Word of the day


 Lamprophony – loudness and clarity of voice or enunciation.

Rural round-up


Fonterra welcomes New Zealand Government’s confirmation of safety of New Zealand dairy products

Fonterra today welcomed the New Zealand Government’s confirmation that the quality issue involving whey protein concentrate is confined to the products made from three batches of WPC80 and no other New Zealand dairy products are affected.

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said: “Public safety is Fonterra’s number one priority. When we informed our customers and the Ministry for Primary Industries of the quality issue, we advised them that it was limited to three batches of whey protein concentrate.

“We appreciate the New Zealand Government confirming this to be the case and reiterating the safety of all other New Zealand dairy products, including Whole Milk Powder (WMP) and Skim Milk Powder (SMP), butter and cheese. . .

Surprised by the biosecurity issue – Bill Kaye-Blake:

The issue with botulism bacteria in Fonterra’s whey powder has been in the news all week. There’s been lots of talk of milk prices, exchange rates, marketing images and damage to brands. Most of it is fairly simple. A lot of it, at least over the weekend, was speculation about what could or might happen — filler more than news.

I have one small note to add. I have been working in agricultural economics in New Zealand for the last ten years, all across the sector. Dairy, sheep/beef, apple, kiwifruit, potatoes, forestry, wine, lettuce — lots of different products. I’ve also worked on many different issues: trade, technology, consumer trends, productivity. One area in particular has been biosecurity, which in New Zealand refers to keeping bugs out (in other countries, it refers to biological terrorism, which led to some confusion once when I visited the OECD). . .

Fonterra says no sign yet of losss of business, too soon to count cost:

Fonterra Cooperative Group hasn’t seen any signs of customers reducing their business and says it is too soon to say whether the costs of dealing with the contamination will result in a charge against earnings.

Chief executive Theo Spierings told a conference call today that with listed units on the NZX, Fonterra has obligations to disclose any significant financial impact. Major customers hadn’t signalled as yet any change in demand, he said.

On the conference call chairman John Wilson fronted the media for the first time since the crisis emerged last weekend and defended why it took him this long to appear in public on the issue, saying “in reality this is an operational matter” and he had faith in Spierings’ management team to handle it. . .

North Canterbury will boom on back of water storage

IrrigationNZ says North Canterbury will be revitalised on the back of the Waitohi Irrigation and Hydro Scheme, which was granted resource consent this week.

“Hurunui District, like many other rural areas, has experienced gradual population decline and subsequent school and local service closures over the past 20 years. The announcement that Hurunui Water Project’s Waitohi Irrigation and Hydro Scheme can now proceed has the potential to completely reverse North Canterbury’s fortunes,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“The supply of reliable water will create certainty which will encourage greater investment in a range of land use options. With North Canterbury’s unique climate allowing a wide range of crops to be grown, the district is well placed to experience an economic boom,” says Mr Curtis.

Mr Curtis says environmental concerns around intensive farming and increased irrigation would be taken care of through audited farm plans. . . .

Rural Contractors welcome new workplace safety reforms:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) says it welcomes the government’s newly announced workplace health and safety reforms.

“Both employers and employees have an important part to play in improving safety in the workplace,” says RCNZ president Steve Levet.

“Unfortunately, the attitude towards ensuring workplace safety is not universal in the agricultural scene and it can be a battle to get safety seen as a priority by every individual.”

He says rural contractors and their staff need to be as vigilant with maintaining their own safety in the workplace, as they are with maintaining their machinery. . .

Local yarn’s luxury fibre reaches US Vogue Knitters:

With the resurgence in hand knitting and all things handcrafted, a local yarn company is spinning a name for itself with its luxury natural fibre yarn product especially for hand knitting.

Wellington company, Woolyarns New Zealand, produces an exclusive range of luxury yarn brands for both the textile manufacturing and hand knitting markets internationally.

It is Woolyarns Zealana hand knitting yarn, that has now attracted the attention of Vogue Knitting USA magazine’s Chief Editor. . .

Friday’s answers


Andrei, Tiffany and Rob provided Thursday’s questions which earns my thanks.

Tiffany and Rob win an electronic chocolate roulade for stumping us all, whether Andrei also did depends on how he marks Alwyn’s answers.

The roulades can be claimed by leaving the answers below.

Alwyn, I did the history post a few days ago and didn’t check it before answering.

Dairying is diversification


Labour’s initial response to the whey protein contamination was restrained but the restraint didn’t last long.

During Question Time yesterday David Parker reminded us that his party doesn’t like dairying.

Hon David Parker: Does he agree with the article in the Washington Post on 7 August that the botulism issue highlights New Zealand’s reliance on dairy exports?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, you did not need the botulism issue to highlight the importance of the dairy industry to New Zealand. I must say that the dairy industry deserves some support, despite New Zealand talking for 20 or 30 years about being too reliant on commodities. The dairy industry has performed better than the fashion industry, the IT industry, the wine industry, and the film industry, and it has injected billions of dollars of extra income into this economy in the last decade. We think that is not a bad performance.

Hon David Parker: Given that over the last 5 years under National, New Zealand’s reliance upon dairying has increased and the latest jobs statistics show a further decline in manufacturing employment, how can he deny that he has failed to rebalance and diversify the export sector despite his promise to do so?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the member may well know, it is not really a matter of whether Governments can just pick to have another industry. New Zealand has 30 years of experience of trying to do that, and how it has turned out is that we are very good at some things, such as the production of protein and high-value niche manufacturing, and those are the growing parts of the economy. Labour thinks it is good at government, and it decided to grow the Government part of the economy. Well, it turned out that that does not work very well.

This week’s food health scare, made worse by Fonterra’s response, has reinforced just how reliant we are on dairying.

It would be better if our economy was more diversified but Rob Hosking points out that diversification is a slogan not a policy.

He also points out that dairying is diversification.

Forty years ago we depended on the produce of one animal in one market – sheep in Britain.

Successive governments tried various ways to foster a variety of industries, without success, but dairying has grown without any government initiatives.

Farmers have made the most of New Zealand’s natural advantages to respond to international market signals driven by growing global demand for protein by producing, and selling more milk.

The export income and economic growth which has resulted from that has made a significant contribution to helping the country through the global financial crisis.

We would have done even better had we been producing lots more of whatever else the world wants and is prepared to pay for.

A broader economic base would make the country stronger but Labour’s failed strategy of bigger government wouldn’t.

Southland happy


The Southland Times says a dark cloud has been lifted with news the Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter will remain open and further job cuts are “unlikely“.

The smelter’s immediate future was secured through the signing of an electricity agreement between New Zealand Aluminium Smelters and Meridian Energy after 12 months of negotiations.

The deal came after the Government gave the smelter a $30 million one-off payment.

NZAS chairman Brian Cooper said the previous electricity contract had included price increases which threatened the future of the smelter in the face of falling aluminium prices and the strong New Zealand dollar.

The new deal is until 2030, but the smelter can terminate the deal from January 2017 if it gives 15 months’ notice.

“The clouds have lifted over Invercargill today, both literally and metaphorically,” Cooper said, alluding to the fact the smelter would remain open for at least three more years. . .

The Opposition which has been calling for the government ‘to do something’ is of course critical of the deal but Finance Minister Bill English explains:

“This is a one-off incentive payment to help secure agreement on the revised contract because of the importance of the smelter to the stability of the New Zealand electricity market,” Mr English says. “It provides medium term certainty for Southland and New Zealand.”

This deal protects jobs in the short term.

It is also a $30 million counter to claims from the opposition that the government doesn’t care about the regions.

Independent review essential


Fonterra has announced its board will conduct an independent review of the contaminated whey debacle.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson today announced an independent review of the Co-operative’s performance at the time of, and following, the manufacture of the affected whey protein concentrate.

“Firstly, I need to say how deeply concerned everyone at Fonterra is for the anxiety that has been created by this issue. On behalf of our Board, I apologise to mums, dads and caregivers for any confusion and concern.

“Over the past week, the Fonterra Board has been frequently updated by our management team, and I have kept our Shareholders’ Council and our farmers regularly informed of the unfolding situation.

“I am confident that Theo and his team have made the right decisions and are continuing to do everything they can, as quickly as they can, in what has been a complex issue.

“They have placed public health and safety above all else, made tough calls and put Fonterra’s full weight behind resolving the situation. As a farmer co-operative, this is how we expect our management team to act. We have a set of core values and two of them centre around our co-operative spirit and doing what’s right, and I have been impressed to see these in action over the past week.

He might have been impressed but few if any others were and one of the factors which contributed to the poor impression was the chair’s absence from the public.

Dealing with the contamination was an operational matter which is the CEO’s responsibility but reputation risk is a governance matter and the chair’s responsibility.

When something as potentially serious as this happens the chair should front up to explain what’s happened, how it happened and what’s being done about it.

Mr Wilson said the Board’s priority has been to support the Fonterra management team in managing the issue, to ensure governments, customers and the public are kept informed.

“The business is now nearing the final stages of getting the issue under control and the focus will soon shift from operations to reviewing exactly what happened.

“There are serious lessons that need to be learnt from this, and that is why, in addition to the operational investigation our Chief Executive has already committed to, the Board will be conducting a comprehensive formal review of its own.”

The review will be led by the Independent Directors of the Board of Fonterra, and will include independent expert advice. Mr Wilson said the scope and terms of reference will be finalised in the coming days, and will cover the period from the time the affected product was manufactured in May 2012 through to the recovery operation.

“My expectations are that the review will challenge every aspect of the business. We want to know how this happened, and why. We want to make sure it won’t happen again, and we want to take steps to build systems and procedures in Fonterra, and the global dairy supply chain, that will reduce the chance of this ever happening again.

“We will not shy away from the findings of the review. The global food industry is changing rapidly, along with the science and food technology that are needed to stay at the forefront in the dairy sector. We are absolutely committed to maintaining our leadership position, not just in the quality and safety of our products, but also in manufacturing, and the testing, processes and systems required to maintain the highest possible standards.”

Mr Wilson said the Board will also co-operate fully with any New Zealand Government or regulatory authority review or investigation.

This review is essential as a first step towards regaining trust in the company and its processes.

It must result in new protocols which ensure that the company isolates any product over which there are health concerns.

It must also result in a risk management strategy which includes a comprehensive communications policy.

The contamination scare was bad enough without inept communication making it worse.

August 9 in history


48 BC Battle of Pharsalus – Julius Caesar decisively defeated Pompey at Pharsalus and Pompey fled to Egypt.

378 Gothic War: Battle of Adrianople – A large Roman army led by Emperor Valens was defeated by the Visigoths. Valens and more than half his army were killed.

681 Bulgaria was founded as a Khanate on the south bank of the Danube.

1173 Construction of the Tower of Pisa began.

1483 Opening of the Sistine Chapel.

1631 John Dryden, English Poet Laureate, was born (d. 1700).

1814  Indian Wars: The Creek signed the Treaty of Fort Jackson, giving up huge parts of Alabama and Georgia.

1842  Webster-Ashburton Treaty was signed, establishing the United States-Canada border east of the Rocky Mountains.

1854  Henry David Thoreau published Walden.

1862  Battle of Cedar Mountain – General Stonewall Jackson narrowly defeated Union forces under General John Pope.

1877 Battle of Big Hole – A small band of Nez Percé Indians clash with the United States Army.

1892 Thomas Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph.

1896  Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologist, was born (d. 1980)

1899  P. L. Travers, Australian author, was born  (d. 1996).

1902  Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark were crowned King and Queen of the United Kingdom.

1908 The Great White Fleet – 16 American battleships and their escorts, under the command of Admiral C. S. Sperry – arrived in Auckland.

US 'Great White Fleet' arrives in Auckland

1922 Philip Larkin, English poet, was born (d. 1985).

1925  Kakori train robbery.

1930 George Nepia played his last test for the All Blacks.

George Nepia plays last All Blacks test

1936  Games of the XI Olympiad: Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the games becoming the first American to win four medals in one Olympiad.

1942 Mahatma Gandhi was arrested in Bombay by British forces, launching the Quit India Movement.

1942 Battle of Savo Island – Allied naval forces protecting their amphibious forces during the initial stages of the Battle of Guadalcanal are surprised and defeated by an Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser force.

1944  The United States Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council release posters featuring Smokey Bear for the first time.

1944 Continuation war: Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive, the largest offensive launched by Soviet Union against Finland during Second World War, ended in strategic stalemate. Both Finnish and Soviet troops at Finnish front dug to defensive positions, and the front remained stable until the end of the war.

1945  The atomic bomb, “Fat Man“, was dropped on Nagasaki. 39,000 people were killed outright.

1949 Jonathan Kellerman, American writer, was born.

1961 John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

John Key, in a visit to Brazil, 2013

1963  Whitney Houston, American singer and actress, was born (d. 2012).

1965  Singapore seceded from Malaysia and gained independence.

1965  A fire at a Titan missile base near Searcy, Arkansas killed 53 construction workers.

1969  Members of a cult led by Charles Manson brutally murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Polish actor Wojciech Frykowski, men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring, and recent high-school graduate Steven Parent.

1971  Internment in Northern Ireland: British security forces arrested hundreds of nationalists and detain them without trial in Long Kesh prison. Twenty people died in the riots that followed.

1974  Richard Nixon became the first President of the United States to resign from office. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, became president.

1977  The military-controlled Government of Uruguay announced that it will return the nation to civilian rule through general elections in 1981 for a President and Congress.

1993  The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan lost a 38-year hold on national leadership.

1999 Russian President Boris Yeltsin fired his Prime Minister, Sergei Stepashin, and for the fourth time fired his entire cabinet.

1999  The Diet of Japan enacted a law establishing the Hinomaru and Kimi Ga Yo as the official national flag and national anthem.

2001  US President George W. Bush announced his support for federal funding of limited research on embryonic stem cells.

2006 – At least 21 suspected terrorists were arrested in the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot in the UK.

2007  Emergence of the Financial crisis of 2007-2008 when a liquidity crisis resulted from the Subprime mortgage crisis.

Sourced from NZ History Online &  Wikipedia

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