Word of the day

February 11, 2013

Apothegm – a short, witty, and instructive saying; concise formulation or maxim;  pithy, cryptic remark containing some general or generally accepted truth;an aphorism.


Rural round-up

February 11, 2013

Primary industry experts on National Science Challenges panel on National Science Challenges Panel:

Federated Farmers is excited three experts from the primary industries are part of the eleven person panel charged with identifying New Zealand’s science challenges.

“We are excited to see the primary industries are part of tomorrow’s world,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on food production sciences.

“We have three experts representing the primary industries and this underscores that primary food production and value-added processing is not just about the now, but the future too.

“Plant and Food Research’s Chief Scientist, Dr Ian Ferguson and Waikato University’s Professor Jacqueline Rowarth are highly regarded scientists.

“Both have received Royal Honours for their contribution with Professor Rowarth being a former Federated Farmers Agri-Personality of the Year. . .

Range of investors expected in regional irrigation schemes:

The superannuation fund, ACC and other private equity funds are expected to be among key investors in regional irrigation schemes, partnering with the state and regional councils.

The Government will set up a company to spend an initial $80 million on irrigation projects.

Paul Callow, a Deloitte’s partner who specialises in infrastructure and energy, says the Crown-owned company will operate like Crown Fibre Holdings, which was set up for the rollout of ultra-fast broadband.

He says the problem with projects like irrigation is that a very large capital investment is needed when there is an uncertain uptake and the private sector is not usually very enthusiastic about that risk profile. . .

Primary ITO welcomes changes to apprenticeship schemes:

The Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO) welcomes the new apprenticeship initiatives announced by government following the 18-month industry training review. Primary ITO is one of the largest ITO’s in New Zealand, facilitating training in the agriculture, horticulture, equine, water and sports turf sectors.

As the primary industry is one of New Zealand’s most important sectors, investing in the skills and knowledge of our people ensures the primary sector continues to thrive. Agricultural and horticultural products account for 40% of New Zealand’s exports. Education is vital to ensuring the productivity and profitability of the primary industries.

The recently announced changes mean that Modern Apprenticeships and other apprenticeship-type training will come under an expanded and improved scheme called New Zealand Apprenticeships. . .

First Steps to Better Farm Business Governance -  Pasture to Profit:

Good Farm Governance…”A process of Getting Advice to provide a Better Perspective”

Good Governance, Management and Operational efficiency are critical to all dairy farm businesses.

First Step to Better Farm Business Governance is to separate the Farm roles.

On every dairy farm there are Operational tasks where most dairy farmers spend most of their time (day to day routine jobs). The Management role which is making tactical decisions (organising & controlling land, resources & people).  Management is about making decisions. These tactical decisions often relate to this week or over the next one or two months.

Governance is the big picture strategy “what business are we really in? What personal & family values are really important to our business? . .

2013 AgriKidsNZ Competition set to sizzle:

The AgriKidsNZ Competition is about to launch into the Regional Finals stage around New Zealand and over 600 Primary School children are in agreement that the Regionals are the place to be!

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) organise the competitions which take place alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Regional Finals and TeenAg Competitions from February 9th to March 31st. The first AgriKidsNZ Regional Final takes place this weekend on Saturday 9th February in Whangarei at the Barge Park Showgrounds.

Teams of three will be tested on their knowledge of all things farming and all things New Zealand and after a whopping 600 children competed last year, organisers are looking forward to more of the same great action this year. . .

Loving the man and the land – Art 4 Agriculture:

Today’s guest blog by journalist turned farmer Bessie Blore comes to us with these words of wisdon

… there is room for fresh blood in our farming future, and there are new, inspiring, exciting stories to be started from today…

Bessie story is a fascinating and very entertaining tale.indeed. I don’t know about you but when I read this I thought to myself this must be one handsome man and one special girl.

Now we’re the only two human inhabitants of “Burragan,” 70,000 acres of grazing land, more than 100 kilometres from the closest town of Wilcannia. And over the past 24 months I have developed a passion for life on the land, and wool growing in particular, that borders on crazed and psychotic at times, I’m sure most of my city friends think I’m far too enthusiastic about dirt, sheep, and isolation.

Seriously 100 km from the closest town!!!!. You would want to pay close attention to detail writing the grocery list. . .

And:
Photo


At what cost?

February 11, 2013

Around 10,000 jobs could be created if New Zealand boosted its use of renewable energy.

. . . Chief policy advisor Nathan Argent said key findings show that the clean energy sector could give the country a much needed boost in the economy and create 10,000 jobs.

He said the findings estimate that the geothermal industry could be worth $4 billion per year to the economy by 2030 and the use of bio-energy – rather than importing oil – could save almost $7 billion per year. . .

That’s the good news in a report commissioned by Greenpeace – but there aredoubts over the figures:

Energy News editor Gavin Evans said although the research is good at highlighting what needs to be done, the job creation numbers were not reliable.

Energy analyst, Bryan Leyland was also sceptical about the findings and said they were completely unrealistic.

Jason Krupp at Stuff notes:

. . .  Where the report stumbles is on the financial side, giving no detail on the level of investment required or the economic tradeoffs, making it impossible to judge if the transformation would be worthwhile or simply a pyrrhic environmental victory.

Argent said this was a deliberate choice, with the aim of the report to spark a discussion rather than getting too bogged down in the numbers.

About  which Agnito at The Visible Hand in Economics says:

Which basically means this report tells us nothing….

As a side note, as an economist I would replace “financial side” with “opportunity cost”  as it it’s not just “money” trade offs that need to be considered…social, environmental, and any other metric that will be part of the cost need to be considered. You can’t just look at non-monetary gains on the benefit side and ignore them on the cost side.

Exactly.

It’s not hard to create jobs but creating jobs which justify all the costs is a far more difficult and complex matter.

The report mentions geothermal and bio-energy. Jobs would also be created by the development of hydro or wind generation, which are renewable but they always attract opposition  from people who don’t think the gains outweigh the costs.

The deliberate absence of financial or economic considerations merely confirms the fears of those who are sceptical of green, and often Green, campaigns which concentrate on the environment in isolation without taking into account economic and social concerns.


Protection, subsidies incentivise meat cheats

February 11, 2013

The discovery of horse meat in burgers in Ireland has been followed by news that up to 100% of meat in some lasagne came from horses too.

Liberty Scott points out that protection and subsidies incentivise the meat cheats:

This is fraud, and should be treated as such.  However, secondary to this are the market distortions created by the Common Agricultural Policy.  Meat moves freely and tariff free within the EU.  However, the EU imposes strict quotas on beef from outside the EU, such as a limit of 1,200 tonnes a year from New Zealand.  It also imposes a 20% tariff within that quota.  Although it allows outside quota beef in, it must have a tariff of around 100-250%.  All NZ beef imported into the EU must meet strict labelling and traceability conditions, unlike the subsidised EU beef.

 
There are obvious pressures to source cheap beef for low priced products, but the EU Common Agricultural Policy prevents this by propping up inefficient producers in the EU.  The quotas on imports should be abolished immediately, and tariffs abolished, so that beef can be imported at low cost and high quality.  It wont stop fraud happening, but reduces the pressure to substitute real beef for cheap alternatives due to trade protectionism.
EU residents pay higher taxes to subsidise inefficient producers and consumers pay more for food, some of which is of lower quality, because of tariffs and reduced competition.

Horse meat is widely eaten in Europe so it might not be a food safety issue though it does call into question the effectiveness of strict food labelling requirements.

Whether or not it’s a food safety issue though is no excuse for fraudulently labelling horse meat as beef. However, there would be a lot less incentive for this if the EU had freer trade with countries outside its borders.


Story behind stats

February 11, 2013

Young Labour is shocked to hear of the latest household labour force survey which puts youth unemployment at 30.9%.

But youth unemployment isn’t at 30.9%.

Labour once again stands accused of putting the worst possible spin on youth education and training, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“The reality is that the latest HLFS shows that just under 80 per cent of all 15-19 year olds in New Zealand are enrolled in education or training, with the total numbers up from 238,000 to 243,000 in the last quarter,” Mr Joyce says.

The survey shows that the number of young people who are both unemployed and not in education is 15,000.  While this is still too many, it represents only 4.8 per cent of the total cohort of 310,000.

An important point to note is that the headline HLFS unemployment percentage for 15-19 year olds is unusual in that it excludes the high number of young people who are in education and not in the labour market. . .

Any unemployment is concerning and youth unemployment is particularly so. Young people who go onto benefits without having worked are more likely to stay on them longer.

But the 30.9% is that Young Labour is shocked about is the percentage of people not in work which is a different and not nearly so shocking statistic.

When they get over their shock, Young Labour might like to ponder on the fact that youth unemployment increased when the then-Labour led government abolished youth rates.


Better offer won

February 11, 2013

Labour MP Clare Curran’s request for the Auditor general to investigate the purchases of rolling stock by KiwiRail has been turned down.

China Northern Locomotive and Rolling Stock Industry Corp easily outbid KiwiRail’s Hillside workshops in tenders to supply new rolling stock, the Auditor-General says in ruling out an investigation of the contracts.

The Auditor-General reviewed documents dating back to 2005 after Labour Party and Dunedin South MP Clare Curran last August asked the body to investigate four purchases of rolling stock from China Northern because of concerns about value for money and the impact on KiwiRail’s Hillside facility.

Dunedin-based Hillside has been split up after KiwiRail failed to find a buyer. The foundry operation is being sold to ASX-listed manufacturer Bradken for an undisclosed sum and other operations progressively closed with the loss of jobs.

In the tender for the June 2009 purchase of 20 DL locomotives Hillside’s bid ranked sixth and was deemed “uneconomic due to its longer delivery time and higher cost structure.” China Northern completed the order in June 2011.

 In the December 2010 tender for 300 container flat top wagons, Hillside’s proposal was ranked third and documents noted that Hillside “could not meet the delivery schedule and would require KiwiRail to carry out all performance, warranty and cost risk itself.”

“We did not identify any material departure from good practice process or any unfairness in the way the Hillside tender was treated,” the Auditor-General said in a statement.

In early March 2011, KiwiRail varied the December 2010 contract to increase the order to 500 wagons and contracted to buy 20 more locomotives. While KiwiRail considered Hillside’s ability to supply the additional rolling stock, China Northern was “significantly faster and cheaper” and the Dunedin facility was already behind on a separate wagon order. Hillside hadn’t built locomotives “for some years.”

Defects found in rolling stock had been remedied at China Northern’s expense, it said.

Contrary to Opposition claims there was no conspiracy, no government interference, no unfairness.

The company which made a better offer won the contract.

No-one is happy at the job losses at Hillside but that is not a reason for a company, legally bound to operate in its own best interests, to subsidise another company which can’t compete.

That’s how New Zealand used to operate and it cost taxpayers and consumers in higher prices and/or lower quality.

The answer to jobs losses is not subsidies. It’s investment in areas where we can compete.


Decluttering

February 11, 2013

“Decluttering is easy,” he said. “You just work out what no-one else would want if you were dead and get rid of it.”

“That’s all very well,” she said. “But what if what no-one else would want when I’m dead are things I still want when I’m alive?”


February 11 in history

February 11, 2013

660 BC – Traditional date for the foundation of Japan by Emperor Jimmu.

1531 Henry VIII was recognised as supreme head of the Church of England.

1752  Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital in the United States, opened.

1790 Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, petitioned U.S. Congress for abolition of slavery.

1794 First session of United States Senate open to the public.

1808 Anthracite coal was first burned as a fuel, experimentally.

1809 Robert Fulton filed a patent for improvements to steamboat navigation.

1812 Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerrygerrymandered” for the first time.

1814 Norway‘s independence was proclaimed, marking the ultimate end of the Kalmar Union.

1826 University College London was founded under the name University of London.

1826 Swaminarayan wrote the Shikshapatri, an important test within the Swaminarayan faith.

1840 Gaetano Donizetti‘s opera La Fille du Régiment received its first performance in Paris.

1843 Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera I Lombardi received its first performance in Milan.

1847 Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor, was born (d. 1931).

1855 Kassa Hailu was crowned Tewodros II, Emperor of Ethiopia, by Abuna Salama III.

1861 United States House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution guaranteeing noninterference with slavery in any state.

1864 Charles Heaphy was recommended for a VC for rescuing a soldier while under fire.

Charles Heaphy recommended for VC

1873 King Amadeus I of Spain abdicated.

1904 Sir Keith Holyoake, Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born  (d. 1983).

1905 Pope Pius X published the encyclical Vehementer nos.

1916 Emma Goldman was arrested for lecturing on birth control.

1917 Sidney Sheldon, American author, was born  (d. 2007).

1919 Eva Gabor, Hungarian-born actress, was born (d. 1995).

1919 Friedrich Ebert (SPD), was elected President of Germany.

1920 King Farouk I of Egypt, was born  (d. 1965).

1929 Italy and the Vatican signed the Lateran Treaty.

1934 Mary Quant, English fashion designer, was born.

1936 Burt Reynolds, American actor, was born.

1938 BBC Television produced the world’s first ever science fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of  the Karel Capek play R.U.R., which coined the term “robot“.

1938 Bevan Congdon, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1939 A Lockheed XP-38 flew from California to New York in 7 hours 2 minutes.

1941 The first gold record was presented to Glenn Miller for “Chattanooga Choo Choo“.

1943 General Dwight Eisenhower was selected to command the allied armies in Europe.

1948 John Costello succeeded Éamon de Valera as Taoiseach of Ireland.

1963 Julia Child‘s show The French Chef premiered.

1964 Sarah Palin, 11th Governor of Alaska, was born.

1969 Jennifer Aniston, American actress, was born.

1971 Eighty-seven countries signed the Seabed Treaty outlawing nuclear weapons in international waters.

1973 First release of American prisoners of war from Vietnam took place.

1978  China lifted a ban on works by Aristotle, Shakespeare and Dickens.

1979 Islamic revolution of Iran achieved victory under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

1987 Philippines constitution went into effect.

1990 Nelson Mandela, a political prisoner for 27 years, was released from Victor Verster Prison.

1991 UNPO, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, formed in The Hague.

1997 Space Shuttle Discovery was launched on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

2006 Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney accidentally shot Harry Whittington in the face, neck, and upper torso while hunting quail.

2008 – Rebel East Timorese soldiers seriously wounded President José Ramos-Horta. Rebel leader Alfredo Reinado was killed in the attack.

2011 – The first wave of the Egyptian revolution culminated in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak and the transfer of power to the Supreme Military Council after 18 days of protests.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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