Word of the day

August 27, 2012

Anacoluthia – an abrupt change within a sentence from one syntactic structure to another; lack of grammatical sequence or coherence, especially in a sentence.


Farmgate price not anti-competitive

August 27, 2012

The Commerce Commission has found that Fonterra’s method for setting the benchmark Farm Gate Milk Price is “not inconsistent” with its obligations under the Commerce Act to ensure potential competitors are able to compete with it.

The competition watchdog released its report following a “dry run” review of the FGMP process, concluding it “does provide for contestability in the farm gate milk market, as overall the assumptions Fonterra used in setting the price are practically feasible for an efficient processor.”

“The assumptions also provide incentives for Fonterra to efficiently.”

That was despite Fonterra providing insufficient information on some six of the 13 legislative requirements relating to the FGMP to allow transparency, including a lack of transparency on yields, which the commission judged to have “very high” potential impact on the price.

Disclosure on yields was “not transparent” because the “methodology for calculating yields (is) not clearly stated in (the) milk price manual.”

While the dry run exercise and future reviews do not require the commission to assess the transparency of the milk price manual, “we have identified areas where we will require further information for the next and/or analysis by Fonterra, and other areas where we consider that the clarity and content of Fonterra’s milk price manual can be improved.”

However, the commission concluded the regime “is not inconsistent with the purpose and principles of the milk price regime set out in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.” . . .

. . . The regulatory regime for establishing a milk pricing benchmark regime is essential to encouraging domestic competition for Fonterra, and the dry run process saw submissions from a range of independent processors who have argued Fonterra is able to set the FGMP to suit its commercial needs best.

The commission says the amended Act does not require an existing producer to be able to achieve the level of efficiency implied by the FGMP.

“As long as Fonterra or a potential entrant achieve that level of efficiency, then that ensures that the FGMP reflects a practically feasible level, and would provide a normal return on incremental investment.”

Economies of scale give Fonterra an advantage.

That is quite different from being anti-competitive and suppliers here ought to appreciate the benefits we get from the co-operative model which ensures farmers aren’t caught in the crossfire between retailers as they have in Australia.

Farmers there have had to accept lower prices for their milk, effectively subsidising milk companies and supermarkets.


Rural round-up

August 27, 2012

Smartphone app for smart farmers:

A new Farmhelp app provides practical farming instructions at the touch of a smartphone button, anywhere on a property, any time.

The idea is to deliver instant, practical, time and money-saving information for daily farming situations when it’s needed most – like way out in the back paddock.

“It’s a pocket prompt, accessed easily by smartphones,” says Richard Brown, Baletwine Ltd owner and Farmhelp product developer, in launching the product this week. . .

NZ records July trade surplus of $15 million as dairy shipments to China drive exports

New Zealand recorded a small trade surplus in July, with shipments of dairy products to China making up for weaker exports to Australia, Indonesia and India.

The surplus was $15 million last month, down from a revised $287 million in the previous month, according to Statistics New Zealand. Exports slipped to $4.03 billion from $4.18 billion, while imports gained to $3.99 billion from $3.89 billion.

The annual deficit was $853 million, or 1.8 percent of exports. Economists had forecast a monthly surplus of $33 million and an annual gap of $820 million, according to a Reuters survey. . .

Basmati rice provides fascinating commodity comparison – Allan Barber:

For some strange reason I recently received a research report from India on the Basmati rice industry. But never having previously thought of the rice industry’s dynamics – financial, production or marketing – I found it fascinating reading. I hope some of my readers will share my excitement.

Basmati occupies a small premium niche within the global rice industry, representing 1.5% of total volume, but 2.1% of value. It can only be sold under the Basmati name (or appellation) if it has been grown in designated parts of India and Pakistan, the Indo-Gangetic area of the Himalayas. India produces 72% and Pakistan 28% of total Basmati production. . .

Ballance Farm Business Writing Award entries open

Ballance is encouraging journalists to showcase their work with a new award aimed at heightening awareness of the complexities of running farm businesses.

The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Farm Business Writing Award was created this year as part of the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists Awards.

It was developed to encourage journalists to understand more about the business of running farms and to share what they learn. . .

Wairarapa man wins national Young Viticulture competition

For the first time in the competition’s seven year history, a Wairarapa viticulturist has been named the 2012 Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year.

Braden Crosby (30) from Borthwick Estate in Carterton took the title at the competition, which was held over two days as part of the Romeo Bragato conference. . .

Gibbston Valley Winery Hosts Grand Vertical Tasting:

Some of Central Otago’s oldest and rarest wines are to be collected from the Gibbston Valley Wine library and dusted off for an historic wine tasting.

Legendary wine vignerons Alan Brady and Grant Taylor will join current Gibbston Valley winemaker Christopher Keys on Saturday September 1 to co-host a ‘Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir Grand Vertical Tasting’ at Queenstown Resort College. . .

Grand Jury Européen Rates Lowburn Ferry Amongst Top Pinot Noirs in the World:

The inaugural reserve pinot noir from boutique Central Otago producer Lowburn Ferry has received an outstanding ovation from a panel of international tasters known as the Grand Jury Européen (GJE).

14 GJE tasters recently held a special session in Paris about the styles of various pinots noirs coming from various countries in the world : France, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand, USA, Argentina, and Germany. Invited producers were asked to provide a wine representing a vintage between 2000 and 2010. . .

And a new (to me) rural blog: Milking on the Moove.


Political vitriol 1 – mature debate 0

August 27, 2012

The headline says Liar, liar pants on fire: the Nelson Speech.

That’s not a good start to mature discussion and what follows is no better.

It’s a vitriolic, politically motivated discourse spiced with personal abuse of Education Minister Hekia Parata.

The speech by which the writer, Kevin Smythe, is so incensed was reported in the Nelson Evening Mail.

It appears to be similar to ones I have heard several times from the Minister. In all of them she has discussed both what is working well in education and what needs to improve.

I have never yet heard her lay all the responsibility for the long tail of under achievement on teachers but I have heard her give examples of schools which manage to help the underachievers.

The causes for the under achievement are many. Schools can’t change the foundation laid by families before children start school nor what happens in the bulk of their lives outside school hours.

But they can do a lot in the classroom and at school. Some schools and teachers do better than others – in spite of or because of factors outside their control, including government policy.

If there is a problem with the policy it isn’t going to be solved by rants like this.

The man who wrote it probably calls himself an education professional but there’s nothing professional in this behaviour.

Is there another profession whose members act in this way, with personal criticism of the Minister instead of reasoned debate?

Is there a public forum where teachers discuss the issues rationally?

If not the score is political vitriol 1 – mature debate 0 and education is the loser.


If it worked in Germany . . .

August 27, 2012

An email from a reader alerted me to this story from The Telegraph about Germany’s radical answer to its unemployment problem:

. . . There is special focus on “mini-jobs”, contracts that allow a worker to earn 400 euros a month tax-free on the condition that they can be sacked at any moment. Germans can have as many such jobs as they like, but only one with the same employer. The official figures show that, within a year of their introduction, there were 500,000 more part-time jobs, with a good record of leading to full-time employment. Youth unemployment was indeed halved. None of this was pain-free – protesters lined the streets, complaining about deregulation and denouncing “devil jobs”. It was, for Schröder, a battle worth fighting and winning. . .

Could we be as brave as Germany?

There would be a battle, but if it worked as it did there, it would be one worth fighting and winning here.


Age-change a cop-out

August 27, 2012

This week parliament is likely to consider changes to the laws governing the sale of alcohol.

I hope MPs read this before they make up their minds how they will vote:

Post rugby violence ‘sad reality’ – Police:

. . . Central communications shift commander Mark Oliver said it was the “sad reality” of New Zealand culture.

“There’s too much alcohol, people get on the turps on big game nights,” he said. . .

He said young people were often blamed for binge drinking but there were just as many adults. . .

The problem with the drinking culture and alcohol abuse is not confined to young people.

Raising the purchase age to 20 or splitting it so 18 and 19 year-olds can buy alcohol on licensed premises but not at off-licences will not change the culture.

The problem is the attitude not the age.

Any measures which don’t address that will be tinkering with the symptoms not solving the problem.

Changing the age would be a cop-out which would punish the many young people who drink sensibly and ignore the much larger problem of many older people who don’t.

Keep the age 18 but change the culture that licences drinking to excess, treats drunkenness as normal, regards intoxication as amusing and condones the behavioural problems which stem from all of that.


August 27 in history

August 27, 2012

479 BC Persian forces led by Mardonius were routed by Pausanias, the Spartan commander of the Greek army in the Battle of Plataea.

410 The sacking of Rome by the Visigoths ended after three days.

663 Battle of Baekgang: Remnants of the Korean Baekje Kingdom and their Yamato Japanese allies engaged the combined naval forces of the Tang Chinese and Silla Koreans on the Geum River.

1172  Henry the Young King and Margaret of France were crowned as junior king and queen of England.

1232  The Formulary of Adjudications was promulgated by Regent Hōjō Yasutoki.

1689  The Treaty of Nerchinsk was signed by Russia and the Qing empire.

1776 The Battle of Long Island:  British forces under General William Howe defeated Americans under General George Washington.

1793 French counter-revolution: the port of Toulon revolted and admitted the British fleet, which landed troops and seized the port leading to Siege of Toulon.

1798 Wolfe Tone’s United Irish and French forces clashed with the British Army in the Battle of Castlebar.

1803 Edward Beecher, American theologian, was born (d. 1895).

1810 Napoleonic Wars: The French Navy defeated the British Royal Navy, preventing them from taking the harbour of Grand Port on Île de France.

1813  French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte defeated a larger force of Austrians, Russians, and Prussians at the Battle of Dresden.

1828 Uruguay was formally proclaimed independent at preliminary peace talks brokered by Great Britain between Brazil and Argentina during the Argentina-Brazil War.

1859 Petroleum was discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania leading to the world’s first commercially successful oil well.

1875 Katharine McCormick, American women’s rights activist, was born (d. 1967).

1877 Charles Rolls, British co-founder of Rolls-Royce, was born (d. 1910).

1896 Anglo-Zanzibar War: the shortest war in world history (09:00 to 09:45) between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar.

1899 C. S. Forester, British author, was born (d. 1966).

1904 The foundation stone for Victoria College (now Victoria University of Wellington), was laid.

Foundation stone for Victoria’s first building laid

1904 Norah Lofts, British author, was born (d. 1983).

1908 Sir Donald Bradman, Australian cricketer, was born (d. 2001).

1908 Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States, was born (d. 1973).

1911 Joseph Pawelka escaped from Wellington’s Terrace Gaol – the last in a series of bold but seemingly effortless prison escapes Pawelka made over an 18-month period.

Pawelka's last prison break

1921 The British installed the son of Sharif Hussein bin Ali as King Faisal I of Iraq.

1922 The Turkish army took the Aegean city of Afyonkarahisar from the Greeks.

1928 The Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war was signed by the first fifteen nations.

1932 Antonia Fraser, British author, was born.

1939 First flight of the turbojet-powered Heinkel He 178, the world’s first jet aircraft.

1942 Daryl Dragon, American keyboardist (Captain & Tennille), was born.

1947 John Morrison, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1962  The Mariner 2 unmanned space mission was launched to Venus by NASA.

1979  An IRA bomb killed  Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and 3 others in Sligo. Another bomb near Warrenpoint killed 18 British soldiers.

1982  Turkish military diplomat Colonel Atilla Altıkat was shot and killed in Ottawa. Justice Commandos Against Armenian Genocide claimed responsibility, saying they were avenging the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

1985 The Nigerian government was peacefully overthrown by Army Chief of Staff Major General Ibrahim Babangida.

1991 – Moldova declared independence from the USSR.

1993  The Rainbow Bridge, connecting Tokyo’s Shibaura and the island of Odaiba, was completed.

2000  The 540-metre (1,772 ft)-tall Ostankino Tower in Moscow caught fire, killing three people.

2003 Mars made its closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years, passing 34,646,418 miles (55,758,005 km) distant.

2006  Comair Flight 5191 crashed on takeoff from Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky killing 49 of the 50 passengers and crew.

2009 – The Burmese military junta and ethnic armies began three days of violent clashes in the Kokang Special Region.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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