Word of the day

October 3, 2012

Caitiff –   a base, cowardly, evil or mean person; cowardly; despicable; mean.


Rural round-up

October 3, 2012

Foreign investment in the spotlight – Kai Tanter:

The biggest headline in Australian dairy news this week has been the possibility of China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp, investing in the Van Diemen’s Land Company. The Van Diemen’s Land Company, which operates in the Australian state of Tasmania, is looking for AU$180 million in order to expand its operations. The Tasmanian government and dairy industry have both been courting Chinese investors and seem to have met with some success.

This news follows hot on the heels of recent Chinese investment in Australia’s largest cotton farm, the Queensland Cubbie Station. Meanwhile in New Zealand, the dust has only just settled after the Crafar Farms were finally sold to China’s Shanghai Pengxin. . .

Bruce Wills slams environmental activists who use the law to shut down critics while objecting to Fed Farmers’ appeal of decisions with legal errors and scientific fallacies – Bruce Wills:

According to one of our less sympathetic critics, Federated Farmers is a dinosaur.

It seems we are a legal version of Jurassic Park for having the temerity to question the Environment Court’s reversal of independent hearing’s commissioners on the Horizons One Plan.

That of course is the right of that critic because we thankfully live in a democracy. . .

Tatau tops milk payout stakes again:

The country’s smallest dairy co-operative, Tatua, has topped the milk payout stakes again.

The Waikato-based co-op has confirmed its 109 farmer suppliers will be getting a total payout for the past season of $7.50 cents a kilo of milk solids.

That’s 60 cents below the previous season’s record of $8.10 a kilo, but well above Fonterra’s $6.40 total payout for the past season. .

Farm Shop slams supermarkets for ‘overpriced and poorly sourced’ produce – Gemma Mackenzie:

Supermarkets have come under fire for being “too expensive and not providing consumers with enough good quality produce from their region” by the boss of the UK’s oldest farm shop.

Simon Hirst, partner in the family-run Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop in Netherton, West Yorkshire (established in 1974), said consumers were “missing out” by being forced to buy from supermarkets.

“The supermarkets have had a stranglehold on our food chain for so long we’ve been given little choice but to trawl the multiples’ aisles for food that is poor quality, poorly sourced and, particularly in the case of the meat products, over-priced,” said Mr Hirst, the fourth generation manager of the Yorkshire farm, which is famed for its top-quality beef, chicken and on-site butchers shop.

“The supermarkets would have us believe they are cheaper than the farm shops and farmers’ markets but, in many cases, this simply isn’t true.” . . .

How meat farmers can lift returns – Jon Morgan:

Craig Hickson tells a story to illustrate how meat processors can short-change farmers more than $20 on each lamb they send to the works. 

“I woke up the other morning with three women in my bed with an average age of 22.” 

He has the measured, deadpan delivery of a veteran comedian. 

“You’ll be thinking, ‘That’s unlikely, he’s lying – or skiting’.” 

He pauses to let the laughter die down. “One of them was my wife and the others were my granddaughters aged 2 and 4. 

“Your first thought was that they were all aged 22.” 

He pauses again. “And that’s the dangers of averaging.” 

The industry in which he has a strategic stake, with four meat plants in the North Island and now another in Wales, is guilty of this, he says. 

    He is talking to a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farming For Profit field day. The 30 farmers have just watched one of his butchers cut up a lamb carcass, been shown each cut and told its destination.

Lucerne Based Dairy Farm – More Feed, Less Irrigation, Less Nitrate Leaching – Milking on the Moove:

Richard Campion is a lecturer at Lincoln University; he presented a paper to the 18th International Farm Management Congress held in Methven last year. His paper was titled Utilising Lucerne Potential For Dairy Farming”.
 
In his paper he modelled the Lincoln University Dairy Farm using 90% lucerne and 10% winter crop. His report states that the ryegrass and white clover pastures at the Lincoln University dairy farm produce on average 17,000kg DM/ha/yr. Irrigated lucerne stands have been shown to produce 24,000kg DM/ha/yr. But the interesting point is that Lucerne has far greater water efficiency than ryegrass. For this reason irrigated lucerne can grow 25% more dry matter than pasture and it can do it with only 1/3 of the water that ryegrass needs. So if a dairy farmer changed their irrigated pasture system to a lucerne based system, they would reduce the water required for irrigation by approximately 65%. This is a massive potential saving . . .

New Zealand’s ATV Safety Programme Working

Just one recorded on-farm work related fatality to date this year clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the Government’s approach to the safe use of ATVs (quad bikes).

The Motor Industry Association whose membership includes the major importers and distributors of off road farm bikes, including ATVs, refute the  statement by Dr Lower that the industry was adopting tobacco type tactics to block mandating of the fitment of rollover protection (ROPS) for ATVs.

“ATVs are the modern day horse and we estimate there are between 70,000 and 80,000 in use on farms here in New Zealand,” said Perry Kerr, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry Association. “Naturally we are concerned by any accident and especially a fatality involving these vehicles.” . . .

New Zealand Dairy Farms Have So Few Trees. Why? – Pasure to Profit:

I want to encourage more trees on dairy farms, including perhaps Cider Apple trees.

Mixed Tree Species on farms can add to the environmental biodiversity. Imaginative shelter belts create a better work place. Trees add to the aesthetics of the farm. Effective tree shelter belts are good for animal welfare and may increase pasture growth. Could Cider Apple Trees also create another income for dairy farmers?    . . .

New Tool for Farmers to Manage Effluent Application:

Farmhelp is a recently developed mobile farming app with powerful calculators to assist farmers in determining the effluent loading they apply to the land.

There is mounting pressure internationally for farmers to effectively manage the application of farm effluent. . .

Brassica crops benefit from early planning:

Brassica crops provide high-quality forage for stock, but balancing production goals with input costs is vital to ensure planting a paddock of kale or turnip is a cost effective alternative to pasture.

New Zealand farmers grow about 300,000 hectares of brassicas a year, often as a break crop when pasture quality or performance starts to decline.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Lower North Island Technical Extension Officer Jeff Morton says that to achieve the best result with a brassica crop, nutrient deficiencies need to be resolved well ahead of sowing. . .

 Free workshops to help landowners better manage forests

Northland plantation forestry owners and contractors keen to better manage their earthworks and harvesting are being urged to attend one of five free local authority workshops being offered around the region next week.

The workshops in Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Whangarei, Dargaville and Maungaturoto are being run by the Northland Regional Council and are based on the recently released ‘Forestry Earthworks & Harvesting Guidelines for Northland’. . .


Tyson visa cancelled

October 3, 2012

The visa which would have allowed convicted rapist Mike Tyson to visit New Zealand has been cancelled by Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson:

Ms Wilkinson says the original decision to grant a Special Direction to Mr Tyson was a finely balanced call and a letter of support from the Life Education Trust, that would have been a benefactor from the visit, was a significant factor in approving the application.

“Yesterday evening the Life Education Trust contacted my office and asked for that letter to be withdrawn, making it clear that the Trust no longer wants to have any involvement with Mr Tyson’s visit.

“Given that the Trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa to enter New Zealand for the Day of the Champions event.”

Life Education Trust does a lot of good work in the community and it seemed odd that they’d supported this visa application.

Keeping Stock has a tweet from Sean Plunket which says they didn’t – the letter of support was an unauthorised one from a volunteer.

The world is full of inspirational speakers without criminal convictions who would be much better role models.


Less crime, more freedom

October 3, 2012

Each time we’ve been to Argentina our friends there warn us to be careful of pickpockets and petty thieves.

In light of that I always wear a money belt and carry only a little cash and no cards in my wallet and have never had any problems.

Several members of the Air New Zealand All Black entourage weren’t so lucky when they were in Buenos Aires last week.

One man was robbed twice, losing all the money he had with him and his credit cards.

Several others were the victims of pickpockets and one woman had the back of her handbag had been slashed though nothing was lost.

It could happen anywhere in the world but the chances of it happening here are a lot less than in many other countries.

We can still walk down the street with our bags swinging from our shoulders and wallets in pockets without the constant fear we could lose them or their contents.

We can live in houses without bars on the windows and – at least in this part of the country – without elaborate security systems.

This gives us a freedom and security we shouldn’t take for granted, although we can be grateful that the crime rate is falling.

Police Minister Anne Tolley says the increased focus on frontline policing and crime prevention will continue, following another drop in recorded crimes.

Recorded offences were down by 5.2 per cent, with 21,802 fewer crimes in the fiscal year to 30 June 2012. The crime rate per head of population fell by 5.9 per cent.

It follows a seven per cent reduction in crime per head of population in the previous fiscal year, and a 5.6 per cent decrease in the 2011 calendar year.

“The figures reflect the excellent work of the Police in making our communities safer and I want to thank them for their efforts,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Police are spending more time and are more visible in their communities through Neighbourhood Policing Teams, while mobile technology is also allowing officers to stay out on the front line, instead of having to return to their desks.

“This new way of working will continue – to proactively prevent crime rather than react after an offence has been committed, and that leads to fewer victims of crime.

“So there will be no let up for criminals. The Police are well on their way to reaching our target of an overall reduction in crime of 15 per cent by 2017.

Less crime means fewer victims, greater security and more freedom for all of us.


Easier to level down than up

October 3, 2012

Quote of the day:

. . . Social reformers have always found it easier to level down than to level up. The former can be done by simple and purely administrative means, whereas the latter requires long, persistent and wise effort, not necessarily by the bureaucrats, without much assurance of success in the long run because such factors as genetic endowment are likely to interfere with the outcome. It is far easier to make allowances for children of disadvantaged homes than to arrange for them to have a decent education in the first place, which among other things would require good teachers using proper pedagogical methods teaching subject matter that is worthwhile in itself. The procedural measure of success – equality of rates of admission to university – is admirably suited to a world in which appearance is often confounded with reality, a world of spin-doctoring, a world in fact in which such things as the Olympic Games can be taken seriously. Theodore Dalrymple


Small drop in milk price in GDT auction

October 3, 2012

The trade weighted index price of milk was down by .9% in this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

This follows four consecutive price increases and still keeps the price above the longterm average.

The price of anhydrous milk fat dropped 6.4%; butter milk increased 4%; cheddar was down 7.4%; lactose dropped 6.3%; milk protein concentrate was down 1.5%; rennet casein dropped 9.5%; skim milk powder was down .9% and whole milk powder increased by 2.8%.

 

 


Food security differs from food security

October 3, 2012

Is New Zealand concentrating on food safety when there’s more to be gained by concentrating on food security?

 “I was stunned to learn what we know as Food Security is defined by the World Bank as Food Safety.  It may sound like semantics but it carries a huge implication for our agricultural producers and exporters,” says Letitia Isa, a student of Massey University Executive MBA programme.

“This simple but fundamental misapprehension may see New Zealand jumping ever higher but illusionary hurdles.  Instead of higher standards boosting returns, they may in fact be eroding them for almost no financial gain.

“When the World Bank says Food Safety they are not talking stainless steel, the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme or the Emissions Trading Scheme.  What the World Bank means is how New Zealand can contribute to the feeding nine billion people by 2050.

“That carries with it a powerful but different policy message.

New Zealand has a well deserved reputation for food safety but the premise that we are jumping unnecessary hurdles isn’t new.

Ever-stricter requirements for food safety have been used as non-tariff barriers for years.

When my farmer was in London in 1982 he visited the Smithfield market and was appalled by the low standard of hygiene there when the EU was requiring such high standards in our freezing works which provided a lot of the meat.

“New Zealand can feed some 24 million people according to the University of Waikato’s Professor of Agribusiness, Jacqueline Rowarth.  The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says developed countries need to increase output by 70 percent to do their bit.

“It might sound provocative, but we need to seriously weigh the cost-benefits of adopting polices that do not generate tangible revenue at the farm gate, or increase production. While European supermarkets seem to be a de facto political and policy benchmark, are ever higher compliance costs worth it?

“It may sound counter intuitive, but perhaps quantity does have a quality all of its own.   A simple metric maybe if a policy adds a dollar of cost, does it produce well over a dollar of added revenue at the farm gate?

“Moreover, are our other policy settings, particularly around Genetically Modified Organisms, retarding New Zealand’s ability to do its fair global share?

“Certainly, the way the World Bank defines Food Safety needs to become central to New Zealand policy formation.  If not, we risk unprecedented global disorder that New Zealand could not escape,” Ms Isa concluded.

It would be stupid to jeopardise our reputation for food safety, especially in the higher-paying markets which are more likely to be concerned about quality than quantity.

However, if we can also increase the quantity of food we produce and still ensure it is safe to eat without the unnecessarily high hurdles some markets require we might be able to do our bit to help the world’s hungry while simplifying compliance, reducing the costs of production and increasing returns.


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