Friday, June 7, 2013

Whats the purpose of Landcorp?

Meat industry editorial, no I too have had a gutsful of these, it seems these have been done to death the last month; unfortunately my reading of it all simply reinforces to me is that not much is going to happen. The only thing I would say is any meat company spokesperson, who continues to waffle on about the importance of farmer loyalty without also saying in the same breath all shareholders will be paid the same on any given day, won’t get too much bloody loyalty!!!!
This leads me to Landcorp, what is the purpose of Landcorp? My view is that more often than not these days it is undermining every other farmer in New Zealand It’s government owned, which in theory means its owned by all of us, it realistically doesn’t face the same financial pressures as the rest of us, just look at Solid energy as an example, millions of dollars of book debt, but still operating.
I am sure that there are a lot of farmers in this country who with the same access to capital it does, could do a much better job. One reason being that private farmers do face the financial pressures to make it work, I somewhat doubt that there is any state run business that operates more efficiently than a top privately run business. A second reason that flows from the first is that most people that are passionate and very good at what they do, don’t want to do it for wages only for too long, they generally want to do it for a business that they own.
Chris Kelly negotiates a premium for his works lambs; he does this simply because of the sheer numbers it can supply. But who is paying for this, all the rest of us, yes the shareholder suppliers, subsidise Landcorp, how farcical is that. Kelly’s response is that we as farmers should band together and do the same, firstly it’s much more difficult to coordinate many different farmers as opposed to one entity under the control of Kelly, but secondly should we have to worry about state owned farm undermining the rest of us? Thirdly even if it was possible it doesn’t make it the right action to take, it should not be “if you can’t beat them join them attitude”.

Recently I attended an Agresearch presentation to Romney New Zealand (“RNZ”), with whom we collaborating on a number of research projects for industry good traits. It was advised that Focus Genetics, which is some sort of venture between what was Rissington (an entity that seems to have more lives than a cat) and Landcorp, had received $600000 from the government for research. RNZ a private organisation needs to provide dollar for every dollar we get from Agresearch, what we could do with $600000. I am not sure if they are providing dollar for dollar, but even if they are then that would also be coming from government wouldn’t it? Again should a state owned farm be able to do this. While I have read articles saying that Focus are leading New Zealand genetics, I suspect these have probably been written by Focus themselves as I can assure you there are plenty of sheep and cattle in this country that are every bit as good and realistically in my opinion a helluva lot better!

These are just two examples of Landcorp undermining the rest of us; I know there is many more, look at the purchase of land, crafar farms management etc. In my view Landcorp should go back to what I understand it was originally set up for, assisting younger people into farms of their own. This is a big issue for farming in this country and should be its principle focus, if it’s not going to be, then the government should sell it off and build some hospitals and schools!!!