Word of the day

August 3, 2013

Facultative – optional not required or compulsory; incidental;  occurring optionally in response to circumstances rather than by nature; capable of but not restricted to a particular function or mode of life;  not obligatory but rather capable of adapting to different conditions; able to occur or not; contingent; conferring a faculty, privilege, permission, or the power of doing or not doing something.


Rural round-up

August 3, 2013

Report’s honesty on Chinese meat delays will rebuild trust:

“Refreshingly honest” is how Federated Farmers is describing the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) report into the delays, which affected New Zealand meat exports to China.

“Having read the MPI report and chronology involved, this is a refreshingly honest and critical self-examination of what went wrong in China,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“As the report comes out of the MPI, its honesty will help to rebuild trust. The recommendations are sensible in a market where we have seen phenomenal growth since 2008 when the Free Trade Agreement was signed.

“This rapid growth is no excuse so the report highlights that resources need to match growth. As an exporting country we must listen to our customers and this report tells us that this did not happen. . .

New anti-rustling online map gets the farmer tick:

Federated Farmers is applauding Stop Stock Theft, New Zealand’s first ever online map designed to report and track suspected stock theft. This joint initiative between Crimestoppers NZ, NZX-Agri and the Police will be welcomed by all farmers.

“While shoplifting costs New Zealand some $730 million each year, stock theft is reportedly costing the country a further $120 million,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson.

“These are massive sums for red meat farmers who are struggling against a backdrop of the New Zealand dollar and difficult market conditions. . .

Dairy intensification not all bad – vet leader :

WIDESPREAD CONCERN about the welfare of fully housed cows in New Zealand is not well-founded, says the chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Dr John Hellstrom. If such systems are good, animal health should improve, he says.

In a paper delivered at the recent NZVA annual conference in Palmerston North, Hellstrom argues that many large-herd cows kept outside all their lives suffer poor welfare at certain times of the year. 

For example, sacrifice paddocks don’t provide good animal welfare especially when calving cows are not drafted out onto dry calving places. Hellstrom notes the current DairyNZ advice on sacrifice paddocks makes no reference to animal welfare. . .

Primary jobs for Maori:

Some primary industries are hiring staff from overseas, whereas there are many young Maori ready to enter the workforce, says chairman of the Export Industry Skills Analysis Advisory Group, Peter Douglas.

They need to be found and assisted through their training, says Douglas.

The Export Industry Skills Analysis Advisory Group met for the first time recently as part of Maori Economic Development Action Plan. The plan was announced by Minister for Economic Development Stephen Joyce and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples in November 2012. . . .

A very unpopular dairy blog post – Milk Maid Marian:

I suspect I am about to make a lot of enemies because there is an elephant in the room and few are in a position to point it out.

Here are the facts:

  • the last season has been dreadful
  • dairy farmers have free access to lots of information about we can keep cows healthy during fodder shortages
  • many dairy farmers who couldn’t afford skyrocketing feed costs have sold a lot of cows at ridiculously low prices so they can feed the remainder of their cows properly
  • farmers have gone broke but kept their cows healthy
  • cows do not starve overnight and watching them weaken over weeks or months would be more than I could bear yet reports of them dying in their hundreds have hit the national news

I was stunned. Perhaps people who would normally sell their cows off long, long before they reached the point of starvation couldn’t for some reason? Maybe they were hoping for a miracle? Maybe they were in denial? . .

Breakthrough on noxious alga :

New Zealand scientists have made a breakthrough in the battle against the noxious pest sometimes known as “rock snot”.

In a world first, researchers at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson have bred the invasive alga, Didymo, in the laboratory.

The scientist say it took four years of research and will allow them to more accurately identify which conditions promote and which deter blooms of Didymo. . .


5/9

August 3, 2013

5/9 in the NBR’s Biz Quiz.


Saturday’s smiles

August 3, 2013

An updated version of an old joke:

CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT GOVERNMENT:  You have two cows.  You keep one and give one to your neighbour.

SOCIALISM:  You have two cows.  The government takes one, gives it to your neighbour and taxes you both.

LIBERTARIAN:  You have two cows. Your neighbour has none. So what?

LABOUR:  You have two cows.  Your neighbour has none.  You feel guilty for being successful.  You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax.  The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbour. You feel righteous.

COMMUNISM:  You have two cows.  The government seizes both, provides you with milk and taxes you to pay for the production and distribution.

FACISM:  You have two cows.  The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

LEFT WING DEMOCRACY:  You have two cows.  The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

SURREALISM
You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

BUREAUCRACY:  You have two cows.  The government takes them both, puts one out to pasture, one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, then pours the milk down the drain.

CAPITALISM: You have 2 cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.  You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

A FRENCH CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You go on strike because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

A BRITISH CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  One’s mad, the other is slightly peeved.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You break for lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows.  You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION:  You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

A BRAZILIAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You enter into a partnership with an American corporation.  Soon you have 1000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You worship both of them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION:  You have two cows.  You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment and high bovine productivity, and arrest the journalist who reported on them.

AN ISRAELI CORPORATION:  There are these two Jewish cows, right?  They open a milk factory, an ice cream store, and then sell the movie rights. They send their calves to Harvard to become doctors. So, who needs people?

ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.

The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet is provided with the release.
The public then buys your bull.

AN IRAQI CORPORATION:  Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. No-one believes you, so they bomb you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a Democracy.

AN AUSTRALIAN FARM: You have 200 cows. Business seems pretty good. You milk them and have a few beers to celebrate.


Who’s behind Labour for Victory?

August 3, 2013

Who’s behind this?

Published on Jul 24, 2013

Labour must be competitive in 2014, for the good of New Zealand.

We cannot afford 3 more years of the National Government, or three more months of defective leadership in the Labour Party. It is time for the Labour Caucus to end the Shearer leadership.

It says it’s authorised by Labour rank and file, Wellington.

But is it the rank and file who are behind it or is it part of the destabilisation campaign from within the caucus?


LabourGreen shonky power policy even shonkier

August 3, 2013

The headline says: Greens/Labour made up ‘super profit’ claim for shonky power policy – source.

The story is behind  the paywall but explains that Stanford University professor Frank Wolak said LabourGreen took his figures, on which they based the rationale for the policy, out of context to suit their own agenda.

In another NBR story, Professor Wolak says New Zealand’s existing market arrangements are starting to work better and should be improved further.

In a wide-ranging interview with BusinessDesk, Professor Frank Wolak of Stanford University described the Greens/Labour NZ Power single buyer policy as “a sham that might make me feel a bit better” but was the wrong weapon to attack “runaway” retail electricity tariffs, which he says are the real problem in current market arrangements. . .

. . . he made it clear he did not calculate the $4.3 billion figure which critics say are proof of excessive power company profits and a consumer “rip-off”.

“That certainly attracted a lot of attention, most of it unwarranted,” he said.

Prof Wolak says the NZ Power policy, which would unpick a 25-year-old experiment in electricity market design in favour of a centrally planned model, “may not even solve the problem, which is runaway retail prices”.

Prof Wolak urged more competitive reform in electricity generation and retailing and far tougher regulation of the monopoly parts of the system: the Transpower national grid and local electricity distribution networks.

“It may look good, but it’s got lots of challenges,” he says of the Greens/Labour policy. “You’re throwing the entire baby out just to get rid of the bathwater and you’re going to start over, as if you have all these problems.

“My argument is that some of the changes since 2009 are pushing in the right direction,” says Prof Wolak, whose 2009 report for the commission found evidence of electricity generators wielding market power at different times, to maximise the value of their generation efforts. . .

Labour’s economic spokesman David Parker who was behind the policy rejects the criticism.

There’s no surprise in that when the man whose figures he used says they’ve been taken out of context and the policy wouldn’t work.


Fonterra issues food safety alert

August 3, 2013

Fonterra has issued a food safety alert after tests indicated the potential presence of a strain of Clostridium (Clostridium Botulinum) in a sample, which can cause botulism. 

Fonterra today advised eight of its customers of a quality issue involving three batches of a particular type of whey protein concentrate (WPC80) produced at a single New Zealand manufacturing site in May 2012.

As a result, these customers are urgently investigating whether any of the affected product, which contains a strain of Clostridium, is in their supply chains. If need be, they will initiate consumer product recalls.

There have been no reports of any illness linked to consumption of the affected whey protein. Dairy products such as fresh milk, yoghurt, cheese, spreads and UHT milk products are not affected.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings today said: “Food safety is Fonterra’s number one priority. We take matters of public health extremely seriously and we are doing everything we can to assist our customers in ensuring any product containing this ingredient is removed from the marketplace and that the public is made aware.

“We are acting quickly. Our focus is to get information out about potentially affected product as fast as possible so that it can be taken off supermarket shelves and, where it has already been purchased, can be returned,” Mr Spierings said.

“We are working closely with New Zealand’s regulatory authority – the Ministry for Primary Industries – to keep New Zealand and offshore regulators informed.”

Fonterra initially identified a potential quality issue in March this year, when a product tested positive for Clostridium. There are hundreds of different strains of Clostridium, the majority of which are harmless. 

Product samples were put through intensive testing over the following months.  On Wednesday 31 July 2013, tests indicated the potential presence of a strain of Clostridium (Clostridium Botulinum) in a sample, which can cause botulism. 

The particular whey protein concentrate concerned (WPC80) is used by Fonterra’s customers in a range of products including infant formula, growing up milk powder and sports drinks, said Gary Romano, Managing Director NZ Milk Products.

“For this reason, we immediately contacted our customers and the appropriate authorities, so that any potentially affected product could be removed from the marketplace.

“We are working with our customers and will provide more information and updates as they become available,” Mr Romano said.
Any consumer product recalls that may need to take place will be initiated by the respective food companies.

Given the potential seriousness of this an immediate recall of the small amount of products which could be affected would be sensible.

Fonterra products are trusted.

That trust is built on a reputation for high standards,  and a swift and open response to any food safety issues.

 


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