Let it rain

North Otago didn’t have much of a spring and while we didn’t enjoy the cold, wet start to summer it did provide good soil moisture levels.

We could do with some rain now but it’s not desperate.

The summer hasn’t been nearly as kind to farmers further north.

Three weeks ago a Northland dairy farmer told me he was down to once a day milking and would soon have to dry off his herd.

There’s been no rain since then and yesterday Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy declared a drought in the region and said other regions are likely to follow:

“This is recognition that we are now beyond what is a normal dry summer, and into an extreme climatic event. The entire North Island is extremely dry, but Northland is one of the worst-hit areas.

“The declaration of a medium-scale event means that extra Government funding will now be available to coordinate support through local organisations like the Rural Support Trusts. In extreme cases there will also be Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) available to farmers in severe hardship.

“This drought decision has been made after receiving advice from the Ministry for Primary Industries, including soil moisture data from NIWA, and in consultation with the local community. It applies to the area north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

“We are closely watching other parts of the North Island which are extremely dry, in particular the Waikato and Hawkes Bay.

“Support is also available from Government agencies in all regions, even without a drought declaration. Farmers should contact IRD if they need help or flexibility with making tax payments, and standard assistance is available from the Ministry of Social Development.

“Farmers have been taking practical steps to deal with the dry, such as destocking and switching to once a day milking. It’s important to plan ahead and to ask for help when needed.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries are all working to help farmers get through this tough period,” says Mr Guy.

Federated Farmers believes Northland will be followed by other regions in fairly quick succession.

“Practically speaking an adverse event declaration like this is not about handouts,” says Matt Long, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.

“What it means is that organisations like the Rural Support Trust Northland can now coordinate and deliver farm advisory and counselling services. As this is a highly stressful time for farmers and their families, access to counselling services is invaluable.

“Another thing the declaration triggers is flexibility from Inland Revenue. It is not about being excused obligations but the ability to set up individual plans with it; plans that need to be organised through a farmer’s agent or accountant.

 “While there are benefits called Rural Assistance Payments or RAP’s I have to be brutally honest and say that very few farmers will qualify. These are for absolute hardship and the last time there was drought here less than 16 farmers out of several thousand received them.

“I would say that support from the likes of MSD and Inland Revenue might also be good for farm workers and their families as the financial effects of drought cascades through our communities.

“Federated Farmers will of course activate our 0800 DROUGHT (0800 376 844) feed line. We will also be developing formal and informal initiatives for farmers, their staff and their families.

“We further recommend that farmers speak to their bank’s rural manager. This declaration confirms how bad things are and by keeping your bank fully informed they will work with you.

“What I want farmers to know is that they are not alone,” Mr Long concluded.

Droughts are physically, financially and psychologically challenging.

They’re a bit like a chronic illness .

The only cure is rain but the official declaration  does trigger help to alleviate some of the symptoms.


69 Responses to Let it rain

  1. TraceyS says:

    Yes, rain would be nice. However, as always there is hope on the horizon …..

    “Global rainfall is already expected to increase due to climate change – now a study of German weather records suggests that most of the extra rain is coming as short showers and thunderstorms, not steady rain (Nature Geoscience, doi.org/kjh)”.

    Instead of finger-pointing over who or what is responsible for our evolving climate, we need to be preparing for weather pattern changes such as pointed out by this study. Lamenting of those who use fossil fuel is sad because a great many people will be heavily reliant on these fuels in their preparations.

    You would think that “a loose affiliation of New Zealand’s great and good… ” (See: http://hot-topic.co.nz/symptoms-too-serious-to-ignore-a-call-to-face-up-to-nzs-critical-risks/) would realise that. But no. I don’t see a name among them who would personally be responsible for managing or carrying out the physical side of the work.


  2. Freddy says:

    You think we’ve got problems….how would you fancy trying to cope with a second consecutive season of drought?

    Poor buggers!


  3. robertguyton says:

    Pointing the finger at the users of fossil fuels, even if that means pointing at ourselves as well, IS ENTIRELY PROPER, Tracey.
    Pretending that SOMEONE ELSE is responsible is grossly irresponsible, don’t you think? It may be ‘sad’, but it’s real.
    Get real, Tracey 🙂


  4. Andrei says:

    Um Robert problems with drought and so forth predate the use of fossil fuels by millenia.

    47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.

    48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.

    49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.

    50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

    51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.

    52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

    53 And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.

    54 And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

    55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

    56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

    57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.


  5. TraceyS says:

    Some ways to prepare for drought include storing feed or water. Preparing for flooding might involve shifting infrastructure or constructing protection. How would you propose getting that sort of work done without fossil fuels? Huge teams of employees on shovels and wheelbarrows earning $18.40 per hour each?

    Where’s the money going to come from, eh? You have no idea.


  6. robertguyton says:

    “Um Robert problems with drought and so forth predate the use of fossil fuels by millenia.” – Andrei


    “How would you propose getting that sort of work done without fossil fuels? ” – Tracey

    What a ridiculous response!


  7. TraceyS says:

    Ridiculous, Robert, is the suggestion that finger-pointing is part of an effective strategy.


  8. Viv K says:

    There aren’t that many well known excavator drivers out there Tracey. You dismiss this group because you’ve decided there is no one who can do the physical work, yet if there was a list of physical workers you may dismiss them as not being qualified to speak on the subject of climate change and the economy.

    Insisting that the only way to deal with climate change is to use more fossil fuels, is reckless.


  9. TraceyS says:

    Andrei’s comment is very relevant Robert as other readers of this blog appear to have noticed, giving it the thumbs-up. Maybe you are the only one here who doesn’t get that it is spurious to lay blame for droughts on fossil fuel use. Dry periods are vital in the nitrogen cycle because they encourage electrical storms.

    “As the temperature increases more lightning are produced, creating more nitrogen compounds which are biologically available. These compounds are limiting nutrients to the primary production of the biota over wide areas. Therefore, as more of these available nitrogen compounds are inputted into ecosystems, more primary production takes place, and thus more carbon dioxide is ultimately being uptaken from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Consequently, global temperature decreases and a negative feedback loop is formed.”
    “… to the best of our knowledge, present models and calculations neglect the climate–lightning–nitrogen feedback, which on centennial time scale may play a significant role in sequestering CO2… its negligence in present climate models contributes to their uncertainties.” (http://www.weizmann.ac.il/ESERold/People/Hezi/GCB_1501.PDF )

    And another important piece missing from the climate-change models….

    “Despite the importance of ice formation in determining the properties of clouds, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) was unable to assess the impact of atmospheric ice formation in their most recent report because our basic knowledge is insufficient.”

    Holey climate change models are just that. No, worse than that, they are scary because people like you believe in them with religious fervour. This is very unscientific, Robert.

    Just how, I wonder, do you and others suggest we practically prepare for naturally occurring droughts and floods? Two of the practical ways that we can prepare for drought is to store water when it is plentiful for irrigation in dry periods, and to store excess feed for animals in the ground (during high growth times) where properly stored it can last up to four years, and possibly longer. The machinery required to create storage structures, or build flood protection structures, or to shift populations away from the coastlines or flood-prone flats, uses diesel and lots of it. Anything that affects the price, supply and flexibility of use of diesel is going to make it harder to prepare ourselves in these important ways.

    Maybe that reveals an insidious side to the Green Party policy to “print money” in order to try and bring down the NZD. IF this strategy worked, it would also make diesel more expensive for New Zealanders to buy and thus they would probably be forced to use less of it. That would be a crude tool indeed given the impact it would have on our genuine and practical attempts to prepare for natural changes in the weather patterns.


  10. TraceyS says:

    “if there was a list of physical workers you may dismiss them as not being qualified to speak on the subject of climate change and the economy”.

    What? I’d say they’d be just as qualified. People who work outside on the land tend to have amazing knowledge of its properties and also possibilities, and generally also have a good working-knowledge of the economics of whatever part they are involved in. If anyone is looking down their nose, it won’t be me. I never said the group wasn’t “qualified”, only that they are not the people who do the physical work. Which is true.

    The lack of practical people on that list is telling, Viv, and a good reason to take them with a grain of salt. Even though their intentions are good.

    We do have some large companies in NZ who could represent the practical side. All I am saying is that this perspective is very important to include at the outset. Otherwise there will be a big reality-check sometime in the future.

    I’m not suggesting reckless use of fossil fuel. At its present price who would be that dumb? Reckless controls are what I am concerned about.


  11. robertguyton says:

    Indicating the source of a problem is ridiculous, Tracey?

    I get it. best to pretend that no ones causing the problem.


    Btw – your claim that it’s Green policy to print money needs to be backed by a link, otherwise we’ll think you are making sh*t up. It won’t take you a moment to clear that one up though. Looking forward to that.


  12. Viv says:

    What are these natural changes in weather patterns that you talk of needing to prepare for? Are you suggesting that the global increase in temperature and increase in frequency of droughts, floods and heatwaves is natural? These recorded changes are consistent with a rise in the atmospheric CO2 concentration. What I don’t understand is why people should think that adding 31 thousand million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere a year wouldn’t have an effect. Fossil fuel use has consequences! But apparently you want to ignore that and insist that we must keep using them to deal with droughts and sea level rise. Remind me why you are expecting sea level rise. Of course dealing with all these problems requires energy! Of course it is incredibly complicated, difficult and challenging. That’s why the people you look down your nose at, because they aren’t farmers and contractors, are trying to get serious discussion started. Your response, that we have to keep using fossil fuels is about as useful as saying the only way to deal with an alcohol problem is by having a drink..


  13. JC says:

    “Are you suggesting that the global increase in temperature and increase in frequency of droughts, floods and heatwaves is natural?”

    There has been no increase in frequency of these things.. they happen with great regularity and even greater severity within living memory and indeed in the Medieval Warm period, the Roman Warm period and the Minoan Warm period. Sea level rise has been slow and consistent since the Little Ice Age and probably slower in recent years. Hurricanes or cyclones reaching land in the US are at record low levels and Global temps have been at a standstill for the last 15-16 years despite a 10% increase in CO2.

    The Amazon forests are increasing, not shrinking, the Polar bear population has exploded, not shrunk, vegetation has explosive growth with more CO2 and shows no signs of saturation. There’s not a week that goes past where new science shows the failure of the climate models and actual measurement of climate indicators shows the models to be non predictive.

    Ongoing research shows there are eon long natural phenomena that control climate and provide natural checks and balances. Having said that, there are gigantic natural forces that can create ice ages and warm periods that make an increase in CO2 look like a pimple on the Galactic bum.



  14. TraceyS says:

    “Smart new economic proposal”. Perhaps you feel more comfortable with that wording.

    Both ‘policy’ and ‘proposal’ can mean a plan or course of action.


  15. TraceyS says:

    “… vegetation has explosive growth with more CO2 and shows no signs of saturation.”

    And from studies I have read, the threshold for saturation is assumed to exist, but is actually unknown. Once that point is reached however, another nutrient will become the growth-limiting factor. And there will always be the possibility that these needs can be met from earth’s resources, if indeed we have access to them.


  16. robertguyton says:

    Splitting hairs to save face. The National Party has seized upon Russel’s smart new economic proposal and does what you do, repackages it as a certainty, policy that the Greens will implement the moment the take the reins of power. Ele does it blatantly. You may have done it out of ignorance. Steve Braunias wrote today in his “Secret Diaries”:

    Prime Minister John Key (obituary for Ralph Hotere):
    “Ralph Hotere was one of New Zealand’s greatest assets, which is why my Government will sell his paintings at the earliest opportunity.”

    From now on, let it be known that John Key would sell his grandmother.

    That’s how it works, eh, Tracey 🙂


  17. Viv says:

    The MPI’s recent ‘Impacts of climate change’ document says of higher CO2 for plant growth ‘extreme heat and severe drought (deficits of around 2 to 3 weeks in duration) override the effect in pastures and crops.’ Also that ‘new research indicates potentially lower animal intake of forage grown in enriched CO2 conditions, due to reduced palatability and digestibility’. So it’s not as simple as more CO2 means more plant growth. I am suprised at this sudden interest in the nitrogen cycle Tracey, last week when I brought up the Univ of Otago study by Dr Schallenberg showing that DCD affects the nitrogen cycle in wetlands, you didn’t seem concerned.


  18. Paranormal says:

    Come on RG you’re making sh*t up now. For some time now Wed Wussel has been a fan of printing money (otherwise known as “quantitative easing” amongst other pc euphemisms to hide the real intention).

    God help us if ever your lot get the levers of power in their grasp. They’ll stuff the country faster than Muldoon, and surprisingly for the same reasons.


  19. robertguyton says:

    Russel’s been a fan.
    Link to the Green’s policy, paranormal, and show us you are not just blowing.


  20. TraceyS says:

    “.. drought (deficits of around 2 to 3 weeks in duration) override the effect in pastures and crops.”

    So we need irrigation. You seem to be reinforcing my point.


  21. robertguyton says:

    ‘extreme heat and severe drought (deficits of around 2 to 3 weeks in duration) override the effect in pastures and crops.’
    Well said, Viv. Tracey will be unable to counter that crucial point. Para will give it a go, perhaps, but it’ll be nothing more than hot air 🙂
    (Wonders aloud) How are conditions in the far north at the moment?)


  22. robertguyton says:

    Oh! There it is! That’s appallingly callous, Tracey. jI wonder how those ordinary farmers across the globe who have no such option would greet your suggestion. With more than disdain, I’m guessing.


  23. TraceyS says:

    Described as a “suite of measures” ….. “Our smart new economic proposal would help save New Zealand jobs and protect our economy by addressing the overvalued New Zealand dollar. While the rest of the world is using a wide range of economic tools … ”


    And the linked Question & Answer file outlines what appear to be plans for “quantitative easing” and the creating of credit. I notice that the filename says “draft” but the document itself doesn’t say draft on it anywhere that I can see. But that’s splitting hairs.


    If people here have a misunderstanding of what this all means, then perhaps you would be kind enough to give us a detailed explanation. Because the general impression is that intervention to reduce the currency is a policy. All I did was say how that would affect some and you slammed me for it. How democratic.


  24. TraceyS says:

    Apologies I did not reference that first quote properly:

    Norman, R., Greenweek, 10 October 2012.


  25. TraceyS says:

    What’s your solution then Robert?


  26. JC says:

    “‘extreme heat and severe drought (deficits of around 2 to 3 weeks in duration) override the effect in pastures and crops.’
    Well said, Viv. Tracey will be unable to counter that crucial point.”

    Oh come now.. all that means is we change to a different grass or crop type that better suits the conditions if its deemed economic to do so.

    Here are most of the thousands of types of grasses that we could adopt or adapt to our needs:


    Nature has produced a grass or plant strain to cope with the thousands of different eco conditions on the planet, Man has done so for thousands of years by breeding and selection and latterly via the GM route.

    However, the fact is that our temps and rainfall have been remarkably stable so we haven’t had to worry much about our plant types.
    Take rainfall for instance.. my “A Descriptive Atlas Of New Zealand” (Govt Printer 1960) has 100 years of rainfall records 1860-1960 for the then four main centres, here they are with the Niwa rainfall averages 1971-2000 in brackets:

    Auckland 1245, (1240)
    Wellington 1092 (1249)
    Chch 635 (648)
    Dunedin 889 (812)

    Wgton is up probably due to shifting the weather observations from on the coast near the airport to the central city area but apart from that there’s little to indicate any change in weather patterns.



  27. Viv says:

    You can’t irrigate every piece of arable land on the planet. The US corn crop was severely affected by drought, you can’t irrigate the entire midwest, or India, Australia, Russia or China. You also can’t keep crops cool, plant growth drops off significantly above 30 deg C. So increased atmospheric CO2 will increase plant growth under optimum conditions, but increased CO2 is warming the planet and resulting in less optimal conditions for agriculture. The planet is warming, all your links to supercooled water, the nitrogen cycle or cloud formation don’t change that observed fact. If the only solutions you can offer are fossil fuel based, then you are not helping much.


  28. homepaddock says:

    JC – this got held for moderation because of all the links and I only just noticed.


  29. Andrei says:

    increased CO2 is warming the planet and resulting in less optimal conditions for agriculture

    Well if this was true, which it isn’t, then Siberia would soon be a veritable garden of Eden producing wheat and corn in abundance to feed the world


  30. robertguyton says:

    Stirling work, Tracey but would you be so kind as to copy/paste actual evidence that what you claim to be Green policy, is? I see the word ‘proposal’ and think ‘proposal’, where you appear to see ‘policy’. Please clarify.
    What I see happening here is the very same furore created and maintained by the Right wing when labour proposed discussion around water-conservation methods such as limiting shower-head calibres, or whatever it was that was discussed. Leaping up and down, shrieking about photocopiers as Ele, Bill English and Key have done is transparent bullsh*t politics and I’m surprised you are taking part in it.
    So, looking forward to you presenting evidence of your claim, rather than innuendo and hyperbole.


  31. robertguyton says:

    “Oh come now.. all that means is we change to a different grass or crop type that better suits the conditions if its deemed economic to do so.”

    How patronizing from JC!
    Bags you get to tell the Asian countries that they can’t grow rice anymore and have to swap to quinoa.
    Good Lord.


  32. TraceyS says:

    I have provided the links, go look for it yourself. This is a blog, not a hearing Robert. I don’t have to paste “actual evidence”.

    I’m disappointed Robert, because there was a hope that you would be able to add some clarity. If you don’t like the spin being put on things then spin it the other way. Why haven’t you chosen to do that?

    Maybe you don’t really agree with this proposal, postulation, proposition or whatever other “p” word might be used to describe it?


  33. JC says:

    An irrelevant comment but I’ll answer it for you.

    Here you are.. some of the 40,000 varieties developed.. mainly by Asians:


    Whether you want to plant rice in a paddy field, on the side of a mountain, a desert or in climate extremes those sneaky Asians have a variety for your purpose.



  34. robertguyton says:

    JC – to prove that you are not just making sh*t up, as paranormal puts it, please link to the rice variety that can be grown in a desert.


  35. robertguyton says:

    “This is a blog, not a hearing Robert. I don’t have to paste “actual evidence”.”


    John Key sold his grandmother.


  36. JC says:

    Deserts have swamps, rivers.. and desalination plants.




    “Rice grows almost anywhere: the flooded plains of Bangladesh, the terraced countryside of northern Japan, the Himalayan foothills of Nepal and even the deserts of Egypt and Australia.”


    “Rice is a staple food for nearly one-half of the world’s population. Rice is produced in a wide range of locations and under a variety of climatic conditions, from the wettest areas in the world to the driest deserts.”


  37. Richard says:

    Ele, This will be my last post on your blog until Robert Guyton disappears. He is about the most negative commenter I have come across. By this I mean he has few original thoughts – he is a serial critic. One definition: “a person who tends too readily to make captious, trivial, or harsh judgments; faultfinder.”

    Of course, RG has his own blog:http://robertguyton.blogspot.co.nz/
    where he engages in his own personal frippery and nothing of substance.

    I can see why keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz band RG.



  38. TraceyS says:

    Just for the record, Robert, when I see a politician write ‘proposal’ I think ‘policy proposal’. What else would it be? Especially when the heading is “Greens offer suite of measures to address high kiwi dollar”. Offer – if they are not offering policy then what is it?


  39. robertguyton says:

    Sorry Ele and Richard. I’ll absent myself yet again only this time I’ll keep away. Thanks though. It was fun!


  40. Viv says:

    Robert isn’t negative about everything, he just has a different view. If ‘blue tint’ people can’t cope with reading different views that’s a shame. If all you want to read is cheerleading for your own opinions, perhaps I’ll go too. I comment here because I want to discuss issues with people who don’t all share my views, I thought engaging with the ‘other side’ was how we made progress in the real world.


  41. homepaddock says:

    Richard & Robert – I don’t censor comments unless I think they’re defamatory or personally abusive and those are the only grounds I’d use for banning someone. A broad range of views adds interest to a blog. That doesn’t mean I agree with or even appreciate all comments but I’m with Voltaire on freedom of speech.


  42. Roger says:

    But I think even Voltaire would have tired of the one track carping of RG. I am with Richard in finding RG tiresome and unfortunately it means I don’t come to your blog as often as I’d like.

    No need to ban RG – just auto-direct any comments he makes to his own blog. Completely circular like him and if he has anything relevant to say someone may find it…


  43. Andrei says:

    I don’t get it, if you don’t like Roberts comments don’t read them.

    To be sure a lot of his comments on this thread are beyond inane…….


  44. Wow Ele, what a response to your blog, I am jealous! just lost 30mins of my life wading through it all!


  45. TraceyS says:

    Viv, just how do you get to the generalisation that ‘blue tint’ people “can’t cope” with differing opinions and “[only] want to read” cheerleading for their own opinions?

    Is that based on Richard’s comment alone? Because there is ample evidence that plenty of people here, myself included, are only too happy to ignore Robert’s name-calling and occasionally obtuse rudeness in order to help broaden his appreciation of matters.


  46. Paranormal says:

    Thank you Tracey for saving me the time in looking up the links. Something as obvious as this that Wed Wussel has been all over the news for sometime and Robert Canute here wants to deny it.

    Could it be that he is the denier afterall?


  47. Richard says:

    Ele &Viv, I am all for hearing different views. It’s just that RG seldom has a reasoned view. He is the arch critic with seldom little new or original to give.
    Andre, “I don’t get it, if you don’t like Roberts comments don’t read them.” Yes Andre, that would be nice but topics are drowned out by RG and the original thread and the comments that follow are lost; perhaps this is what RG wishes?
    RG is a local body politician on Environment Southland and in his first term. He has a very green view, that I respect but often do not agree with.
    RG may be struggling to articulate Green Party policy -on all sorts of issues because the Green Party have little policy framework – they are like RG, critics not makers of policy


  48. TraceyS says:

    Robert clearly dislikes the proposed policy. Therefore he is giving it the same treatment he gives all other ideas he doesn’t agree with. This means dismissing it. Full marks for consistency!

    I tend to agree with him this time around.


  49. TraceyS says:

    For days now I just cannot get this song out of my head. So I’ll share it with you all so that you too can suffer the same nuisance….

    “I have given, I have given
    And got none
    Still I’m driven by something I can’t explain
    It’s not a cross, it is a choice
    I cannot help but hear his voice
    I only wish that I could listen without shame

    Let it rain
    Let it rain on me
    Let it rain, oh let it rain
    Let it rain on me…. ”


    But I really do just wish that it would rain!


  50. Richard says:

    JC: An interesting article in the the Guardian a few days ago:
    You can only applaud this initiative –


  51. Viv says:

    Yes rain please! It doesn’t sound good when the grass crunches under your feet. We can feed our 40 sheep japanese fodder willow,(it’s deciduous so needs to be used now, saving the tree lucerne for winter) but that’s not an option for our neighbours with thousands of sheep. All the trees could do with a good soaking. Hope the sound of rain on the roof replaces that song in your head soon Tracey 🙂


  52. Paranormal says:

    It rained heavily in places down around our way on Sunday – just not at our place. Paddocks are now not much more than dust bowls.


  53. TraceyS says:

    It rained just enough at Mosgiel on Sunday to wet a thousand or so freezing kids and their parents at the Weetbix Tryathlon.

    We missed out though. Clover has all but displaced grass in the lawn. But the paddocks are still looking green.


  54. Mr E says:

    Looking at rain stats, Riverton and Pourakino got 2.5mm to 9mm. Most of the rest of Southland missed out. We had rain on the roof but only enough to make me smile then frown.

    Regarding Richards comments. I am willing to recognise Richards frustrations . So often are blogs redirected towards some political discussion away from the posted disucssion. It frustrates me too. I wonder if some political parties gain votes by promoting doom. I am growing an increasing tolerance as I have noted a swing in information and attitudes. Politicians are now recognising the economic disadvantages of supporting bandwaggon ideas rather than common sense approaches. Science too, is starting report the limitations of some of these ideas. Tracey is good promoter of some of this change.
    I don’t think people should be blocked for differing opinions. Facts are their best judge. Bad behavior is a different thing, but I believe prior to blocking, people should be encouraged to change. Bad behavior includes regularly attempting to redirect discussions.
    I dont think Robert should be blocked or self impose a restiction. Perhaps it would be better to recognise the frustration of some and attempt to change behaviors.

    I have been ‘encouraged’ away from a certain blog. I never did figure out if it was due to ideas or behavior.


  55. TraceyS says:

    Science has always acknowledged limitations, Mr E. That acknowledgement is inherent in the scientific approach. Ever since science became of great interest to the wider public, an interest promoted largely on the back of climate change doom and facilitated by accessibility of the internet, it has become increasingly politicised. Politicians have a role, no, make that a duty not to misuse scientific findings. Therefore, they should encourage healthy scepticism because this is consistent with the approach that science takes. Scepticism from all corners should be welcomed by any worthy politician.

    Those who criticise people for being sceptical of scientific findings are worrying. But when politics use science as a leg-up into power it is downright disturbing. Essentially that draws a line in the sand and says “this is where we stand” on an issue based on some science known at the time. This is also the point at which there is a departure from science and so too the foundations upon which the philosophy is built. The Green Party statement in its Agriculture and Rural Affairs Policy that “The New Zealand environment must be kept GE free” is an example of one of those lines (http://www.greens.org.nz/policysummary/agriculture-and-rural-affairs-policy-summary). And after the line is drawn it becomes more of a marketing strategy than anything else.

    Robert appears to be no empiricist. I don’t take him as such. Nor should anyone else. But it seems I too have deviated wildly from the theme of the original post! Apologies for that.


  56. Viv says:

    The original post was about drought and this thread mostly discussed how to prepare for future droughts and whether or not climate change is relevant (and a few other bits and bobs) so we weren’t too far off topic. Someone popped in to say they found it interesting. Ele do you feel hijacked when the thread goes off on tangents? Or are you Ok about providing a platform for us to use to argue our own corners and push our own barrows? By now you will know my barrow is green with a red stripe, not the usual colours for someone who has run their own business for 26 years as a health professional, but like Robert, I enjoy commenting and it would be really boring if we all agreed. At least we are all reading and thinking, not staring blankly at tv.


  57. homepaddock says:

    I don’t mind tangents, that’s normal in discussion and debate and I welcome a variety of views. As you say it would be very boring if we all agreed and it is possible to learn from people who see the world in a different way from your own. I am surprised at the red stripe from someone who’s run her own business, though you’re not the first I’ve come across.


  58. Mr E says:

    Weren’t too far off topic? Sorry Tracey but we blatantly ignored the current struggle. All of us, pushing the preverbial political wheel barrow around, ignoring the immediate struggle that farmers are going through. Sorry but I feel embarrassed by this.

    Farmers are struggling and it is hoped that the stock struggle is minimised.
    I know anouncing an adverse event can help farmers. It is generally percieved as a financial hand, but the reality can be quite different. It is resource hand out. Farmers get information help and the mental help they need to survive. It is a great initiative and I hope the government is forth coming. Not all farmers have the tools to survive adverse events, government facilitation is really important.

    If I was to offer advice to a farmer struggling, I would say,talk about your challenges. You will be surprised at where your solutions might come from.


  59. TraceyS says:

    The written form of communication is very two-dimensional. We cannot hope to get our messages across without being misunderstood at least a little. I pain over what I write, but it still doesn’t always come across as planned! Some people will know one another in person and this must help. But even still, tangents must be inevitable and might seem drawn-out compared to a verbal conversation which does the same thing, but a lot more efficiently. A written conversation is always going to be a bit sequential, and sometimes boring or stilted.

    Anyway Viv, are you going to the Risk Assessment Appeal launch on Friday? I might pop along if I am not at home staring blankly at the TV (sometimes a good stress reliever!). Always keen to keep an open mind about things and hear alternative views.

    A person in my situation would not normally have gotten an invite, and could easily have missed it in the paper. So because of this (and the location) there is bound to be a lot of students and academics in attendance. Shouldn’t the organisers want to try for a representative sample? If things are as serious as they say, we need all types to pull together. I guess the tangents we’ve gone on at Homepaddock have given me some hope that there are people out there with the willingness at least.


  60. TraceyS says:

    Correction, Mr E, it was Viv who said that we weren’t too far off topic. We were way off it as you say! But then Ele could have always reined it in and she didn’t.

    I do not look forward to a drought although I think March is forecast to be above normal rainfall levels for that month. Let’s hope.

    We usually have plenty of feed and excess to sell. It was worth nothing last year. But for the few extra dollars it might fetch this year, I would rather hope there won’t be a shortage. Competition to buy feed can be strong and we’ve had farmers crying on the phone when they miss out. But the reality is you can only sell it once. It’s really unpleasant for everyone.

    Maybe tangents are a good mental distraction from the things that we can’t change.


  61. Mr E says:

    Sorry you are right. Viv not Tracey. Apologies to you both.

    Feed is cheap here in Southland. If had space and reduced morals, I would buy loads and sell it again when demand is higher. Unfortunately my roof won’t handle the weight and my neither would my conscious.

    I have no problems with tangents until they become tangent drums with a political agenda. Then they become an annoyance.

    We can change lots regarding the drought situation. Maybe not the weather but how we interact with it. Farmers know this. Simply as the weather reachs extreme levels our flexibility also has to.


  62. Paranormal says:

    Some of us might feel a tad upset at being painted with a ‘blue tint’.


  63. Viv K says:

    Good point about written versus verbal communication. It’s hard to get a point across the way you want in a few sentences.
    I’m going to try & make the Friday launch, have kept the space marked off, it all depends on not too many people getting toothache or breaking front fillings that day, urgent work gets priority (as I’m sure all business people & farmers understand)
    The risk assesment appeal follows on from a seminar “Fronting up to our deteriorating world”, organised by Prof Mark in 2011.


  64. TraceyS says:

    Well I have morals too Mr E. We just grow more than we need usually and also dropped our stock level late last year. No one should feel guilty about making well-timed decisions.

    Just as nobody should have a problem with buying feed and storing it. There’s nothing immoral in that if there is a willing buyer and a willing seller. Of course you can sell it later for whatever offer is received and don’t have to push hard for the highest price. There is always the risk too that the weather will turn and it won’t be needed as much.


  65. TraceyS says:

    Might see you there then. I’ll be the one in blue 🙂


  66. Mr E says:

    Sure morally sound by most definitions. A feed trader is a risk taker and a storage facility. Makes moral sense.

    Not sure why I could not do it to be honest. I would feel like I was profiteering from people when they could least afford it. It is an emotive issue rather than a logical issue. Some might say I am not right in the head.
    If I had some grass to grow and sell I would have no problem with that. Livestock are a byproduct of grass growing.


  67. TraceyS says:

    A farmer could sit happily on spare feed keeping it in case they need it or in case the price gets really high. That is security. But someone else might need that feed very much and be prepared to buy it for $x right now. Without the concept of uncertainty and risk there is no incentive for the former to leave security behind and they will sit on the feed, helping no-body. One farmer may be hoping the drought ends soon and another might not be too worried. And that’s good. It is important that not everyone is desperate at the same time because when needs fall within a spectrum there is the opportunity to meet one another’s needs. And if they can’t do that, who will? The government? No, that’s not their proper role. You can see that if security/certainty is provided by the government it will just encourage more sitting or holding and less co-operation between parties that should otherwise be trading with one another.

    I suppose it’s a bit like people who stick their money in the bank and leave it there. Makes them feel secure, but that money is not circulating; not creating work opportunities for others; not doing things that improve our society. Who is worse, that person or the one who gets out there and takes a risk and sometimes meets with success in tough times? So in that sense even those who might seem to be gaining at another’s expense are actually performing an important role in the greater scheme, provided they do trade freely and don’t just sit back. Their role is in verifying that risk is real – something we all benefit from.

    We started out providing services to farmers in very hard times. They always paid their bills, not always on time. Later I was surprised to hear that at the time some families were so hard up they were eating Weetbix for three meals a day, and a mother was fashioning undies for the children out of second-hand t-shirts. I was ever so sad to hear that. At the time we never knew. But nobody ever accused us of profiteering because we did well in these times. Most of these people are still very good friends more than 20 years later. Why don’t they say we did well at their expense?


  68. Mr E says:

    It’s business Tracey. Feed trading is much like banking as you have inferred. There are times when banks get criticised. It tends to be when profits are high and consumers are suffering. I would presume if a face less Australian firm established a large feed trading enterprise it would get similar criticism to the Australian banks.


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