Be wary when cheap lin­ing of­fered

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By JAMES HOUGHTON

There are al­ways a few cow­boys out there look­ing to rus­tle up a bit of ex­tra cash from un­sus­pect­ing farm­ers.

Re­cently, I have heard of some keen busi­nesses sell­ing farm­ers some sus­pi­ciously cheap ef­flu­ent pond liner.

I sus­pect they fall into the cow­boy cat­e­gory.

It seems sim­ple enough. You tell the com­pany what di­men­sions you want and they send the re­quired amount of liner at an ‘‘off the back of a truck’’ price. How­ever, this is usu­ally lit­tle more than plas­tic silage bale cov­er­ing which may or may not last the dis­tance.

Us­ing this would be like putting four space saver tyres on your car and go­ing for a fam­ily hol­i­day. You might get safely home with­out any has­sle but you are more likely to end up in a ditch.

The fines in­volved, if you are found to have ef­flu­ent seep­ing from poorly con­structed ponds, would eas­ily over­take any ini­tial sav­ings made on a liner. If you want your liner to last more than one or two years I sug­gest you spend the ex­tra money with a rep­utable dealer.

Ef­flu­ent pond lin­ers should come with a 10-year guar­an­tee.

Lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio last week I heard that more than 4000 hectares of Waikato farm­land is among the 16,000ha in­volved in ap­pli­ca­tions from 41 buy­ers yet to be con­sid­ered by the Over­seas In­vest­ment Of­fice. Fol­low­ing this, I had a few calls ask­ing what my opin­ion was on al­low­ing over­seas in­vestors to buy this much Waikato farm­land. My an­swer was pretty sim­ple: I have no prob­lem with peo­ple want­ing to come live here, farm their land and cre­ate em­ploy­ment and busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

It seems the High Court rul­ing over the Cra­far farms sale has placed all Over­seas In­vest­ment Of­fice land ap­pli­ca­tions in limbo.

This may re­sult in some po­ten­tial in­vestors be­ing put off in­vest­ing here.

Per­haps that is not such a bad thing.

We need peo­ple who are re­ally will­ing to back New Zealand and its peo­ple, not in­vestors and bankers who would look to trade us off as soon as an­other coun­try and in­dus­try be­comes more fash­ion­able.

Speak­ing of cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­vest­ing in peo­ple, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers call cen­tre staff seem to have been field­ing a num­ber of calls around when a fixed-term em­ploy­ment con­tract is rea­son­able and when an open em­ploy­ment con­tract is nec­es­sary. It is pretty ba­sic, re­ally. If you have em­ploy­ees on fixed-term con­tracts but the work is on­go­ing, they should be on reg­u­lar con­tracts.

The main rea­sons for fixed-term con­tracts are to al­low em­ploy­ers to hire work­ers for one-off projects or to cover a per­ma­nent staff mem­ber’s parental or other ex­tended leave.

Fixed-term con­tracts could be used by lowerorder con­tract milk­ers who them­selves are on fixed con­tracts.

All other em­ploy­ers should be us­ing reg­u­lar em­ploy­ment con­tracts.

So, if you are hir­ing some­one for a fixed term, that is fine, but if their con­tract ends on June 1 next year and it rolls over, that is il­le­gal.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers has a range of em­ploy­ment con­tracts specif­i­cally de­signed for farm­ing sit­u­a­tions avail­able for sale to mem­bers and non­mem­bers alike.

Hav­ing one of these at the ready next time you are tak­ing some­body on could save a lot of trou­ble down the track. It is also worth not­ing that, as of July last year, all em­ploy­ers must have signed copies of their em­ploy­ees’ em­ploy­ment agree­ments on file.

There are plenty of rea­sons to make sure all your em­ploy­ees have con­tracts, in­clud­ing the fines of up to $10,000 for an in­di­vid­ual or $20,000 for a cor­po­ra­tion for those who fail to do this.

The sup­ply of palm ker­nel ex­peller (PKE), or pro­cess­ing waste, has dropped sharply re­cently, as a fall­ing de­mand for palm oil has re­duced pro­duc­tion.

The price of palm oil has plunged from a five-year peak of NZ$3010 each met­ric tonne in Fe­bru­ary 2011, to $1710 in Jan­uary 2012.

The fed­er­a­tion has long ar­gued New Zealand farm­ers us­ing PKE as sup­ple­men­tary feed are only us­ing a by-prod­uct from the much more lu­cra­tive palm oil in­dus­try. Surely the lat­est sta­tis­tics on fall­ing oil de­mand lim­it­ing the pro­duc­tion of all palm re­lated prod­ucts backs this up?

James Houghton

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