Word of the day

November 22, 2013

Uitwaaien (Dutch) – to walk in the wind; to take a brief break in the country side to clear one’s head.


Rural round-up

November 22, 2013

Farmers welcome the PCE’s water contribution:

Federated Farmers has welcomed the report of Dr Jan Wright, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, entitled, Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution and is offering to help ground truth some of the modelled assumptions.

“Federated Farmers has consistently said we need good science to underpin policy decision making,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers environment spokesperson.

“As Dr Wright conceded at the launch water is complex and the modelling arguably represents the worst case.  It does however highlight the cumulative effects of land use intensity upon water.  It represents our future if we do absolutely nothing but that is not a future we’d like to be a part of.

“Farmers understand there are some challenges but we mustn’t forget that New Zealand has some of the best quality water on earth.  There is also enormous resource and work being put into finding practical workable solutions and we have made some good progress. . .

Time and tide waits for no man or woman – Jeanette Maxwell:

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Zambia for the inaugural World Farming Organisation Women’s committee meeting, the international day of Rural Women and the Zambian National Farmers Union conference.

This has much resonance for the issues we will be discussing over the next two days.

Travelling to a country like Zambia gave me an opportunity to see how farmers do business in a developing nation.  A working farm there can be anything from 10 hectares to many thousands of hectares.

In Zambia I found that 62 percent of all farmers are women.  Women also make up a large share of the labour force and much of the weeding and crop maintenance is done by women.

For many farmers the land is transferred by succession and while there are opportunities to buy land you do need to know the right people.   In Zambia, succession is seen as being critical for the continuation of farming and for feeding the nation.   Sounds familiar. . . .

New DOC boss signals cultural shift:

Farming leaders are applauding a cultural shift signalled by new Department of Conservation (DOC) boss Lou Sanson.

Mr Sanson, who took over as DOC chief executive about two months ago, told the Federated Farmers’ national council in Wellington on Tuesday that DOC would be focusing more on partnership arrangements with farmers and other community and commercial interests, including fishing and mining.

He said Canterbury’s Hakataramea Basin was an example of what he meant by a cultural change for DOC, with a lot of land taken back into its control through tenure review.

“We’ve also taken a lot of musterers’ huts. Generally a farmer 100 years ago put a poplar or a willow beside the hut to give him firewood for the hut,” Mr Sanson said. . .

Contest gives credit to sharemilking role – Sue O’Dowd:

New Zealand’s premier dairy farming contest can be traced to a Taranaki man who thought a sharemilkers’ competition would provide a window to show off their skills.

Murray Cross was a sharemilker at Ngaere when he suggested the Taranaki Sharemilkers Association should run a Sharemilker of the Year competition. At the time he and wife Ruth were on the farm his father, Sydney Hamilton Cross, had bought after he returned from World War II.

Murray Cross drew his inspiration for the competition from going through the process for a Nuffield scholarship. Although he was unsuccessful, he thought he could apply what he had learned to a competition in Taranaki for sharemilkers.   . .

Meat co-ops see obstacles to merger:

Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group, agree that further consolidation is needed in the meat industry.

But both big farmer-owned co-operatives see different obstacles in the way of the farmer campaign to merge the two co-ops as the starting point for forcing wider changes in the industry.

The Meat Industry Excellence group is frustrated at the failure of the major processors and exporters to agree on any reform measures after months of discussions. It is pushing a merger idea in co-op board elections currently underway.

However, Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart of Canterbury says it does not support the view that the co-operatives should be the main vehicle for consolidation and bear the costs. . .

Sustained crop returns for wheat and maize:

Digging a little deeper into the budget for grain fertiliser has valuable paybacks in terms of crop yields for maize and wheat, according to recent studies funded by Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

Trials were undertaken in Canterbury, Southland and Waikato in spring 2012 to evaluate the performance of standard urea against Ballance Agri-Nutrient’s SustaiN, which is urea coated with the urease inhibitor AGROTAIN®. Agrotain is a nitrogen stabiliser that has been proven to suppress ammonia volatilisation, delivering more nitrogen directly to the soil where it can contribute to plant growth.

The trials showed that the additional cost of $11/ha for SustaiN (applied at 100 kg N/ha) was readily recouped. . .

 


Friday’s answers

November 22, 2013

Andrei supplied Thursday’s questions and wins an electronic batch of meringues for stumping us all.

meringues

They can be collected by leaving the answers below.

 


The point of Landcorp

November 22, 2013

The poor return on assets which Landcorp produces each year raises the question of why the government is in the business of farming.

But there is a point to it as Bill English explained in answer to a question from Russel Norman:

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government is actually selling bits of Landcorp all the time. The member may not be aware of it but the point of Landcorp was to preserve lands and survey farms for the purposes of Treaty settlements. As Treaty settlements are executed, the Government is involved in selling bunches of five, six farms. I know that offends the Greens deeply because they think the Government should own all the farms and then shut them down, but, actually, we want to get on with Treaty settlements. Landcorp is buying and leasing farms as well.

The ability to use Landcorp farms in Treaty settlements is a strong argument for the company to continue as an SOE in the short to medium term.

Once Treaty settlements are completed it will be difficult to justify Landcorp’s continued state ownership.

The best plan would be for the farms to be gradually sold and the management arm could probably be sold off separately.

However, National has no plans to sell the company and has made it quite clear that any sale of any share of an SOE would be announced well in advance to allow the public to take that into consideration when voting.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, what is true is that when the National Party sets out to execute a policy that is challenging for the public, we make it quite transparent what we are going to do if we are elected, and we give the voters the chance to cast their votes knowing that those policies have been proposed. I would invite that member to set out just as transparently, and in detail before the election, the impact of his climate change policy on household costs so that voters have the chance to look at that.

We’d all be better able to cast intelligent votes if all parties were clear about the costs of their policies long before we cast our votes.


Coms staff better than polls

November 22, 2013

An interesting observation from Trans Tasman:

There is also an elephant in the room for Labour – around staff appointments. Usually when a party gets closer to Govt it has no difficulty hiring new communications staff. Most mornings, back in 1997-99, Labour MPs would trip over CVs shoved under the door by would-be spinmeisters. Same for National, 2006-08. But several luminaries of spin, not to mention a few Labour leaning press gallery types, have given David Cunliffe an “I’m flattered, maybe even a little curious, but no thanks” answer when approached.

This is probably a better pointer to next year’s election than iPredict, or any polls.

We can hope.

Which is why Cunliffe appointed his cousin to the job this week. No one else – well, no one who was any good – wanted the job.While Cunliffe says he recused himself from the selection process, we can probably put this claim in the same category as living in Herne Bay ‘cos of breastfeeding; helping create Fonterra; etc etc etc. Comms staff have to work closely with the party leader and if Cunliffe wasn’t involved in the appointment, it’s an extraordinary piece of negligence.

I don’t see anything wrong in hiring a relative for a position like media director and chief press secretary.

I do think it’s strange for a party leader to not be involved in the appointment process.


What would it do if it was a private company?

November 22, 2013

KiwiRail is asking the Government to help pay for the cost of replacing the broken-down Cook Strait ferry the Aratere.

The company has still not worked out what went wrong, but is adamant it has not cut corners on maintenance of the ferry which lost one of its propellors near Tory Channel on 5 November. . .

KiwiRail was one of the last Labour government’s most expensive mistakes.

Labour paid far more for the company than it needed to and a great deal more than it was worth.

It’s performance since it became an SOE has been dismal and now it’s asking for more taxpayer funds.

What would it do if it was a private company and was faced with an unexpected major expense?

This is an argument for privatisation – in part or in full.

Regardless of what led to the loss of the propeller, the taxpayer shouldn’t be adding to the already large sum of money it’s spent on the company.


November 22 in history

November 22, 2013

498 – Symmachus was elected Pope in the Lateran Palace, while Laurentius was elected Pope in Santa Maria Maggiore.

845 – The first King of all Brittany, Nominoe defeated the Frankish king Charles the Bald at the Battle of Ballon near Redon.

1307 – Pope Clement V issued the papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets.

1574 – Discovery of the Juan Fernández Islands off Chile.

1635 – Dutch colonial forces on Taiwan launched a pacification campaign against native villages, resulting in Dutch control of the middle and south of the island.

1718 –  British pirate Edward Teach ( “Blackbeard“) was killed in battle with a boarding party led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

1808  Thomas Cook, British travel entrepreneur, was born (d. 1892).

1812 – War of 1812: 17 Indiana Rangers were killed at the Battle of Wild Cat Creek.

1819  George Eliot, (Mary Ann Evans) British novelist, was born (d. 1880).

1830 – Charles Grey, (2nd Earl Grey), became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

1837 – Canadian journalist and politician William Lyon Mackenzie called for a rebellion against Great Britain in his essay “To the People of Upper Canada”, published in his newspaper The Constitution.

1869 – In Dumbarton, Scotland, the clipper Cutty Sark was launched – one of the last clippers ever to be built, and the only one still surviving to this day.

1890 Charles de Gaulle, President of France  was born (d. 1970).

1899 Hoagy Carmichael, American composer, was born (d. 1981).

1908 – The Congress of Manastir established the Albanian alphabet.

1913 – Benjamin Britten, British composer, was born (d. 1976).

1917 Jon Cleary, Australian author, was born (d 2010).

1928 – The premier performance of Ravel’s Boléro in Paris.

1932 – Robert Vaughn, American actor, was born.

1935 – The China Clipper took off from Alameda, California for its first commercial flight, reaching its destination, Manila, a week later.

1939 General Bernard Freyburg took command  of the British Expeditionary Force.

Freyberg takes command of NZ expeditionary force

1940 –  Following the initial Italian invasion, Greek troops counterattack into Italian-occupied Albania and capture Korytsa.

1943  Billie Jean King, American tennis player, was born.

1943 – Lebanon gained independence from France.

1954 – The Humane Society of the United States was founded.

1958  Jamie Lee Curtis, American actress, was born.

1963 – In Dallas, Texas, US President John F. Kennedy was killed and Texas Governor John B. Connally seriously wounded.

1963 – US Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States.

1967 – UN Security Council Resolution 242 is adopted by the UN Security Council, establishing a set of the principles aimed at guiding negotiations for an Arab-Israeli peace settlement.

1973 – The Italian Fascist organization Ordine Nuovo was disbanded.

1974 – The United Nations General Assembly granted the Palestine Liberation Organization observer status.

1975 –  Juan Carlos was declared King of Spain following the death of Francisco Franco.

1977 – British Airways started a regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.

1986 – Mike Tyson defeated Trevor Berbick to become youngest Heavyweight champion in boxing history.

1987 – Two Chicago television stations were hijacked by an unknown pirate dressed as Max Headroom.

1988 – The first prototype B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was revealed.

1989 – In West Beirut, a bomb exploded near the motorcade of Lebanese President Rene Moawad, killing him.

1990 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdrew from the Conservative Party leadership election, confirming the end of her premiership.

1995 – Toy Story was released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.

2002 – In Nigeria, more than 100 people were killed at an attack aimed at the contestants of the Miss World contest.

2004 – The Orange Revolution began in Ukraine, resulting from the presidential elections.

2005 – Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany.

2012 – Cease-fire began between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel after eight days of violence and 150 deaths.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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