Word of the day

April 5, 2014

Acclivity – an ascending or upward slope; incline.


Rural round-up

April 5, 2014

Bogged in bureaucracy - Alan Emerson:

The fact that a farmer has so far spent upwards of $3 million trying to get through a pile of red tape and actually farm is criminal and an indictment on our democratic process.

Mackenzie farmer, Kees Zeestraten, wants to irrigate to run a dairy operation there.

Some of the objections are in the believe it or not category.

For example Zeestraten has rejigged his operation so that the irrigators aren’t visible from either Lake Ohau or the Ohau road.

It seems to me that someone is being incredibly precious. . .

Whatever happened to the importance of the fifth quarter? - Allan Barber:

There has long been a belief in the crucial importance of the meat industry’s fifth quarter to profitability. This somewhat obscure term refers to the co-products which contribute an essential revenue component over and above the value of the meat.

Every industry has its own version of the fifth quarter, but the combination of pelt or hide, intestines, tallow and meat and bone meal, especially when global demand for all co-products is high, makes a disproportionately large contribution to meat company profits.

Yet when I read the press release from Silver Fern Farms about the sale of the hide processing unit to Lowe Corporation and the supplier newsletter, not forgetting my phone conversation with Keith Cooper, I got a completely different impression. . . .

Repeat droughts cause kumara crisis – John Anthony:

Kumara chips have been in short supply for the second year in a row because of consecutive droughts in New Zealand’s kumara growing capital.

Kumara growers in Northland’s Kaipara region, where most of New Zealand’s kumara are harvested, say three consecutive summers of drought have affected crops.

Delta Kumara general manager Locky Wilson said yields from the current crops being harvested were not great.

“It’s definitely not going to be an oversupply.” . .

Making the best from our changing climate – Willy Leferink:

Do you know the number of insured disasters actually fell 44 percent last year?  Apparently hailstorms in Germany and France led to US$3.8 billion worth of insured damages, the most ever, so maybe we need to start worrying about “global hail.”

Swiss Re, the World’s number two insurer, is worried that disasters are getting ever costlier.  It warns, “Urbanisation, the clustering of properties and commercial activity and migration to high-risk areas such as coast and flood plains need to be closely monitored.” Since we seem to be putting all of our urban eggs into Auckland’s basket, maybe spreading development to Timaru makes more sense.

So is a changing climate, which may see low lying cities flooded, worse than the world running out of food?  The two could run together but instead of going all Eeyore about the future we need to adapt.

Adapting to change has been a part of farming ever since someone decided to domesticate animals instead of expending lots of energy hunting them.  Those pioneers also started planting crops allowing settled communities to form.  . .

Water management changes needed – Andrew Curtis:

We have reached a crossroads for water management in New Zealand.

Depending on which way we turn we’ll drive our agriculture-based economy forward at pace, continue on the incremental pathway or potentially go backwards.

To realise greater prosperity through increased primary exports changes are required urgently on water management. . .

 

Farm manager eyes ownership – Diane Bishop:

Southland is the land of opportunity for Jared Crawford.

The former plumber and his wife Sara moved from the Waikato to Southland two years ago to further their career in the dairy industry.

They landed a job managing an 800-cow operation at Waimumu last season, but the chance to progress to a first-year conversion at Riversdale was too good to pass up. . . 


Saturday’s smiles

April 5, 2014

A preacher and his flock at a very poor church  took up collections, baked cakes and washed cars for months to get enough money to buy paint for the church exterior which was bare and weatherbeaten.

Finally they went to Mitre 10 and bought enough paint for the building and all joined together on a Saturday morning to complete the job.

When they were about half-finished they realized that they were going to run out of paint before finishing. The preacher said, “It’s a water based paint, just thin it down with water.”

They continued painting and thinning until the color started losing its depth and when they finally finished it was dark green at the top, light green in the middle and a very light green (almost white) at the bottom.

The preacher and his flock were standing on a nearby hill admiring their work when a dark cloud appeared and the heavens opened up with a deluge of rain which washed all of the newly applied paint off the church. The preacher was in tears and the congregation was stunned at all the hard work they had done for nothing.

Just then there was a huge lightning flash followed by the roll of thunder and a loud voice from the heavens rang out, “REPAINT, REPAINT AND THIN NO MORE.”


7/10

April 5, 2014

Only 7/10 in the Herald’s politics quiz.


$10.5m saved cutting benefits for travellers

April 5, 2014

When the left accuse National of benefit bashing they show they have no affinity for hard working people on low incomes.

How galling it must be for them to know that their taxes help support people who could work but don’t and that some on benefits are able to enjoy luxuries like overseas travel which they can’t afford themselves.

Helping those in genuine need is the duty of a compassionate society, that help doesn’t mean indulging those who could be helping themselves. That is why initiatives like benefits cuts for overseas travellers are necessary.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says more than 21,000 people have had their benefit cut for travelling overseas since July last year.

“We tightened the overseas travel rules as part of welfare reform and have saved New Zealand more than $10.5 million in suspended payments for beneficiaries who still chose to travel.

“That’s a staggering number of people. More than 1,750 people have had their benefit suspended for multiple overseas trips.  This includes 191 people who travelled three times and 1,555 who have travelled twice since last July.

“These figures don’t include those on Superannuation. 

“The largest group of suspensions applied to nearly 11,200 people on job seeker benefits, followed by more than 4,800 sole parents.

“The new rules recognise that beneficiaries should be ready and available for work not prioritising travel.

“Since the changes 4,880 peoples’ benefits were cancelled because they failed to reconnect with Work and Income eight weeks after their departure from New Zealand.

“The rules, while tighter, still allow for overseas travel on compassionate or health grounds in certain cases for job seekers.  People without work obligations may in most cases travel overseas for up to 28 days. 

“These figures are the number of people who chose to travel knowing their benefit would be suspended.  Every day we hear stories of how people cannot live on the benefit.  Today you’re hearing that literally thousands can not only live on it but can afford to travel overseas as well,” said Mrs Bennett.

I don’t think the original architects of the welfare system intended support to extend to such luxuries and it’s not what the modern system should be covering either.

Photo: Under National’s welfare reforms, beneficiaries are expected to be ready and available for work, not travelling overseas - www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43536


1st for social progress

April 5, 2014

New Zealand has topped the world in a survey on social progress:

People around the globe are learning this week what Kiwis know – New Zealand is one of the best countries in the world, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

Commenting on the 2014 Social Progress Index which ranks New Zealand in first place Mrs Bennett urged New Zealanders to take a moment and reflect on just how lucky we are to live here

“We are an ambitious people and we want the best for our families.  Sometimes in our focus on always trying to be better we fail to count our blessings and acknowledge just how much progress we have made as a nation.

“We are ranked first in the world for being a safe, honest, and tolerant country with a good environment.

“The most pleasing part of the report was our winning scores on Opportunity – this confirms that every Kiwi can have aspirations and that in this country it is possible to achieve those dreams.

“To the naysayers – yes we can do much better in a lot of areas and every day we are all working hard to improve our health, welfare and education services with strong backing from the government.

“We’re investing particularly heavily in new policies and services for children and families.  The Children’s Action Plan, more social workers in schools and hospitals, greater support for parents, and welfare reforms to get more people in work to name just a few.

“It’s great to live in New Zealand and it’s nice the rest of the world know it as well,” says Mrs Bennett.

 

Photo: There’s a lot more to be done, but New Zealanders have every reason to be proud of what we are achieving by working together.

Being first overall and first for being a safe, honest, and tolerant country with a good environment and topping the score for opportunity are something to celebrate.

The full Social Progress report here.
 

 


Fonterra fined $300,000

April 5, 2014

Fonterra has been fined $300,000 for it failings in last year’s food safety scare.

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the country’s biggest company, was fined $300,000 for breaches of the Animal Products Act during last year’s whey protein concentrate incident.

Judge Peter Hobbs fined Fonterra $60,000 for three separate charges and $120,000 for a fourth charge in the Wellington District Court. The judge took a starting point of $375,000, before mitigating factors including Fonterra’s early guilty plea and steps it took to address the issue, though he lifted the penalty to reflect the company’s size.

“There’s no doubt the flawed reworking process and its fall-out had wide ramifications,” Judge Hobbs said. “I accept, however, the offending resulted from careless failure to follow proper procedure rather than a deliberate or reckless plan – things could have and should have been done better.” . . .

Every company which deals in food faces the risk of a safety problem. All should have better systems in palce to deal with it than Fonterra had.

It let its customers and suppliers down and it is the latter who will ultimately pay:

After accepting four Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) charges relating to the 2013 whey protein concentrate recall, Federated Farmers believes the $300,000 fine is proportionate.

“To a shareholder, $300,000 is much better than what the cooperative potentially faced,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Given the size of negative coverage relating to the non-botulism scare and the dent it put into the coop’s reputation, the size of the fine is proportionate.

“Especially given Fonterra did not contest the charges brought by MPI. Even the Crown Prosecutor acknowledges Fonterra has swiftly moved to put its house in order.

“As supplier shareholders and unit holders will ultimately meet the cost of the fine, we are certain Fonterra’s management has got the message loud and clear,” Mr Leferink concluded.

The company has implemented changes which show it has got the message.

This is vitally important because it’s not just Fonterra but the country’s reputation for food safety which would be damaged by another debacle.


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