Word of the day


Inkhorn – a small container made of horn or a similar material, formerly used to hold ink for writing; affectedly or ostentatiously learned; pedantic.

Rural round-up


Visit highlights ‘extraordinary opportunities’: Sally Rae:

Anna Campbell has returned from a recent trip to China buoyed by the opportunities that she saw for New Zealand’s red-meat sector.   

Dr Campbell, a consultant at AbacusBio in Dunedin, described those opportunities as “extraordinary”.   

She was in China for two weeks, firstly attending a Harvard agribusiness course in Shanghai focused around global agribusiness opportunities, which attracted 60 people from around the world, although she was one of only four women. . .

Fonterra election now wide open – Hugh Stringleman:

The shock resignation of Fonterra director Colin Armer has thrown the forthcoming election for farmer directors of the huge co-operative wide open.

Anti Trading Among Farmers group Our Co-op has confirmed it will stand a candidate in what is expected to be a crowded field. It has not yet decided who . . .

People key to success of agri-food plan – Jon Morgan:

    It would be easy to pooh-pooh the latest strategic plan for agriculture. After all, it follows at least 10 others in recent history, all of which have made little or no impact. 

    This one comes from the Riddet Institute, a bunch of university and government scientists, and is the work of a Thought Leadership Team – a name evocative of ivory towers. 

    But to accept that this plan hasn’t a chance is to give up, admit that the task of harnessing the wonderful potential of the agriculture and food sector is beyond us. . .

Call to Arms to treble agri-food turnover – Allan Barber:

The Riddet Institute, a partnership of five organisations, The University of Auckland, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Massey University, and the University of Otago, encompasses the entire New Zealand science sector.

 In its report A Call to Arms launched last week, it challenges New Zealand’s agri-foods sector to take the steps needed to realise its potential which the Government’s Economic Growth Agenda estimates should treble to about $60 billion by 2025. This demands a compound annual growth rate of 7% which, when compared to the present rate of 3%, is a daunting task, unless some truly revolutionary thinking and, more important, action occur very soon. . .

Turners & Growers lifts first-half profit 2.2% to $7.1m:

Turners & Growers said first-half net profit rose 2.2 percent to $7.1 million but didn’t provide any other details.

The fresh produce company said it will release the details of its results for the six months ended June 30 by August 17, as “required by listing rule 10.4.” . . .

2013 Ballance Awards new category energy efficient farming:

The 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards will feature a new category award that rewards energy-efficient farming.

This award is sponsored by New Zealand’s largest renewable energy generator, Meridian Energy.

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, which administers the annual competition, has welcomed Meridian to the sponsorship family.

NZFE chairman Jim Cotman says the Trust identified the need for an energy award some time ago. . .

Free range hen farm to expand:

A $2 million expansion at the largest free-range poultry farm  in New Zealand will house another 16,000 hens on the property at Glenpark, near Palmerston.   

The 77ha site already has 48,000 Shaver hens, Mainland Poultry general manager for sales and marketing Hamish Sutherland said.   

When the free-range poultry farm opened in 2002, expansion was promised as the free-range market grew. . .

Overseer upgrade released:

Farmers and growers are being offered an enhanced tool to help them use nutrients efficiently.

The owners of the OVERSEER® Nutrient Budgets software are releasing a major upgrade today.

Overseer is available free of charge through a partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and AgResearch.

The upgrade to Overseer Version 6 reflects user feedback on previous versions says Mark Shepherd of AgResearch, the Overseer technical team leader. . .

Postie pat on back awards launched


Rural Women New Zealand is launching a Postman pat-on-the-back Award to celebrate the great service rural posties deliver.

“There are some heart-warming stories out there about posties who go above and beyond to make sure the mail gets through,” says RWNZ national president, Liz Evans.

“We’ve heard of posties who find the right home for mail addressed only with first names, who telephone first before delivering large parcels or who leave sweet treats in letterboxes.”

And in a crisis the rural delivery contractors can be a lifeline.  During floods, when bridges have been washed away, rural posties have been known to deliver supplies by boat to people whose road access is cut off.

Entries should be emailed to  enquiries@ruralwomen.org.nz, The 10 best will be  published on Rural Women’s Facebook page, the winner will get a prize package and the winning postie will get a gift too.

North Otago is the only place in the country which denotes rural mail runs with a letter. Where anywhere else your address might be 2 R.D. Heriot or 5 R.D. Te Anau, here it will be a number then C,D, H, K or O before the R.D., for example 3 C R.D. or 5 K R.D. The letter is more important than the number but is often missed out so our posties are called on to make educated guesses about where mail is supposed to go and they rarely get it wrong.

We haven’t had to ask our current rural mail contractor to go the extra mile for us, though we’re very happy with the service we get.

But the one we had about 20 years ago was very good at deciphering cryptic of vague addresses. He once delivered a postcard to us that had our first names only with the address a farm near Windsor.

Debt hangover will linger


Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard says New Zealand’s debt hangover will linger:

In a speech to the Employers and Manufacturers Association in Auckland, Dr Bollard said governments, firms, farmers and households across many parts of the advanced world took on large amounts of debt in the last couple of decades. He noted that rapid increases in indebtedness have often foreshadowed a difficult period for the economy.

Fortunately, New Zealand avoided the sort of costly systemic financial crisis that a growing number of other countries faced, and while government debt had increased substantially it remained low by international standards.

“But it is fair to note that we have suspected for a long time that New Zealand’s private and external debts were too high to be sustained,”Dr Bollard said.

The accumulation of debt owed by individual firms and households, and borrowers disappointed that incomes and asset prices have not gone on rising as they expected are “clearly playing some role in the low rates of growth New Zealand has seen in productivity and GDP,” Dr Bollard said.

New Zealand households are finally saving more than we’re spending, but not by much. The need to earn before we spend is acknowledged but the debt grew over years and it will take years for it to shrink.

Federated Farmers’ president Bruce Wills warns that some farmers have too much debt to survive a drought:

“We have a very highly indebted rural sector, no question, particularly our dairy sector,” Wills said in reaction to Reserve Bank figures which show agricultural debt has taken a sharp upturn in the first half of this year, sitting at the end of June at $48.3 billion. 

    The figures are particularly concerning because a new Farm Price Index developed by the Reserve Bank and the Real Estate Institute of NZ shows that farm prices have declined by 24.8 per cent from their peak in October 2008, while agricultural debt increased by 12.7 per cent over the same period (see chart). 

    A combination of high debt and falling land values could put pressure on farm balance sheets and is a particular concern because farm incomes have been falling due to lower commodity prices and the stubbornly high New Zealand dollar. . .

Wills said not all of the debt being taken on was bad, because some of it was being used to increase production by converting grazing land to dairying, which produced higher returns. But overall debt levels were too high. 

    “We now have higher rural debt levels than when the worldwide credit crunch hit in 2008, which is pretty concerning because we should have all got the message that we are carrying too much debt,” he said.

The last couple of seasons have been once-in-a-generation ones for almost all farming sectors. Only the very optimistic were expecting those high prices to continue and projected prices for the coming season could prove the pessimists right.

Dr Bollard’s speech is here.

Phantom vs Fonterra


A phantom bidder which claims to have offered a better deal for New Zealand Dairies’ South Canterbury milk powder plant than Fonterra is urging the Commerce Commission to investigate the sale process.

In a confidential submission on Fonterra’s application for clearance to buy NZ Dairies, the rival called on the Commerce Commission to “investigate the fairness of the sale process” which it says put “significant pressure” on suppliers to accept the Fonterra proposal. The unnamed bidder claimed to have trumped Fonterra’s undisclosed winning bid.

“The receivers may have elected for other reasons not to pursue the offer, but the perception that the Fonterra offer was the best is not correct, and we request that this be corrected,” the submission said.

“The Fonterra offer was clearly not the best offer on the table, but the receiver chose not to pursue other options and yet Fonterra claim not to have pursued the acquisition. This process should be investigated,” it said.  . .

The unnamed rival was told its bid was unsuccessful as it needed Overseas Investment Office approval, the submission said.

The submission referred to an international equity investor whose chief executive and main shareholding are New Zealanders who are “extremely keen and interested to invest in NZ.”

The bidding company was “formed to invest in and operate dairy farming and dairy processing assets.”

The investors have primarily been in energy and recently showed an interest in pastoral farming and dairy production, the submission said.

The bidder “has for the past three years been researching the NZ dairy industry and is very interested to invest,” it said.

Fonterra’s offer was welcomed by most of NZ Dairies’ suppliers as a lifeline, not least because its offer included payment for milk supplied last season for which farmers hadn’t received payment.

Fonterra is running the plant on behalf of the receivers now. Even those suppliers who weren’t entirely enthusiastic about joining the co-operative will almost certainly prefer the devil they know than a phantom which would have to wend its way through the Overseas Investment Office approval process with no guarantee of success.

August 7 in history


322 BC  Battle of Crannon between Athens and Macedon.

936  Coronation of King Otto I of Germany.

1420  Construction of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore began in Florence.

1427   The Visconti of Milan’s fleet was destroyed by the Venetians on the Po River.

1461   The Ming Dynasty military general Cao Qin staged a coup against the Tianshun Emperor.

1606   The first documented performance of Macbeth, at the Great Hall at Hampton Court.

1679  The brigantine Le Griffon, commissioned by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was towed to the south-eastern end of the Niagara River, to become the first ship to sail the upper Great Lakes.

1714  The Battle of Gangut: the first important victory of the Russian Navy.

1782  George Washington ordered the creation of the Badge of Military Merit to honour soldiers wounded in battle. (later renamed  Purple Heart).

1794  U.S. President George Washington invoked the Militia Law of 1792 to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania.

1819  Simón Bolívar triumphed over Spain in the Battle of Boyacá.

1876 Mata Hari, Dutch spy, was born (d. 1917).

1879 The opening of the Poor Man’s Palace in Manchester.

1890  Anna Månsdotter became the last woman in Sweden to be executed, for the 1889 Yngsjö murder.

1908 The first train to travel the length of the North Island main trunk line, the ‘Parliament Special’ left Wellington.

First train runs length of main trunk line

1926 Stan Freberg, American voice comedian, was born.

1927  The Peace Bridge opened between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York.

1930  The last lynching in the Northern United States, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, were killed.

1933 The Simele massacre: The Iraqi Government slaughtersed over 3,000 Assyrians in the village of Sumail.

1936 Joy Cowley, New Zealand author, was born.

Black and white photo of Jow Cowley smiling

1942  B.J. Thomas, American singer, was born.

1942  The Battle of Guadalcanal began – United States Marines initiated the first American offensive of the war with landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi.

1944  IBM dedicated the first program-controlled calculator, the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (known best as the Harvard Mark I).

1947 Thor Heyerdahl’s balsa wood raft the Kon-Tiki, smashed into the reef at Raroia  in the Tuamotu Islands after a 101-day, 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi) journey across the Pacific Ocean in an attempt to prove that pre-historic peoples could have travelled from South America.

1948  Greg Chappell, Australian cricketer and coach, was born.

1955 Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering, the precursor to Sony, sold its first transistor radios in Japan.

1958 Bruce Dickinson, English singer (Iron Maiden), was born.

1959 – Explorer 6 launched from the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral.

1960 Jacquie O’Sullivan, British singer (Bananarama), was born.

1960  Côte d’Ivoire became independent.

1964 John Birmingham, Australian author, was born.

1964  U.S. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution giving US President Lyndon B. Johnson broad war powers to deal with North Vietnamese attacks on American forces.

1965 The first party between Ken Kesey‘s Merry Pranksters and motorcycle gang the Hells Angels introducing psychedelics to the gang world and forever linking the hippie movement to the Hell’s Angels.

1966 Race riots in Lansing, Michigan.

1974  Philippe Petit performed a high wire act between the twin towers of the World Trade Centere 1,368 feet (417 m) in the air.

1978  U.S. President Jimmy Carter declared a federal emergency at Love Canal.

1979  Several tornadoes struck the city of Woodstock, Ontario, Canada and the surrounding communities.

1981 The Washington Starceased all operations after 128 years of publication.

1985 Takao Doi, Mamoru Mohri and Chiaki Mukai were chosen to be Japan’s first astronauts.

1988 Rioting in New York City’s Tompkins Square Park.

1998  The United States embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi killed approximately 212 people.

1997 – Beatrice Faumuina won athletics world championship gold.

1999  Second Chechen War began.

2008  Georgia launched a military offensive against South Ossetia to counter the alleged Russian invasion, starting the South Ossetia War.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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