Shane Jones diverts to copious meat eating as further questions raised about company links

This story seems to keep coming up, with more suggestions that Shane Jones must have known more than he has admitted about a NZ First linked company’s application for Provincial Growth Fund money.

I wonder if this is and attempt at diversion: NZ First MP and Minister Shane Jones takes aim at ‘eco-bible-bashing’ climate-change activists

Outspoken NZ First MP and Minister Shane Jones has launched a scathing attack on climate-change activists who want Kiwis to eat less meat, blasting their form of “eco bible bashing”.

He has compared them to “medieval torture chamber workers” and has vowed to rally against this sort of “absolutism” as Election 2020 draws closer.

His comments come after the Government, of which he is a Minister, announced school children would be taught about climate change in class.

Suggesting people eat less meat (which for most is good for your health) is nothing like ‘absolutism’, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

“I won’t be desisting from eating copious qualities of kaimoana [seafood] or meat – that’s how I grew up”…

…is a surprising stance (if he’s actually serious) from someone who looks to have an obesity problem.

A heart attack from clogged up arteries would be a sort of absolutism if fatal.

Back to more questions about his absolutism denials unravelling some more: NZ First-linked company in government loan bid says it met with Shane Jones

A forestry company with close links to New Zealand First says it gave a presentation to Shane Jones about a project it was seeking a $15 million government loan for – months before Jones says he first heard of it.

When NZ Future Forest Products (NZFFP) applied for Provincial Growth Fund money on 8 April, 2019, the company was asked whether the project had been “previously discussed” with the government.

The application form shows NZFFP ticked the ‘yes’ box and said it had made a “presentation to the Minister” about its forestry and wood processing plans “including descriptions of the applicant”.

Jones, a New Zealand First MP who is forestry minister and the minister responsible for the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund, has consistently claimed he first heard about the NZFFP bid on 14 October last year.

NZFFP’s directors include Brian Henry, lawyer to New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters, judicial officer of the party and one of two trustees of the New Zealand First Foundation, and NZ First leader Winston Peters’ partner Jan Trotman, who joined the company in August 2019.

Jones refused to be interviewed over the latest revelation but in a statement said the presentation never happened. “There was no presentation as described by the applicants,” he said.

The statement said Jones “did not have any Ministerial meetings to discuss the application”.

After being asked if he had any meetings at all with any NZFFP representatives in 2019, he responded in a statement “no”. He went on to say he was “not involved in PGF-related conversations with the Henrys under the guise of NZFFP”.

But in an interview with RNZ, David Henry, who is Brian Henry’s son and the NZFFP director who signed the application form, said the presentation was a 15-minute meeting he and Jones had in Wellington.

“We had a discussion with Shane. I think it was about a 15-minute chat. Whether you want to call it a briefing or a presentation – it was a short discussion generally about the New Zealand wood supply chain and what we personally believed.”

Take from that what you like.

I think that Jones has become as political slippery as Winston Peters.

 

Eat less meat

I eat a lot less meat than I did ten-twenty years ago. A lot less.

I enjoyed a very nice meat-less burger at urio Bay yesterday (I admit i didn’t realise it was meatless until i couldn’t find any in it).

But James Shaw wants everyone to consider eating less meat, like one more meatless meal per week. That is unlike to be bad for anyone, and will probably be good for some of us.

Newshub: Climate Change Minister James Shaw wants you to eat less meat

Climate Change Minister James Shaw wants you to stop eating so much meat.

“Ninety-five percent of new Zealanders consume meat, and it is fairly obvious there is a lot of water, a lot of energy and a lot of land use that goes into protein production that way,” the Green Party co-leader told TVNZ’s Q+A.

“If somebody wanted to have an immediate impact, they could eat one less meat meal per week. We’re not encouraging that as a Government. What we’re trying to do is to ensure that there’s settings right across the economy that make sure people are supported, that they’re really clear about the direction of travel, that there are sufficient incentives to support that transition, right?

“And then essentially what consumers do is really up to them.”

This is a good approach – encourage without compulsion.

Mr Shaw says encouraging Kiwis to say no to beef and lamb won’t harm our agriculture-led economy.

“New Zealand has enough land to feed about 40 million people with current production methodologies. We know that the middle classes in China and India and in parts of Europe and so on, there is a huge demand for our food products.”

The study, conducted at the University of Oxford, found while meat only supplies 18 percent of the world’s calories, it takes up 83 percent of farmland and produces more than half the agricultural sector’s emissions.

The most efficiently produced beef takes 36 times more land to produce than peas, according to the research, and created six times the emissions.

So easing back on meat consumption is mostly a good thing.

New Zealand farmers may have to adapt anyway if world meat consumption declines.

Meatless future: “We can choose between spinach and kale”

Massey University ecologist Dr Mike Joy (who says he should be called Dr Doom):

“It’s not a choice. We don’t have a choice. We can choose between spinach and kale, but not animals because we will all starve”

The Future of Food Symposium was recently held at the University of Auckland – Newsroom: A future where food is off the menu

The Future of Food Symposium held at the University of Auckland discussed the issues facing future food supply such as a declining amount of fossil fuels and ways we can ensure we can sustainably feed the world’s growing population.

An odd statement, we don’t generally eat fossil fuels.

Joy said New Zealand and the world are in dire straits. He believes the decline of fossil-fuel to make nitrogen fertiliser and population rise are on a collision course.

By the time Earth’s population reaches nine billion in 2050 we will be unable to feed ourselves.

Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser has increased agricultural productivity dramatically. Joy said the world has been on an “amazing binge of fossil fuels for a couple of hundred years”.

“Six billion people are fed through artificial nitrogen, you take that fossil fuel part of it away then you can only support two or three percent of the population using the food system we have at the moment.”

 

 

That’s an extreme drop in food production. I find it a bit hard to believe it would change that drastically.

He said the only way to change a future without enough food for all is to remove animals from our diets.

“Good land should be put into food for humans, rather than food for animals.”

To produce one gram of protein from beef, one square metre of land is required. To get one gram of protein from rice requires just .02 of a square metre of land.

But you get quite different nutrition from beef and rice. Why not cater for both?

Joy believes the era where people have a choice between being a vegetarian or an omnivore is ending.

“It’s not a choice. We don’t have a choice. We can choose between spinach and kale, but not animals because we will all starve,” said Joy.

Other solutions to avoid starvation included growing your own food or accessing community gardens, but these came with their own set of problems.

Does that include growing your own meat? Not in Dr Joy’s future.

However, legislatively ensuring a right to food is one approach to ensure people without a backyard won’t go hungry.

New Zealand is party to various international treaties which include a right to food but does not have domestic legislation explicitly including it.

I applaud Joy’s passion and positing for change, but academics who propose legislation to control what people eat are likely to meet with some resistance.

If the human population keeps increasing the world will struggle to cope with food supply, but only being able to sustain 2-3% of the current population – that’s a drop from 6 bilion to 1-200 million – will be a hard policy to sell.

Farmer respect and eating meat

I generally respect farmers (most deserve it, some don’t), but I am gradually eating less and less meat due to lifestyle changes (and a slowing metabolism, meaning greater dietary care is required). Cost of meat is also a significant factor.

Some interesting comments at Reddit: Kiwi Farmers feel that they are not respected as sustainability concerns lead to the average Kiwi eating 20kg less meat

I don’t think it’s sustainability that is causing the average New Zealander to eat less meat but cost, I’m also consuming far less dairy than I once did, and I’m eating more eggs.

I’m not eating more eggs either , even though I run a few chooks (and sheep).

Even if the reason is the sustainability, why should that offend the farmers? I value their well-offness less than I value the state of the environment in terms of atmospheric methane and waterway eutriphication. Why does that make me the bad guy, those are pretty decent reasons to disagree with someone’s business practices.

It’s not people making personal eating choices that farmers find offensive – most farm production is exported anyway. But farmers have been increasingly targeted and criticised by some on environmental matters. Farm pollution has become a dirty issue, as well as methane emissions.

It’s the same for me as well. As a student, it’s getting a bit harder to have a proper diet with rising food costs.

The only dairy I normally have is milk in my coffee and as for meat, I buy the cheapest cuts I can as I’ve got a pressure cooker which means that it can be cost effective.

I have noticed that I’m eating more chicken than I used to as well.

Because chicken is relatively cheap (as well as cheep). Beef and lamb/mutton in particular have become very expensive.

A farmer’s view:

Im not offended if you dont buy ruminant products. I stopped eating red meat because it was by far and away the most effective measure i could undertake to reduce my ecological footprint. I think what dick and di are referring to in this article is more in regard to the interactions that we have with people outside of purely transactional contexts.

Ive had people spit at me, curse me, i had a gp that spent my entire appointment telling me how morally degenerate i am for being a farmer. These are extreme examples of course, and i dont hold these peoples passion for an incredibly important topic against them, but for most of my friends they find themselves being made pariahs simply for being born into a particular passion in life.

We arent saints when it comes to our reaction to the attitude of others, very few are, but that shouldnt preclude the extension of empathy and understanding beyond the simplistic and all too common characterisation of us as motivated solely by greed.

Empathy from all people is the most necessary development in our discussion about the environment. When even mike joy reiterates that the situation we face is not the fault of farmers then shouldnt that tell us something. I have taken responsibility for my actions and the attitudes of my friends and colleagues.

You will not break through to farmers until you vehemently disavow the small minded and ill informed commentary made by the vocal minority.

The vocal minority are unlikely to change their activism.

And taste. Lamb tastes like shit, now that i’m out of home i don’t have to deal with eating a shitty Sunday roast every week because of tradition. I might cook a stir fry but that’s about it for meat.

Maybe that’s a personal thing rather than a change, but it could also be how the product is handled – possibly packed too quickly.

Lamb has always had not a lot of taste. Hogget and whether is better, but it needs to be hung properly before using or freezing. In the summer I hang sheep for  3-4 days depending on the weather, and up to 6 days in the winter. Aged meat is tastier. We had a delicious Sunday roast yesterday.

I think the article is a little misleading.

The reason lamb consumption has fallen through the floor is because the vast majority of them converted their farms over into Dairy farms for higher returns (and increased ‘dirty dairying’). The lamb that was left went into overseas exports, and we are paying far more domestically for lamb. THAT’s the reason why our lamb consumption has fallen off.

We’re actually eating MORE chicken than we used to.

Both of those factors can be explained by price. Chicken is cheaper, lamb is hella expensive. And beef is somewhere in the middle.

Speaking personally, we buy a cattlebeast a year, which works out at about $5.50/kg. If we have to buy beef at $15/kg at the supermarket you bet we’d be eating far less meat. It’s just too expensive.

I think the reason people are less ‘respectful’ of farmers has several reasons:

  • It’s no longer the backbone of our economy, tourism is bigger
  • All of the ‘dirty dairying’ and other farming polluting stories suck, and directly undermine our Tourism industry, which is more important.
  • When times are good, farmers are millionaries and did it all themselves
  • When times are bad, they need government bailouts, everyone needs to club together behind them
  • NZ was in a unique position as post WW2 Europe recovered. Wanting to ‘go back’ to farming smacks of trying to turn back the clock to an era that can’t possibly exist in the current world climate.
  • Producing commodities for export is a very poor way of growing wealth. That’s what the developed countries want the third world countries to do.

A response to that:

Yes. I think a lot of people have grown a little tired of farmers telling others to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, knuckle down and work hard instead of expecting welfare but then immediately having their hands out when the going gets tough.

Complaining that they can’t get good workers when they are not prepared to pay an acceptable rate for hard physical labour with sometimes awful working conditions and poor job security.

I do realise not all farmers are like this but it definitely seems to be the prevailing mentality. As a sector of society these types are extremely loud on social media and people often form their opinions around farmers based on what they see/hear them saying, rightly or wrongly.

Bleating about how city folk have no idea about hard work is divisive and does nothing to help their cause. They definitely have a public image problem.

The main problem here doesn’t seem to be farmers or anti-farmers, but more the amplification of attacks and bleating online.

I also think the article is misleading, but disagree on the reason why farmers aren’t respected; I’d say it’s the media coverage they get.

 

The media does a pretty poor job of dealing with nuanced issues, preferring to have a sensational (positive or negative) spin on everything. Rightly or wrongly, farmers are on the receiving end of negative attention. I’m not suggesting the criticism is baseless, but that it isn’t balanced when compared to treatment of favoured topics.

Media does play a part in amplifying the negatives and the bleating from any side of an argument.

Simple economics:

  • Chicken portions (incl bone) $5/kg
  • Chicken breast $8-10/kg
  • Mince $10/kg
  • Lamb chops (incl bone) $15/kg
  • Eye fillet $30/kg
  • Fish (whole) $10-15/kg
  • Fish fillet $20-30/kg

Stuff with bones needs double. Our household eats a lot of mince and chicken. Eye fillet turns out to be a cheaper treat than lamb chops.

Rather than buy expensive (nice) steak to cook I tend to eat out now. If I am paying through the nose I’d rather someone else does the cooking and cleaning up. Same for fish, my favourite is blue cod but it’s now about $35 a kilo, and it’s a hassle cooking small amounts properly, so that’s another eat out or takeaway (and that’s only occasionally).

Have they considered that maybe the price of meat is what is causing us to eat less of it? Do these people really think that behaviour change due to changing economics is really a lack of respect? Do they feel that they deserve a certain consumption of their product as a god-given right?

I don’t think it’s a lack of consumption that’s the problem, it’s the lack of respect for their farming practices, or abuse.

Interesting graphic showing difference in consumption of chicken, pork, beef and lamb between 2006 and 2016

Year Chicken Pork Beef Lamb
2006 32.1kg 16.0kg 17.2kg 19.4kg
2016 40kg 17.6kg 10.4kg 0.9kg

Statistics NZ food price index tables are available online. Page for June 2005 – May 2008 and June 2008 to present.

Consumption is mostly economic.

Funny thing is, while I produce my own mutton (I prefer that to lamb), despite running chooks and having plenty of space for more we only produce eggs, not chicken meat. We have done it but the killing and plucking and cleaning is a turnoff.

I may have a phobia about plucking poultry – when I was a kid my father would arrive home from opening weekend with a bag of ducks. Plucking was a pain, but as I had smaller hands I also got to pluck the guts. And then had to pick out the shot when eating. And I don’t really like eating duck. But I don’t disrespect duck farmers, i just choose not to eat their products.

Meat and three veg coalition?

Labour supporters are in a stew over polls again. Unenthusiastic hopes rest on being the meat in coalition stew.

There’s been the usual gnashing of teeth at The Standard over another disappointing poll result for Labour. The latest Roy Morgan poll has them still wobbling, down 2 to 33%.

Most comments are despondent.

Some assure themselves that all that matters is that “the left” wins.

“nothing to worry about if you’re a left supporter.”

It is now a fixed view that Labour+Green is the left hope, not just Labour. Labour is never talked of as a one on one competitor with National any more, there is a general acceptance that Labour’s only chance of Government is joined at the hip with Greens.

“labgrn moving from well behind to consistently too close to call (even nudging ahead at times, not seen for years)?”

“The polls say Labour/Green Government. Hardly a massive failure.”

“It’s the policies that count, because, on the left, that’s what we’re about. And if Shearer scrapes in, as it appears he will, then we get the best of Labour and the Greens to set our country’s future. That’s a pretty cool outcome, whoever the PM is.”

There’s a lot of Green hope and optimism – despite their lack of traction in the polls they are at least holding ground with their best election result.

I have never seen the Greens so popular. In the inner city liberal suburbs it is touch and go if Labour or the Greens are the most popular liberal party.

I have never seen the Greens win the party vote like they did in Wellington Central last time. I have never seen an electorate lose 10% points of the party vote like Labour did in Auckland Central.

I have never seen Dunedin swing so powerfully to the Greens like it did in 2011.

So nothing to worry about if you are a Green supporter. But if you are a Labour supporter well what can I say?

Despite the hope that Labour might still manage a win thanks to Greens and possibly others there is mostly Labour gloom.

The polls are a massive failure for Labour. The Labour strategy is wrong. The wrong people are at the top table. Look at the figures. Every member of the party sees them.

And…

Yes, many are disappointed or disillusioned. Those who collected Asset Sales petitions saw it mismanaged and we had to back out again.

Then we found out that our “Leaders” were flying up from Wellington and Christchurch to sup in the Sky Box the same day.

The sense of hope that existed last year has been replaced with numbness.

And…

Nothing cool there. It is very chilling. All Labour people should be very very concerned.

But a coalition might still get Labour home in 2014. An interesting description of Labour+Green – meat and veg:

The Labour party is doing fine under MMP. MMP, if you don’t recall, is supposed to have coalition governments. They provide the meat, the greens provide the healthy veges.

Clearly Labour haven’t been doing fine under MMP over the last two elections and five years. The meat is looking well past it’s best.

And on the last election result and current polling Green veges would not be enough. Labour also need a wilting Winston and possibly a Mana side salad (way out on the left side).

So that could be a meat and three veg coalition.

And Labour may find it tough being the meat in a multi-grained sandwich.