Word of the day

January 31, 2013

Cynosure – a person or object that serves as a focal point of attention and admiration; something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance, interest, etc.; something that serves to direct or guide.


Rural round-up

January 31, 2013

Central Hawkes Bay shearing record bid cancelled -

A World sheep shearing record attempt which was to have taken place today in Central Hawke’s Bay has had to be cancelled because the lambs selected for the event would not have met the requirements of the World Sheep Shearing Records Society.

Secretary Hugh McCarroll, of Tauranga, said the judges, including one from Australia, inspected sheep and deliberated for more than six hours in the woolshed at Moa Stone Farm, east of Ormondville, before making the decision after 9pm.

The judges, who had gone to the shed for the traditional day-before wool-weigh, where a sample of lams is shorn to ensure they meet an average minim of 0.9kg of wool per lamb, found many were “bald”about the head.

“There was just not enough top-knot,” he said. “All of the judges commented as they arrived driving past the sheep in the paddocks, there’s not a lot of top-knot on these sheep.”

“It was very disappointing,” he said. “They hadn’t done enough homework. It’ll be a bit of a wake-up call for everybody.” . . .

Fewer horses sold at Karaka but clearance rate up:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2013 premier sale wrapped up at Karaka on Tuesday with 323 of the 441 lots sold.

The total raised of $51.05 million was $3.085 million less than in 2012, with 27 fewer horses sold.

The sale average of $158,054 is a 2 percent increase on last year’s figure, while the median was unchanged at $120,000. . .

Meat Sector PGP Could Halt ‘Race To The Bottom’:

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre is excited by Beef+Lamb New Zealand and its partners winning Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) funding that could supercharge New Zealand’s red meat exports.

“We should not be in any doubt that the international demand for red meat is there but the problem is articulating that into the returns our farmers and our country need,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson.

“In the year to December 2007, red meat exports represented around 58 percent of dairying’s export value. But in the year to December 2012, that figure has fallen to 45 percent. . .

PGP project suggests meat industry ready to cooperate – Allan Barber:

Yesterday’s announcement of the Red Meat PGP Collaboration Programme for Greater Farmer Profitability at a total investment of $65 million is fantastic news for the whole industry. The key words are ‘collaboration’ and ‘farmer profitability’. The first of these has usually been notable by its absence, while the second combination of words has only been evident at irregular intervals.

 Half the funding will be made available from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth partnership fund, while 30% will come from farmers through Beef & Lamb New Zealand and Meat Board reserves and the balance from six meat companies, two banks and Deloitte. . .

Achieving virtual scale for our largest industry – Pasture Harmonies:

Scale matters in exporting according to the World Bank…..so here’s a way to get virtual scale for our biggest industry.

The World Bank’s recent report ‘Export Superstars’, shows that company size matters when it comes to countries’ exporting. Little SME’s don’t cut much mustard.

Business NZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly , in commenting on Rob O’Neil’s Stuff story that the World Bank wants us to think big, says

“New Zealand has some unique challenges to overcome in its incredibly small scale and being the most isolated developed economy in the world.”

O’Reilly goes onto say:

“one effective model is the aggregation of small businesses into groups allowing them to in some ways act like and gain the advantages of large businesses.”

Given that NZ Inc’s biggest business is the conversion of solar-derived pastures into various proteins and fats, through thousands of small on and off farm businesses (and even the large ones are mere tiddlers in the world scene), wouldn’t it make sense to aggregate if we could? . .

Future of postal services: Rural delivery a lifeline says Rural Women NZ:

Rural Women New Zealand says while it understands the need for NZ Post to look at its business model in the face of a dramatic decrease in mail volumes, the special role of the rural delivery service also needs to be acknowledged and preserved as far as possible.

“We appreciate that NZ Post has consulted with us extensively about the future options it’s considering,” says Rural Women New Zealand national president, Liz Evans. “In turn we have emphasised that the rural delivery service is a real lifeline for many people.”

The RWNZ Enterprising Rural Women Awards, now in their fifth year, have revealed the increasing number of small businesses in rural communities and beyond. . .

Bee decline could sting industry:

A scientist at the University of Canterbury warns a declining number of bees could threaten the New Zealand economy and more needs to be done to help farmers protect native species and pollinating flies.

Ecology professor Jason Tylianakis says there are about 430,000 hives throughout the country and the pollination of crops and clover is worth $5 billion to the economy each year.

He says honey bees are under pressure worldwide from diseases and pests, and managed hives are also at threat due to pests and chemical sprays. . .

Sealord signs WWF Tuna Pledge and commits to bycatch below 1%

Evidence of the lowest bycatch using information from every catch will help ensure New Zealand’s most popular tuna brand offers consumers even more sustainable seafood products.

Sealord has also become the country’s first signatory of the WWF’s Western Central Pacific Tuna Conservation Pledge which brings together brands, harvesters and manufacturers focused on ensuring tuna fishing is well managed.

“WWF welcomes Sealord’s decision to sign the WWF Tuna Conservation Pledge and their support for targeted conservation measures that reduce bycatch in their supply chain,” says Alfred Cook, WWF’s Western Central Pacific Tuna Programme Officer . . . .

NZ Wineries Whet Consumers’ App-Etites:

A new range of smartphone apps are helping wine and food enthusiasts connect with wineries throughout New Zealand. The applications, created by NZ Wineries, are designed to keep consumers up to date with the latest news, wine releases, special offers and events in wine producing regions.

Graeme Bott, an emerging winemaker and founder of NZ Wineries, says the apps are a great way to bring the New Zealand wine industry and consumers closer together.

“We wanted to make the engagement between wineries and shoppers/tourists seamless. Through our apps, we can send instant notifications to our users informing them of wine updates in their specified region.” . .

And (hat tip Frankie) the official ambassadors for The Year of Natural Scotland:

Click to enlarge image ponies-in-sweaters.jpg


David Carter new speaker

January 31, 2013

Not surprisingly, Labour’s nomination of Trevor Mallard for speaker failed and National’s nomination, David Carter was successful.

He succeeds Lockwood Smith who has won admiration across the house and from outside it for his even handed approach to the role and for holding ministers to account in a way few if any of his predecessors did.

The speaker-elect is a successful farmer who has been a good minister and among his achievements was the merger of the Ministries of Fisheries and Agriculture and Forestry into the Ministry of Primary Industries.


Thursday’s quiz

January 31, 2013

1. This quote comes from which book?: Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.

2. When was the book first published?

3. It’s fierté in French;   orgoglio in Italian; orgullo in Spanish and whakahīhī in Maori, what is it in English?

4.  Who are the two main charters in the book?

5. If a single man in possession of a good fortune fortune is in want of a wife, in want of what is a single woman in possession of a good fortune?


Black hole & threats

January 31, 2013

Answers of the day:

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): I think the black hole was what David Shearer is staring into. The other little thing was David Cunliffe getting ready to push him.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, one of the biggest threats facing New Zealand could be a Labour- Greens Government. Let us get it right. The Green Party policy—correct me if I am wrong—is that it supports a target of between 25 and 40 percent reduction in global emissions by 2020. It would demand a huge increase in the emissions trading scheme and the cost on New Zealand families. Let us be upfront. Let us have that debate when we are on TV in those debates talking about how the Green Party is going to force New Zealand consumers to pay a truckload more money every single week, and let us see whether New Zealand consumers like it. If they do, good luck; you will be Minister of Finance. 

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, I do not agree with that, and I go back to the fundamental point. If the member wants to see New Zealand with a more significantly increased target, as he does—fair enough; that is the Green Party’s policy—then let us understand what that means. It means much bigger costs for New Zealand consumers and New Zealand businesses. That means fewer jobs, and that means New Zealand being less competitive while the rest of the world is doing very little. If that is the member’s policy, fair enough. That is why he wants to be the Minister of Finance. But in the world that we live in over here, which is the real world, we do not support his view on climate change.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: That is right, and that is why this Government will have a firm binding target in its long-term plan for reductions in global emissions. That is why we have an emissions trading scheme, and that is why we are investing in the greenhouse gas alliance. I go back to the point I made earlier. The member wants New Zealand to have an emissions trading scheme and a cost on its consumers way above everywhere else in the world—fair enough. He wants New Zealand consumers to pay way more than the average American, way more than the average Australian, way more than the average Canadian, and way more, actually, than people in Europe— fair enough. But he should go into the election campaign and be honest with those New Zealand voters: vote Greens; you will pay a lot more money.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have seen reports of a policy to build around 66,000 houses for $300,000 each. Then the policy got changed to be about building small apartments and terraced houses in Auckland. Then the cost went up to a maximum of $550,000. Then today I see it is back down to—I cannot actually work out whether it is $300,000, $400,000, or $485,000—which makes me tempted to think that Labour makes it up on the fly. But if I go back to my point about the KiwiBuild scheme, the example of the Housing Foundation, where the Government put in $2 million, the interesting point there is that if we were to do the same thing for an estimated price of $425,000, that would translate to 66,000 homes at a cost of $8.8 billion. That is the level of subsidy required.


Tiny traces of DCD in Westland samples

January 31, 2013

Westland Milk has found tiny traces of DCD in some samples of its products in tests this week.

Westland Milk Products customers are being assured food safety and human health has not been put at risk by the discovery of traces of DCD in some of its own samples this week.

Following advice late last week from the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) of the discovery by Fonterra of traces of DCD in some of their milk products, Westland Milk Products commenced its own testing through an independent laboratory. These tests revealed minute trades of DCD in samples produced prior to 1 November 2012. The evidence indicates that product made after 1 November 2012 is free from DCD.

“While we are assured by independent health authorities and the New Zealand Government that DCD is not a food safety risk,” says Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin, “we are very aware that for many of our customers any residue in milk products is undesirable. Some of our customers in Asia have already requested tests for DCD following the MPI announcement last week.”

As a priority, Westland is currently conducting further testing in line with customer and government requirements and will report the results to customers as soon as possible.

“The best way to allay our customers’ fears is with accurate information,” says Rod Quin. “We will continue to work with the New Zealand dairy industry, MPI and Government to reassure suppliers, customers and stakeholders that DCD is not harmful to human health and that every step to remedy this situation and prevent its ongoing occurrence is being taken.”

Mr Quin said only a minority of Westland’s shareholders had used DCD, and that most of the application of the product occurred outside of peak milk production periods.

The use of nitrogen inhibitors, which contain DCD, wouldn’t have been confined to Fonterra suppliers so this isn’t a surprise.

There is no risk to health from the tiny amounts of DCD found in any products and nitrogen inhibitors haven’t been used for months but the company has done the right thing by letting its customers know.

New Zealand’s reputation for safe food relies on high standards, strict compliance and good communication.

 


Sloth

January 31, 2013

“I’m a much nicer person when I’m fitter,” she said.

I have more energy, more patience, sleep better and think more clearly.  Everything everyone says about feeling better when you’re fitter is true.

“But even so, if I could the same results from lying in a hammock with a good book in one hand and a box of chocolates in the other, I would.”


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