Word of the day

May 1, 2013

Carom – to strike and rebound; to glance; a rebound following a collision; a glancing off; a shot in billiards in which the cue ball successively strikes two other balls; a shot in pool in which an object ball strikes another ball before falling into a pocket.

Rural round-up

May 1, 2013

Feel good factor that comes from living with bees – Sally Rae:

Murray and Heidi Rixon get a real buzz from sharing their love of bees.

The couple have launched a business, offering a beehive rental and management service to clients with domestic gardens, lifestyle blocks or rural land.

It was a business they described as having a ”massive feel-good factor” as they provided a hands-on teaching environment and actively encouraged clients to get involved with their new residents.

Brought up in Mosgiel, Mr Rixon has returned to his roots after years away following an interesting career path; horticulture to aviculture and now apiculture.

Horticulture was his first profession and he worked at the Dunedin Botanic Garden for 10 years before moving to the United Kingdom in 1991. . .

Pesticides not to blame for bee deaths:

Europe’s decision to ban neonicotinoids is another example of politicians making decisions meant for regulators. Pesticides have been blamed for a decline in bee health despite a lack of scientific proof.

“Clear scientific evidence has taken a back-seat to a politically-based decision on regulation, which could mean the reduction of effective crop protection products in Europe,” said Graeme Peters, chief executive of Agcarm.

There is absolutely no evidence that neonicotinoids are harming New Zealand’s bee population. First introduced in 1992, neonicotinoids are thoroughly assessed before being approved for use by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Blaming pesticides is barking up the wrong tree. A multitude of factors are responsible for persistent bee mortality, including pests and parasites, microbial disease, inadequate diet, bee management practices and climate change. . .

Fonterra to cut 300 jobs, slashing costs to invest in growth strategy:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, which imposed a hiring freeze in February, may eliminate up to 300 jobs as it seeks annual cost savings of $65 million a year, adding to $60 million of cost cutting already targeted for 2013.

The review of support services affects workers at Fonterra’s corporate offices in New Zealand. It didn’t quantify the potential restructuring costs. The May Day announcement marks the biggest layoff at the dairy giant since it cut workers in 2006 with the closure of manufacturing plants.

“While we are investing in growth, we have to make sure our people are working on the right things and that we are spending our precious capital on the right priorities,” chief executive Theo Spierings said in a statement. Jobs would be eliminated by centralising services, reducing duplication and stripping out layers of management, he said. . .

No fish for you – Offsetting Behaviour:

If you’re a fisherman on Manitoba’s lakes, you can only sell your fish to the government’s monopsonist Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. I’ve heard different stories about its establishment: some stories had it that the FFMC was set up to protect small fishermen against big corporations who’d otherwise exploit them; others had it that the system was meant to encourage efficiency through centralised processing. Or maybe it was both of them.

It really isn’t working out very well for fishers based far from the processing plant. And it isn’t working out for fishers who have put in the yards to identify markets for fish that the FFMC has deemed to be of very low value. Fishers cannot sell some species of fish to the FFMC at any kind of profit, but they’re also forbidden from selling those fish to other willing buyers. And so the fish are left for the birds to eat. . . .

Farmers Beef Up Leadership Skills At Environmental Forum:

The first Beef + Lamb New Zealand Environmental Leadership Forum has been hailed as an outstanding success.

Twenty five sheep and beef farming leaders attended the B+LNZ -funded event, held in Wellington from April 16 to April 18.

The forum was facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, which has run a similar annual event for dairy farmers and also delivers the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Participants included past-winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and B+LNZ Farmer Council members.

Simon Saunders, deputy chair of the NZFE Trust, says the forum was designed to equip farmers with the skills needed to become effective ambassadors for the sheep and beef industry.

“These farmers have already achieved a huge amount in terms of environmental leadership. So a key aim of the forum was to refresh their skills and give them the tools to work successfully with a range of community stakeholders to address environmental issues.” . . .

DCANZ Welcomes Establishment of Joint Government/Dairy Industry Working Group On Food Testing:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) today met with the Ministry of Primary Industries and agreed to develop appropriate engagement protocols across dairy companies and MPI where a food integrity issue comes to light.

DCANZ Chairman, Malcolm Bailey, said that the meeting was a positive step forward in strengthening closer ties between dairy companies and government to meet market information needs on food testing.“New Zealand has one of the most robust food safety response systems in the world. The detection of DCDs was not a food safety issue but demonstrated strong interest from markets for information on food testing,” said Bailey.

“Today MPI and DCANZ agreed to formalise coordination and communication protocols related to all future food testing incidents, to help meet market needs both in New Zealand and overseas.” . . .


Photo: Happy Earth Day everyone! Thanks to www.FarmOn.com for the picture!


Science Challenges announced

May 1, 2013

The Government has announced the final 10 selected National Science Challenges and a $73.5 million boost over four years to fund them.

“The National Science Challenges will tackle some of the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand,” Minister of Science and Innovation Steven Joyce says.

“The Challenges are designed to take a more strategic approach to our science investment by targeting a series of goals which, if they are achieved, would have a major and enduring benefit for New Zealand. . . .

The 10 challenges are:

  • Ageing well – harnessing science to sustain health and wellbeing into the later years of life
  • A better start – improving the potential of young New Zealanders to have a healthy and successful life
  • Healthier lives – research to reduce the burden of major New Zealand health problems
  • High value nutrition – developing high value foods with validated health benefits
  • New Zealand’s biological heritage – protecting and managing our biodiversity, improving our biosecurity, and enhancing our resilience to harmful organisms
  • Our land and water – research to enhance primary sector production and productivity while maintaining and improving our land and water quality for future generations
  • Life in a changing ocean – understanding how we can exploit our marine resources within environmental and biological constraints
  • The deep south – understanding the role of the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean in determining our climate and our future environment
  • Science for technological innovation – enhancing the capacity of New Zealand to use physical and engineering sciences for economic growth
  • Resilience to nature’s challenges – research into enhancing our resilience to natural disasters

This covers a wide field of scientific endeavour.

I’m especially pleased the challenges focussing on high value nutrition, land and water, biological heritage and technological innovation included with the potential to improve productivity while enhancing the environment.

Opt in and targeting better than universal

May 1, 2013

NZEI is urging the government to vote for the bill to provide children in low decile schools with breakfasts and lunches.

This is a blunt instrument. It’s also an expensive and wasteful one.

Fonterra has offered all schools free milk and some have chosen not to take it because their children don’t need it or the staff think it’s too much work.

Allowing schools to opt in and targeting those whose pupils are most in need is far better than a universal approach which will be cost more and generate more waste.


Farming not attractive?

May 1, 2013

The top 10 most attractive industries to work for in the 2013 Randstad Awards are:

1 – Media
2 – Education & training services
3 – Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG)
4 – Public Administration & Safety
5 – Banking & Financial services
6 – Public Sector
7 – Professional Services
8 – IT & Telecommunications
9 – Transport & Logistics
10 – Healthcare

The media industry received top marks for its provision of interesting job content, competitive salary and employee benefits.

That could apply to farming, farm support and science but none of them appear on the list.

Is that because the survey had an urban bias or are those industries really not attractive?

There’s nothing in travel or tourism either though that could be because a lot of jobs in those industries aren’t particularly well paid.

Need an operation?

May 1, 2013

If you need an operation you should be hoping it’s scheduled for earlier in the week because a British survey shows the number of deaths increases as the week progresses.

The 48 hours after the operation is critical, according to Dr Paul Aylin of the London Imperial College.

“If this post-operative period overlaps with the weekend when you’ve got lower numbers of senior staff, you might have lower levels of nursing staff, you might also have reduced numbers of diagnostic services so it might be more difficult to order a blood test or a more complex scan,” he says. . .

In the bad old days when cars were expensively assembled here there was a  theory it was best not to get a Monday or Friday one because workers got careless as they anticipated and recovered from weekends.

It’s not carelessness but rostering which appears to be the cause of higher post-op mortality rates as the week progresses.

But full service 24 hours a day, seven days a week would be a lot more demanding on staff and a lot more expensive.

But maybe it’s not such a problem here anyway:

. . . The acting chief medical officer Stewart Jessamine released a statement saying the usual practice for district health boards is to schedule fewer operations on Fridays than on other week days.

`He also said a health, quality and safety commission review committee noted the risk from elective surgery in New Zealand is very low.

Making a positive difference

May 1, 2013

It’s a political truism that governments get criticised for anything they do wrong, or don’t do at all, but are rarely acknowledged for what they get right.

Families are better off under National

Under National:

* We’ve got the lowest increase in the cost of living since 1999.

* Mortgage rates are the lowest since 1965 – that’s significantly more left from most people’s pay packets each week.

* After tax wages have increased 22% since 2008 – more than twice the rate of inflation – superannuation is based on after tax wages so pensioners have been getting more too.

These are all the more noteworthy when they’ve happened in the face of the global financial crisis.

They’ve also happened with no increase in government spending.

Those on the left want the government to take more and spend more. That’s just churn.

It’s far better to reduce the burden of the state and leave people with more money in their own pockets.

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