Word of the day

October 30, 2012

Disapprobation – strong disapproval, typically on moral or social grounds; the act or state of disapproving; the state of being disapproved; condemnation.

8-hour tramp to claim ute

October 30, 2012

A Canterbury university student tramped eight hours to win a ute.

A five-week competition gave clues to the Isuzu ute’s whereabouts.

. . . We told you it wouldn’t be easy and some of the more cunning hunters made the most of what they had in hand.

Aaron Bashnick a 22 year old Canterbury University student did just this, using his wit and determination to bag the prize.

Aaron, who is studying forestry engineering, won the ute after following the 5 week hunt.

“There were five people all right there together looking for the D-MAX, it was crazy. Three of them went right past it and didn’t see it because it was well camouflaged. I only got there a second before the guy behind me”, Aaron said.

“We knew from the clues that the D-MAX was at the back of the property but the hunt rules said no one could go onto it until nine o’clock. So to get around it we tramped in over the Tarlesse Range. It took about eight hours but I guess it was all worth it now,” he said. . .

I hope the bloke who was a second behind got a consolation prize.




Strange economics from new party

October 30, 2012

New Zealand has another political party – the New Economics Party.

. . . Our philosophy is that Earth is for sharing, so owners of private land and its resources must pay an annual rent to the public for the privilege, instead of having their earned income confiscated by government. . .

Our solutions will go a long way to tackling resource depletion, climate change, environmental damage, unemployment and poverty, while at the same time unleashing the human creativity and entrepreneurial spirit required to meet the big challenges ahead.

We will change the way money is created. The current interest-bearing debt money system drives the world-devouring engine of perpetual growth, transfers wealth from the poor to the rich and causes growing debt, instability and environmental harm. The profit making bank createdimoney (sic) system we live with is a monoculture that causes people to behave competitively in a dog-eat-dog world. We want multiple currencies co-existing. Until we change the money system we change nothing. Change it and you help all of the above including climate change. . .

That sounds like strange economics to me.

The party’s first campaign is going to be against the Trans Pacific Partnership:

The fledgling New Economics Party co-founded by Otaki woman Deirdre Kent has decided that its first campaign is to help fight the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

“We came to the conclusion on Sunday that almost all the policy we have on our books will be illegal if the TPPA is signed,” said Deirdre Kent. “Under the TPPA a government doing what we recommend would be sued for millions of dollars by multinational companies.”

“It looks as though foreign banks, insurance companies and money traders are to be given more powers to challenge laws designed to prevent another financial crisis. There will probably be no possibility of capital controls and no chance to bring in the domestic-only land-backed New Zealand currency we are working on”, she said. . .

Goodness knows where they get that interpretation of the TPP from.

The TPP as it stands isn’t perfect which is why it’s up for negotiation rather than being a fait accompli.

But if negotiations are successful it will open borders to the benefit of consumers and producers.

The people with the most to gain from that are the poor who face fewer choices and are less able to pay higher prices which result from protectionism and import restrictions.




Rural round-up

October 30, 2012

Tasty lambs’ tails may soon be off the barbecue menu – Jon Morgan:

FIRST, there’s the acrid smell of burning wool, closely followed by a frenzied crackling as the lanolin sizzles. But then comes the mouth-watering aroma of roasting meat.

Barbecued lambs’ tails are a delicacy savoured by many farmers at this time of year as tailing, or docking, gets under way.

It’s a time of short-lived pain for the lambs but is necessary to prevent greater pain later. The long dangling tail can become encrusted with faeces and attract blowflies. Their maggots feed on the lamb’s flesh, causing great pain and distress.

There’s an art to docking.

Many farms have modern equipment that clamps the lamb and presents it breech-forward to the man or woman wielding a hot iron. With a swift flourish, the tail is severed and the lamb is set free to run bleating to its mother.

Rubber rings can also be used. They cut off the blood supply so the tail drops off in seven to 10 days.

Enough of the tail must be left to protect the genitals and so it can still wag. That’s not so farmers will know if it is happy or not, but so the lamb can spray its faeces away from its body. . .

Tails could prove winner – Terri Russell:

A Southland sheep farmer started docking his lambs this month as part of new research that looks at the effect of docking tails at different lengths.

The three-year docking trial is the first of its kind documented worldwide and was launched by Alliance Group last month when lamb tagging started.

Tail docking is common practice in New Zealand to try to reduce dag formation and the risk of fly strike.

Alliance Group livestock general manager Murray Behrent said the research would help shed light on claims that docking tails too short was an animal welfare issue, and that longer tails improved the growth rate of lambs. . .

Pressure on meat,wool farmers to improve outputs – Tim Cronshaw:

Farmers will put their energies into improving meat and wool production as markets meet a strong headwind from the debt crisis in Europe.

The European recession and unfavourable currency exchange rates would lead to weaker sale prices for lamb and wool in the 2012-13 season, said Beef + Lamb New Zealand economic service executive director Rob Davison.

The forecast for average lamb price at $94 was down on the likely $113 for the 2011-12 season just completed. . .

Dairy chairman urges more focus on image – Neil Ratley:

Southland dairy farmers were congratulated for a job well done but also asked to continue working to improve the industry’s public image at the DairyNZ annual general meeting in Wallacetown.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the dairy industry pumped millions of dollars into the regional economy.

“The average annual revenue from milk production is more than $1.2 million per farm,” he said. “At least half of that money is being spent on farm working expenses and circulating through the local economy.”

Dairy NZ chairman John Luxton said the New Zealand and Southland dairy industry had shown considerable growth and resilience to factors impacting other industries. . .

The way you’d farm if you farmed yourself – Pasture Harmonies:

Think for a moment that you’re a Western consumer contemplating buying some animal protein for dinner that night.

Faced with an array of red and white meat choices, you have a tiny thought in the back of your mind about how the animal that produced that steak or mince or breast grew up.

(Ignoring anthropomorphism) mostly, you’re going to be aware that its life was pretty confined and squashed, and bears very little resemblance to how it would’ve existed in a ‘natural’ world.

However, you’ve got to eat, and pretty much you have Hobson’s choice when it comes to the production source of the meat. . .

New Leadership for Grape and Wine Industry

New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organisation for the country’s 1,500 grape growers and winemakers, announced today the election of Steve Green as Chair and John Clarke as Deputy Chair.

Mr Green is proprietor of Carrick, a boutique Central Otago winery; he succeeds Stuart Smith of Marlborough who has stepped down after six years in the role. Mr Green has been involved in the Central Otago grape and wine industry since 1994. He has previously served as Chair of Central Otago Winegrowers and has been on the New Zealand Winegrowers Board since 2005, serving for the last three years as Deputy Chair.

Mr Clarke is a Gisborne grapegrower with over 30 years experience in the grape and wine industry. Mr Clarke, who is a former Gisborne Mayor, has previously served for ten years as the Chair of Gisborne Winegrowers and joined the New Zealand Winegrowers Board in 2006. . .

More calculators to make the most of nitrogen:

A broader range of online calculators developed to assist farmers to gauge the possible benefits of using urea treated with a urease inhibitor are now available

Summer is just around the corner which in New Zealand typically means drier weather conditions making it difficult to assess the best time to apply nitrogen fertiliser.

Urea treated with the urease inhibitor AGROTAIN® nitrogen stabiliser addresses ammonia volatilisation and offers farmers more flexibility to apply nitrogen when it’s needed most or when it suits them better even if the weather or soil conditions are not optimal. . .

World’s first compostable fruit label for Zespri Kiwifruit:

Zespri will introduce the world’s first and only fully compostable fruit labels on all Zespri® Organic Kiwifruit next season.

Zespri’s Global Marketing Manager – Organic, Glen Arrowsmith, explains this initiative is part of Zespri’s leadership role and ongoing commitment to improving the environmental credentials of its products.

“Our international customers – retailers, wholesalers, consumers, governments – are increasingly interested in the sustainability of products arriving in their markets and we’ve invested in research and development to continue to lead the market in this area.” . . .

Training & education

October 30, 2012

Jacqueline Rowarth, Professor of Agribusiness at Waikato University explains the difference between training, education and development (in the NBR print edition, not online):

 . . . training applies to vines, dogs, young children and troops. Conformity and obedience are required for reasons of efficiency, safety, hygiene and reliability. Training also applies to any skill – pruning, hairdressing . . . In general, training is teaching a skill or type of behaviour through regular practice and instruction. People might get better at their job with some knowledge and experience but the basic skill is acquired through training.

Education involves intellectual, moral or social instruction. training might be part of being educated but the context involves knowledge and, at its best, enlightenment.

Terms overlap. Education involves training and development . . .

Training and education do overlap but my observation on changes in recent years is there has been a movement from training to education in subjects which require more of the latter than the former.

In what used to be primarily practical subjects, it’s no longer enough for pupils to be able to do something, they must be able to explain, even pontificate on, what they’re doing, how and why.

That might be fine for academic subjects but is it necessary for those which require skill rather than intellectual enlightenment?

Mobile retirees could help housing affordability

October 30, 2012

Baby boomers have started retiring and a lot more will follow.

Many of them will be in Auckland. Not all of them will want or need to stay there.

These mobile retirees could sell a home there and buy something at least as good for a lower price elsewhere.

Look at what $455,000 or $165,000 could buy in Oamaru and contrast that to what you’d get for a similar amount in Auckland.

Selling up and shifting out would take some of the pressure off the housing supply in Auckland and add to the population of smaller towns and cities which would welcome inward migration.

The difference between the price gained for the house sold in Auckland and one bought elsewhere would give the mobile retirees money to spare to enjoy a less frugal retirement.

This won’t make housing more affordable by itself, but add it to other measures and it could help.

Affordable housing requries culture change

October 30, 2012

Affordability of housing isn’t a simple matter.

Someone wanting to sell, or with a large mortgage wanting more equity in their property will be happy with higher prices.

However, there are more people finding it more difficult to buy and in responding to the Productivity Commission’s report on housing affordability, Finance Minister Bill English spells out why it matters:

“High house prices matter because many New Zealanders spend a large portion of their incomes on housing and that has helped fuel household debt and contribute to damaging imbalances in the economy,” Mr English says.

“In particular, high housing debt diverts money from more productive investments, contributes to New Zealand’s significant overall level of indebtedness and exposes taxpayers to growing demands for State assistance with housing costs. 

“Those factors make it vital that housing becomes more affordable. In addition, projections suggest that many more homes will be required in coming years than are being built.”

There are no quick fixes and improving affordability isn’t just the government’s responsibility but it has a programme with four key aims:

  • Increasing land supply – this will include more greenfields and brownfields developments and allow further densification of cities, where appropriate.
  • Reducing delays and costs of RMA processes associated with housing – this includes introducing a six-month time limit on council processing of medium-sized consents.
  • Improving the timely provision of infrastructure to support new housing – this will include considering new ways to co-ordinate and manage infrastructure for subdivisions.
  • Improving productivity in the construction sector – this includes an evaluation of the Productivity Partnership’s progress in achieving a 20 per cent increase in productivity by 2020.

Decisions made by local councils not only affect their local communities, but have wider effects on the economy and the Government’s books. 

“Many of the changes that will make a difference lie with councils and the Government expects them to share the commitment to improving housing affordability,” Mr English says. . .

These measures will help, but a culture change is also needed.

My generation and older were brought up with the idea of a single story house on a quarter acre section as the norm.

That is still possible in some places but in cities, notably Auckland, where demand for housing is so high and land supply inadequate it is no longer realistic.

People who want to live in those places need to accept that their sections will have to be smaller and houses higher. Terraced housing and apartments are normal in most other parts of the world where a lot more people are packed into cities which cover far smaller areas than ours.

Not PC discusses some options and shows some examples.

Denser housing will affect communities too – if people no longer have big sections round their homes, there will be a need for more public green spaces and play areas.

Those not willing to accept the change will have to move to smaller cities and towns where there’s less pressure on land and prices which could be good for both the city they leave and the place where they settle.

The full report is here.

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