Word of the day

January 12, 2013

Knaggy – full of or covered with gnarled, knotty protuberances; craggy, knotty, rough or rugged; , rough in temper.


Rural round-up

January 12, 2013

Big changes ahead for kiwifruit industry – Andrea Fox:

The western Waikato could become a more important kiwifruit growing region to the country after the ravages of Psa-V disease in the kiwifruit capital Bay of Plenty, says a local grower.

Richard Glenn, who has just stepped down after 18 months as regional co-ordinator for Psa-V action management agency Kiwifruit Vine Health, said the Waikato, particularly the western side, has less rainfall than the Bay of Plenty.

Psa-V thrives in wet conditions, and has now affected 69 per cent of New Zealand’s kiwifruit hectares. . .

Careful planning saved milk from dumping – Annette Scott:

Contingency planning by Westland Milk Products has saved thousands of litres of milk from being dumped following the New Year weather bomb that hit the West Coast.

The event also highlighted the importance of dairy farmers ensuring they have their own insurance to cover on-farm milk losses.

With potential to lose more than two million litres of milk, the actual loss of just 400,000 litres has been praised by farmers and the milk company. . .

Mealworms could be tucker of future – Jon Morgan:

Some Dutch researchers have come up with a novel idea (at least to Westerners) to save the planet – eat worms. Mealworms, to be precise – they’re actually beetle larvae, or worms with legs.

Mealworms have much more protein than animals, are low in fat and cholesterol and high in minerals. They take up less room and use fewer natural resources. And they’re edible.

It’s an intriguing idea. And seeing this is what we in the news world call the silly season, when the usual newsmakers are on holiday, I’m in the mood to give it some consideration. . .

Farmers’ Market a plum part of job – Jon Morgan:

Tom Chambers loves to see what he calls the “chocolate face”. It’s when a browser at his farmers’ market stall tries a chocolate filled with syrupy damson plum liqueur.

“You can’t just take a bite or the syrup will dribble everywhere. You have to put it all in your mouth and then bite it,” the Hastings grower says.

“Then the intense damson flavour explodes in their mouth and they get the chocolate face. They are lost in the moment – their eyes sparkle and a big grin spreads across their face. Seeing that is what makes my job worthwhile.”

He is an owner, with wife Margie and their friend, Catherine Rusby, of The Damson Collection, a three-year-old Hawke’s Bay business making a variety of products from the 400 damson plum trees on their Hastings orchard. . .

Beef exporter bonanza – Hugh Stringleman:

United States imported beef prices are at record levels and are expected to go higher during 2013, into bonanza territory for New Zealand beef exporters and producers.

High feed grain prices, the smallest US cattle herd in 50 years and limited supplies from Australia, NZ, Canada and Latin America have driven import prices sky-high.

Bull beef (95CL) is at US 223c/pound and cow beef 212c/pound, both prices slightly higher than the previous records, set in March last year.

The US prices are 7% higher than January last year but the 5c appreciation of the NZ dollar has absorbed all of that lift. . .

Agri-scientist pushes limits – Ali Tocker:

A Waikato dairy industry scientist has made history as the first woman to conquer New Zealand’s most extreme road-cycling challenge.

Chris Couldrey, a molecular biologist from AgResearch’s Ruakura campus, cycled eight times around Lake Taupo, the equivalent of cycling from Hamilton to Dunedin. It took her three days and three nights. She clocked in at 72 hours, 21 minutes and 30 seconds, during which she slept for only seven hours altogether.

The 38-year-old was one of only two people to cross the finish line at this year’s Extreme Enduro race, part of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. . .


Saturday smiles

January 12, 2013

This came in an email which said it’s genuine.

It’s probably a lot funnier in New Zealand where we no longer have subsidies than it is in Britain where they do pay people to not produce.

NIGEL JOHNSON-HILL, PARKFARM, MILLAND, LIPHOOK GU30 7JT

Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

16 July 2009

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs.. I would now like to join the “not rearing pigs” business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven’t reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is – until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don’t rear?

I am also considering the “not milking cows” business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current DEFRA advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Johnson-Hill


Save in floods to use when needed

January 12, 2013

Quote of the day:

. . . “It is gutting to see electricity dams spilling water that only runs out to sea when our economy is hostage to the vagaries of summer rainfall. We need to make a conscious decision to trap and store rainfall while we have heaps of it, for use when we don’t.

“As it stands right now, we seem to be okay as we approach mid-summer. If we had commercial water storage in place rather than tied up in planning, soil moisture would become less of an economic lottery,” . . Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events spokesperson.

Floods play a role in river health.

But they don’t need all the flood water that has been flowing down them in the last few days to provide a good clean out.

Storing some water at peak flows to provide for irrigation and recreation later makes environmental, economic and social sense.


Dairy trumps wool

January 12, 2013

Fonterra Shareholders Fund units jumped 26% on their first day of trading and will tip wool carpet maker Cavalier Corp out of the benchmark NZX 50 index this month.

The Fonterra fund, which has surged by a third from their $5.50 offer price, has met the ranking and liquidity requirements and will join the benchmark index on Jan. 21, the stock exchange operator said in a statement after the close of business.

Cavalier, which has shed 23 percent over the past 12 months, will leave the top 50 being the lowest ranked stock.

Units in the Fonterra fund, which give investors a slice of Fonterra Cooperative Group’s dividend stream, rose 0.8 percent to $7.31 in trading today, while Cavalier shares gained 1.8 percent to $1.71. . . .

Given Fonterra is New Zealand’s biggest company it’s not surprising it is seen as an attractive investment. Cavalier is a much smaller operation.

However, the fortunes of the FSF units so farand Cavalier on the NZX 50 index is a reflection of dairy and wool farming.

Dairy conversions, while slowing from the peak, are still going ahead and wool is in the doldrums – again.

Wool ticks so many marketing boxes  free range, renewable, sustainably grown. It ought to just about sell itself.

But in spite of initiatives like Campaign for Wool demand is low and the price reflects that.

Fonterra’s forecast payout for this year is down on last year’s but the outlook for dairy is still far better than for wool.

However, Hugh Stringleman thinks Fonterra suppliers might have mixed feelings about the the increased price of shares:

Since Trading Among Farmers (TAF) was launched about $300,000 has been added to the share capital of the average Fonterra supplying farm.

That increases the temptation to redeem all or part of that capital to apply elsewhere in the farming business, where it would earn a better return and perhaps supply a Fonterra competitor.

Also, milk production increases averaging 5% nationwide in the season to date mean Fonterra farmers will eventually have to “share-up” (purchase new shares to match increased production) at the much higher market prices.

This will be especially important for recent conversions with expanding milk production in regions like Canterbury, which is 11% up on last season.

The new three-year rolling average share standard will, however, moderate the compliance cost for established farmers who most-recently increased their share holdings by 10% or more at $4.52/share, following the 2011-12 record milk season.

The high turnover of units, totalling two-thirds of the issue volume in fewer than 30 trading days since launch, shows the depth of investor interest in New Zealand dairying and in Fonterra in particular.

However, it also means the market tail is wagging vigorously, feeding farmers’ concerns over possible effects on the dog.

Is a well-informed market sure that higher world dairy prices are in prospect or is an investment bubble growing?

Will the high unit and share prices reinforce dairy farm values through demand from expanding farming families, corporate farmers and syndicates?

On the other hand, Fonterra’s forecast dividend of 32c reduces in yield as the unit and share prices climb, for farmer-shareholders and unit investors. . .

The international demand for milk is expected to increase and the end of the season looks better than the start did.

But it’s very early days to be drawing conclusions on the future prospects for the share price.


2nd Chinese company to process milk in NZ

January 12, 2013

Chinese company Yashili International plans to invest $210M in a milk processing operation in New Zealand.

Yashili International Holdings, which manufactures and distributes infant milk formula products in China, is the latest Chinese company looking to invest in New Zealand, with plans to build a 1.1 billion yuan ($210 million) processing plant.

The Chaozhou City, Guangdong-based company’s board signed off on a project to set up a manufacturing facility in New Zealand to process up to 52,000 tons of finished and semi-finished products including base milk powder by the second half of next year, according to a statement on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Yashili currently sources most of its raw milk from New Zealand.

The company will spend 950 million yuan on acquiring land and building the plant, and a further 150 million yuan as working capital for a New Zealand subsidiary.

The local unit, Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co, was incorporated in July last year according to Companies Office records and has entered into a conditional agreement to buy land where the facility will operate. The acquisition is subject to certain conditions, including approval from the Overseas Investment Office. . .

Last month another Chinese company, Yili, announced plans to buy Oceania Dairy Group’s  land and plans for an infant milk processing plant between Glenavy and Waimate in South Canterbury.

Federated Farmers dairy chairperson Willy Leferink said if the factory went ahead it would probably give the local farmers a good opportunity to get the best milk price for their milk.

There would be competition in the region between several companies including Synlait, Fonterra, possibly even Westland Milk.

Leferink said there would be plenty of supply available for a new plant.

Any new start-up company has the right to milk from Fonterra for three years. After that it would need its own supplier contracts.

There was still a “huge expansion” taking place in the dairy industry in that region, with a couple of big irrigation schemes like Hunter Downs and South Waitaki still to come off which would increase the amount of irrigated area down there and could lead to increased milk supply.

Leferink said he did not see “a hell of a lot of stretch” in the supply base until the country reached the maximum number of cows it could sustain in the long-term, and even then cows could produce more milk than they were currently.

“Also New Zealand has got a fantastic reputation when it comes to food safety . . . I dare say second to none . . . and these people are looking for very safe food because the Chinese don’t trust their own food because of the melamine scandal and a couple of other things,” he said. . .

Farmers wanting to supply Fonterra have to buy shares in the co-operative.

Supplying companies like  Yili or Yashili could be more attractive for some farmers who don’t want, or don’t have the money, to buy shares.


January 12 in history

January 12, 2013

475  Basiliscus becomes Byzantine Emperor, with a coronation ceremony in the Hebdomon palace in Constantinople.

1528 – Gustav I of Sweden crowned king.

1539 – Treaty of Toledo signed by King Francis I of France and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

1729 Edmund Burke, Irish statesman, was born (d. 1797).

1777 Mission Santa Clara de Asís was founded in what is now Santa Clara, California.

1808 The meeting that led to the creation of the Wernerian Natural History Society, a former Scottish learned society,was held in Edinburgh.,

1848  The Palermo rising  in Sicily against the Bourbon kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

1863, Swami Vivekananda, Indian philosopher, was born  (d. 1902).

1866  The Royal Aeronautical Society was formed in London.

1872  Yohannes IV was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in Axum, the first imperial coronation in that city in over 200 years.

1876 Jack London, American author, was born.

1893 Hermann Göring, German Nazi official, was born.

1895 The National Trust was founded in the United Kingdom.

1906 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman‘s cabinet (which included amongst its members H. H. Asquith, David Lloyd George, and Winston Churchill) embarked on sweeping social reforms after a Liberal landslide in the British general election.

1908 A long-distance radio message was sent from the Eiffel Tower for the first time.

1911 The University of the Philippines College of Law was formally established; three future Philippine presidents were among the first enrollees.

1915 The Rocky Mountain National Park was formed by an act of U.S. Congress.

1915  The United States House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.

1916 Pieter Willem Botha, South African politician, was born  (d. 2006).

1917  Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Indian spiritualist, was born (d. 2008).

1918 Finland’s “Mosaic Confessors” law went into effect, making Finnish Jews full citizens.

1932 Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the United States Senate

1932 Des O’Connor, British television presenter, was born.

1941  Long John Baldry, British blues singer, was born (d. 2005).

1945  Maggie Bell, Scottish singer (Stone the Crows), was born.

1946  Cynthia Robinson, American musician (Sly & the Family Stone), was born.

1951 Kirstie Alley, American actress, was born.

1952  John Walker, New Zealand middle distance runner, was born.

1954 Queen Eilzabeth II opened a special session of the New Zealand Parliament in its centennial year. It was the first time New Zealand’s Parliament had been opened by a reigning monarch

QEII opens NZ Parliament

1964 Rebels in Zanzibar began the Zanzibar Revolution and proclaimed a republic.

1967  Dr. James Bedford became the first person to be cryonically preserved with intent of future resuscitation.

1968 Heather Mills, British activist and model, was born

1970  Biafra capitulated, ending the Nigerian civil war.

1974 Melanie Chisholm, British singer (Spice Girls), was born.

1976 The UN Security Council voted 11-1 to allow the Palestine Liberation Organisation to participate in a Security Council debate (without voting rights).

1991 Gulf War: An act of the U.S. Congress authorised the use of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.

1992 A new constitution, providing for freedom to form political parties, was approved by a referendum in Mali.

1998 Nineteen European nations agree to forbid human cloning.

2004 The world’s largest ocean liner, RMS Queen Mary 2, made its maiden voyage.

2005 Deep Impact launched from Cape Canaveral on a Delta 2 rocket.

2006 The foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany declared that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have reached a dead end and recommend that Iran be referred to the United Nations Security Council.

2006  A stampede during the Stoning the Devil ritual on the last day at the Hajj in Mina, Saudi Arabia, killed at least 362 Muslim pilgrims.

2007  Comet McNaught reached perihelion becoming the brightest comet in more than 40 years.

2010 – The 2010 Haiti earthquake  killed at least 230,000 and destroyed the majority of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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