Word of the day

January 29, 2013

Gordian- intricate; inextricable; an exceedingly complicated problem or deadlock; pertaining to Gordius, king of Phrygia, or to a knot tied by him.


10/10

January 29, 2013

10/10 in the British immigration quiz.


Rural round-up

January 29, 2013

NZ food is safe and our systems work:

Federated Farmers says New Zealand’s continual testing for impurities and open disclosure is why New Zealand primary exports are of the highest quality.

“We are aware some media reporting seems to have moved beyond facts and into uninformed opinion,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on food safety.

“Residues of DCD (Dicyandiamide) nitrification inhibitors were detected but the levels recorded were in the order of parts per million. These residues only came to light because New Zealand continually tests for and refines testing for impurities.

“I doubt many countries test to the level we do but once DCD was verified our consumers and trading partners were notified. We take this seriously, very seriously and any suggestion otherwise is scurrilous. . .

DCD scare will ‘enhance’ NZ’s reputation:

The head of Federated Farmers says Fonterra only had to report the presence of agricultural chemical dicyandiamide in its milk because of a “technicality”.

Both the Government and Fonterra have reassured the public and our trading partners that there is nothing to fear from dicyandiamide, also known as DCD, which is used to prevent nitrogen seeping into waterways.
Fonterra says the traces of the substance – found four months ago – were so small they were not worth mentioning. Federated Farmers CEO Conor English agrees, saying there has been a “massive overreaction”.

Red Meat PGP Collaboration Programme for Greater Farmer Profitability

The red meat industry has agreed to work together to promote and assist in the adoption of best practice by sheep and beef farmers, as part of a new $65 million dollar sector development project with Government co-funding.

Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), has just approved a commitment of up to $32.4 million from MPI’s Primary Growth Partnership Fund (PGP) for the red meat sector’s new Collaboration for Sustainable Growth programme.

This seven-year programme will bring together a number of participants in New Zealand’s red meat sector including co-operatively owned and privately owned processing companies that together account for a substantial majority of New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports, two banks and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Government Support For PGP Programme

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen has welcomed the announcement by Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), of the Ministry’s commitment of up to $32.4 million from the Primary Growth Partnership Fund (PGP) for the red meat sector’s proposed $65 million, seven year, Collaboration for Sustainable Growth programme.

“This will be a huge boost for the sector and will accelerate progress in an increasingly collaborative approach across a range of issues that are important for sheep and beef farmers,” Mr Petersen said.

The Collaboration programme involves industry participants AFFCO, Alliance Group Ltd, ANZCO Foods, ANZ Bank, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Blue Sky Meats, Deloitte, Progressive Meats, Rabobank and Silver Fern Farms, who following approval and contracting processes will match MPI’s investment and establish a joint venture entity to undertake the programme. The programme is open to new investors who can join once the programme starts. . .

Start networking with the farming world don’t become isolated – Pasture to Profit:

There is a new opportunity to network with the farming world. Farming can be a very isolated profession. Farms can be remote. The very nature of the profession means that you are often working alone. It’s that same feature which of course attracts people to farming. Farming gives you the ability to be your own boss and to make your own decisions. Running your own business can be both exhilarating & very stressful.

You don’t have to farm alone or in isolation! Today there are some very good online farming Discussion Groups. Social media won’t ever replace face to face talking with other farmers. However on for example; Twitter forums like #AgchatNZ, #AgchatOZ, #Agchat, #AgrichatUK provide an opportunity for talking to likeminded farming professionals. . .

 

2013 – Tipping Point Year for the ‘Blackcurrant Renaissance':

Over the last 500 years the blackcurrant has gone from being one of the most respected health foods of the medieval era to a staple household beverage, to being overshadowed by trendy new berries in recent times. But a Renaissance is underway and 2013 looks set to be a pivotal year for the blackcurrant industry, says global blackcurrant industry leader, Svend Jensen.

“For hundreds of years the blackcurrant has been a staple of the berry basket in European civilisation, as a health tonic and as a food. But over the last 30 years scientists have started to unveil the true health potential of the “king of berries”. New generation research started in Japan in the 1980’s and then the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Now exciting projects are also being undertaken by research teams in Scandinavia, France, Eastern Europe, and the USA,” says Jensen, President of the 5-year old industry group, the International Blackcurrant Association. . .

And from a new-found blog, The Farming Game, which aims to give an insight into the real world of farming in Australia, a bit of variety:

Wednesday night was the last night of this irrigation cycle with day shift wrapping up the final field Thursday afternoon, so it was an early start on Friday to go chipping. Volunteer cotton from last season was coming up in one of the refugee crops and needed to be removed, the only way to remove it is to chip it out so we had to walk up and down the rows and chip out the volunteer cotton and weeds with a hoe. Its not the best job to do but it needs to be done. . . .

And from the northern hemisphere – life of the farmer in January from the Peterson Farm Bros:


From 6 to 3 for NZ Post

January 29, 2013

New Zealand Post wants to cut mail deliveries from sick six days to three.

. . .The last decade has seen an unprecedented drop in mail volumes. There was 24 percent less mail (265 million fewer items) posted in 2012 than a decade before in 2002. Within five years mail volumes are forecast to decline further, to just over 600 million items – in other words, just 50 percent of the mail volume in 2002. . .

Reduced charges for toll calls and electronic communication and banking have significantly reduced the need for snail mail.

My mother used to spend Sunday evening writing letters to family and friends. I resort to letters or cards I have to post on a very few special occasions in a year.

We still get and pay some bills by mail but most of our invoices and payments are received and sent on-line.

We do though get our newspaper with the mail and if it doesn’t come daily we’ll have to find another delivery service or make do with the digital edition.

When NZ Post started charging rural box holders some years ago companies which wanted junk mail delivered forced them to drop the fee to increase their market.

They might be the ones most affected by a reduction in deliveries.

Junk mail usually goes straight to the bin in our house, it would be even less likely to be read if more came at once because it was delivered less often.


Greens want to rob Peter to pay Paul

January 29, 2013

Year after year remits at National Party conferences sought to ensure fuel taxes and road user charges went in to roaring roading and not the consolidated fund.

The AA and other organisations with an interest in transport lobbied in support of that too.

Eventually they succeeded.

Fuel taxes and road user charges have been directed at roads and not treated as a general tax since 2008.

Now the Green Party wants to go back to the bad old days:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says Green Party Finance Spokesman Russel Norman’s plan to raid the National Land Transport Fund to pay for his “Rent to Buy Housing Scheme”, shows a complete lack of knowledge of public finance in New Zealand.

“Mr Norman seems unaware that roading funding is collected from road users through fuel taxes, user charges and fees. That money is then dedicated to the National Land Transport Fund, to pay for road policing, public transport and road maintenance.

“This dedicated funding or ‘full hypothecation’ was introduced in 2008.

“The Greens can’t have it both ways – paying for houses from road taxes would cause serious problems for the funding of core transport services such as public transport.

“The lack of investment in new roading projects would create long term bottlenecks in our transport system and create congestion, leading to greater fossil fuel use.

“”First it was crank up the photocopiers to print money, now its let’s rob Peter to pay Paul.” said Mr Brownlee.

Cactus Kate found the Green Party housing policy is aimed at people suffering from entitilitis:

Sharissa Naidoo, 25, and her partner have been renting together for four years and say they are desperate to buy their first home.

“The concern is if we’re wanting to start a family and move into a house that’s more than one bedroom, we can’t afford that,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Sociology.

She is now sick of renting and expects the net taxpayer (you) to underwrite a home for her to live in with her “partner” (hate that word) of four years.

All of this, not even one year after her graduation ceremony in May 2012. . .

Taxpayers shouldn’t be funding people’s wants and taxes collected from road users should stay in the transport fund.


Petty politicking feeds perception problems

January 29, 2013

Opposition MPs are supposed to oppose the government but in trying to score points against the MPI, Labour’s agriculture spokesman Damien O’Connor has gone far, too far:

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has torn strips off Labour agriculture spokesman Damien O’Connor for, he says, endangering the whole of the New Zealand dairy industry with “drastic” allegations relating to traces of a benign chemical, DCD, found in some powdered milk.

O’Connor issued a press statement alleging a cover-up of the DCD findings in September to allow the Fonterra Shareholder Fund float to occur unimpeded in November.

“If you do those allegations, you better come with some evidence,” Spierings told BusinessDesk. “What you are doing here is not just a Fonterra issue, it is a New Zealand issue. You are attacking your key sector of the country.

“I’m sorry. I get a little bit emotional about it. I don’t like this kind of attitude,” said the recently appointed Dutch ceo, who said O’Connor risked undoing three days’ intensive work, including Prime Minister John Key, with international investors and media. The issue got out of control internationally when a Wall Street Journal article questioned the safety of New Zealand milk.

 Spierings is deeply offended by O’Connor’s attack, and scathing of WSJ’s use of a local journalist he claims was “filling in for someone” to kick the issue into international prominence.

He defends Fonterra’s process once it found DCD, a nitrate inhibitor used to curb greenhouse gas emissions from farming, in tiny quantities in milk powder last spring, saying the first thing considered was whether it got “a green tick on food safety.”

It did. DCD levels were 100 times lower than standards in the European Union. In other parts of the world, no standards exist.

With a “dark green” tick on food safety, the company had “a little bit of time” for collective action with fertiliser companies, telling them they must either manage the DCD issue with farmers or have Fonterra tell farmers to stop using it in the meantime, while international standards were sorted out.

The manufacturers, Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Ravensdown, withdrew fertilisers containing DCD voluntarily, a fact not notified publicly until late last week.

“We are coming with answers and telling the truth,” said Spierings.

FSF units took a small hit early in trading, falling as much as 9 cents to $7.14, as international investors digested the information Fonterra sent on the issue.

The biggest risk for Fonterra would be if one country were to decide to impose even a brief, precautionary ban on milkpowder imports, which constitute a large proportion of Fonterra’s $14.5 billion annual export revenues, said Andrew Bascand, managing director at Harbour Asset Management in Wellington.

“To date, there’s been no market there’s been that sort of reaction. Fonterra appear to be on the front foot handling it. The commentary from our Chinese agents says they feel comfortable with where are at.”

Bascand said any weakness in the FSF price caused by the issue would be seen by some investors as a buying opportunity. The units were sold at IPO last November for $5.50. They listed at $6.60, and have risen above $7 since.

Spierings rubbished O’Connor’s claim the DCD issue was hushed up ahead of the listing, the largest equity event in New Zealand stock exchange’s history for at least a generation.

“If there had been a public health or safety issue, we would have disclosed,” Spierings said.

The range of elements being tested in milk was constantly expanding as testing was becoming more sophisticated. Where there was no public health risk, Spierings argues against mandatory immediate disclosure because of the volume of disclosures that would create.

“We should not need to disclose in our whole business things we want to improve,” said Spierings. “It would get (to be) a zoo. We could not run the company.”

O’Connor’s media release was headlined hard sell after milk taint hushed up.

It not only questions the integrity of Primary Industries Minister David Carter, the MPI and Fonterra, it undermines are very, very high food safety standards.

This is not a health or safety issue it’s a marketing and perception issue.

O’Connor’s petty politicking has the potential to do far more damage not just to Fonterra but to New Zealand’s hard-earned and well-deserved reputation for food safety.

The trade-weighted increase has increased in the first two GlobalDairyTrade auctions this year. This week’s auction will give an indication of whether the perception of problems has affected demand for our products.


Mist

January 29, 2013

“What’s the difference between sad tears and happy tears?” he said.

“Sad tears are like rain on a cold and stormy night,” she said.

“Happy tears are more like mist on a summer morning. You know when it clears it’s going to be a lovely sunny day.”


January 29 in history

January 29, 2013

904 – Sergius III came out of retirement to take over the papacy from the deposed antipope Christopher.

1676 – Feodor III became Tsar of Russia.

1814 – France defeated Russia and Prussia in the Battle of Brienne.

1834– US President Andrew Jackson ordered first use of federal soldiers to suppress a labour dispute.

1842 Auckland’s first Anniversary Day regatta was held.

“a regatta took place between a five-oared gig belonging to the Surveyor-General, and a six-oared gig belonging to the “Anna Watson,” both pulled in excellent style by amateurs. This was followed by a match for a purse of five pounds between two whale boats pulled by sailors – and by another between two large canoes, paddled by Natives.”

1845 “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe  was published in the New York Evening Mirror.

1856 Queen Victoria instituted the Victoria Cross.

1860 Anton Chekhov, Russian writer, was born (d. 1904).

1863 Bear River Massacre.

1874 John D. Rockefeller Jr., American entrepreneur, was born (d. 1960).

1880 W.C. Fields, American actor and writer was born  (d. 1946).

1886 Karl Benz patented the first successful gasoline-driven automobile.

1891 Liliuokalani was proclaimed Queen of Hawaii, its last monarch.

1916  Paris was first bombed by German zeppelins.

1939 Germaine Greer, Australian writer and feminist, was born.

1940 Three trains on the Sakurajima Line, in Osaka collided and exploded while approaching Ajikawaguchi station. 181 people were killed.

1944  USS Missouri (BB-63) the last battleship commissioned by the US Navy was launched.

1944 Approximately 38 men, women, and children died in the Koniuchy massacre in Poland.

1944 In Bologna the Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio was destroyed in an air-raid.

1945 Tom Selleck, American actor, screenwriter and film producer, was born.

1949 Tommy Ramone, Hungarian-born musician and record producer (The Ramones), was born.

1954  Oprah Winfrey, American talk show host and actress, was born.

1989 Hungary established diplomatic relations with South Korea, making them the first Eastern Bloc nation to do so.

1996 President Jacques Chirac announced a “definitive end” to French nuclear weapons testing.

1996 – La Fenice, Venice’s opera house, was destroyed by fire.

1998 In Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb explodes at an abortion clinic, killing one and severely wounding another.

2001 Thousands of student protesters in Indonesia stormed parliament and demanded that President Abdurrahman Wahid resign due to alleged involvement in corruption scandals.

2002 In his State of the Union Address, United States President George W. Bush described “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of Evil.

2005 The first direct commercial flights from the mainland China(from Guangzhou) to Taiwan since 1949 arrived in Taipei. Shortly afterwards, a China Airlines carrier landed in Beijing.

2006 – India’s Irfan Pathan became the first bowler to take a Test cricket hat-trick in the opening over of a match.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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