The McCully Giddy Ewes SerIOUs Party

10Jun15

 “$1.45 million has been spent on airfreighting 900 pregnant ewes, from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia for a pilot research breeding programme in a demonstration farm…”*

Ex-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon was the instigator of the infamous Stock Retention Scheme when Minister of Finance in Keith Holyoake’s 1969-1972 National Government.  Soon to be PM Norman Kirk labelled the SRS “a family benefit for sheep” and John Clark aka Fred Dagg mirthfully and mercilessly parodied it on TV.*

Now, almost 50 years later, we learn that New Zealand’s sheep numbers, rather than being retained (or indeed retented, to distinguish the paper stocktake from the actual physical numbers, which for tax incentive reasons was at the heart of the Muldoon scheme) are down to a record low of fewer than 30 million, around the 1943 numbers. Sheep have been pushed back to the hill country by the burgeoning dairy cow herd, now more than 6.5 million.

Deretention Scheme

At the same time we read that the government has accelerated the steep sheep downward trend with a high flying DeRetention Scheme, launched by the McCully Giddy Ewes SerIOUs Party, or MGESP.

$1.45 million has been spent just on airfreighting 900 pregnant ewes, (lambs patently dressed up as mutton), from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia for a pilot research breeding programme in a “demonstration farm” – even though the profits from the future progeny of those ewes will be trousered by Saudi Arabia’s largest livestock trading company, the Al Khalaf Group.* This group appears to have been at both ends as well as in the middle of a deal worth about NZ$11 million and ought to receive an award for both trade and enterprise.

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) has rather sheepishly refused to confirm that no more New Zealand taxpayer money will be invested into the demonstration farm set up to accommodate the livestock.

It is rumoured that the launch function of the MGESP  featured, among other modern farming practices, demonstrations of wool being pulled over farmers eyes, sponsored by a consortium of three major banks keen to build interest in new loan swap instruments for increasingly debt laden farmers.

Flying sheep?  What’s next?  Flying cows?  How about flying pigs?

No joke

What about the upside? Perhaps with declining sheep numbers trans-Tasman sheep jokes diminish? But all this is no joke. It is actually an economic challenge to us Kiwis to take a more sophisticated cultural route to diversify our export markets and add real value.

Why bother with the Venice Biennale when we could pilot some artistic export mobile sheep installations to Saudi Arabia, based on the pioneering artistry of irrepressible Parnassus sheep farmer Mike Bowler. Hard hit by drought he has had to feed out thousands of dollars of feed each day for his stock. As you may have seen, he scatters the feed into a different pattern, manipulating his sheep into a giant roadside picture frame depicting various symbols and words.*

While Mike is waiting for rain and photosynthesis he may have unwittingly sown the seeds for a synthesis of culture, farming and export focused trade to improve on our present poor primary produce prices.

Many happy returns

Starting with his sheep, we could air freight stock spray painted black, with a nice white fern roundel, to contrast with the destination desert scape in Saudi Arabia (which the late Alan Bond would have painted green, if he’d had half a chance.)

Their new owners could be trained to arrange them into useful anti-ISIS slogans to keep up the morale of the local population. Looking ahead, there is great potential for aerial billboards for football fans flying over Saudi Arabia to land in neighbouring Qatar for the World Football Soccer Cup after next, supposing nothing changes for the latter post-Blatter.

In the meantime, TV One could produce Another Country’s Country Calendar, featuring our very own kiwi sheep emblazoned with our very own new flag. All they need to do is to locate a suitable currently unemployed current affairs front man who could do the job. It should be easy getting a government grant to help fly this person out of the country on a one way ticket.

What next is in store in this unfolding of an exciting narrative of trade and enterprise? We could set about really thinking bigger still and export prefabricated green grassed islands to China to save them from fiddling around and building their own*.

As both Confucius and Mao said  “A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single sheep”.

Stop Press

The carrier Nada Wburnitzke has begun loading 50,000 sheep and 3000 cattle at the Port of Timaru destined for Mexico for breeding purposes*. We are obviously not putting all our sheep in one basket case. At least they’re not flying business class.

 *Blinks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGillicuddy_Serious_Party  The original McGillicuddy Serious Party
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/agribusiness/68509900/sheep-flock-spirals-to-1943-low
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF_gTaRM9UU The Dagg Sea Scrolls
http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/745m-corporate-welfare-sunk-saudi-arabian-farm-jb-p-172683
http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/68918973/china-puts-weapons-on-its-new-artificial-islands

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/sheep/68827302/North-Canterbury-farmers-sheep-billboards-lift-spirits

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/sheep/69223588/largest-livestock-shipment-ever-remains-shrouded-in-mystery

#Lyall Lukey 10 June 2015
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/  My other (slightly) more serious blog

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