Word of the day

May 15, 2013

 Furbelow – a pleated or gathered flounce on a woman’s garment; a ruffle; showy finery, ornamentation or trimming; something superfluous.


Rural round-up

May 15, 2013

Government approves kiwifruit Psa plan:

A national management plan for dealing with the kiwifruit Psa virus has been formally approved by the Government, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This plan means that the primary responsibility for managing Psa is now moving to the industry themselves as they are best placed to co-ordinate and lead the response.

“As part of this, the Government has approved a levy rate on exported kiwifruit equating to one cent per tray for green fruit and two cents a tray for gold fruit. This will help cover disease management, monitoring, plant material movement and dealing with unmanaged and abandoned orchards.

“The levy has been voted on by growers and will have a shortfall until yields return to pre-Psa levels. Therefore Cabinet has agreed that $3.5 million remaining from the initial Government funding of $25 million will be passed to Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) to implement the plan. . .

Enrolments to close for leading farm business management programme:

Applications are to close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank’s Executive Development Program, Australasia’s leading agricultural business management course for leading primary producers.

Now in its fourteenth year, the prestigious Rabobank Executive Development Program gives leading New Zealand and Australian farmers, from a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank CEO New Zealand Ben Russell said the Executive Development Program is designed to assist farmers improve primary producers’ ability to manage the challenges of agriculture and plan for the growth of their farming businesses. . .

Farm Environment Ambassadors Study Marketing of New Zealand Produce in Asia:

An industry-backed trip to Asia has given Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith a deeper understanding of the challenges facing marketers of New Zealand meat and dairy products.

National winners of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Smiths recently returned from South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore, where they visited a number of key markets for New Zealand sheep, beef and dairy products.

The purpose of the 16-day trip was to learn more about offshore markets, exchange views on topics of crucial interest to New Zealand farmers and to showcase New Zealand’s stance on agricultural sustainability. . .

Announcement of Intention to IPO:

Synlait Milk Limited (Synlait Milk) advises that it is considering an initial public offering (IPO) of shares and to list on the NZX Main Board.

Synlait Milk is currently 49% owned by Synlait Limited and 51% owned by Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd (Bright Dairy).

Prior to any shares being allotted under ny IPO, Synlait Limited has advised Synlait Milk that it intends to distribute to its shareholders, on a pro-rata basis, the shares it holds in Synlait Milk. . .

PGG Wrightson annual earnings to fall by up to 27% on drought, lower livestock values:

PGG Wrightson, the rural services company which fell out of the NZX 50 Index this year, expects annual earnings to fall by as much as 27 percent as dry conditions on both sides of the Tasman and lower livestock values erode prices.

The Christchurch-based company expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between $40 million and $48 million in the 12 months ended June 30, down from $55 million in 2012, it said in a statement. The decline was put down to the dry climate in Australia and New Zealand, lower livestock value and falling earnings from its Agri-feeds unit after disposing of its 4Seasons Feeds joint venture. . .

Irrigation Event Needs More ‘Owner Operator’ Irrigator Support:

The irrigation industry is rapidly moving away from a ‘No 8 wire mentality’ as next week’s Great Irrigation Challenge in Ashburton will demonstrate, says IrrigationNZ – but more ‘owner operator’ irrigators need to rise to the challenge.

On May 23 and 24 at Ashburton Racecourse, IrrigationNZ, with the support of principal sponsor Aqualinc, will host a series of hands-on workshops aimed at up-skilling and professionalising both irrigators and their support industries.

While more than 100 irrigators, irrigation scheme representatives and industry advisors from across New Zealand have signed up, IrrigationNZ wants to see more ‘owner-operator’ irrigators attend. . .

Southland’s Morning Milking Roll Call:

Georgia Donaldson discovered some ‘udderly amazing’ facts when she came face to face with about 500 cows on Fonterra Shareholders Allan and Ann Black’s farm in Invercargill this morning.

Each Jersey cow can produce at average 4100 litres of fresh milk a year – enough for more than 20,000 packs of Fonterra Milk for Schools milk.

Georgia was one of several children from 12 Invercargill schools invited to learn about the source of their daily dose of nutrition, and how it can help them concentrate in the classroom and, in this case, outside of it. . .


IMF, S&P give NZ tick

May 15, 2013

The International Monetary Fund has confirmed that the Government’s economic plan strikes the right balance between supporting growth and limiting public debt, Finance Minister Bill English says.

In its final staff report issued this morning, the IMF endorses New Zealand’s balanced and pragmatic economic management.

“Coming out the day before the Budget, this is a strong vote of confidence in the Government’s programme over the past four years,” Mr English says.

“It follows a string of encouraging economic figures, which shows the economy growing at 3 per cent last year, an extra 50,000 jobs over the past two years, falling unemployment and healthy consumer and business confidence.”

In particular, the IMF notes the New Zealand economy appears to have strengthened in the last few months of 2012, with subdued inflation and fiscal policy that strikes the right balance between supporting growth and limiting public debt growth.

The IMF says: “The benefits of the plan are many. First, it withdraws fiscal stimulus at the right time by making room for the expected increases in private sector and earthquake-related reconstruction spending.

“Second, it has improved the macroeconomic policy mix by reducing pressure on monetary policy.

“Third, it creates fiscal space to help the country deal with aging and health care costs that are expected to increase over the long-term, and to cope with any negative shocks that may cause a sharp reduction in domestic economic activity or potential liabilities associated with the banking sector.

“Last, it could help raise national savings, reduce the current account deficit, and limit the increase in foreign liabilities.”

The IMF also notes the New Zealand banks remain sound.

However, it says New Zealand’s longstanding external liabilities remain a risk, reflecting historically low household savings rates.

“The Government has acknowledged this as New Zealand’s largest vulnerability and we have a sound, long-term plan to help turn that around,” Mr English says.

“Our economic programme includes a large number of measures aimed at improving the competitiveness of businesses. They include increasing exports and innovation, improving skills and infrastructure, deepening the capital markets and sustainably developing our natural resources.

“We are making progress in all of these areas.”

We can look across the Tasman to see what a Labor government has accomplished there. We could expect the same, or worse performance from a Labour-led one here.

By contrast National has done exactly what it said it would do – protected people from the worst effects of the global financial turmoil, maintained or enhanced public services while reducing the costs and put us on track to return to surplus in 2014/15.

The IMF report isn’t he only one which gives National’s policies a tick.

Standards and Poors have put New Zealand in its top 10 of least risky countries.

New Zealand, and Australia, have entered credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s list of the world’s top 10 least risky countries.

The list, included in S&P Capital IQ’s latest quarterly Global Sovereign Debt Credit Risk Report, has New Zealand ninth, sandwiched between Australia and Austria. The report focuses on changes in the risk profile of sovereign debt issuers, with the intention of identifying key trends and drivers of change.

New Zealand and Australia are new entrants in the top 10 least risky list replacing Britain and the Netherlands. . .

Lower risk helps takes pressure of interest rates which is good for the economy.

The IMF report is here.


Blackcurrents boost brain power

May 15, 2013

New Zealand blackcurrents are just the berries for boosting brain power:

A study by Plant & Food Research has shown that an extract of New Zealand blackcurrants enriched in anthocyanins can help people stay more alert, reduce mental fatigue and work with greater accuracy whilst under significant mental stress.

In the randomised, double-blind study, 35 healthy young participants were asked to complete 70 minute computerised assessments designed to demand attention and to be mentally fatiguing, such as watching a series of random numbers and responding when three consecutive odd numbers appeared. The trial found that, compared to placebo, after taking the extract from Just the Berries Limited participants worked more accurately without slowing down, and felt more alert and less mentally-fatigued after the test.

“We know that there are compounds in dark berry fruits, like blackcurrants, that have real effects on people’s health and wellbeing,” says Dr Arjan Scheepens, the study leader. “We found that, compared to a placebo, taking an enriched blackcurrant extract before performing stressful mental tests helped trial participants maintain accuracy, and that their mental fatigue was significantly reduced. Our next stage is to identify exactly which compounds are creating this effect, and using this knowledge to develop new whole and processed foods or ingredients that deliver optimised performance.”

Just the Berries will launch the product in May under the brand delcyan™ and market it as both a validated functional food ingredient and as a consumer product.

Farmaceuticals or nutriceuticals – plant and animal based treatments – tick the natural box which many consumers want and have great potential for boosting returns for farmers and horticulturists.


The not so lucky country

May 15, 2013

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan delivered a deficit budget and a plan that will take four years to return to surplus.

The Federal Government has taken a swipe at so-called middle-class welfare by abolishing the baby bonus in a deficit budget that delivers almost no traditional election-year sweeteners.

Instead Treasurer Wayne Swan says there will be “targeted, sustainable” cuts to bring the budget back into the black in four years’ time.

“We haven’t approached this budget in relation to opinion polls. We’re in this for the long run – the long-run reforms,” he said. . .

We were in Queensland last year. Closed shops and cafes with lots of empty tables pointed to a slowing economy.

Tomorrow’s Budget is expected to be much more optimistic though we should take no pleasure in signs that Australia is now the not so lucky country.

It’s still our major trading partner  and the source of most of our tourists. If people there aren’t feeling so well off they will be less willing to buy our produce and travel here.


No consensus, no change

May 15, 2013

One of the arguments used to urge people to vote for a change in the electoral system was that it was the only way we’d get a second vote.

They’ve been proved right.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says since there’s no consensus there will be no change.

In November last year, the Electoral Commission released its review of the Mixed Member Proportional system, estimated to have cost $1.6 million.

It recommended dropping the party vote threshold from 5% to 4% and scrapping the “coat-tails rule”, which would stop a party that won an electorate seat bringing in extra list MPs unless it reached the party vote threshold.

However Ms Collins says the changes would have been significant, and can not be done without widespread support.

On the coat-tails rule, Ms Collins told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report that five parties want to keep the status quo and three want it abolished, so there are major differences of opinion.

“Law changes in this country require 61 votes to get through Parliament. I don’t have 61 votes to bring forward the law changes suggested by the Electoral Commission. It’s as simple as that.”

It’s not just that law changes require 61 votes, it’s that major constitutional changes should either have the support of at least 75% of parliament or be put to the people in a referendum.

Had a majority of people voted for change in  2011 there would have been a review of MMP and we’d have got to vote between the modified version of the current system and the most preferred alternative next year.

A majority voted for the status quo, there’s been a review but there’s no consensus and so there will be no change before next year’s election.

It would have been better for the review to have been carried out before the referendum then we’d have all known exactly what we were voting for.

As it was some people who supported MMP might have supported it as it is and others as they’d hoped it would be after the review.

LabourGreen might decided to campaign on the issue and promise to implement the recommendations of the Electoral Commission.

But even if they win the election they won’t be able to claim a mandate for change.

They’ve put so much energy into saying National campaigning on the partial sale of a few state assets and winning the election didn’t give them a mandate, they won’t be able to claim campaigning on the electoral system and winning would give them a mandate.


Imagine

May 15, 2013

“When they say if you can imagine it, you can do it, they were wrong,” he said. “After all I can’t fly unaided.”

“Well you’re right but that doesn’t make them wrong,” she said. “You just have to be a little less literal and concrete with your imagining.”


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