Think outside the square
This year is nearly done and dusted, but as a nation we collectively have not added significant nett wealth to New Zealand for the year just ending, but we have fared well when we compare ourselves to the United States of America and the European Union with their respective fiscal financial woes.
What I can claim bragging rights to, and be very proud of, is the performance of our own Kiwi primary agricultural export industries both locally and nationally.
Farming families, no matter at what level of involvement, whether employees or employers, have certainly put in the productive hard yards to supply nutritious food for the world that is acknowledged to be very significant for New Zealand’s export receipt of income this fiscal year.
What is happening though is our general Waikato economy is somewhat flat, farming communities are not historically spending as previously.
Which makes that old saying ‘‘If the farmers are rich, the country is rich’’ somewhat a prophecy of truth. As we move forward into another year of challenges, we need to think outside of the square to make our own East Waikato a thriving community.
Central government calling the tune under the guise of the 1989 local government reform has passed its use-by date. We need to regenerate the passions for local industries, not just lamely read of rural populations predicted to decrease as families move to ‘‘super cities’’ for employment and fulfilment of dreams.
We as a community have that opportunity to make our community of interest a vibrant, a thriving industrious place to live, work and play.
Your New Year resolution could be to take an interest in the October local government election process and what you agree to for the changes that will happen.
Andrew McGiven, chairman Te Aroha District Federated Farmers, reaffirms that we should all now be aware, Waikato Regional Council (WRC) is now implementing the Variation 6 of the Regional Plan which will have some sort of effect on all dairy farmers, especially those who milk more than 215 cows.
Variation 6 is a legal requirement that requires the WRC to measure and monitor the quantities of water drawn by farmers from both surface and underground water sources for dairy shed washdown and cooling purposes, with the enforceable metered amount being 15 cubic metres daily.
This also unfortunately means a consent process needs to be followed for amounts larger than 15cum.
I have copped a bit of flak lately about how Federated Farmers haven’t done enough to oppose these new regulations.
What appears to be unknown (or forgotten) by a lot of farmers is that Federated Farmers, Fonterra and some other key stakeholders fought this issue for about six years through the Environment Court.
Water right allocation for agriculture originally was listed behind electricity generation, municipal supply, industry and manufacturing.
One of the concessions gained from this court battle was the historical water right of all dairy farmers to be recognised.
This ‘‘grandparenting’’ of water rights means all dairy farmer’s dairy shed takes at October 15, 2008, are unable to be declined. It was also recognises that stock drinking water should be unlimited unless there is an adverse environmental effect.
I believe that Feds have made the best out of a bad situation, but here we are now at the pointy end as WRC begin implementation, calling for consent applications for dairy shed water take.
To give credit to the WRC they are proposing bundling similar applications in order to save on workload for them, and cost for us.
They are conducting this process catchment by catchment, beginning with Waihou so I would advise farmers there to take advantage of this one-time offer, as it closes mid-December 2012.
DairyNZ are conducting presentations to highlight the new legislation and how it affects us and some of the local Federated Farmers Branches in conjunction with WRC have already had presentations on this issue.
If in doubt call Amy King at WRC or Wayne Berry at DairyNZ for clarification.
Last, it is timely to remind all farmers to plan for another dry summer as is being predicted.
There still seems to be a lot of supplementary feed carried over from last season, and things are ticking over quite nicely at present, but if feed gets tight over the summer and it all becomes a bit of a struggle, please ask around for help.
As cow condition gets lower, so does the human condition sometimes, so call Feds, DairyNZ, Lifeline, there is a support service out there, and there will always be a solution.
Everyone have a Merry Christmas, and we at Federated Farmers look forward to seeing you in the New Year. and the risk of the IRD auditing your whole business.
Other services that may be requesting cash payments from farmers are shearers, fencers and other services that you don’t need all of the time. When hiring casual employees the farmer should be registered as an employer with the IRD and the labour employed should complete a Tax Code Declaration IR330 form and a Casual Employment Agreement.
You need to be clear to these people that the risk to you paying them cash is too great.
Farmers also need to be aware regarding animals killed for the freezer for themselves or friends and family. These should be valued at the market value and included as income in your financial accounts.
Selling scrap steel is another area where cash is often taken, and again this is an area that the IRD will be interested in.
The risk of being caught is continually increasing for those not paying their taxes.
Relief milkers are likely to work for other farmers, increasing the number of people who know they receive cash, increasing the risk that someone will report them.
Typically the IRD will start by writing to the farmer. However, it has the power to arrive unannounced, with a police escort, and demand access to your business records. Make sure it is not your door they knock at.