Word of the day


Vigorish –  a charge taken on bets, as by a bookie or gambling establishment; the rate or amount of such a charge; interest, especially excessive interest, paid to a moneylender.

Rural round-up


Boot camp stimulates insights and understanding of consumer demand – Allan Barber:

My readers may be pleasantly surprised that I have decided to return to less contentious topics than my last piece about overseas investment. The downside is that this will be far less provocative and may not give the readers the chance to question my intellect, political leanings and status in society or to accuse me of treason for having the gall to support overseas investment in land.

The outcome of the Boot Camp which was held two weeks ago at Stanford University has not for obvious reasons been widely trumpeted. After all the objective was never to produce yet another sector strategy, long on analysis of the problem and short on achievable actions to produce a state of nirvana.

Bill Falconer, Chairman of the Meat Industry Association, was chosen as the spokesperson for the Boot Camp because he did not represent a single company, but an industry body. . .

. . .  and the elephant in the room tiptoed away – Jon Morgan:

Back in 2009, DairyNZ was a leader in setting an industry strategy. Other agriculture and horticulture groups soon followed the industry-good body. 

    But unfortunately its timing wasn’t quite right. 

    As soon as the strategy was announced – with its admirable goals of increased farm profitability, attracting talented and skilled people, being internationally competitive and partnering with the government and the wider community – the world went into recession. 

    Three years later, with Europe and America still in financial strife, it is time to take another look at the strategy – a “refresh”, as DairyNZ says. . . .

Raw milk lapped up as review awaited – Laura Basham:

Village Milk, the Golden Bay business setting a precedent in the way it is legally selling raw milk to consumers, is proving there is public demand.

However, plans to set up franchises around the country have not progressed while other farmers await the outcome of a Ministry of Primary Industries review of raw milk regulations.

The 1981 Food Act allows farmers to sell up to five litres of milk daily to buyers who consume it themselves or provide it for their families. . .

The agriculture industry goes social – Carolyn Baumgarten:

The marriage of agriculture and social media likely conjures up images of crop seeding on Farmville, but socially savvy agribusinesses are proving that the connection runs much deeper than the popular Zynga game. A 2011 study by the American Farm Bureau Federation revealed that of the 98% of farmers and ranchers ages 18 to 25 who have internet access, 76% of them use social media.

Sure, agribusiness often gets a bad rep for being “behind the times,” but that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, agribusinesses have embraced social media as a channel that is revolutionizing both B2B and B2C communications for the industry. . .

Major US retailer to stock NZ wool carpets:

Elders Rural Holdings says there’s been a significant breakthrough in efforts to boost the sale of New Zealand-made wool carpets in the United States.

CCA Global Partners which is the world’s largest carpet retailer with more than 2000 stores, is to stock the company’s Just Shorn range of carpets and rugs, in all its retail flooring businesses.

Early last year it agreed to sell the carpets in more than 80 luxury stores. . .

NCB recommendations fuel red neckery


The Independent Statutory Maori Board’s recommendations to the Auckland City Council might well include some good ideas.

But the ones which have got the most attention are NCB – not council business – or at least they shouldn’t be.

The powers of general competence which Labour conferred on council does let them stick their noses into all sorts of areas which aren’t their core domain.

One of the recommendations is for Maori to be compulsory in schools. I have some sympathy with the idea of teaching Maori – learning a second language has many benefits, regardless of which language it is. But the school curriculum is the Ministry of Education’s business, it shouldn’t be a council’s.

Another recommendation is that all Maori homes should be insulated. That won’t go down well with ratepayers in general and  will be even less popular with those of limited means who live in uninsualted houses but won’t qualify for council support by dint of race.

Recommendations like these will fuel red neckery and also provide more impetus for a tighter rein on local bodies to ensure they stick to their knitting and stay well clear of activities which are NCB.


Hort/ag staff supply not meeting demand


The supply of skilled workers for horticulture isn’t meeting the demand:

Despite a high demand for qualified personnel in horticulture, the number of graduates entering horticulture-based courses and jobs is not keeping up with the growth of the industry. 

    Massey University senior lecturer in Palmerston North Dr Jason Wargent spoke at the Vegetables New Zealand AGM at the recent HortNZ conference about the need to encourage graduates into all aspects of horticulture. 

    He said there was a “perceived gap in graduate supply for horticulture-based courses and we need to think about how we can fix that”. 

Horticulture New Zealand senior business manager Sue Pickering said this shortage affected a lot of countries and had been an issue for some time. 

    However, she said the industry had become more complex and the negative perceptions around horticulture were affecting the growth of the industry. 

    Pickering said one of the biggest issues was misunderstandings around opportunities for graduates in horticulture. 

    Because the work was seasonally based, people did not understand the “multitude of career pathways” available. 

    Wargent said: “Horticulture is not always about mud and gumboots. There is a great deal of scope for business, science and maths-orientated people to pursue a good career in horticulture.” . . .

It isn’t only horticulture which finds the demand for skilled staff is greater than the supply, farming in general finds it difficult to attract workers.

The seeds of the problem are sown at school. Pupils select subjects which gain them easy NCEA credits, which doesn’t include the sciences, then find they’ve limited their options when they get to university.

Then there’s the mis-match between subjects studied and jobs available which Waikato University agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth highlights:

“The problem is that only 100 tertiary students graduated in agriculture last year, compared with more than 2000 creative and performing arts students.”

She also suggests a change in emphasis in education:

The importance of the science of food production should be right throughout the school curriculum, not called `agriculture’ but using agricultural examples so it becomes second nature thinking for our young people. 

    “In studying history, we could consider the green revolution; in science we could consider grains and the action of chlorophyll; in economics we could discuss the economics of the potato famine. 

    “We have bred a whole generation of people who want to save the world, but right now it’s easier to teach pollution than production. We could rename the study of agriculture `natural resource management’ or `sustainable food production’. 

    “We should also be teaching our young people to consider where the jobs are. One of the greatest problems facing the world in the future is feeding the world. If you want to save the world and make a difference to your country, you should be studying agriculture.” That’s the way our politicians should be talking, Rowarth says.

The global economic situation isn’t going to get better quickly.

Many young people won’t find it easy to find jobs which makes it even more important they are educated for the areas with skills shortages and greatest need rather than those with  a glut of applicants and few vacancies.

Soaks up money, doesn’t get better


Otago University students’ magazine Critic news reporter Zane Pocock has a profile of Labour leader David Shearer.

It concludes:

. . . and I have an old car which I’ve been renovating for the last 16 years. It soaks up money and doesn’t seem to get any better, but I drive it around as much as I can.” You can’t help but wonder if that was that a metaphor.

If you look at Labour’s policies last time it was in government, especially in its last term, they did soak up money but it’s hard to see how they made anything better.

Welfare saws rungs off job ladder


Quote of the day:

The small steps from welfare to work are easily derided, especially by those in politics who have never worked for such wages. But every jobs market needs a ladder and, at present, the bottom rungs of that ladder have been sawn off by a welfare state that has trapped the people it was designed to help. The waste of taxpayers’ money is as nothing compared to the waste of human potential. Fraser Nelson

If you’re on a benefit and will earn little if any more in work it would be easy to say why bother?

You’d have to believe that those who can work should, that you have to start somewhere and any job is more likely to lead to a better job than no job and it’s better to be contributing to the public purse than living off it.

But that requires taking the longer and more selfless view.

If you’re poor, lacking in education and work skills it might be hard to see that and work out how you can climb the ladder when its lower rungs have been cut off.

(The quote comes from The Telegraph story on Germany’s radical approach to increasing employment on which I posted last Monday)

September 3 in history


36 BC  In the Battle of Naulochus, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, admiral of Octavian, defeated Sextus Pompeius, son of Pompey, thus ending Pompeian resistance to the Second Triumvirate.

301 San Marino, one of the smallest nations in the world and the world’s oldest republic still in existence, was founded by Saint Marinus.

590  Consecration of Pope Gregory the Great.

863  Major Byzantine victory at the Battle of Lalakaon against an Arab raid.

1189  Richard I of England (Richard “the Lionheart”) was crowned at Westminster.

1260  The Mamluks defeated the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut in Palestine, marking their first decisive defeat and the point of maximum expansion of the Mongol Empire.

1650  Third English Civil War: Battle of Dunbar.

1651  Third English Civil War: Battle of Worcester – Charles II of England was defeated in the last main battle of the war.

1666  The Royal Exchange burned down in the Great Fire of London

1777  Cooch’s Bridge – Skirmish of American Revolutionary War in New Castle County, Delaware where the Flag of the United States was flown in battle for the first time.

1783  American Revolutionary War: The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris by the United States and Great Britain.

1798  The week long battle of St. George’s Caye began between Spanish and British off the coast of Belize.

1802 William Wordsworth composed the sonnet Composed upon Westminster Bridge.

1803  English scientist John Dalton began using symbols to represent the atoms of different elements.

1812  24 settlers were killed in the Pigeon Roost Massacre.

1838  Dressed in a sailor’s uniform and carrying identification papers provided by a Free Black seaman, future abolitionist Frederick Douglass boarded a train in Maryland on his way to freedom from slavery.

1870 Franco-Prussian War: the Siege of Metz began.

1878 More than 640 died when the crowded pleasure boat Princess Alice collided with the Bywell Castle in the River Thames.

1914  William, Prince of Albania left the country after just six months due to opposition to his rule.

1933 Yevgeniy Abalakov reached the highest point of the Soviet Union – Communism Peak (7495 m).

1935  Sir Malcolm Campbell reached speed of 304.331 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, becoming the first person to drive a car over 300 mph.

1939  World War II: France, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia declared war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, forming the Allies. In contrast to its entry into the First World War, New Zealand acted in its own right.

New Zealand declares war on Germany

1940 Pauline Collins, English actress, was born.

1941 Holocaust: Karl Fritzsch, deputy camp commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, experimented with the use of Zyklon B in the gassing of Soviet POWs.

1942 Al Jardine, American musician (The Beach Boys), was born.

1942  World War II: In response to news of its coming liquidation, Dov Lopatyn led an uprising in the Lakhva Ghetto.

1944  Holocaust: Diarist Anne Frank and her family were placed on the last transport train from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

1945 – Three-day celebration was held in China, following the Victory over Japan Day on September 2.

1947 Eric Bell, Irish guitarist (Thin Lizzy), was born.

1950 “Nino” Farina became the first Formula One Drivers’ champion after winning the 1950 Italian Grand Prix.

1951 The first long-running American television soap opera, Search for Tomorrow, aired its first episode on the CBS network.

1955 Steve Jones, English musician (Sex Pistols), was born.

1958 Pioneering heart surgeon Brian Barratt-Boyes performed New Zealand’s first open heart  surgery using a heart-lung bypass machine.

First open-heart surgery in NZ

1967  Dagen H in Sweden: traffic changed from driving on the left to driving on the right overnight.

1971 Qatar became an independent state.

1976 The Viking 2 spacecraft landed at Utopia Planitia on Mars.

1987  In a coup d’état in Burundi, President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza was deposed by Major Pierre Buyoya.

1994 Sino-Soviet Split: Russia and the People’s Republic of China agreed to de-target their nuclear weapons against each other.

1997 A Vietnam Airlines Tupolev TU-134 crashed on approach into Phnom Penh airport, killing 64.

1999  87-automobile pile-up on Highway 401 freeway just east of Windsor, Ontario, after an unusually thick fog from Lake St. Clair.

2004  Beslan school hostage crisis: Day 3: The Beslan hostage crisis ended with the deaths of morethan 300 people, more than half of whom were children.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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