranaki every mile or so is the shell of the old dairy co-op building. This is likely to be the revived in the future which gives us the opportunity for local ownership and local added value using local energy resources and local labour.

    The same applies for wool. Syntheitic fibre was one reason for the collapse of the wool market. The end of cheap oil will bring wool back to primacy. the big issue we as a nation will face on this is again to add the value here as opposed to sending it off shore for processing.

    NZ is sitting pretty compared to our competitors if we take advantage of the opportunities offered. The single biggest opportunity is local ownership and local value add.

  25. What we are observing is the slow decline and inevitable decline of the family farm concern. In the 1950s and 60s, the highly protectionist nature of the international community, and domestic subsidies allowed the family farm to flourish.

    Loss of market, decline in prices and removal of domestic subsidies put paid to as much as 20% of all family farms. Increasingly, corporate operations came to own farms, and a great degree of consolidation occurred so that family farms could remain viable economic units. Of those who have known/lived on farms, how often is there: an old woodshed, farmhouse, dividing fence?

    The milk price bonanza of the mid-2000s masked an even greater threat to family farms – the massive increase in the value of rural land. Many farmers who nominally own land, have such a small cashflow for operating and living costs simply because they are paying back such big loans, and the frequently complained about rural rates.

    A significant part of the problem is also the fact that many farmers kind of fell into farming after they left school, and that they lack a necessary business nous, as earlier mentioned, to effectively operate their concern. Hard work is all good and well, but issues like, liquidity ratios, debt structure, and business case scenarios are very important, especially when you are talking in the millions of dollars. In response, many have opted to operate an adjunct business (sometimes even cash only) for liquidity purposes, i.e. how many farms do you see these days who are not operating an e.g. homestay, bush walks, firewood, fruit stall? Not many.

    I’m not generally opposed to giving farmers the dole, remembering how much it actually is. I really doubt that the extra cash received will have a large impact on viability decisions. However, this as someone said earlier does carry a certain political quid-pro-pro.

    • uke 25.1

      Excellent point about the decline in “family farms.

      It would be interesting to see a breakdown of types of farm ownership. I wonder how many are really just part of Crafur-style farming empires similar to the massive estates that the “southern gentry” owned in the 19thC? When the Liberals came in around 1890 they fairly swiftly broke these monopoly estates up. Perhaps its time to do this again?

      And when we speak of “farmers”, us urbanites tend to think of a Fred Dagg-ish or Wal-type person, a hard-working resourceful individualist, harking back to Pakeha myths of pioneers working on the land. One can’t really imagine such a person wanting a handout, eh?

      • Pascal's bookie 25.1.1

        related thoughts:

        http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2010/1003.lynn-longman.html

        But while the mystery of what killed the great American jobs machine has yielded no shortage of debatable answers, one of the more compelling potential explanations has been conspicuously absent from the national conversation: monopolization. The word itself feels anachronistic, a relic from the age of the Rockefellers and Carnegies. But the fact that the term has faded from our daily discourse doesn’t mean the thing itself has vanished—in fact, the opposite is true. In nearly every sector of our economy, far fewer firms control far greater shares of their markets than they did a generation ago.

        Indeed, in the years after officials in the Reagan administration radically altered how our government enforces our antimonopoly laws, the American economy underwent a truly revolutionary restructuring. Four great waves of mergers and acquisitions—in the mid-1980s, early ’90s, late ’90s, and between 2003 and 2007—transformed America’s industrial landscape at least as much as globalization. Over the same two decades, meanwhile, the spread of mega-retailers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot and agricultural behemoths like Smithfield and Tyson’s resulted in a more piecemeal approach to consolidation, through the destruction or displacement of countless independent family-owned businesses.

        It is now widely accepted among scholars that small businesses are responsible for most of the net job creation in the United States. It is also widely agreed that small businesses tend to be more inventive, producing more patents per employee, for example, than do larger firms. Less well established is what role concentration plays in suppressing new business formation and the expansion of existing businesses, along with the jobs and innovation that go with such growth. Evidence is growing, however, that the radical, wide-ranging consolidation of recent years has reduced job creation at both big and small firms simultaneously. At one extreme, ever more dominant Goliaths increasingly lack any real incentive to create new jobs; after all, many can increase their earnings merely by using their power to charge customers more or pay suppliers less. At the other extreme, the people who run our small enterprises enjoy fewer opportunities than in the past to grow their businesses. The Goliaths of today are so big and so adept at protecting their turf that they leave few niches open to exploit.

        Absent pitchforks and tumbrils, (increasingly my preferred provider), a round f good old fashioned trust busting would’nt go amiss. If feckers have thoughts about getting too big to fail, balance it with thoughts of the baliff storming their manor with a scythe.

        • RedLogix 25.1.1.1

          A very pertinent comment PB.

          It’s long forgotten fact that perhaps the most bitter episode in New Zealand’s political history was the breakup of the great stations in the 1890’s, the advent of new refrigeration technology making small-holding farms viable for the first time. But of course it took political action to break up the old vested monopoly interests.

          The future of New Zealand farming as Rod Oram was pointing out in his article this weekend is in high value, research intensive sustainable organics… propping up the current extractive, low-value commodity based model is the path to poverty.

        • Quoth the Raven 25.1.1.2

          Absolutely essential reading on the topic: Austrian and Marxist theories of monopoly capital: A mutualist synthesis.

  26. Ianmac 26

    Good one Zet.
    In the past farmers have said to me that I must appreciate that they are they main strength to NZ economy. I say yes of course you are.
    But you the farmer are not farming for the good of the country at all. You are farming because you know how, you enjoy it, and you are doing it to make money for your lifestyle. You have means of hiding income as costs for farming which reduces tax.
    You farm for personal reasons and this does not earn you the right to get special priviledges beyond that of any other worker or businessman.
    I usually get a grim response and drink alone at the country pub. 🙂

    • prism 26.1

      Interesting point Ianmac about being left to drink alone after stating simple facts. I made a point earlier about the rhetoric of the heroic farmer going his individualistic way, needing no help, not like those pathetic townies. Then when someone takes them seriously they get shirty.
      There has been a lot of talk about dairy farmers needing help, but surely farmers in other sectors are having drought problems. And the farmers most deserving income help are the family farmers. If they fail, then the factory farmers will buy up their properties, and we’ll have more of the distant landlord stuff which is not good for the country, the brand, the animals or the small farmer or sharemilker. And our forebears came here to get away from the landed classes that operate so that nobody can accumulate enough money to buy land for themselves, there could be no upward social mobility. The Tolpuddle Martyrs – does anyone remember them!

  27. One of your most sensible posts.

    National are the party of Pink Torys recall. The issue really is about consistency and if the government is to prop up people who own struggling businesses then you have to ask why farmers and not other businesses with cashflow problems?

    Given farmers themselves talk of being in it for capital gains, I have to say their income streams and cashflow is their own problem when at the end of the process they have that to look forward to.

    • tsmithfield 27.1

      Cactus, I did make some posts on this earlier on. I tend to agree with you.

      However, I do feel a little sorry for farmers in that, despite the best planning, weather events can occur that go way outside the scope for prudent planning. For this reason, I wouldn’t want to take up farming myself.

      I think, therefore, that there are situations where the government should step in, so long as these situations meet the criteria of being outside the scope of what a careful farmer would allow for in prudent planning. For instance a one in one hundred year flood or drought might meet that criteria.
      In these situations, help should be in the form of a loan rather than a grant.

      Other than that, I see a moral hazard in stepping in to rescue farmers every time there is a moderately adverse event that is within the scope of good planning.

  28. Hamish 28

    The business is _not_ being bailed out – the employee, who the business can no longer afford to pay is given the payments.

    If you look at this closely, you’ll see that’s exactly how the unemployment benefit currently works anyway : you get it, when your employer stops paying your income.

    So, original post = fail…

    • andy (the other one) 28.1

      If you look at this closely, you’ll see that’s exactly how the unemployment benefit currently works anyway : you get it, when your employer stops paying your income.

      No you don’t Hamish if you:

      -Are married/long term partner and said spouse/partner earns over $35k
      -You have savings
      -Are made redundant = 13 week stand down + all of the above

      And unfortunately with farming the business is the employee, I have farmers in the family and the business pays lots of the house hold expenses because they live where they work and are on call 24/7 but drought forces them to spend 110% of everything keeping the lights on and the animals well..

      So the business is being subsidised, because in good times they still get to claim against living expenses where as PAYE workers are on their own. The system treats the two very similar circumstances very differently and I would argue unfairly.

    • Bright Red 28.2

      hamish. do you have the internet?

      if so, you could find out about the Rural Assistance Payments (which are the same amount as the unemployment benefit, but not actually the unemployment benefit). And then you would find out that you’ve got it wrong.

      http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/a-z-benefits/rural-assistance.html

  29. Hamish 29

    >>>andy (the other one) :

    Okay, I may have some of the finer detail wrong. This is how I picked up the original post: public money will be used to prop up / bailout a farm if due to drought it cannot turn a profit / pay it’s staff. (Correct me if I am wrong) That is not that case. Public money will be used to help the farmer (and his staff) regardless of his asset base, which in the case of a farmer, is probably rather rich.

    At the end of the day, I see no problem with giving farmers a helping hand. The amount of money they take back for the short period they are on state assistance would be far far less then the amount they pay in tax. Also, these “bludgers” are extremely productive, both to the country and to their communities. Hardly like the stereo-type bludger from South Auckland who’ll be on state assistance for a long time, doing nothing productive, and ticking the Red or Green box every three years.

    >>> hamish. do you have the internet? >>>haha..

    • Maynard J 29.1

      As I said to you earlier, the vast majority of people who receive a benefit do so for a short period of time, and pay tax for a majority of their life. So I assume you have no objections to benefits.

      Just like there are a small minority of people who abuse benefits, no doubt there are farmers doing the same. If you consider that this drought is a predictable event that farmers should have planned for, then you might question whether any of them are deserving recipients of this benefit.

  30. Ianmac 30

    Hamish:” The amount of money they take back for the short period they are on state assistance would be far far less then the amount they pay in tax.”
    Do you know that for sure Hamish? I know farmers who have boasted to me that they never pay income tax because they have very “good” accountants, and what’s more they claim back GST. I think farmers are really a great group as people, but they like some other business people they avoid paying tax – legally! Shame!

    • graham 30.1

      droughts happen

    • Most of that isn’t due to good accountants but being able to deduct interest on the farm mortgage. In many cases this represents a vast majority of farm expenses Plenty of farmers will keep high debt ratios and pay little tax because of that (and depreciation deductions). Similar to rental property accounts in a way. The higher the leveraging the less tax you pay.

  31. Hamish 31

    It was a stereo-type comment……over all it would be incredibly true…..

  32. jcuknz 32

    As I see it the Rural Assitance Package is to keep people from starving and nothing to do with the business side which may or may not go under but at least the humans involved men women and children will not starve, will have light and heat, and so on as they struggle 24/7 to keep the business afloat. All this burbling on about the ecconomics of farming is irrelevant twaddle and nothing to to do with the basic question ” Payments to farming families who have no money for the groceries”.

    So like the UB the RAP fulfills worthwhile purpose from my socialistic point of view. Zetetic’s original comments are shameful gutter garbage designed to stir up foolish interlectuals who ignore the basic principle involved of a responsible society which cares for those in need irrespective of if they are to blame for their situation …. the same as Woodhouse envisaged ACC…. the same as the private insurance companies pay out on claims.
    Put that in your pipes and smoke it 🙂

    • RedLogix 32.1

      Sure …most of us here actually understand that farming families should be supported through the bad times…. but understand how it sticks in our craw that it’s the political wing of the farming community who rabidly denies the same pragmatic compassion to us ‘parasite townies’.

  33. Name 33

    Farming is somewhat like an oil-tanker – it takes a long time to turn around and take another direction.

    Yes, you could farm at a level that anticipates drought – which means that 9 years out of 10 your farm is only producing half what it could do. Who benefits from that?

    Individual farmers deserve the same kind of support as anyone else when misfortune hits them.

    Where I do agree with the poster is that while individual farmers may not be at fault and deserve help, we’ve seen over and over an industry hit a good patch and – ker-ching – the cash register lights up in the eyes of the entrepreneur and a thousand of them pile in placing pressure on resources, markets, infrastructure, environment, public tolerance, etc. Remember when milk was called “white gold”? A few years ago green-shell mussels were $1,000 a tonne on the harvester. Now it’s $600 a tonne. Two years ago you couldn’t move in Marlborough for new vineyards. Now the bottom has dropped out of grapes and vines are being ripped out. Kiwi-fruit, Angora, Marino, sub-prime mortgages. The list goes on.

    Individuals are not at fault, apart from those who try it in patently inappropriate places. It’s the invisible hand of the market that cries, “There’s gold in them thar’ hills,” and is happy to let the Devil take the hindmost.

    Usually the industry stake-holders themselves are too caught up in the rush, or have too much at stake, to question it so someone outside the system needs to have the power to cry, ‘Hold, enough’, before the lifeboat gets too crowded and all souls are lost.

    It used to be called a planned economy before we all thought we knew better.

  34. Adrian 34

    A few facts, Name is correct, the trouble with farming is that when some crop or other starts to get good prices, Queen Street Farmers become involved , push up land prices, get the demand /supply cocked up, crop prices fall, and genuine farmers struggle. That’s what happened in Marlborough, all sorts of arseholes, notably ex big city developers and financiers ( the Velas, Sutton, McKean et al ) climbed on board. But a correction, no vines are being pulled out, that’s Jim Delegats wishful thinking, so he can buy cheap vineyards, the 2010 vintage is down quite a bit due to very good management of fruit levels and a coolish spring. Sorry, cheap savvy is off the winelist next year. The Rural Assistance Packages were bought in by Labour during the 2000/01 drought after National refused in 1998 ( one of the reasons the Nats lost so heavily in 99, the cockies stayed home), they have an off-farm asset threshold which actually prevents many farming families from getting them. Another post has lamented that the ungrateful bastards, who historicly do a lot better under Labour, completely forget which party is on their side when it comes to the ballot box.

  35. Descendant Of Smith 35

    It’s was clear to me from the outset that the post was pointing out the hypocrisy not suggesting that farmers struggling for food and unable to get any help from their banker mates (you know the ones who lend them lots of money in the good times and run away in the bad and I’m probably being slightly unfair on some bankers who do see to help farmers more than others) shouldn’t be given the same subsistence level of benefit to help out when needed.

    No doubt many farmers have made provision but some in my area have had several years of drought and have already sold off their stock so it doesn’t starve ( and the townies would have moaned their heads off if they hadn’t – just like they complain about the skinny working dogs ) and have little if nothing left. The drought effects go on much longer even when the rain comes because they may have no stock left and have to slowly rebuild again.

    I don’t begrudge anyone in genuine need getting help and moral judgments of what led to the predicament they find themselves in which is what many right-wing people make don’t come into it.

    If they have no money help em.

  36. Armchair Critic 36

    Bugger it, this is the kind of post that bring out the righty in me.
    These farmers. They’ve got a good scam going…
    Most of the farmers I know are not deliberate scammers.
    Got us paying for their greenhouse emissions.
    To many farmers the ETS is a bunch of airy fairy scientific accounting bollocks and they are happy to oppose it on the basis that someone (from National or ACT, usually) tells them that it is bad for their business, will cost them money, or will stop them from doing what they do. Remember, farmers don’t make a lot of money every year. Sure, they have high cashflows, but a lot of the time they run cash deficits and only make any money from capital gains when they sell up. So the extra costs of an ETS don’t sit well with them. Especially considering (and I’ll stereotype here again) they don’t see any direct benefit from the expenditure. And yes, I know that is one of the things about an ETS. Stopping farmers doing what they always do is usually met with resistance, because farming involves a lot of routine, which is kind of like tradition, and traditions and routines take some effort to change. Again, not defending resistance to the ETS from the farming sector, just trying to explain it. In essence, farmers are happy to take someone’s word about the ETS because it has less impact on them to approach it that way.
    …put all their untreated sh*t in our waterways… is too much hyperbole – and what drove me to write a long response to the post. Yes, untreated sh*t goes into waterways from farms. Some of it is done illegally, and where it is found, it is prosecuted. Crafars, for example. Some of it goes in legally, because not all farms have all waterways fenced, culverted and planted up. I’m all for protection of waterways, BTW. And some is treated (happy to debate the adequacies of current dairy effluent treatment with all-comers, too – my opinion is that farmers could and should do better) and discharged. Not all shit is untreated. While I am critical of the Clean Streams Accord, I can give it credit for (a) being better than what was there previously, and (b) having halted the decline of water quality in some places and started improving it in others. Please don’t ask me to defend it any further.
    When a council won’t give them more free water, they get their corrupt government to disband the council
    I’ve a suspicion that there are many farmers in Canterbury who either do not support or outright oppose the government’s actions regarding ECan. I’m on record in comments on other posts opposing it, too. Tarring all the farmers in Canterbury with the same brush is unfair.
    …we’ll be paying for farmers irrigation…”
    I’m happy to pay for farmer’s irrigation, well, a part of the capital costs, at least. Okay, there are a lot of caveats on that, around sustainability and equitability, but in principle I’m fine with my tax money going towards such things. Why not?
    …get the government to pay for their R&D and have a cry when asked to contribute to the cost…
    Never really followed this one. Agree farmers should contribute something towards R&D costs. Do they genuinely contribute nothing toward R&D?
    Back in the dairy boom they converted a whole lot of sheep, beef, and forest land to dairy. Never enough water
    My understanding has been that sheep, beef and forestry were “barely economical” due to low prices, rather than a lack of water. The process under which these farms were converted to dairy is a prime example of “…farms that can’t handle a bad time fail.” As sheep, beef and forestry they couldn’t handle a bad time, and they failed. And under the capitalist system the land was converted to dairy. Which was a great big risk management failure in both economic and environmental terms, in my book. But that would be the subject of an entirely different post.
    So government’s giving them the dole. Yup, the dole.
    Yeah, what would you have them do? Walk off the land? I’ve seen that done, had family do it. It was the mid 1980s (thanks, first ACT government), I’ll never forget how it destroyed lives. Everyone deserves a safety net and a helping hand when they need it. Farmers included. Suggesting otherwise is cold-hearted. Fucking cold-hearted. And unbecoming of anyone who considers themselves to be left-leaning or liberal.
    On a more pleasant note, it makes sense from National’s perspective. Farmers tend to vote National, whereas the unemployed tend not to. If farmers need to be eligible for the dole to remain farmers (and thereby National voters) then it is expedient of National to allow them to be eligible for the dole. Especially considering how effective they have been, as a government, at increase the numbers of unemployed.
    Much of what the post attributes to farmers is, as I see it, properly attributed to this shit-arsed government we have. Yes, they are encouraging dairy on land that is unsuitable for dairy (don’t pull your punches on that one, some of the land is not just “marginal”). Yes, they will almost certainly provide tax cuts at the top end and for businesses. Yes, the government have stolen democracy in Canterbury.
    The best way to stop the terrible things this government is doing is to vote them out. Alienating sectors of the voting populace with posts like this one just perpetuates the myth that the left are anti-farming (amongst the other myths about the left) and shores up the decrease in support for the government. I want National out. This post didn’t help.

    • uke 36.1

      Much of what you say rings true, Armchair Critic.

      It is perhaps just a bit lazy to discuss the issues in polarising, “them and us”, terms, when the rural sector is far more complicated. As is the urban sector.

      All it does, in fact, is mirror the rhetoric of lobby groups like Federated Farmers who always seem so defensive and chip-on-shoulder.

  37. Adrian 37

    DofS and Arm Chair…brilliantly said. God, I wish I could write like that.

  38. vto 38

    Up until a few days ago or so the odd farmer would post their side of the story on here.

    Now, as far as I can tell, there aint a single one.

    What’s happenned? They run out of solid argument? They had enough of leftie types? Would be good to hear their side because there are serious issues. I had a ding-dong with one the other day but I think he gave up on continuing the debate………

    • Bored 38.1

      The odd farmer will be back when the coast is clear, they wont forget the habits of a lifetime so quickly.

  39. Kleefer 39

    Maynard J, I agree with you that many people who claim to be fans of the “free market” are nothing of the sort and support rules that benefit the big corporations at the expense of everybody else. I am not one of these people. Quoth the Raven is also correct, genuine free-marketers are anti-corporatist. Unfortunately the term “free market” has been corrupted so much by its opponents and its pretend supporters that genuine free marketers, who have many of the same social goals as the left but different means of achieving those goals, are lumped in with those who think the duty of government is to serve big business interests.

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