Word of the day

August 14, 2013

Culpon – a piece cut off; a fragment, shred, slice or strip.


Rural round-up

August 14, 2013

Ravensdown returns ‘unacceptable’ result – Tim Cronshaw:

Fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown is offloading loss-making Australian businesses to ensure there is no repeat of a pre-tax profit of $6 million made in the 2012-13 year ending May.

The ”unacceptable” result is down 88 per cent from $52m the previous year and the co-operative will be unable to pay farmer shareholders a rebate for the first time in 35 years.

Poor performing Australian investments and slower fertiliser sales during the drought contributed to the small profit alongside high urea prices and a consistently high dollar going against the co-operative’s policy of hedging long term. . .

Lab meat ‘no threat yet’ to NZ – Al Williams:

Laboratory-grown meat is the “stuff of science fiction” and a long way off from posing any threat, those involved in meat production in New Zealand say.

Industry reaction follows a taste test last week of hamburger grown in a laboratory.

Scientists at Maastricht University in the Netherlands developed the burger over five years, with hopes that lab-grown meat could eventually help feed the world and fight climate change.

The project had high-profile funding from Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, who gave €250,000 (NZ$450,000) towards the project, saying he was motivated by a concern for animal welfare. . .

Farming til the cows come home – Peter Watson:

You won’t hear Ted and Clare Ford complaining about getting up early in the morning to milk the cows and feed the calves.

They have been doing it for more than 40 years, still enjoy it and have no plans to stop.

“What else would I do,” says Mr Ford, a fit-looking 66-year-old who, with his wife, has been at the forefront of promoting dairying in the Nelson region.

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” . .

Sellers warned to identify irradiated tomatoes:

New Zealand businesses selling Australian irradiated tomatoes are being reminded they are obliged to label them as such.

The tomatoes are expected to be on sale in the country shortly, after Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye changed the import rules to allow in irradiated tomatoes from Australia earlier this year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has issued an advisory telling food businesses they must let consumers know the food they are purchasing is irradiated.

The ministry says the mandatory labelling statement must be on the food or close to the food at all points of sale. . .

Students help with animal progeny programme:

A new generation of budding famers is learning first-hand about genetic selection and animal performance.

Students at the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre at Koromiko farm in Wairarapa are helping with the sheep industry’s central progeny trial programme.

The programme aims to develop sheep selection tools to help farmers working on a variety of land types.

Koromiko farm manager Shayne Rankin said the students at the training centre are helping to monitor the performance of rams on hard hill country. . .

More on the trial at Koromiko here.

How bike bashing Rambro went feral then viral – Michael Daly:

A confrontation between a Nelson trail-bike rider and a belligerent ram is raising laughs around the world.

Nelson man Marty Todd posted video of the face-off, which the ram appears to win, on YouTube.

After being picked up on CNN and by Britain’s Mail Online, the YouTube posting has been viewed about 350,000 times.

It shows Mr Todd stopping when confronted by the animal, known to locals as ‘Rambro’, on a track through his rural property.

After a standoff lasting a few seconds the ram charges the bike. Mr Todd gets off and heads several metres up a side track, then returns to the bike, all the while being watched by the glowering ram. . .


Rural round-up

August 14, 2013

Ploughs Need Cigarette-Style Warning on Them:

In Holland the first beef burger without disturbing a cow has been eaten, globally governments intend to ban smoking and, in New Zealand, a soil scientist is campaigning to outlaw the plough.

World authority on soil science, Dr John Baker, says ploughing or conventional tillage contributes to global warming, crop failure, soil erosion and eventually famine in areas of the world.

Ploughing is like invasive surgery. It releases carbon into the atmosphere which add to global warming and depletes the micro-organisms which enrich the soil.

Over time tillage leads to soil erosion, crop failure and drought.

Dr Baker, who has a MAgrSc in soil science and Ph.D in agricultural engineering from Massey University, says the single greatest challenge facing the world today is feeding the extra 50 percent population by the year 2050. . .

Land monitoring critically important – Sally Rae:

When it comes to farming, Barrie Wills is an advocate for striking the right balance between conservation and production.

Brought up on a Timaru farm and now living in Alexandra, Dr Wills has spent more than 30 years as a research scientist.

He was initially involved with soil conservation control under the then Ministry of Works and Development water and soil division, and then pastoral management, revegetation and erosion control in semi-arid and high-country environments under Landcare Research and AgResearch, until 2004. . . .

Paramedic up in air, on road – Sally Rae:

Annabel Taylor feels privileged to serve the rural community.

As a paramedic based at Taieri, Miss Taylor (36) works for both the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter and the Dunedin St John ambulance service.

She was recently awarded a $3000 Rural Women New Zealand/Access scholarship, which will help cover her expenses while she studies for a year-long postgraduate certificate in specialty care, advanced paramedic practice, at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua next year. . .

Rules push over feeding pigs food waste – Ruth Grundy:

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) spokesman says the ministry has been using various means to educate backyard pig farmers about their biosecurity obligations and the precautions they must take before feeding food waste to pigs.

MPI import and export animals manager Howard Pharo was responding to questions put to the ministry last month by Courier Country and raised by New Zealand Pork Industry Board chairman Ian Carter and lifestyleblock.co.nz website editor Kate Brennan. . .

Greenshell New Zealand Takes Home Supreme Award at American Chamber of Commerce Awards:

Greenshell New Zealand proved just how strong its mussel business is at last week’s American Chamber of Commerce DHL Express Success & Innovation Awards, scooping up two prestigious awards.

Held at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland, the family-owned business was recognised and rewarded for exports of its innovative products under the award-winning Ikana brand.

Presented by Prime Minister John Key, Greenshell New Zealand won both The Exporter of the Year to the USA Award from the $500,000 to $5 million category and The Supreme Award 2013. . .

Fishery officers use Facebook to catch paua poacher:

A Rotorua man has been sentenced to 200 hours community service after pleading guilty to paua poaching charges.

On 31 July 2013, 34 year old unemployed man Raymond Major appeared in the Rotorua District Court on charges under Section 232 of the Fisheries Act 1996 relating to the illegal sale of paua.

Major was initially identified after offering both Paua and Kina for sale through his Facebook page. A Fishery Officer was then deployed to make contact with the defendant and arrange to buy seafood from him. . .


Endangered species

August 14, 2013

Forest and Bird does a lot of good work to protect endangered species.

They also have a propensity for protesting against development.

Some West Coasters have had enough of that in their patch.

A group travelled to Wellington to protest against F&B’s continued opposition to Bathurst’s Denniston Mine.

One hoarding read: Westcoasters endangered by Forest and Bird.

This might not be the only opposition F&B faces.

Go West Coast is investigating legal avenues for opposing the opposers.

Chairman Brent Oldham said that the four and a half year resource consent process has obviously cost Bathurst considerable time and expense. GWC is concerned that the longer final approval takes, the more financial and time pressure is being placed on Bathurst – and he wonders just how much more they can take.

“If, at the end of this, Bathurst walk away from this project and cite on-going vexatious litigation from Forest and Bird as being the primary reason for this, then we believe Forest and Bird need to be held accountable. To this end, we are investigating whether a group claim could be initiated.

As part of their access arrangement to the Denniston Plateau, Bathurst Resources has committed to pay $22m to the Department of Conservation to be used on predator and pest controls in the Kahurangi National Park. It seems incredible to us that Forest and Bird seem prepared to risk the single biggest investment  by a private company to the Kahurangi National Park in return for the use of 106 hectares of 2,400 hectare Denniston Plateau that will otherwise, in all likelihood, never have a cent spent on it.

Forest and Bird’s constitution lists advocation of the destruction of introduced species harmful to New Zealand’s flora and fauna as a primary objective, yet their continuing appeals, in this instance, could be shown to contradict this objective.” . . .

The economy and social fabric of the West Coast will be boosted if the mine goes ahead.

The environmental impact will be mitigated.

The jobs and downstream work the mine would bring, the social impact of that, and $22m of pest and predator control seems very good compensation for disturbing a very small area albeit one with conservation value.

 


If . . .

August 14, 2013

If you could change three things in New Zealand, what would they be?


Tougher stance, fewer workers

August 14, 2013

A tougher stance on employees under the influence of drugs or alcohol is shrinking the rural labour pool.

Rural sector employers say they need to take a united stand against employing those who choose to work under the influence alcohol or drugs, putting safety and the business at risk.

However, the outcome of adopting such a stance has been to shrink their already limited labour pool, they say.

Employers across all sectors are becoming more vigilant about drug and alcohol testing in the workplace, as well as pre-employment testing, because they have a duty under the Health and Safety in Employment Act to provide a safe workplace. . .

People working under the influence of drugs or alcohol aren’t just a danger to themselves they can put other people vehicles, machinery and equipment at risk too.

Landcorp Farming Ltd national recruitment and training manager Al McCone said the state-owned enterprise had had a drug and alcohol policy in place since 2007.

Landcorp Farming Ltd, one of the country’s largest farmers, strictly enforced its alcohol policy and was looking to extend its drug policy, Mr McCone said.

Pre-employment drug testing was already mandatory and at present it was consulting staff about expanding its workplace testing to include random testing, he said.

Staff were required to take on many responsibilities on farm.

This included dealing with animals and machinery – a potentially ”hazardous” mix, he said.

”We need people in full control of their faculties.” . . .

But not everyone wants to be in control of their faculties.’

Drug use seemed to be a factor making it difficult for some people to get work, he said.

”As soon as they find out we have an entry drug test they will hang up [the phone].

”It’s reducing the population we can draw our workers from.” . . .

DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said she believed more farmers were carrying out pre-employment and on-farm drug testing. . . .

A united stand was ”the ideal”, and showed there was ”no place for drugs on farms”.

However, the shortage of labour meant it posed a ”challenge”.

Work on dairy farm involved working with other people and with a food product. Employees must be heedful of health and safety and have good skills, attitude and concentration, she said.

To attract and keep the best employees and keep drugs and alcohol out of the workplace employers had to build a reputation as an ”employer of choice”, provide ”great” working conditions and encourage staff to be involved in the business, Ms Muir said.

Contracts, systems, policies and procedures around drug-testing must be sound and adhered to by the employer, as well as the employee, she said.

”If you say you have random testing then you must carry out random testing.

”Be aware, even if someone tests positive, there is still a process that must be followed,” Ms Muir said.

Not following the process can put employers in the wrong, even when they’re right about staff trying to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The owner of a food processing business in a small town was sure one of his staff was using drugs and it was endangering him at work. He called the police who arrested and charged the worker but he was let off on a technicality.

He applied for a benefit and was told he’d have to have a stand-down period. He then took action against his former employer for wrongful dismissal, the employer lost and had to employ the man again.

The worker carried on taking drugs, endangering himself and putting the food he was processing at risk.

The employer was concerned about the bad example it set for other workers and the risks to his business and was about to sack the worker when he left.


Fonterra caught by non-tariff barriers

August 14, 2013

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have banned products from most Fonterra plants .

Trade Minister Tim Groser’s office today confirmed the three former Soviet states had banned all Fonterra dairy products, despite none of the potentially affected product being shipped there.

Dairy exports in the three countries are worth $133 million a year.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said officials were working to rectify the ban.

“We’ve got our ambassador from Moscow working around the clock with Russian authorities to provide them with the information they are demanding,” he said. . .

Fonterra confirmed it sent none of the potentially affected why protein concentrate (WPC80) to these countries and no Fonterra products sent there used the affected WPC80 as an ingredient. . .

This is a non-tariff barrier.

It’s almost certain that Sri Lanka’s recall of Fonterra products is too.

Sri Lankan test results for agricultural chemical Dicyandiamide in Fonterra milk products were “off the charts” in comparison to other “extensive” testing according to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.
 
Officials in Colombo have ordered a recall after they say DCD, a nitrate inhibitor used in fertiliser, was found in two batches of imported milk powder.

Fonterra disputes DCD traces were present in the product in Sri Lanka and says testing regimes are flawed. . .

This is disappointing when so much effort has been put into getting a toe-hold in these markets but non-tariff barriers can be just as difficult to combat as blatant protectionism.

 


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