Word of the day

May 7, 2013

Expostulate – express strong disapproval or disagreement; reason earnestly with someone in an effort to dissuade or correct; remonstrate.

Asset sales petition hasn’t got numbers

May 7, 2013

The petition seeking a referendum on the partial sale of a few state assets hasn’t got the numbers.

. . . Parliament’s Clerk of the House Mary Harris this afternoon said she had certified that the petition had lapsed because she could not be sure minimum number of signatures required by law had been met.

The petition needed the signatures of 10 per cent of voters to succeed which the Electoral Commission said worked out to 308,753.

But Ms Harris said that following a counting and sampling and checking process she found the petition was short by about 16,500 valid signatures.

The organisers of the petition presented it to Parliament in March claiming they had 393,000 signatures. . .

The petition was started by Grey Power but promoted by LabourGreen with the assistance of taxpayer funds.

They’ve got another couple of months to get the additional signatures needed but they should stop wasting their time and our money.

Might River Power shares will start trading on Friday.

Even if the people and parties behind the petition get enough signatures it will be far too late. The government will have received the money from the sale and will have invested some or all of it in other assets.

LabourGreen made this an election issue and lost.

Whether or not most people support the partial sale of a few assets, enough didn’t feel sufficiently strongly about the issue to vote to stop them.

They missed that opportunity; they’re short on signatures and attempting to get more will show they’ve got nothing better to do than pursue a lost cause.

Calories and laughter

May 7, 2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* What 200 calories look like (not much if it’s got fat and sugar, quite a bit with vitamins).

* World Laughter Day: How a Laughing Fit Sparked an International Movement.

Apropos of both – laughing and eating are generally mutually exclusive so the more you laugh the less you eat and vice versa.

Rural round-up

May 7, 2013

Fixed price contracts not priority for most meat companies – Marie Taylor:

As debate on the state of the red-meat sector continues, Marie Taylor asked 12 meat processors what they had to offer farmers in terms of stable pricing they could bank on.

Fixed-price contracts are few and far between in the meat industry.

The New Zealand Farmers Weekly surveyed 12 meat companies in New Zealand to find out what was on offer in terms of predictable, stable pricing farmers could bank on.

The most encouraging responses came from Silver Fern Farms, Ovation, Progressive Meats, Lean Meats and Firstlight Foods. . .

New animal welfare strategy released:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has launched the New Zealand Animal Welfare Strategy today, setting out a high level framework for how we treat animals.

“The strategy Animal Welfare Matters sets out a formal foundation for New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation and policy,” says Mr Guy.

“It says that it matters how animals are treated, and that we have responsibilities toward animals. It also says that using animals for activities like farming and racing is acceptable as long as it is humane.”

The strategy lists four main routes to improved animal welfare: . . .

Federated Farmers back new animal welfare strategy:

Federated Farmers is fully supporting the release of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Animal Welfare Strategy.

“The strategy reflects Federated Farmers own policy on animal welfare,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“It really does matter how animals are treated and farmers have both a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure requirements are adhered to.

“New Zealand’s farmers are actually world leaders in integrating animal health and welfare into their farm management planning. Something recognised by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

“This strategy reaffirms our international leadership and reputation. It is a strategic means to ensure this reputation is not only maintained but improved and Federated Farmers supports it. . .

Word of Hawke’s Bay Wines Spreading In China:

Hawke’s Bay wines, in particular high quality reds, are steadily gaining exposure in the expansive Chinese market with two recent initiatives adding to the awareness. 

Four influential Chinese media writers visited the region and were hosted by Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers and five wineries, while four local wineries attended one of China’s most important international wine trade fairs, the Chengdu Wine & Spirits Fair.

Immediately after her visit, Sophie Liu, an independent wine writer and educator, has blogged positively about her time in Hawke’s Bay and is planning articles to appear in Wine World, Wine & Taste and World Cuisine magazines, as well as http://www.wines-info.com

Her colleague Fan Yiren, who is one of China’s most influential social bloggers with accumulated fans of 63,374,307 on one site and over 330,000 on Weibo (Chinese Facebook equivalent), blogged daily. He is also planning to write four to five feature blogs. . .

At home and overseas, New Zealand seafood is on the dinner table:

When fish is on the menu, the type of fish you get can depend heavily on where you live.

Salmon, tarakihi, and gurnard are the most-commonly available fish species in supermarkets and fish shops as tracked in the consumers price index (CPI), Statistics NZ said today. However, some species are not widely available in all regions.

“Snapper and trevally are generally available in shops from Nelson northwards, but barely feature further south where sole is more commonly available,” prices manager Chris Pike said.

New Zealand’s seafood industry, published today by Statistics NZ, gives an economic overview of selected parts of the country’s seafood industry and provides a comparison between 2007 and 2012. . .

Trials show there’s a lot to love about molasses:

A further round of farm trials in the Waikato has reconfirmed the value of Crystalyx Dry Cow dehydrated molasses blocks as a Dry Cow winter management tool.

The results were shared at a farm open day in Putaruru, in March, with Jackie Aveling, Animal Nutrition Manager at Altum, saying the good turnout reflected farmers’ interest.

“Overseas trials over some 20 years have consistently confirmed the performance of dehydrated molasses blocks. Farmers want to know if the same results can be achieved in New Zealand. Our trial work with Crystalyx, which is specifically formulated for local conditions, gives them the facts they need to support its performance.”

The repeated trial work done by Dr Mark Oliver, science director of the Liggins Institute’s Ngapouri Farm research station near Rotorua, which saw a control herd supplemented with magnesium and trace elements following current best practice guidelines, and the other Crystalyx Dry Cow. . .

Organic Farm Pioneers High-tech Voluntary Milking System:

Robotic or voluntary milking systems, where the cows choose for themselves when they want to be milked and the whole job is done by a computerised machine, are still as rare as tits on a bull in New Zealand.

Heritage Farm, a certified organic dairy farm at Karaka, just south of Auckland, was the first farm in New Zealand to install a DeLaval Voluntary Milking System.

Early adopters David and Cathy Yates, who own and run Heritage Farm with their son Brian, are really pleased with their move to computerised milking. They have now had two and a half year’s experience with the system and say that its benefits go way beyond not having to spend hours in the milking shed every day putting on and taking off teat cups. They include improved animal health and welfare, and better pasture and feed management – all made possible by the quantity and quality of the data that the system provides, along with doing the manual work of milking. . .

Wage growth only part of story

May 7, 2013

Wages are growing, albeit slowly.

Annual growth in the labour cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates eased for the third consecutive quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. In the year to the March 2013 quarter, salary and wage rates (including overtime) increased 1.7 percent. This includes a 0.4 percent rise in the March 2013 quarter.  

Private sector salary and ordinary time wage rates increased 1.8 percent in the year to the March 2013 quarter. Public sector salary and ordinary time wage rates rose 1.5 percent in the same period. This rise in the public sector came from increases in central government (up 1.5 percent) and local government (up 2.1 percent).

In the March 2013 quarter, 13 percent of all surveyed salary and ordinary time wage rates increased. Of the 13 percent, the median increase was 2.4 percent, the lowest in 12 years. Fifty-six percent of the surveyed sample increased in the year to the March 2013 quarter. Of the 56 percent, the median increase was 2.9 percent, the lowest in 21 months.

Results from the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), also released today, showed that average hourly earnings for ordinary time (ie excluding overtime) rose 2.1 percent in the year to the March 2013 quarter. This followed a 2.6 percent rise in the year to the December 2012 quarter. . .

Although wages are growing slowly that is only part of the story.

Low inflation means that the value of wages and investments are being maintained and lower interest rates leave more money in most people’s pockets.

Someone with a mortgage of $200,00 is saving about $200 a week compared with four years ago.

Both these factors take pressure off households, leaving them with more buying power or a greater ability to save and invest.

Less waste, more growth

May 7, 2013

Kitchen scraps and garden waste can be used to increase the production of farm crops and reduce the need for conventional fertilisers.

A trial by Plant & Food Research showed that adding compost to different farming scenarios increased the production of arable crops by up to 14% and forage crops by up to 50%. This compost, made from municipal garden and food waste, increases the health of soil, resulting in a better crop yield and reduced need for nitrogen fertilisers, as well as redirecting waste that may otherwise enter landfills.

The research has been used to develop guidelines for farmers in the Canterbury area, where municipal composting schemes use around 50,000 tonnes of green waste to make 25,000 tonnes of compost each year.

“Plants need nitrogen and other nutrients to grow,” says Plant & Food Research scientist Abie Horrocks. “These nutrients and high levels of carbon are present in compost and adding it to soil boosts production. Because it can also supply the plants with nitrogen, a reduction in nitrogen fertiliser application is also possible without compromising yields.

“Around 726,000 tonnes of garden and kitchen waste is buried in New Zealand landfills each year. The proximity of farms to the source of municipal compost will strongly influence the profitability of utilising compost in agriculture. This research suggests that agricultural sectors close to populated areas, where municipal composting facilities could be developed, would benefit most from using compost and could result in redirecting most, if not all, the green waste for profitable use.”

The 3-year field trial assessed the effects of different rates of mature municipal compost (0, 25, 50 t/ha) in combination with different rates of nitrogen fertiliser (urea at 0, 33, 67, and 100% of standard rate) on crop production. Productivity was then compared to standard practice (100% crop-model-recommended fertiliser nitrogen and no compost).

By adding compost and reducing nitrogen fertiliser by one-third the recommended rate, arable crops were shown to yield 10% greater than standard practice. Applying compost without reducing nitrogen fertiliser resulted in productivity increases of 14% over the three year cropping rotation. When used in the production of forage crops, yield increases of close to 50% were achieved compared to where no compost was applied.

The research was conducted with funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund and with support from Transpacific Industries, Canterbury Waste Joint Committee, Environment Canterbury, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Living Earth, Timaru District Council, Poulfert, the Foundation for Arable Research and the Ministry for the Environment.

Less waste, a reduction in fertiliser requirements and more growth sounds like a good, green recipe.

Lower rates, higher take

May 7, 2013

National’s policy of lower company tax rates is paying off with a higher tax take.

Behind the NBR pay wall, Rob Hosking observes that increased tax revenue was partly due to a recovering economy and partly due to a “tax switch”.

GST revenue increased, which wasn’t unexpected after the rate increased.

But corporate tax revenue also increased – up 24.46 % since 2010, although the corporate tax rate was reduced from 30% to 28%.

The left want higher taxes because they also want higher spending.

But the tax take is more important than the tax rate and lower rates can result in a higher take.

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