Word of the day

June 27, 2013

Internecine – of or relating to conflict or a struggle within a nation, an organisation, or a group; mutually destructive, ruinous or fatal to both sides; involving or accompanied by mutual slaughter; deadly; destructive.

Safeguarding infant formula

June 27, 2013

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye has announced work plan to further protect and strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s food assurance systems to match rapid growth in infant formula exports.

“As Food Safety Minister I have asked the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to undertake the following work programme:

  • An audit on New Zealand’s existing regulatory regime to identify any areas for improvement. This includes work on verification, compliance and testing regimes. MPI is already prioritising Codex (international food standards body) and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) work to review end product standards for infant formula.
  • A check that New Zealand’s Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs) keep pace with changes being introduced in China’s regulations for infant formula. Recently MPI introduced a brand register for infant formula manufactured in New Zealand to enhance consumer confidence and ensure the integrity of New Zealand branded products in China, but there are possibly other improvements that can be made.
  • Investigate mechanisms to better collaborate and communicate with markets in Asia, particularly China, in areas such as science and labelling. It is my intention to visit China in the near future to discuss future initiatives.

“New Zealand’s infant formula exports are estimated at about $600 million a year, with approximately $170 million of that going to China.

“China and New Zealand have a strong reputation of working together to ensure the integrity of traded products.

“Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity.

“This work plan is very much a proactive approach to ensure we are staying current and responding to consumer needs and expectations. It is my intention to work closely with industry on this.

“New Zealand’s reputation around the world as a leading producer of safe and trusted food is extremely important to our competitive advantage as exporters. As the food sector accounts for 54 per cent of our total export value, we take this very seriously and this work will be on going.”

It used to be simple.

New Zealand food was produced and processed here by New Zealanders.

Now New Zealand companies produce and process food in other countries and foreign companies produce and/or process food here.

Any food product associated with New Zealand trades on our reputation for the safety and quality of our production and processing.

That reputation must be safeguarded for the sake of consumers and our economy.

This plan, and the fact that work will be on-going, is a very wise move.

Rural round-up

June 27, 2013

New Agricultural Trade Envoy appointed:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today announced the appointment of Mike Petersen to the position of New Zealand Special Agriculture Trade Envoy (SATE).

The role is to advocate for New Zealand’s agriculture trade interests, from the perspective of a practising farmer.

“In the immediate term, Petersen’s priority will be to coordinate support among international farmer groups for a comprehensive outcome on agriculture in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations,” says Mr Groser.

“More broadly, he will be tasked with telling the story of New Zealand’s agriculture success in a post-subsidy world. New Zealand farmers are the least subsidised in all OECD member countries.”

Mike Petersen is a sheep and beef farmer from the Hawke’s Bay, and is currently serving as Chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. He has held a variety of other governance roles in the primary sector. . . .

International Dam Expert Confident Hawke’s Bay Dam Site Ticks All the Boxes:

The man who could be leading one of New Zealand’s largest water storage projects has just inspected the Ruataniwha Dam site and given it the thumbs up.

Leading European Contractor, Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL) and Hawkins Infrastructure, New Zealand’s largest privately owned construction company, have joined forces to bid for the design and construction phase of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Santiago Carmona is likely to be appointed construction manager if the OHL Hawkins bid is successful. He was among several experts from the OHL Hawkins team to inspect the site last week and says he’s very happy with the data he collected. . . .

Relief PKE animal part not foreign but systems needed:

Federated Farmers is relieved that DNA testing on an animal part found in Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) is now confirmed to be a local sheep. Originally suspected by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to be foreign, its discovery still shows the need for system improvements.

“Confirmation by DNA testing that the animal limb is local and a sheep is a huge relief for all farmers,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“Can we again stress that the Bay of Plenty dairy farmer who discovered the contaminant did the right thing in calling the Biosecurity hotline; 0800 80 99 66.

“If any one finds something untoward then calling the Biosecurity hotline is the correct response. An additional measure is to take photographs; almost all modern mobile telephones have in-built cameras. . .

Peak effort getting stock down – Stephen Jaquiery:

Ida Valley farmer Lochie Rutherford moves a sheep one sapping heave at a time, 1200m up Mt St Bathans yesterday. Trudging through the snow behind him is neighbour David Hutton.

The pair’s properties were not badly affected by last week’s snowfall and the two farmers have been helping rescue stock on nearby St Bathans Station.

Thick snow which blanketed inland Otago is thawing quickly on the flat but the race is still on to rescue stock trapped on the hill country. . .

Two new primary growth projects announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed $6.88 million in Government funding for two new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes, which will deliver a major boost to productivity and environmental outcomes.

“A project led by the Whai Hua group will work to develop new probiotic dairy health products. This will help to add value to what we export by targeting high value niche markets. . .

Top 10 annoying cows to milk – Freddy Lawder On the Udder Side of the World:

Here is the list of the most frustrating, infuriating and unpleasant types of cows to milk. There is always at least one of each in the herd.

If you milk cows for a living, there is a good chance this will resonate with you!
10. ‘The Low Udder’
The Low Udder is as you might have predicted when the teats are particularly close to the floor. This is due to the cow being either very short or having a huge udder. It means there is not much room for the cluster and your hand when cupping on. The rubber pipes get kinked and stops the vacuum which prolongs the annoyance as your knuckles are scraped against the concrete.
9. ‘The Nervous Dancer’
The Nervous Dancer will not stand still whilst cupping on. She hops from one foot to the other, it is neither aggressive or likely to cause injury but it is incredibly irritating. It is if she is desperate for a wee and is trying to hold it in, or maybe she is just dancing to the music of The Rock FM.
8. ‘The Mud Grater’ 

The Mud Grater is often combined with the Nervous Dancer, and occurs when there is a load of dry mud on her legs. . .

(This is a post written by a young Englishman who spent last season working on a North Otago dairy farm. I’m working my way through all 59 posts, the first of which is here, and thoroughly enjoying his observations on dairying,  and sightseeing).

First Viognier for Clearview Estate takes out silver:

The first-ever Haumoana Viognier produced by Clearview Estate Winery has taken out a silver award at the Spiegelau International Wine Awards announced this week, while the Te Awanga winery’s star, its Reserve Chardonnay won another gold.

The 2012 Viognier is a special one-off limited release, while the Reserve Chardonnay adds to its consistent long pedigree of gold awards or five-star ratings; 50 in total since the first vintage won a gold award in 1991.
Clearview sourced grapes sourced from Black Bridge Vineyard on the gravel banks of the Tukituki River near Haumoana for the Viognier wine. Only 2000 bottles of the inaugural release were bottled last year. . .

Could they organise a booze up in brewery?

June 27, 2013

If you’ve ever wondered whether politicians could organise a booze up in a brewery, wonder no more.

Trans Tasman has the answer:

Top Town Goes Political
TVNZ’s Heartland channel is looking at re-invigorating the old “Top Town” competitions, and invited all political parties to take part in a pilot show during the recent recess. MPs only had one task: to organise a booze up in a brewery.

Trans Tasman obtained a copy of the judges’ report.

National: Got booze-up sorted by doing deal with one of the breweries. Floated 49% of booze on sharemarket but what was a good craft beer at time of float fell in value and became Fosters and Joseph Khutz lager.

Labour: Women’s and Rainbow factions opposed the notion of ‘booze-up’ as heterosexist and patriarchal. MPs opposed a brewery in principle and then accepted invitation to the opening anyway. David Shearer popped in for five minutes and had a shandy.

Greens: Eyes lit up at the word “organise” – Greens LOVE organising things – but lips curled at “brewery.” Settled for small organic vineyard in Nelson where members gathered to work out how to exempt it and other Green businesses and landholdings from the capital gains tax which will go on all other businesses.

ACT: Organised booze up well, but no one came.

NZ First: Despite much natural talent, failed to perform. Raised continual points of order with judges, somehow obtained other parties’ team plans and leaked them to media.

United Future: Peter Dunne was unwise, even stupid. Disqualified.

Maori Party: Booze up in brewery went extremely well until someone asked Tariana Turia if they could smoke. Everyone then decamped to National booze up, where Maori Party MPs helped out by laying out the welcome mats.

Thursday’s quiz

June 27, 2013

1. Who said: I used to be Snow White, but I drifted. ?

2. Who wrote The Snow Goose and what event does it centre on?

3. It’s niege in French, neve in Italian, nieve in Spanish and huka or puaheiri in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What shape are snowflakes?

5. What was your first or most memorable snow experience?

Minister backs science

June 27, 2013

Environment Minister Amy Adams will block councils from setting their own rules on genetically modified organisms.

. . . Ms Adams said in the House that she was concerned that councils were trying to go against central Government’s rules on new organisms.

“Local councils are local councils – they operate under the national framework. There has never been the ability for them to rewrite national rules that they don’t like.

“And if councils have concerns about the way GM regulation in New Zealand works, they should raise those with the [Environment Protection Agency] and attempt to address the legislation on a national basis. They should not set up their own independent states…”

She said she would amend the Resource Amendment Act to clarify who was responsible for regulating GMOs. . . 

Ms Adams argued that the National-led Government had been consistent on the issue, and pointed to Crown Law advice from 2003 which said it was not a good idea for councils to regulate GMOs under their own plans.

The minister said communities could be confident that legislation provided a robust system of controls and set a high bar for the entry of GMOs into New Zealand.

The Minister is backing science against emotion, as she should.

Much of the opposition to GMOs is anti-science and anti-business.

There are strict controls on GMOs set by central government and that provides a sufficient safeguard.

A very public dying

June 27, 2013

Families of politicians, willingly or not, have to share their spouse, partner or parent with the public.

That must be difficult enough when the politicians are engaged in public life, it is even worse during private times when family should come first.

Someone’s final days are such a time.

Life is fatal.

There comes a time in everyone’s lives when death is inevitable and any attempts to prolong life are inhumane.

That’s the time to let go and let the dying one know that.

Like Brian Edwards I’ve been disgusted by the ghoulish response to Nelson Mandela’s dying.

He’s an old man, an ill man.

He was an important political figure but now he’s a private citizen.

There will be time for others to celebrate his life and mourn his death when he is dead.

This is a time for his family and close friends.

They and he should be spared the public death watch.

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