Word of the day

September 18, 2013

Abducent – turning away; bearing away from; push from; drive from or apart; drawing away, as by the action of a muscle; pertaining to a movement away from the median line of the body;  a small motor nerve supplying the lateral rectus muscle of the eye.

Rural round-up

September 18, 2013

Indonesia relaxes beef import rules:

Beef exports to Indonesia should take off again shortly, according to the Meat Industry Association.

The Indonesian Government has signalled it is willing to lower its trade barriers and allow in more beef imports to ease soaring domestic beef prices in the country caused by the lack of supply.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie says the import quota system had resulted in a massive reduction in the amount of beef New Zealand was sending to Indonesia over the last three years.

Beef volumes had dropped to about 20% of 2010 levels, he says, with a lost value of about $150 million a year. . .

Vital talks for sheep, beef sector – Mike Petersen:

Over the past two weeks farmer representatives from the world’s major sheep-meat and beef-producing countries have had their annual catch-ups as Australia hosted the Tri-Lamb Group and the Five Nations Beef Alliance meetings.

Between them these two groups are responsible for almost two-thirds of the world’s sheep-meat exports and about half the world’s beef exports.

New Zealand is a founding member of the two groups through the organisation owned and run by farmers – Beef + Lamb NZ. The reason, of course, is that for NZ sheep and beef farmers, trade is our lifeblood. . .

Taxpayers turn US farmers into fat cats with subsidies – David J. Lynch & Alan Bjerga:

A Depression-era program intended to save American farmers from ruin has grown into a 21st-century crutch enabling affluent growers and financial institutions to thrive at taxpayer expense.

Federal crop insurance encourages farmers to gamble on risky plantings in a program that has been marred by fraud and that illustrates why government spending is so difficult to control.

And the cost is increasing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last year spent about $14 billion insuring farmers against the loss of crop or income, almost seven times more than in fiscal 2000, according to the Congressional Research Service. . . . (Hat tip Whaleoil).

Wine born of ‘special piece of dirt’ – Timothy Brown:

Central Otago winery Akarua won the champion wine of show award at the Romeo Bragato Wine Awards in Blenheim last month. Reporter Timothy Brown met winemaker Matt Connell and vineyard manager Mark Naismith to see what is special about Akarua’s wine.

Hidden in the rolling hills of Bannockburn, off the twisting tarseal of Cairnmuir Rd, lies the Akarua vineyard.

A 50ha expanse of north-facing hillside and terraces is planted with pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay grapes.

Or as winemaker Matt Connell puts it – ”a very special piece of dirt”. . . .

SealesWinslow feed mill in production:

SealesWinslow’s upgraded Wanganui stock feed mill is up and running following a multi-million redevelopment.

The animal nutrition producer has celebrated the new site with a quick sales win, supplying 1350 tonne feed to keep dairy cows in peak condition en route by boat to China.

SealesWinslow General Manager, Graeme Smith, says the site puts the company in the box seat to better serve its existing customer base of dairy, sheep and beef farmers in the Taranaki, and a rapidly expanding new customer group from the Wanganui, Manawatu, East Coast and Wairarapa regions. . .

Best new honey bee links – Raymond Huber:

1. The bee and its place in history: article by Claire Preston, author of new book, Bee.

The bee is the only creature on the planet that is a true creative artisan. It gathers materials and transforms them to make not only architecture but food.– Claire Preston

2. The Trouble With Beekeeping in the Anthropocene: summary of Time Magazine’s feature on bees.

We are a species that increasingly has omnipotence without omniscience. – Bryan Walsh . .

Two new awards launched at the third annual Marlborough Wine Show :

Continuing to showcase the next level of the Marlborough story, the Marlborough Wine Show has launched two new awards.

In an effort to reward producers who consistently produce outstanding wines, the Marlborough Museum Legacy Award will be awarded to a wine company for three outstanding vintages of one wine within a ten year period.

The second new award, the Award for Vineyard Excellence has been developed to acknowledge the vineyard team from grower and viticulturist to all others involved and will awarded to the highest scoring single vineyard wine. . .

Can you crack the code?

September 18, 2013

Britain’s GCHB has launched a code cracking challenge to recruit the next generation of brilliant minds who will help protect the country against cyber attacks.

The unusual recruitment process launched by Britain’s listening post will challenge applicants to crack a series of cryptic codes.

EntitledCan You Find It?‘, the brain teaser consists of 29 blocks of five letters which candidates have to decipher into five answers.

The answers then lead the applicant to an online ‘treasure hunt’ which hopefuls have six weeks to complete. . .

If you’re stumped (as I am), the reader who gave me the tip-off also pointed to  the cheat sheet code cracking for dummies, which might help.

PPTA puts politics before pupils

September 18, 2013

The PPTA is ideologically opposed to charter schools and is putting politics before pupils:

The PPTA’s promise to isolate charter schools has been labelled as being on par with apartheid.

The union’s junior vice president Hazel McIntosh says it’s considering a boycott on the new schools, going so far as to refuse to partake in sports matches with them. . .

What is the union saying – that it would stop members from participating in inter-school activities when the school had made the decision to take part?

What is that teaching the children to whom teachers should be providing a positive example?

ACC consulting on levy reduction

September 18, 2013

ACC Minister Judith Collins is welcoming the announcement that the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is looking into dropping its average levy rates.

Today ACC starts its public consultation on levy rates for levies in the upcoming 2014/15 year.

Earlier this year, Ms Collins signalled $300 million worth of levy cuts for taxpayers for 2014/15. 

“These levy cuts reflect positive gains made by the corporation across all its activities,” Ms Collins says. 

“ACC’s role is to reduce injuries and to help the injured back to independence after their injury as this is best for them, their families and their communities. The Corporation’s investment team has been in place for 17 years and has a long record of returns above benchmarks.

“Earners, employers and motorists may pay less in levies in 2014/15 as a result of ACC’s solid performance.

“ACC also protects New Zealanders by placing a greater focus on evidence based injury prevention.

“When teamed with progress in client services, the possibility of lower levies shows excellent improvement in the balance between the quality of services and the price New Zealanders pay for it.”

Answers to FAQs on the proposals are here.

Submissions close on October 15th. Details on the proposals are here and include:

  • 17% decrease in the average Work levy, paid by employers and self-employed people
  • 15% decrease in the Earners’ levy, paid by everyone in the paid workforce
  • 15% decrease in the average Motor Vehicle levy, paid by motor vehicle owners.

These would mean significant savings for individuals and businesses, leaving more money in people’s pockets.

Federated Farmers is welcoming the proposals but also asking if it’s time decisions on ACC were removed from politicians:

“The proposed levies for 2014/15 is potentially good news for farmers and should save them hundreds of dollars each year, especially if they are employers as well,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers ACC spokesperson.

“From our perspective, the performance of ACC has jumped up a few notches over recent years. From the performance of its investments to getting people fit for work, it seems to be getting the mix right.

“While we farmers may work in one of the highest risk groups, at last, we are seeing an improved safety record over the past five years for dairy, beef and sheep farmers translate into lower proposed levies.

“One thing we will be watching closely is to ensure any cut to levies doesn’t shift the goal posts of entitlement when farmers need to claim. This must be from a more efficient ACC rather than chalking up accidental injuries as just the ‘wear and tear’ of being alive.

“Admittedly 2012/13 did see an increase in farming claims and costs of claims, but the levies are based on a five year rolling average and that measure is more stable. It is good that ACC is sending farmers the solid message that improved safety is good for the bottom line.

“That will lock in good behaviour because if our safety record does go south, then higher levies will be the result. It is in our hands as an industry to guard against this.

“So if the politicians do tick off ACC’s proposed levies the work account levies for pastoral farming should be cut by around 20 percent. The earner account levy is also proposed to be cut by 15 percent.

“Having politicians ultimately saying yay or nay sticks in my craw. You must ask why ACC is required to go first by the Minister and then Cabinet to get its levies signed-off when we don’t do that with the Official Cash Rate, medicines or even the price of a stamp.

“All Kiwis benefit from a well run and focused ACC; just look at the proposed 15 percent cut in the motor vehicle account average levy that will save $50.68.

“ACC is now researching the safety performance of car makes and models with a view to bringing in different levy rates based on four ‘bands’. It is this kind of innovation that tells me the time has come for it to have political independence for levy setting,” Ms Milne concluded.

Incentives work.

Initiatives which provide a relationship between risks and costs are a good idea.

GDT milk price up .3%

September 18, 2013

The GlobalDairyTrade price index increased .3% in this morning’s auction.

GDT Trade Weighted Index Changes

GDT 17.9

The price of anhydrous milk fat dropped 3.3%; butter increased 5.2%; butter milk powder was up 2.2%; cheddar increased 1.0%; milk protein concentrate was down .6%; rennet casein was down 4%; skim milk powder dropped 1.7% and whole milk powder was up by 1.1%.

Are we sailing?

September 18, 2013

It’s 7-1 to Emirates Team New Zealand vs Oracle in the America’s Cup with two races scheduled for this morning.

Team NZ needs just two more wins to take the trophy but forecast high winds could result in today’s races being postponed.

All fingers and toes are crossed for fair weather and of course two wins to Team NZ.

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