Word of the day

May 2, 2013

Surd – irrational; lacking sense; a voiceless consonant; number that can’t be simplified to remove a square root; not capable of being expressed in rational numbers.


Rural round-up

May 2, 2013

Environment matters at station

Environmental protection is part of the ethos of farming at Orari Gorge Station.

It has been passed down through the generations of farmers and remains as important as it was when the land north of Geraldine was first settled in 1856.

Areas of the station are deliberately fenced off and animal and plant pest control programmes are regularly carried out through the generations of stewardship at the station.

That care was recognised by Deer Industry New Zealand in October last year when owners Graham, Rosa and Robert Peacock won the National Deer Industry Environmental Award for outstanding stewardship. . .

Townies can make it in dairying too – Gerald Piddock:

Canterbury-North Otago dairy trainee of the year winner Adam Caldwell is proof that townies too can succeed in the dairy industry.

Born and raised in Auckland, the 23-year-old works as a herd manager for the region’s farm manager of the year winner, Richard Pearse.

He sees himself as an example for other young people with an urban background that want to break into the dairy industry to follow.

“For me it’s the opportunity to be a role model for other Auckland kids, or city kids who might want to go dairy farming,” he said at a field day for the farm manager of the year. . .

Sharemilking goal closer – Gerald Piddock:

Smart informed financial decision-making has put Canterbury-North Otago farm manager of the year Richard Pearse on track to reach his goal of sharemilking by 2015.

He and partner Susan Geddes have saved $220,000 in equity over the past five years and aim to build this to $500,000 over the next two years.

They are debt-free and live off Susan’s income as a vet to pay for any living expenses.

Richard’s wage off the farm is put into an account that he cannot access. Once they made that decision, their projected equity has quickly increased. . .

Dairy women’s leadership programme will be industry first:

The Dairy Women’s Network will develop the country’s first leadership programme specifically for women working in the dairy industry using a $180,000 grant from the Ministry of Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund.

Dairy Women’s Network chair Michelle Wilson said the organisation was thrilled to receive the funding for the three-year project, and was looking forward to working with partners AgResearch and DairyNZ to continue developing the leadership capacity of New Zealand’s dairy farming women.

“Women make up 50 per cent of the dairy industry. The risks presented to the industry through economic, environmental and social volatility highlight the need for strong leadership and skills that provide dairying women with the confidence to effect change,” said Mrs Wilson. . .

DairyNZ welcomes funding to develop future leaders

DairyNZ congratulates the Dairy Women’s Network on its successful bid for government funding.

The Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Jo Goodhew, recently announced that a Sustainable Farming Fund grant of $180,000 had been approved for the network’s Project Pathfinder leadership programme.

As a partner of the network, DairyNZ is looking forward to supporting the organisation as it develops future leaders.

DairyNZ strategy and investment portfolio manager Dr Jenny Jago says strong leadership is needed as the dairy industry is faced with more complex issues and significant challenges.

“Women already make a very important contribution to the industry and increasing their leadership skills will allow them to make an even greater contribution that will be highly valued by the dairy industry and the wider community,” says Dr Jago. . .

Kiwi horticulturists honoured in UK:

New Zealanders Keith Hammett and Peter Ramsay have been honoured by Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society, one of the world’s leading horticultural organisations.

West Auckland dahlia breeder Hammett was among those awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal for outstanding contribution to the advancement of science, art or the practice of horticulture.

Waikato horticulturalist Ramsay, this year’s winner of the Peter Barr Cup, was honoured for his contribution to the advancement and enjoyment of daffodils.

It was the second New Zealand win in two years, after John Hunter, of Nelson, took it out in 2012, also for his work with daffodils.

Ramsay is the sixth Kiwi to be awarded the cup since its inception in 1912. . .


Thursday’s quiz

May 2, 2013

1. Who said: All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

2. What are the final two lines of this: eight hours work, eight hours play . . . . “?

3. It’s travailler in French, lavoro in Italian, trabajar in Spanish and mahi in Maori, what is it in English?

4. How many statutory days holiday does a New Zealand worker have?

5. What’s your dream job?


The upside of high $

May 2, 2013

Petrol prices fell 12 cents during April and could drop below $2 a litre according to the Automobile Association.

The price of 91 octane petrol fell to $2.05 per litre in the main centres, while diesel fell 10 cents per litre to $1.42 a litre at most service stations, the lowest price since July 2012.
 
“Since mid-March, petrol prices have fallen 16 cents per litre, and diesel 13 cents. In all, fuel prices have fallen on seven consecutive occasions, the most number of sustained drops since June 2012,” says AA PetrolWatch spokesperson Mark Stockdale.
 
“However, the AA’s monitoring of commodity prices shows that since the last retail price increase in mid-February, the imported cost of petrol has fallen nearly 19 cents per litre, and diesel 16 cents. That means fuel companies have not passed all of the lower costs onto motorists, although some service stations have discounted prices below $2 a litre.”
 
This time last year we were paying $2.20 a litre for 91 petrol and $1.57 a litre for diesel, meaning motorists buying 40 litres of petrol today will be saving about $6 a time, or about $158 a year for a typical 2-litre car.
 
“International fuel prices have been consistently falling due to lower global demand, and increased supply as refinery production comes back after shutting down for maintenance,” Mr Stockdale said.
 
“Although in the last few days oil prices have risen slightly, at current trends there is a good chance the price of 91 octane petrol will fall below $2 a litre soon, the first time since June and July last year,” Mr Stockdale added.

The value of our dollar also plays a role in the price of fuel.

The upside of the higher exchange rate which makes export prices more expensive is that it makes imports cheaper.

LabourGreen say they’ll bring the value of the dollar down.

Bigger economies than ours have tried to do that with no success and at a very high cost.

If they did succeed it would immediately devalue everyone’s purchasing power as the cost of essential imports, including fuel, would rise.


Calling out the anti-GMO conspiracy theory

May 2, 2013

Since Mark Lynas gave his speech in Oxford in January supporting GMOs he has been subject to a co-ordinated campaign of intimidation and hate, mostly via the internet.

He’s not giving in to the bullies.

. . . I have been encouraged by emails and other support from globally-renowned scientists who are experts on this issue, and who all said basically the same thing to me: ‘You think you’ve got hatemail? Welcome to my world’.

I think these scientists are the unsung heroes of this saga. They carried on with their important work and tried year after year to fight against the rising tide of misinformation, while people like me were belittling and undermining them at every turn. I won’t mention names, but they know who they are. Some of them are here today, and I would like to give them my deepest thanks.

So for me also there is also a moral dimension to this. The fact that I helped promote unfounded scare stories in the early stages of the anti-GMO movement in the mid 1990s is the reason why I now feel compelled to speak out against them. I have a personal responsibility to help put these myths to rest because I was so complicit in initially promoting them.

My activism, which I wrongly thought of at the time as being ‘environmental’, has done real damage in the world. For me, apologising was therefore only the beginning. I am now convinced that many people have died unnecessarily because of mistakes that we in the environmental movement collectively made in promoting anti-GMO fear. With that on your conscience, saying sorry and then moving on is not enough. Some restitution is in order.

Following a decade and a half of scientific and field research, I think we can now say with very high confidence that the key tenets of the anti-GMO case were not just wrong in points of fact but in large parts the precise opposite of the truth.

This is why I use the term conspiracy theory. Populist ideas about conspiracies do not arise spontaneously in a political and historic vacuum. They result when powerful ideological narratives collide with major world events, rare occasions where even a tiny number of dedicated activists can create a lasting change in public consciousness. . .

. . . The anti-GMO campaign has also undoubtedly led to unnecessary deaths. The best documented example, which is laid out in detail by Robert Paarlberg in his book ‘Starved for Science’, is the refusal of the Zambian government to allow its starving population to eat imported GMO corn during a severe famine in 2002. . . .

Thousands died because the President of Zambia believed the lies of western environmental groups that genetically modified corn provided by the World Food Programme was somehow poisonous. I have yet to hear an apology from any of the responsible Western groups for their role in this humanitarian atrocity.

Friends of the Earth was one of those responsible, and I note that not only has no apology been forthcoming, but Friends of the Earth Europe is still actively promoting GMO denialism in the EU in a new campaign called Stop the Crop. Check out their Youtube video to see how they have learned nothing in ten years.

Another well-known example is that of Golden Rice, genetically modified to contain high levels of beta carotene in order to compensate for the vitamin A deficiency which kills hundreds of thousands of children around the world and blinds many more every year. One study on the prospects for Golden Rice in India found that the burden of vitamin A deficiency could be reduced by 60%, saving 1.4 million healthy life years.

Here the actions of Greenpeace in forestalling the use of golden rice to address micronutrient deficiencies in children makes them the moral and indeed practical equivalent of the Nigerian mullahs who preached against the polio vaccine – because they were stopping a lifesaving technology solely to flatter their own fanaticism. . .

I think this campaign is shameful and has brought the entire environmental movement into disrepute, with damaging consequences for the very beneficial work that many environmentalists do. Greenpeace’s campaign against vitamin A-enhanced Golden Rice should therefore be cancelled, and I call on everyone concerned about children’s health to lobby Greenpeace and demand that this happens immediately and without delay. . .

The anti-GMO campaign is based one motion not science.

It has an anti-business campaign which is not supported by facts.

GMOs aren’t a magic bullet that will end world hunger but they are one of the tools that will help feed the world.


GDT TWI drops 7.3%

May 2, 2013

The trade weighted price of milk in this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction dropped 7.3%.

GDT Trade Weighted Index Changes

The price is still well above the long term average.

 

gdt 2.5.13

The price of anhydrous milk fat dropped 5.2%; butter was down 6.7%; butter milk powder was down 3.3%; cheddar was down 3.4%; rennet casein was down 3.1%; skim milk powder fell 9.5%; and whole milk powder dropped 10.2%.

 


Fewer jobless

May 2, 2013

Unemployment dropped in North Otago in the three months to March, in spite of the loss of more than 100 jobs at Summit Woolspinners.

. . . Figures released by the Ministry of Social Development on Friday indicated that the number of people claiming the unemployment benefit at the Oamaru Work and Income service centre fell from 172 at the end of December, to 146 at the end of March.

The number claiming the domestic purposes benefit also fell, from 349 at the end of last year, to 338 at the end of last month. Southern regional social development commissioner John Allen said some former Summit employees were still out of work following the closure of the plant in February, but many had already found new work in the area.

”The local labour market is reasonably buoyant and we’re seeing former Summit employees find work in a range of industries including meat processing and manufacturing jobs. Seasonal employers are continuing to recruit, again in meat processing, or have just finished hiring for the upcoming season. There are also a number of vacancies for skilled trade workers.

”Most of the employers we work with appear to be positive about the labour market, especially the engineering, construction and agriculture sectors, although this can vary across industries and seasonal factors can impact on benefit numbers.” . . .

A drop int he number of unemployed is a sign of economic recovery.

It could also reflect a change in emphasis with benefit reforms. Those who could work are being treated as job seekers and getting more help to find jobs.

That’s better for them, their families, society and the economy.

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