Word of the day

June 14, 2013

Roister – to engage in boisterous merrymaking; act in an uproarious manner; revel noisily; behave in a blustering way; swagger.

Rural round-up

June 14, 2013

The primary industry powerhouse:

Governments have tried over the years to steer attention away from New Zealand’s primary industries as being the powerhouse of the economy.

As examples, tourism has been accepted as a large earner of foreign exchange, and with a prime minister serving as tourism minister, the spending ploughed into promoting New Zealand as a destination has increased. Sir Peter Jackson and the Weta Workshops have for some time now been used as illustrations of what clever New Zealanders can achieve. And the phrase ”knowledge economy” has been bandied around for a generation as ministers of the Crown promote learning and technology as a way of breaking down the barriers of distance for New Zealand. . .

Cracker innovation entries at Fieldays:

Judges were overwhelmed by the high standard of entries in the Fieldays Innovation Competition at Fieldays yesterday.

 Darren Hopper, spokesperson for Vodafone, the major partner of the Fieldays Innovation Centre , says the competition is crucial to growing good ideas and gaining efficiency. New Zealand’s agricultural sector is the envy of the world and synonymous with Kiwi ingenuity, he says.

The Fieldays International Innovation Award recognises the best agri-business innovations being launched on the world stage. The award was presented at last night’s Fieldays Opening Cocktail Function. . .

MPI called into UK disease outbreak simulation:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been called into a large scale United Kingdom animal disease outbreak exercise.

The UK authorities have asked MPI to advise on the availability of New Zealand vets, emergency managers and technicians to help manage the simulated outbreak.

The EXERCISE is testing the UK’s capacity to deal with a nationwide outbreak of classical swine fever. In the simulation, the outbreak has become so large that the supply of local animal health experts cannot cope alone and authorities have called on New Zealand for help.

New Zealand is party to a six-country (New Zealand, Australia, UK, Canada, Ireland and USA) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form an international animal health emergency reserve. In the event of a disease outbreak, vets and other animal health experts can be called in from participating countries. Under the MOU New Zealand vets helped out in the UK’s 2001 foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. . .

A purple blister on the weather map is coming to get us – Milk Maid Marian:

It’s not a good sign when the local weather forecaster gets a spot on ABC Radio’s National news. Our forecast is so shocking that, yes, it made headlines today.

A massive chunk of Victoria is about to go underwater and, with it, a massive chunk of our farm. We’ve had an inch of rain in the last two hours and the prediction is for between 51 and 102mm tomorrow, followed by another 20 or 30mm over another couple of days.

I’m thankful for the undulations at the southern end of the farm. The cows will at least be safe. . .

Informed, proactive decision making during drought will pay off:

Cutting cattle numbers by a total of 59 percent and sheep by 30 percent by March during this season’s big dry may seem brutal, but it was a proactive decision based on sound figures, which has given Paul Dearden confidence heading into winter and lambing.

The Waipukurau sheep and beef farmer says regularly monitoring the situation and making timely decisions based on accurate figures was crucial in trying to minimise the cost of the drought to his farming business.

“Like others in drought regions, our challenge was to identify when to de-stock and by how many in order to preserve the health of our animals and look after the pasture we did have. More recently, we needed to get the timing of our Urea application right and make the most of the good rainfall. . .

New Wines to Taste At Hot Red Hawke’s Bay:

New releases, new wine labels and award-winners will be on offer at this year’s Hot Red Hawke’s Bay, the region’s flagship wine event being held next week.

Over 200 wine media, trade representatives and connoisseurs have snapped up tickets to the two events being held on June 18 at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre and on June 19 at Te Papa in Wellington.

Now in its tenth year, Hot Red originally only offered red wines for tasting but given the region’s increasing dominance with award-winning white wines, for the second year there will be a strong showing of Chardonnays amongst the 150-plus wine line-up. . .

Friday’s answers

June 14, 2013

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: Italians come to ruin most generally in three ways, women, gambling, and farming. My family chose the slowest one.?

2. Where are the Fieldays held?

3. It’s ferme in French; fattoria in Italian; granja in Spanish and whāma in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What’s the name for the farm implement consisting of a heavy frame with sharp teeth or upright disks, used to break up and even off plowed ground?

5. Is the rural-urban divide getting wider?

Ponts for answers:

Andrei and Bulaman both got four.

Gravedodger got five, by agreeing with Andrei for #1 with bonuses for extra information and wit and so wins an electronic batch of cheese and bacon scones. (Andrei I think he was referring to you nominating the author of the quote, not your religion).

Freddy got two and Grant got four.


Answers follow the break.

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It wasn’t a barrel

June 14, 2013

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion on Tuesday’s post about calculating the volume of a barrel.

It wasn’t in fact a barrel, it was a drum, or at least drum-shaped.

The vessel in question was a roller and further questioning ascertained that the measurements I gave were for only half of it.

Its volume was required to ascertain its weight.

The manufacturer said it was 6 tonne when full which was too heavy for the truck on which it was to be transported.

But minus the 2.2 tonnes of water which, thanks to everyone’s calculations, was established as the weight of the water it contained, it was able to be carried safely.

Voluntary co-operation

June 14, 2013

State control of various necessities in Venezuela has resulted in shortages of food and loo paper  in response to which there’s an app which crowd sources information on where supplies are:

I’m afraid that my Spanish isn’t all that good but it’s good enough to confirm that they really are offering a method of finding out which shops have toilet paper, sugar, flour….you know, the simple basics which shops really shouldn’t be running out of.

It’s all rather bizarre that a country that has sufficient technology to be running smartphones doesn’t have the ability to keep such consumer basics on the shelves. Even worse that a major oil supplier at the peak of an oil boom cannot manage it. . .

The problem is state control.

The solution is to leave it to the market.

There are those who insist that whatever it is going on there must be someone in charge. Like our Soviets above with the bread, like many socialists in many places and times. Things must be planned, organised, someone must make things happen, there must be control. And then there are those who, even if a bit mystified by quite how it happens, accept that the voluntary cooperation within markets does some pretty nifty things. Like keeping toilet paper on the shelves at prices that people are delighted to pay for it.

The real point being that markets are pretty good at some things. They do not need that control, that planning, that guidance, nor even having their prices fixed. I’m pretty much a pro-market extremist, admittedly, but even I don’t say that all markets work perfectly all the time. The trick is to work out which do, at least acceptably, and concentrate on those that don’t, at least not acceptably. For example, we might well argue that the pure free market distribution of income is in some manner not acceptable. Thus we desire to change it through the tax and or benefit systems. I’d go along with that myself, even if perhaps not in the specific manner that many places now do it.

However, at the same time I’d want to point out that markets really do solve some problems without any further intervention being needed. Markets being, really, just voluntary cooperation among people and groups of people. And we’ve a lovely example here of just that. Before state intervention in the toilet paper market there was sufficient for what the populace desired to use. After said intervention there wasn’t: at which point we get further voluntary cooperation through the crowdsourcing of information to overcome the governmental intervention.

Markets really just do work at times and the real trick is to, when observing that they do in a specific sector or activity, step out of the way and allow them to keep working. . .

Markets aren’t perfect but voluntary co-operation usually works better than state control.


NZ could be fruit bowl of Asia

June 14, 2013

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce released a new report showing opportunities for further growth in the New Zealand fresh fruit sector:

The Coriolis Research report, Driving Growth in the Fresh Fruit Sector, says that New Zealand’s fruit exports are shifting towards Asia and away from traditional markets like Europe and North America.

“The report highlights that we can become a fruit bowl for Asia. Asian consumers prefer the sweetness and quality of New Zealand fruit and we are achieving considerable success there,” Mr Joyce says.

“New Zealand is sending fruit to more countries and there has also been a significant growth in the export value of fruit. Kiwifruit’s export value has almost doubled over the last decade, going from $567 million in 2002 to $1.043 billion in 2012.”

Industry comments in the report indicate that, while PSA has had a significant impact on the industry’s profitability, export value growth is likely to continue into the future when the impact of the disease has passed.

The report highlights a number of potential directions for growth in the fresh fruit sector including new varieties, value-added products and new and emerging fruits.

“The report says that avocados, cherries and blueberries stand out as fruit that have the potential to create meaningful export growth. There are also opportunities to develop fruit extracts and ingredients for foodservice and nutraceuticals”, Mr Joyce says.

Driving Growth in the Fresh Fruit Sector is part of a series of reports released under the Food & Beverage Information Project – the most comprehensive analysis of New Zealand’s food industry ever undertaken. 

The full report is here.


Then there were 5

June 14, 2013

Oh dear, not one, not two, not three, not four but five Labour MPs were enjoying Sky City’s hospitality in a corporate box at last week’s rugby test.

There’s nothing wrong with that in general. Businesses entertain all sorts of people in their boxes and politicians enjoy hospitality from a range of hosts.

But something smells more than a little off when the MPs have been so very critical of the company and the government’s deal with it to build a convention centre.

MPs meet people with a range of views including those with which they disagree.

But casual meetings or formal business ones are very different from socialising in this way.

Does it mean that Labour doesn’t really mean what it says in opposing the Sky deal or is it just another example of behaviour which invites the use of the H word?

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