Word of the day

28/11/2021

Zoilist – an imitator of Zoilus; one who practises Zoilism; a carping or nagging critic; one who makes bitter, carping, and belittling critical judgments; a rude, nasty, or dishonest critic who enjoys finding faults in others.


Milne muses

28/11/2021


Rural round-up

28/11/2021

Inflation stalks NZ agriculture – Hugh Stringleman:

The inflationary thief is active in New Zealand and it is not clear whether it will be transitory or more persistent, independent economist Cameron Bagrie says.

The Reserve Bank said inflation is 4.9% currently and expected to rise to 5.7% in the first quarter of next year and it has assessed its presence as “somewhat transitory”.

After the sharp peak, the bank expects that it will take until 2024 to return to the 2% target zone.

But the economic commentators are having a bob each way. . . 

WTO trade ministers must seize agricultural subsidy reform opportunity :

Ahead of the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference from 30 November – 3 December, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is strongly supporting calls for a meaningful outcome on agricultural subsidies reform.

“Agricultural domestic support reform is the most urgent agricultural trade policy issue needing to be progressed multilateral,” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther. “An ambitious outcome would unlock major benefits for global agricultural trade.”

Domestic support subsidies are a major source of distortion and price volatility in agricultural markets. They lock in unsustainable food production systems, create significant disadvantages and inequities for unsubsidised producers, and cause a raft of negative environmental impacts through inefficient use of natural resources.

Crewther says domestic support has fallen behind the other key areas of the WTO’s agricultural negotiations and an outcome is long overdue. . . 

Deck the hay bales Southland farmers get behind Christmas competition :

Southland farmers are hoping to spread some Christmas cheer by creating sculptures such as hay bale reindeer and fertiliser tank Christmas trees on their farms.

Thriving Southland, which represents 30 catchment groups, has launched a competition calling on its farmers to create a festive themed sculpture.

Spokeswoman Rachel Holder said despite only starting a couple of days ago people are getting really excited about the competition.

“One of the catchment groups came up with the idea to inject some wellness into our communities and to boost morale because it’s been a really tough spring – there has been a lot of rain. . . 

Highly visible Queenstown property protected from development :

A highly visible piece of Kawarau Falls Station is now protected from development, following a decision by the owners, the Mee family, to place a QEII covenant on 170 hectares of the property.

The covenanted land is located across the Kawarau River from Queenstown Airport, north of the Remarkables Ski Area access road.

This follows an announcement last year that 900 ha of the neighbouring property, Remarkables Station, has been covenanted and will be gifted to QEII. While the Mee property will remain in family ownership, the landscape will be protected from development in the same way that Remarkables Station is.

Kawarau Falls Station director Mike Mee said the decision to covenant the areas was “the right thing to do” and he hoped it would inspire others in the region to consider legal protection as they look to the future. . . 

Consultation opens for registration of forestry advisers and log traders :

Key players in the forestry industry are encouraged to have their say on the design of a new registration system for log traders and forestry advisors with consultation opening today.

Legislation introduced in 2020 aims to raise professional standards across the forestry supply chain by requiring forestry advisers and log traders to register.

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service’s Director Forestry and Land Management Oliver Hendrickson says the system will provide assurances for anyone dealing with registered forestry advisers that they are receiving expert and impartial advice from people with the right knowledge and experience.

“These changes will also support a more open marketplace for the large number of new forest owners bringing their timber to the market for the first time. They also increase investor confidence in commercial forestry, support long term investment, and meet the broader objectives for land management and climate change. . . 

Farming robot kills 100,000 weeds per hour with lasers – Kristin Houser:

Carbon Robotics has unveiled the third-generation of its Autonomous Weeder, a smart farming robot that identifies weeds and then destroys them with high-power lasers.

The weedkiller challenge: Weeds compete with plants for space, sunlight, and soil nutrients. They can also make it easier for insect pests to harm crops, so weed control is a top concern for farmers.

Chemical herbicides can kill the pesky plants, but they can also contaminate water and affect soil health. Weeds can be pulled out by hand, but it’s unpleasant work, and labor shortages are already a huge problem in the agriculture industry.

“It’s harder to find people to do that work every single year,” vegetable farmer Shay Myers told the Seattle Times. . . 

 


Maya muses

28/11/2021


Sunday soapbox

28/11/2021

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse but not to abuse.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams


Stephen Sondheim – 22.3.30 – 26.11.21

27/11/2021

Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has died:

Stephen Sondheim, one of Broadway history’s songwriting titans, whose music and lyrics raised and reset the artistic standard for the American stage musical, died early Friday at his home in Roxbury, Conn. He was 91.

His lawyer and friend, F. Richard Pappas, announced the death. He said he did not know the cause but added that Mr. Sondheim had not been known to be ill and that the death was sudden. The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury, Mr. Pappas said.

An intellectually rigorous artist who perpetually sought new creative paths, Mr. Sondheim was the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century, if not its most popular.

His work melded words and music in a way that enhanced them both. From his earliest successes in the late 1950s, when he wrote the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” through the 1990s, when he wrote the music and lyrics for two audacious musicals, “Assassins,” giving voice to the men and women who killed or tried to kill American presidents, and “Passion,” an operatic probe into the nature of true love, he was a relentlessly innovative theatrical force. . . 

 


Word of the day

27/11/2021

Dyspathy – lack of sympathy, fellow-feeling, compassion or affinity; the condition of hostility or opposition; antipathy, aversion.


Thatcher thinks

27/11/2021


Rural round-up

27/11/2021

Close call highlights necessity for on-farm covid plan – Gerald Piddock:

A sharemilking couple whose staff member become a close covid-19 contact are backing calls for farmers to create a plan in case they get a positive case in their bubble.

That checklist needs to be a living, moving document because of the variables that can occur during a close contact or covid positive situation on a farm when there are the needs of staff and animals to be taken into consideration.

The employee, Sarah*, became a close contact after they visited a family member while observing distance protocols.

One of the members of that household tested positive after they had met, which made that worker a close contact. . . 

‘Tomorrow’s too late’ – Borders open not fast enough for labour shortage :

Rural contractors struggling with a labour shortage are relieved the borders opening next year, but say they need workers sooner.

The government yesterday announced fully vaccinated foreign nationals would be allowed into the country from 30 April 2022, without needing to go through managed isolation.

Rural Contractors New Zealand chief executive Andrew Olsen said the border announcement was amazing news, but it had come too late for this summer’s harvest.

Andrew Olsen said the sector urgently needed 200 workers, but efforts to bring in skilled overseas workers through the MIQ system had proved extremely challenging. . . 

Wānaka A&P show to go ahead :

One of the South Island’s biggest agricultural shows will go ahead next year, bucking the trend of widespread cancellations of A&P shows around the country.

Organisers of the Wanaka A&P show have confirmed to RNZ that the show will return in March, despite a spate of show cancellations across the country in the past six months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Gore was the latest show to be cancelled earlier this week, following the cancellation of the national A&P show in Canterbury at the beginning of November.

Wānaka event manager Jane Stalker said the show is a community event and a highlight on the town’s calendar. . . 

Share concentration risk allayed – Hugh Stringleman:

The risk of ownership concentration in Fonterra arising from proposed changes in the share standard will not adversely affect the co-operative, according to investment bankers and corporate advisors Northington Partners.

The firm was commissioned by Fonterra Co-operative Council to assess the proposed capital restructure, which includes much smaller minimum shareholding requirement and much larger permitted excess share ownership.

Within what Fonterra now calls the new flexible shareholding the historical one-for-one share-backed supply rule would be considerably changed.

The minimum requirement would be one share for three kilograms of milksolids and farmers would be permitted to own shares up to four times their annual milksolids production. . . 

Delving into diversification – Ben Speedy:

The future of farming is reliant on good people making good decisions – successfully managing risk today to ensure the farm is fit for tomorrow. We know from conversations with our customers those decisions weigh heavily on the minds of farmers.

Recent Kantar research conducted by ASB Rural told us 57% of farmers surveyed have succession planning on their minds. We know that for some owners of inter-generational businesses there can be added pressure when it comes to the business succeeding both today and into the future; it’s appeared to work up until this point so there is an expectation that it must continue to be successful.

Owning and running a business has never been easy, but inter-generational business owners often carry an extra burden with extra considerations, and at ASB Rural we work with our customers to support them as they make these decisions. . .

Don Agro International achieves 8.9 thousand tonnes growth in crops harvested :

Don Agro International Limited (the “Company” or “Don Agro”) and its subsidiaries (collectively the “Group”), one of the largest agricultural companies based in the Rostov region of Russia is pleased to announce that it has achieved a 8.9 thousand tonne growth in total crops harvested, with 72.3 thousand tonnes of winter wheat and 19.0 thousand tonnes of sunflower harvested till date.

A key driving force which has enabled Don Agro to sustain this growth has been the expansion of the Group’s totalled controlled land bank via new strategic acquisitions.

Following its initial public offering in February 2020, the Group made its maiden post-listing acquisition at the end of 2020 of Volgo-Agro LLC, an agricultural company based in the Volgograd region of Russia operating a controlled land bank of approximately 10,040 hectares. Subsequently in July 2021, the Group acquired a neighbouring agribusiness, Rav Agro Rost LLC (“Rav Agro Rost”), located in the Millerovo District, Rostov Region of Russia. With an arable land bank of approximately 3,200 hectares, Rav Agro Rost alone contributed up to 3.1 thousand tonnes of winter wheat and 1.54 thousand tonnes of sunflower. . . 


Sowell says

27/11/2021


Saturday soapbox

27/11/2021

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse but not to abuse.

True leaders always practise the three Rs – Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all their actions.


Word of the day

26/11/2021

Axinomancy – divination by means of the movements of an ax placed on a post; prediction of the future using the head of an axe or hatchet.


Rural round-up

26/11/2021

Carbon farming – farmer’s poem for the Prime Minister – Graeme Williams:

East Coast farmer and bush poet Graeme Williams is back with another poem for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Today he wants to take the Government to task over carbon farming and shares his poem, written at 2 o’clock this morning – his “least angry period of the day”.

Dear Aunty Jacinda,
From you we have not heard.
I’ve written to you twice before
And this will be my third.

I’m really, really annoyed
And I think it’s only fair,
That the reason for the annoyance
With the country, I should share.

Carbon farming will ruin us all.
Of that, I have no doubt.
I am acutely aware of the issues
And wish to share my views about. . . 

Alliance Group financial performance lifts – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s improved financial performance is a ‘‘favourable result’’ after another challenging year, chairman Murray Taggart says.

The co-operative yesterday announced an operating profit of $41.9million before tax and distributions for the year ending September 30, up from $27.3million last year.

Last year’s result was heavily impacted by a $19.9million provision for back-paying employees for donning and doffing. This year’s result included an allowance of just over $2million for that.

Revenue of $1.8billion was on a par with last year and a profit distribution of $8.5million would be made to farmer shareholders, in addition to $16.7million in loyalty payments already paid over the course of the year. . .

Fish & Game supports calls for forestry refocus :

Fish & Game NZ is supporting calls for an urgent rethink on the rapid proliferation of exotic forests currently being supported by central government, and instead refocus on native plantings for better long-term environmental and social outcomes.

The Native Forest Coalition – comprising the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Road Donald Trust, the Tindall Foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmon and Dr Adam Forbes – recently released a statement urging a shift away from “short-term thinking and siloed government policy” in tackling climate change.

Central to the Native Forest Coalition’s concerns is current policy favouring carbon sequestering in exotic pine plantations over native forests, which is being driven by high carbon prices. This is having a myriad of adverse impacts.

“While Fish & Game is behind initiatives to address the climate crisis, the current short-sighted focus on securing offshore carbon credits ignores significant long-term environmental and social problems,” says Fish & Game spokesman Ray Grubb. . . 

Lake Ohau narrative goes up in smoke – David Williams:

On closer inspection, luck played a bigger part in no one losing their life in last year’s Lake Ōhau Alpine Village fire. David Williams reports

It was the country’s most damaging wildfire in living memory.

The early-morning conflagration in October last year destroyed most of the houses in the Mackenzie Basin’s Lake Ōhau Alpine Village, burning through more than 5000 hectares, including conservation land.

The costs were eye-watering. Fighting the fire from the air alone cost more than $1.2 million, while insurance losses totalled about $35 million. . . 

The wizard of woolsheds for 41 years – Alice Scott:

If your woolshed has been built by Calder Stewart in the past 41 years, chances are Dave Mathieson probably built it.

Mr Mathieson (61) started out with Calder Stewart at the age of 20 and, apart from a short stint working on commercial builds in the late ’80s, he has enjoyed a career as a foreman specialising in woolshed builds.

Being based in Milton, Mr Mathieson and his crew will travel up to an hour and-a-half for work and in his early years he would often stay away.

“I probably stay away for one job a year, but I’d like to think I am mostly done with that now. After all these years, I am allowed to make that demand,” he laughed. . . 

Unvaccinated shearers continue to work – Annabelle Cleeland:

Unvaccinated shearers are continuing to work, despite Victoria’s sweeping effort to compel most agricultural workers to receive two doses of the coronavirus vaccine before Friday.

Victorian shearing contractors have complained to Shearers Contractors’ Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford about unvaccinated shearers and shed staff continuing work in a “concerning cash economy”.

“I thought the way it would roll would be that unvaccinated shearers would find work in NSW, but the concern I have is they have stayed and they are finding enough work in Victoria,” Mr Letchford said.

“We have tried the positive approach with these people who are resistant to being vaccinated. . . 


Sowell says

26/11/2021


What matters

26/11/2021

This matters:

Kāinga Ora’s no eviction policy is enabling anti-social tenants to terrorise neighbours with no consequences.

The government rammed through under urgency legislation giving itself immense power and limiting ours:

That’s a constitutional disgrace.

Home isolations for people who are Covid-19 positive is a shambles.

This week’s border announcement will make Australia the choice for skilled migrants and students.

The litany of heartbreaking stories of people unable to get an MIQ space includes a chef who needs to return home for cancer treatment.

 Kiwis are getting poorer by the day.

Median prices for residential property across New Zealand increased by 23.4% to $895,000 in October.

The government is planning a new tax under the guise of expanding the social safety net.

What also matters is having the major Opposition Party focused on these issues, and the many others where the government is failing, and not on itself as it has been since Wednesday night.

Now that Judith Collins has lost the leadership, it matters that National gets a leader who has both a strong head and a good heart; one who has 100% support in caucus and that everyone in caucus puts the party, and the country, first.


Thatcher thinks

25/11/2021


Rural round-up

25/11/2021

Surge of demand for NZ meat, continuing supply chain disruption predicted for 2022 :

Disruption that has permeated primary sectors throughout 2021 will persist next year, a report from rural lender Rabobank says.

Demand was strong and set to grow further as economies continued to reopen, and balancing high costs through the supply chain would be a key challenge according to the Global Animal Protein Outlook report.

Rabobank global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard said changes within the market would be an opportunity for growth, rather than solely a risk.

“Rabobank sees agile business leadership as the most likely route to sustainable growth and is advising firms to embrace consumer preferences for sustainability and to be prepared for a surge in demand as economies continue to reopen and adjust following Covid-19-induced lockdowns.” . . 

Groundswell here to say – ODT Editorial:

It was always going to be a hard act to follow.

After the phenomenal turnout for Groundswell New Zealand’s Howl of a Protest in July — estimated nationally at around 60,000 people — the probability of a repeat performance seemed less likely.

Yet the turnout for the second protest event on Sunday, dubbed Mother of All Protests, showed the depth of feeling that continues to exist in the rural community, as horn-honking tractors and placard-bearing utes rolled into towns and cities throughout the country. From humble beginnings, dreamed up by a couple of concerned cockies in the South, Groundswell has become a juggernaut and that has brought its own difficulties.

Unable to manage all aspects of it, Groundswell has been forced to distance itself from controversy — as claims have been made linking it from everybody from Brian Tamaki to other anti-vaxxers — with social media unhelpfully helping to fuel the fire of misinformation. Throw in some particularly distasteful posts from agribusinessman Ross Townshend, a former Groundswell organiser in the North Island who should have known better and who has been kicked to touch by Tatua, the dairy company on whose board he was a director, and it has not helped the Groundswell name. . . 

Forget Groundswell: now farmers are in a real fight – Richard Harman:

Forget the tractors and the angry groundswell signs; the real battle between farmers and the Government kicked off yesterday when farmers got the formal proposal to price methane and nitrous oxide emissions from their farms.

The stakes, both political and economic, are huge.

That much was clear yesterday in the immediate reaction of Federated Farmers who even though they have been involved in developing the proposal offered it only a guarded welcome.

Farmers have been offered two schemes to consider; one which would price the methane according to a complex calculation based on the Farm Environmental Plan of how much methane their farm emitted. The other is a more straightforward levy on milk and meat delivered to processors. . .

No rest for the wicked at Less Valley Station :

The new farm manager at one of New Zealand’s biggest sheep and beef properties in North Canterbury has hit the ground running.

As well as getting up to speed with a holistic grazing system established by the farm’s US owners, Michael Whyte is also dealing with extensive damage to infrastructure caused by devastating floods in June.

The down-to earth farmer is relishing the challenge of running Lees Valley Station.

“I’m enjoying the valley life, but it’s also the climate. I love the seasonal changes. You get up in the morning and you don’t know if it’s going to snow or be 30 degrees. It’s really quiet and peaceful too,” he says. . .

Heritage vegetables, vintage tools, full skirts and bonnets – Guy Frederick:

It’s hard to believe that on September 1, 2020 there was nothing but a bare patch of ground where there is now a thriving vegetable garden.

Six months later, in the historic Totara Estate just south of Oamaru, bees were happily resident, herbs in full flower, and big, blood red, healthy beetroots were being pulled from the soil. It felt like the garden had been there for a mighty long time.

“We have to get cracking,” Alison Albiston had said in early September when she first visited the site, referring to summer’s imminent arrival.

Headhunted by Totara Estate Manager Keren Mackay and resident guide and cook Annie Baxter, Albiston jumped at the opportunity to get stuck into a project involving soils and plants, coinciding with her move into Oamaru after 45 years of country living at Burnside Homestead, inland from Oamaru, where Albiston and her husband Bruce lovingly restored the property to its original plans. . .

Halal certified red meat exports jump  :

Halal-certified red meat exports increased 13 per cent during the 2020-2021 season with most product going to non-Muslim markets, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported a total of 471,072 tonnes of halal product during the season (12 months ending 30 September) – 46.5 per cent of total red meat and offal exports. This compared to 417,323 tonnes during 2019-2020.

China was the largest market for New Zealand halal-certified red meat during the 2020-2021 season, purchasing 341,618 tonnes, 74 per cent of the total and a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.

The United States was the second highest with 20,042 tonnes, followed by Canada’s 18,945 tonnes, Indonesia with 17,604 tonnes, Saudi Arabia with 7,710 tonnes and Malaysia with 7,289 tonnes. . . 


Sowell says

25/11/2021


Paying cost for incompetence

25/11/2021

Kate MacNamara asks: Did scandal-mired former Health Minister David Clark ignore Pfizer’s vaccine meeting request?

Labour Minister David Clark was sent a key Pfizer letter on June 30 last year, in which the drug company pressed the head of New Zealand’s “vaccine taskforce” to meet and discuss its vaccine candidate.

Taskforce officials, however, were not equipped at the time to begin talks with the drug company, and over six weeks elapsed before a first meeting took place.

The Cabinet finally armed the taskforce with funds both to contract specialist negotiation expertise and to make vaccine purchases on August 10; officials signed a non-disclosure agreement with Pfizer on August 13 and a first meeting with the company took place the following day, on August 14.

Clark, the then Health Minister, refused to answer questions about the letter, including whether he read it at the time and whether he made any effort to hasten the readiness of the taskforce to begin meetings and negotiations with the drug company. . .

Clark’s press secretary, Sam Farrell, said Clark, now reinstated to the Cabinet with four portfolios, including Commerce and Consumer Affairs, will not answer questions about the Pfizer letter because, “[he] no longer has ministerial responsibility for the health portfolio …” . . .

But he did have responsibility at the time.

Pfizer’s June letter noted: “We have the potential to supply millions of vaccine doses by the end of 2020, subject to technical success and regulatory approvals, then rapidly scale up to produce hundreds of millions of doses in 2021. . . 

Once we came out of the first lockdown the government rested on its laurels, basking in praise for no community transmission (well apart from that which locked Auckland down again, and again . . ); and responding to criticisms that we needed vaccines sooner by saying other countries needed them more.

Chris Bishop, National’s spokesman for Covid-19 Response, said Clark’s “inaction” showed “unforgivable incompetence from a minister clearly distracted by other things at the time.”

“He should have been moving with speed and alacrity to get a meeting with Pfizer as quickly as possible. The fact that the Pfizer meeting took over six weeks clearly set us back in 2021,” Bishop said. . . 

At the very least it shows a lack of focus and poor prioritisation.

It’s unclear whether earlier engagement with Pfizer could have secured a larger quantity of early vaccine doses for New Zealand.

If in June 2020 Pfizer was telling the government it could supply millions of vaccine doses by the end of the year, it almost certainly would have done so had the government not delayed responding.

By October, New Zealand lagged many of its peers in signing so-called bilateral advance purchase agreements with drug companies for vaccine candidates.

In March the Government signed a second agreement with Pfizer to secure a further 8.5 million doses, likely on a delivery schedule for the second half of 2021.

The Government has declined to release the Pfizer contracts, citing commercial confidentiality. The first doses arrived in New Zealand in February, 2021, following Medsafe approval, and the Ministry of Health’s schedule shows that 1.5 million doses had arrived in the country by early July, 2021.

New Zealand has subsequently incurred a roughly estimated cost to the economy of some $10 billion through lockdowns and the Government has pinned reopening to very high levels of vaccination. . . 

Had more people been vaccinated sooner the latest lockdown could at least have been shortened and possibly avoided.

Instead we were all locked down for three weeks and Aucklanders have now been locked down for more than three months.

Delays in vaccination have been very expensive in both human and financial terms, and recovery from both the social and economic impacts will take years.


Word of the day

24/11/2021

Nitid – bright; lustrous; shining; glistening.


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