Word of the day

July 16, 2013

Adonize – to adorn, beautify or titivate; dandify; make somebody, especially a man, look more appealing.


Good manners and expensive typos

July 16, 2013

Discussion with Noelle McCarthy on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* Good manners

and

* 10 very costly typos.

 


Rural round-up

July 16, 2013

Suicide fears spark action:

Federated Farmers is worried the stress caused by drought, snow, flooding and continuing poor returns will push more farmers to the brink of suicide and it is working to help those in contact with farmers to recognise the danger signs.

“You’d have to say the 2012 to 2013 season is certainly not one we’re all going to rush out and remember for the good things that happened,” said Federated Farmers health and safety spokeswoman Jeanette Maxwell.

“We’ve had a drought, we’ve had snow, we’ve had gale force winds, we’ve had terrible prices and it’s just one on one on one.

“People are going to manage to get through winter and spring but you know they’ll get through lambing and then they’re still waiting for feed to grow, and lamb numbers are down because scanning is definitely looking pretty average at the moment, and at the end of spring you’re exhausted, even in the good years. . .

Building equity through innovation – Diane Bishop:

The pathways to farm ownership in the sheep industry are not easy.

But, Wyndham farm manager Murray (Muzza) Kennedy is building equity through one of his innovative ideas – hand-rearing triplet lambs.

It might not be everyone’s idea of fun but his wife Marcia, and their three young children, are more than happy to feed the troops, which last spring numbered around 150.

Murray, 35, and his team farm 11,000 Texel-Romney ewes, 3250 replacement hoggets, 300 Hereford-Angus cows and 60 replacement heifers on Jedburgh Station. . .

Fierce rivals’ joint venture boost exports 20%:

TWO FORMERLY fierce rivals in avocado exporting say their successful collaboration could signal the way forward for other export industries.

The forecast for Australia earnings this season have jumped 20%, from $40m to $50m, for the newly formed avocado exporter Avoco.

Now representing about 75% of New Zealand avocado growers, Avoco is a collaborative venture after decades of “fierce rivalry yet mutual respect” between New Zealand’s two biggest avocado export companies, says an Avoco director Alistair Young. . .

University farm among region’s best performers – Tim Cronshaw:

Out of five top dairy farms the Lincoln University Dairy Farm came third in profitability during the 2012-13 season.

A profitability margin of more than $4600 a hectare was described as a solid result by managers of the commercial demonstration farm at a focus day attended yesterday by farmers.

The 160-hectare farm at the university campus, run by the South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC) and milking 630 cows at peak milking, measures its performance against four top privately run Canterbury operations. . .

Disease top concern for rearers:

DISEASE PREVENTION is the number one priority for calf rearers, judging by a show of hands of delegates during a workshop session at last week’s South Island Dairy Event.

It topped a long list of issues put forward for calf rearing guru Bas Schouten to tackle, most of which he answered in a whirlwind session during the three day event.

Schouten stressed “it all starts with colostrum.” Calves need 10% of their bodyweight in colostrum, so a 40kg calf needs 4kg. Studies have shown 80% of calves learn to suckle in their first six hours and if they haven’t done it by then, they won’t, so why leave them in the paddock any longer, he asked delegates. . .

NZ Winery Secures Multi-Million Dollar China Export Deal:

New Zealand winery Allan Scott Family Winemakers has secured a significant wine export deal with more than 200,000 bottles of wine to be shipped to China in the first year alone.

The wine is destined for high-end restaurants and premium hotel chains throughout the country.

Company Managing Director, Allan Scott, says the export agreement is a major coup for the winery which has been able to capitalise on the burgeoning interest in white wines in China. . .

Old truck centre-stage in NZ children’s book – Tim Cronshaw:

An old farm truck that lay rusting in a shed and survived fire and floods, is capturing the imagination of children in a book by Canterbury author Jennifer Somervell.

Somervell, and her sister Margery Fern who is the illustrator of the book, Old Truck, grew up with the 1921 Model 10 Republic on a family farm near Takapau in central Hawke’s Bay.

The story is based on their childhood memories of farm workers struggling with the old truck at the 50-hectare family farm. . .


Time for four-year terms

July 16, 2013

New Zealand is ready for four-year parliamentary terms.

This is the view of the Maxim Institute and one with which I agree.

In a submission (see attached) to the Constitution Advisory Panel released today, Maxim Institute Researcher Kieran Madden argues that a fixed four-year term strikes the right balance between effective government and governmental accountability.

“Voters should have regular opportunities to tighten the reins on their elected representatives, but this must be balanced with the need to allow governments sufficient time to carry out what they promised and respond to problems as they arise,” says Mr Madden.

“With the changes to our constitutional landscape brought about by the move away from first past the post and the powerful majority governments it tended to produce, it is now time to look seriously at shifting the balance to allow more time for governments to govern well.”

“MMP has made enough of a difference to the way the powers of government are distributed and the legislative process carried out that the time is now right for Kiwis to decide this question at a referendum,” says Kieran Madden. . .

Three-year terms are short by international standards.

Even though one-term governments are rare, an election every three years slows down progress, adds uncertainty which impacts on growth, reduces productivity in the public sector and adds costs.

A four-year term would require less public money than three-year terms and it would also  demand less from volunteers who make a significant contribution to election campaigns.


Story behind the stories

July 16, 2013

Beck Eleven, a journalist with The Press, writes on the story behind the stories.

Reading it will help people understand the demands of the job and might make those with a jaundiced view of journalists pause for thought.


Learning to fail part of succeeding

July 16, 2013

He was explaining his theory that every child should have a pet that dies and asked me if our daughter, then aged 11, had.

I said yes – a cat, several lambs, a calf, a horse – oh and a grandmother and two brothers.

He was a little nonplussed by the last three but regained his composure and said that was good, because if children learn about loss and recovery when they’re young it will help them cope with it later in life when, faced with other, possibly greater losses and disappointments.

Few if any people go through life untouched by challenges and if children are protected from all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune when they’re young they will be ill-equipped to deal with much more painful ones when they’re older.

Parents naturally want their children to be happy but protecting them from events and situations that make them unhappy provides false security.

So too does protecting them from failure.

A Perth school is cutting back on praise because it’s  concerned that society’s focus on boosting self-esteem leaves many struggling to cope with failure on leaving school.

St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls wrote to parents explaining why it introduced strategies this year to minimise praise, reduce reward stickers for participation and provide work that was deliberately too difficult so students could experience failure.

Junior school head Julie Quansing-Rowlands said the prevailing wisdom in schools for many years had been that building up children’s self-esteem would lead to high achievement.

But recent research showed this simplistic approach backfired.

Over-praising meant children were less able to cope with disappointments they faced later in life.

She wrote an article in the school newsletter in response to parents’ questions on why their children were no longer getting 100 per cent on tests and homework.

She said research had found that children who received top marks could develop the perception that learning was easy.

“When they do finally experience failure, they are unable to cope with this feeling,” she wrote.

“Praising children for the 100 per cent or the A-grade develops the perception that success is linked to a state of being smart and to achieve that mark, students have been known to risk cheating.

“Giving students the label of smart does not prevent them from under-performing but may actually cause it.”

Heaping praise on students also gave them a false sense of their ability and led to a sense of entitlement.

“We want to give students praise for what they have control over,” she said. “They don’t have control over their IQ because that’s what they’re born with but they have control over how much work they put in and their perseverance.”

. . .  Ms Quansing-Rowlands said as well as teaching academic subjects, schools had to help students develop life skills, such as the resilience and persistence they would need to survive in the real world.

“What we’ve found now is that some children can’t cope with criticism or the fact they didn’t get a sticker for participating,” she said.

Social researcher and author Hugh Mackay said schools such as St Hilda’s were on the cutting edge of a new way of thinking.

“We’re beginning to understand that it actually damages children to constantly praise them, constantly tell them they’re special and build up their self-esteem,” he said.

“New research is demonstrating that it’s not self-esteem but self- respect and self-control that really are the best predictors of how well kids are going to perform in high school.”

Mr Mackay said society’s obsession with the pursuit of happiness and self-esteem was driving the idea that everything had to be fabulous – avoiding pain, suffering and disappointment.

“Whereas everything in our culture says adversity is the great teacher and you don’t build resilience in kids unless they learn to cope with failure,” he said.

 

Parents and schools have a duty to prepare children for the real world.

That requires the ability to deal with good times and bad, life and death, success and failure.

Children who are helped to deal with disappointment and loss when they are young will be better able to cope with them when they’re older.


Redemption risk lower, supply risk higher

July 16, 2013

One of the main factors behind Fonterra’s decision to introduce Trading Among Farmers (TAF) was to reduce redemption risk.

That’s the risk the company faced in having to buy back shares at a high price when people left the industry or production was much lower than their shareholding entitled to them to.

TAF allows farmers to trade shares among themselves.

But has the reduction of redemption risk been replaced with an increase in the risk of supply?

The share price is higher than most analysts think is warranted and it adds a considerable expense to signing up to Fonterra.

There are other options now and Federated Farmers believes the 7.5 percent shareholding in Synlait taken by FrieslandCampina Investments Holding BV1, a subsidiary of Dutch Dairy Cooperative giant FrieslandCampina, could shake-up the New Zealand dairy industry.

“While the monetary value is modest at around $24.15 million the message it sends is powerful,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“As a cooperative, FrieslandCampina’s revenues are similar to Fonterra’s. You could describe the investment in Synlait as a ‘toe-dipping’ exercise but clearly there is an underlying desire to get exposure to New Zealand liquid milk.

“FrieslandCampina easily has the financial means to acquire more of Synlait later if it so chooses. Its cornerstone shareholding is to us more like a beachhead.

“It is also significant that even after the public float, Holland’s FrieslandCampina will have a strong shareholding alongside Bright Dairy and Food Co of China and Mitsui & Co of Japan. The prize is clearly Asia.

“While other investors have not meant much to Kiwi dairy farmers, FrieslandCampina most certainly will.

“Having one of Europe’s largest cooperatives enter our market, albeit through a commercial shareholding, may just spark a discussion over how the domestic cooperatives will respond; Fonterra especially.

“While the focus of the last Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) review was on Fonterra’s financial redemption risk, Federated Farmers was concerned at the potential for supplier loss.

“Fonterra’s current model is that all suppliers, save for some, either have three seasons to ‘share-up’ or go onto contract milk. Even with contract milk, you have to agree to share-up with Fonterra within six-years.

“Sharing-up in Fonterra is currently done by buying those bank unfriendly highly priced shares. To us there has to be a change here. A modified “Friends of Fonterra” is how I put it in an opinion editorial.

“What is for certain, things have become very interesting in the dairy industry,” Mr Leferink concluded.

The investment by FrieslandCampina isn’t large but it could give farmers more confidence in Synlait and make supplying the company more attractive.


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