Fewer lambs but still enough chops for bbq

August 10, 2008

The t-shirt which proclaimed New Zealand’s ewenique – 60 million sheep can’t be wrong is well out of date with the national flock now down by more than a third from that number according to Meat and Wool New Zealand’s report on the year to June 2008. 


Breeding ewes dropped by 9.5% from 26.063m to 23.59m; and total sheep numbers declined 11.2% from 38.461m to 34.150m. This is the lowest number of breeding ewes since 1952 and the lowest total of sheep we’ve had since 1050.


The estimated lamb crop was 31.836m in June last year and declined by 13.4% to 27.599m.  Hogget numbers are estimated to have decreased 16.2% with a drop in the North Island of 7% and 26.6% in the South,


The sharp drop in numbers is attributed to concerns about the profitability of the sheep industry, last season’s drought and more attractive alternative land uses, especially dairy and dairy support.


Ewe condition at mating was poor because dry weather led to inadequate flushing feed and consequently lower rates of conception.


Scanning shows a lot of variability but the decline in ewe and hogget numbers mated and a lower expected lambing percentage is expected to lead to a decline in the total lamb crop of 4.2 million or 13.4%. 


Beef cattle are estimated to have decreased by between 0.3and 19.6 per cent although this was partially offset by herd rebuilding in Gisborne and of Hawke’s Bay.


These figures will be sobering reading for the meat industry. Kill numbers are expected to be down by 9 million in total throughout New Zealand. To put that into perspective a plant like Alliance’s Pukeuri works would kill about 2 million sheep a season.


That would indicate that closing of freezing works has not finished. However, Frogblog draws a long bow in concluding summer’s bbq chops are at risk because of dairy conversions. The 34 million sheep left will still provide enough chops and sausages.


The Frog is also wrong in asserting:


It’s funny how short term economic decisions, like the mad rush to industrial dairy, have long term economic, environmental and social consequences like climate change, water pollution and, it seems, diet.


There is nothing short term or purely economic about the decision to convert from sheep farming to dairy. It is a huge investment which is not undertaken lightly and has to be for the long term.


There are many positive social consequences from dairying which requires more staff and so leads to an increase in population, a boost in school rolls and the creation of jobs in servicing and support which flows on to rural towns.


Dairying doesn’t automatically lead to water pollution either. Regional Councils are taking a very strict approach to breaches of consent and the pollution of waterways and there are a lot of proactive approaches to safeguarding the environment from farmers, irrigation companies and dairy companies.


TV1 poll puts Peters out

August 10, 2008

Guyon Espiner has just announced the results of a One News poll in Tauranga.

National’s candidate Simon Bridges had the support of 48% of those polled, WInston Peters had 28% support and Labour’s Anne Pankhurst had just 15%.

Peters has to win the seat or get his party over the 5% hurdle and the poll showed 6% of people were willing to give New Zealand First their aprty votes. However, that’s not as good as it appears because it’s about half the support the party got in Tauranga at the last election.

The poll questioned 519 people and had a margin of error of 4%.

Who stole our calves?

August 10, 2008

Someone has stolen six of our calves, which are worth about $60 each.

Five went missing over night. The sixth was in the pen at 8.30 this morning but had gone a couple of hours later. The gate to the pen was open – but it had been chained and calves don’t unchain gates.

When we were first married we never locked doors and always left keys in the ignition of our car and trucks. Now keys are removed from vehicles and we lock all our doors – but you can’t lock paddocks.

Source more interesting than the story

August 10, 2008

I could get excited about the headline: Brash gets plum job as National attacks cronyism because the Sunday Star Times seems to be assuming that a National government is a given.

But there is nothing in the story to raise my pulse rate. It says Don Brash will be appointed ambassador in either the UK or USA by a National Government and quotes earlier comments by Brash in which he says people appoitned to such roles should be qualified for the job and not put there for political convenience. 

There is a big difference between appointing a former Reserve Bank governor to a position he is more than qualified for and for example sending Jonathon Hunt, a former MP for wine and cheese to London as British Ambassador or appointing Dianne Yates to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Board because she comes from the Waikato.

However, more interesting than either the headline or the story is the source. The by line credits Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hagar. 

If there is substance to the speculation it points to yet more leaks of sensitive information from National and once more Hagar is associated with it.

No Minister  and Kiwiblog both have posts on this story.

Pots & kettles

August 10, 2008

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said he believed the move was a politically motivated.

“I hear a cry of desperation,” he said.

He’s talking  about John Key but what he said is more applicable to Peters himself.

Bill backs John

August 10, 2008

Bill English has given a categorical assurance  he won’t challenge John Key for the leadership of the National Party.

I’ve known Bill for more than a decade and I have never heard him say, or seen him do anything to alter my opinion of him as a good and honest man. He has a strong faith, is a straight talker and he is fiercely loyal to his personal and political beliefs.

If he’d wanted to sabotage the party he had plenty of opportunity to do so after he lost the leadership. But he put whatever personal hurt he might have felt behind him and knuckled down to the job of preparing National to get back into Government.

I’ve heard and watched Bill and John together and apart and I have no doubts at all about the strength of their relationship which is based on mutual respect, admiration and liking as well as their shared determination to achieve a common goal. That goal is not just to get National in to government but to make the policy changes which will achieve the much needed improvements to their country for its people.

Those who don’t share National’s vision for a happier, healthier, better educated, more secure and wealthier New Zealand would be delighted to find evidence to the contrary. They obviously don’t know either man. Both are talented individuals who could earn much more, and earn it more easily with a far lower personal cost, outside politics.

But contrary to the view of those who think National has a head but no heart, they are not motivated by money, but by a genuine belief in what they are doing and the pressing need to do it; and not for personal gain but for the sake of the country.

I’ve been a member of the National Party for more than 20 years and I have never known it to be more unified. There are many reasons for that unity but the most important is the strength of the leadership team and their example of 100% dedication to and support of each other and the party.

Bill knows as probably no-one else does, how disloyalty to, and the undermining of, a leader harm not just the person but the party.  He is not going to throw away the hard work he, his parliamentary colleagues, and the members of the party he is dedicated to have done by playing silly games when the the finishing line is in sight.

Pharmac boss backs Herceptin decision

August 10, 2008

Pharmac chief Matthew Brougham explains the reasoning behind the decision to not fund 12 month courses of Herceptin.

He says that if one of his family had breast cancer he would recommend she take the nine week course which is publicly funded and that the jury is still out on the benefits of the year-long course.

The Herald editorial supports the decision and says that even if Pharmac had more money it would probably not spend it on longer courses of Herceptin.

And Kerre Woodham agrees that there is not enough evidence for Phramac to have reversed its decision to fund only nine weeks of the drug.

Update: Macdoctor responds to the Herald.

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