SFF selling Silverstream plant

July 17, 2008

Silver Fern Farms is selling its Silverstream  lamb boning plant.

The plant, which processes and packages lamb products from other Silver Fern Farms plants, is
being acquired by Christchurch-based Scales Corp for an undisclosed price, Silver Fern Farms said in a statement.

Polarcold Stores Limited, which is part of the Scales Corp, will operate the cold stores on the site.

Up to 300 people work at the North Taieri plant in the peak of the season. Workers were called to a meeting this afternoon to be told of the sale.

Silver Fern Farms said the move, which involves a partial leaseback, would result in a “scaling back of certain operations”.

“This will result in a reduction in permanent staff required on the site and will also mean the company will be looking for a lower number of replacement process workers in the coming season,” the statement said.

This is a blow to the workers and the Dunedin community. It comes on top of other recent large scale job losses including 138 at SFF’s Burnside venison plant.

Progressive move to universal student allowance – Hodgson

July 17, 2008

Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson says that Labour’s Policy  is for a progressive move to a universal student allowance rather than a direct move.

His comments follow speculation Labour will offer a universal student allowance as an election bribe, a policy which appeals to the Greens.

Green MP tertiary education spokeswoman Metiria Turei said the Government should provide a timetable for moving to universal allowances.

“Maybe toying with student livelihoods is just political game playing, but student debt is no fun at all for the generation which has grown up struggling with debt repayments, let alone trying to buy houses or start families,” Mrs Turei said.

Paying higher taxes for election bribes isn’t much fun either and money spent on direct student support is money that’s not available for other areas of education.

The New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee said speculation about the universal allowance was unhelpful and the country was spending well over the OECD average on student financial support.

The organisation said funding for tertiary students was more than twice the rate it was for tertiary education institutions. Forty-two percent of tertiary education spending went to student financial support, compared with an OECD average of 18 percent.

Students should put their efforts into strategies to improve the quality of education rather than the quantity of allowances.

Education lobby group, Education Forum, policy advisor Norman LaRocque agreed with the university vice-chancellors.

“Putting money into student support, rather than into funding for TEIs (tertiary education institutions), would do nothing to improve the performance of the tertiary education sector in New Zealand,” he said.

Over generous subsidies send all the wrong signals, encouraging participation rather than rewarding effort.

Students and the country would be better off if more went into teaching and teaching reources; or encouraging graduates in areas of skills shortages, as National has suggested doing by writing off a portion of student loans for each year medical graduates work as rural GPs.

Tall puppy syndrome grounds top dog

July 17, 2008

Australia’s wonder dog Riley  has won the past three Casterton Kelpie Musters’ high jump but the spring-heeled kelpie has been banned from this year’s event.

The festival committee has ruled Riley is too much of a good thing and has slapped a ban on his high jump exploits. Riley’s owner Clare O’Callaghan said the ban was incredibly un-Australian.

“They are persecuting Riley, penalising him for something he loves and does well,” she said.

“It’s tall poppy syndrome.”

Shouldn’t that be tall puppy?

The rule was introduced after O’Callaghan and Riley made it a hat trick in the high jump at this year’s Muster, which was held last month. Riley finished first equal after two successive outright wins.

Association president Rod James said any dog that won the same event three times would not be eligible to compete again in that event and Riley would instead be recognised in a Kelpie Hall of Fame.

“It just spoils the competition if it’s dominated by the same dog,” James said.

O’Callaghan said the hall of fame was “just a sweetener for their unfair decision”.

At last month’s muster Riley tied with Geoff Burling’s dog Rosie by jumping 2.625metres, well short of Riley’s record 2.91 metres.

Melbourne kelpie enthusiast Robyn Grant said the event’s highlight was Riley’s performance and the ban was “totally unfair”.

Murray Davis, whose dog placed third against Riley in the event, said he enjoyed competing against the top dog.

“If Riley is good enough to win, he should be able to win as many times as he likes,” Davis said.

Sounds like the organisers are barking up the PC tree.

NBR recruits Farrar

July 17, 2008

David Farrar, the man behind kiwiblog , has been recruited by the NBR  as a contributer to NBR Online.

He will be writing a weekly Dispatch from Helengrad.  The paper has reserved the right to change the title to Dispatch from St Johnnysburg should circumstances necessitate it 🙂

MIAG has numbers for merger meetings

July 17, 2008

The Meat Industry Action Group has the shareholder numbers to force Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms to call special general meetings and discuss a merger.

MIAG wants an independently-chaired joint working party to look at consolidation.

Group spokesman John Gregan said the proposed PGG-Wrightson purchase of 50% of Silver Fern Farms would have no impact on his group’s ultimate plan of creating an entity to handle 80% of New Zealand’s red meat procurement and processing.

The meetings were unlikely to be called until after September’s vote by Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders on the proposal to merge with PGG-Wrightson.

Alliance Group chairman Owen Poole said he had meetings planned with shareholders next month to discuss his company’s strategic plan and would not consider holding a special meeting until after those talks.

SFF chief executive Keith Cooper said the board would meet next week and consider the action group’s proposition.

Mr Gregan did not have any problem with delaying the special meetings, saying having them after the PGG-Wrightson-Silver Fern Farms vote would make the situation clearer.

A “no” vote by shareholders would add to the pressure to get the two co-operatives talking. A “yes” vote meant the industry still needed consolidation, he said.

The detail of the resolutions was still being worked on with the meat companies. Mr Gregan said another remit would try to ensure the committee reached a decision.

“It is all very well telling them to get around the table, but we need some teeth . . . we need to give the chairman some ability to make them toe the line.”

This presupposes the working party will conclude a merger is the best option. 

It also ignores the legal requirement for directors to do what is in the best interests of their companies so no matter what the working party concludes unless it is in the best interests of each company it will not be acted on.

Otago business pioneers in Hall of Fame

July 17, 2008

Two Otago business pioneers were inducted into the Business Hall of Fame last night.

Sir George Fenwick (1847 – 1929) and Shariffe Coory (1866 – 1950) were given posthumus awards.

Previously, the hall of fame had only a virtual presence, but yesterday its new home on a 12m wall at the Owen G Glenn building at the University of Auckland was officially unveiled, followed by a gala dinner hosted by Governor-General Anand Satyanand.

The Coorys were among the first Lebanese to emigrate to Australia where they employed 1500 people in their wholesale and manufacturing business before selling and moving to Dunedin in 1892.

One of Mrs Coory’s great gransons, Malcolm Farry said that she she worked hard to break down barriers and did philanthropic work with the Lebanese community. She set up a workshop where Lebanese women made shirts and aprons for hawkers to sell; and also invested in property.

One of her greatest gifts was passing on her belief in entrepreneurship and “she had a significant influence on her grandchildren”, he said.

Her success is even more notable given that female entrepreneurship was even more of an achievement in her day.

Sir George came to Otago with his family in 1856 and took up a printing apprenticeship with The Otago Witness when he was 12. He later joined the Otago Daily Times and eventually owned both papers.

He edited the ODT from 1890-1909.co-founded the New Zealand Press Association in 1878; founded the Otago SPCA in 1882, the first in the country and was knighted in 1919.

The Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by Fairfax Media,  is a good way to recognise business success which doesn’t usually get the same recognition as sporting and artistic achievements.

Orchardists on frost alert as buds move early

July 17, 2008

Central Otago orchardists  are anxiously watching their trees and the weather because buds are starting to move early which puts them at risk of frost damage.  

McIntosh’s Orchard owner Wayne McIntosh said buds on his trees at Earnscleugh were starting to move, although he was not worried about his crop yet.

“The bud movement is about four or five weeks ahead of last year, but it depends on what the temperatures are like this month. No-one knows what will happen. It’s just part of the variation of growing fruit,” he said.

Mr McIntosh said if buds continued to move early, orchardists would have to be aware of the possible need for extensive frost-fighting.

“Our objective is to frost-fight as little as possible, but you have to take whatever measures are necessary. It is no cause for alarm just yet, but we are aware of the precautions we might need to take,” he said.

At Rob’s Rural Market in Earnscleugh, some of the orchard’s apricot buds have turned red.

Owner Harry Roberts said he had seen early bud-moving before, and the next three weeks would tell what was in store for the crop.

“Some of our buds are quite red, which means they have broken the bud and are showing the petal cover already. It could be a problem if we get a cold August, but it’s still early days,” he said.

Mr Roberts said this winter had been wetter than usual and ground moisture could aid the crop.

“It pushes up humidity, which lessens the severity of frosts.”

In parts of his orchard, apricot trees were developing at different paces due to their position on the block.

Trees higher up or next to geographical features which trapped warm air pockets were developing as they would in spring, while lower down, where cool air sat, trees presented typical winter growth.

Cold winters enhance the flavour of Central fruit, but frosts at the wrong time can decimate whole crops.

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