Word of the day

December 16, 2013

Bogglish – to be uncertain or  doubtful about something; to be a wee bit skittish.


Rural round-up

December 16, 2013

Knowledge key to future of station in high country – Ruth Grundy:

For Balmoral Station owner Andrew Simpson knowledge is key to making the best decisions for the future.

”If you don’t have answers you can’t plan your future”You have to know as much as you can, to understand things, to be able to make clever decisions.”

Over the years the Simpsons have welcomed scientists and researchers of all persuasions on to the unique property.

Balmoral was home to the oldest agricultural trial site in the country, forestry crown research institute Scion had been conducting trials on the property for the past 20 years and this included New Zealand’s biggest dryland forestry trial, he said. . .

NZ velvet highly rated by Chinese – Allison Rudd,:

Deer velvet – still fuzzy and fresh from being cut – is spread on the table for judging at the New Zealand Velvet and Trophy Antler Competition at Invercargill’s Ascot Park Hotel.

Chinese scholar Quankai Wang, who is attending his third competition, likes what he sees. He pulls banknotes from his pocket and offers to buy a specimen, much to the amusement of competition officials.

”New Zealand deer velvet is number one. It is the best quality,” Prof Wang says. . .

Country inspires musical output – Sally Rae;

Craig Adams has always loved music.

Years ago, while working in a wool store, the guitar used to come out and there would be a sing-along. But while people told him he had a good voice, Mr Adams (41) never had any training.

Fast forward to now and music has gone from being ”a bit of a lark” to being semi-professional, including the recent release of his debut album Country High. . .

Swarms keep beekeepers on their toes:

Beekeepers in the North Island are scratching their heads – and ducking for cover – due to the exceptionally high rate of swarming going on.

Swarming is one of the ways bees reproduce – with the queen bee leaving the hive – along with about half of the bees to establish a new colony, before a new queen bee emerges in the hive.

Plant & Food Research bee scientist Mark Goodwin said swarms were annoying for beekeepers as they lost half their bees and honey production dropped but the environmental conditions this year had been perfect for it. . .

All Health Care Is Local, Part 1: Uganda –  Eric Silfen,MD:

The late Tip O’Neill, former speaker of the U.S. House, coined the phrase “all politics is local,” by which he meant that politicians become successful by addressing the everyday concerns of the voters who elected them to office. In the same way, I believe that many of the “global” healthcare challenges we face can best be addressed by developing affordable, accessible and cost-effective solutions that satisfy patients’ needs. Simple solutions can offer dramatic results, and local implementation means solutions are in tune with cultural preferences and economic realities. In other words, when it comes to improving people’s lives, all healthcare is local.

Nowhere are opportunities to deliver simple, and locally relevant, solutions more evident than in sub-Saharan Africa, in a country like Uganda. Here, the non-governmental organization Imaging the World (ITW) is working to offer affordable, accessible and quality maternal medical services through a revolutionary concept that integrates technology, training and the community. ITW is making a significant impact on the lives of women and their families in rural villages where women have limited access to healthcare throughout their entire lives. . . .

Homebound: Despite their absence, rural women impress through work:

ISLAMABAD: Nothing can curtain natural talent and skill, and the work of homebound women of Pakistan is a testament to that.

The work of indigenous women artisans went on display at an exhibition titled, ‘Stitching and Chai’ here on Saturday promoting the richness and splendour embedded in the heritage of the four provinces of Pakistan.

The exhibition was organised by USAID’s Entrepreneurs Project at the Centre for Arts, Culture and Dialogue, Kuch Khaas as a part of its project to implement cluster-based Value Chain approach through local organisations, private sector, government agencies and other relevant actors for capacity building. . .

Boosting beef without borrowing:

STEPHEN AND Jane Hayes run 348 sheep and 734 cattle on their 583ha property near Kaeo, just north of the Bay of Islands. For the past three years they’ve been Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Far North monitor farm during which time they’ve lifted gross farm revenue $43,850, not to mention having better pasture covers and stock condition across the farm.

Stocking rate’s been lifted from 8.5SU/ha in 2011 to 9.7SU/ha. That’s despite initial concerns that stock weren’t getting enough to grow properly as it was in 2011.

“I didn’t feel we were doing a good enough job of feeding the animals we had without adding on more,” Jane commented to the field day. . .


Three MIE candidates on two boards

December 16, 2013

Three Meat Industry excellence group candidates have won election on to the Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms’ boards.

MEAT INDUSTRY EXCELLENCE (MIE) endorsed candidates Dan Jex-Blake of Gisborne and Richard Young of Gore have been elected to the board of SFF.

The results of the election which closed on Friday (December 13) were: Richard Young, 36,155,094;

Dan Jex-Blake, 25,511,166, David Shaw, 19,435,482.

This follows Alliance shareholders also voting for a change last week with Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group-backed candidate Don Morrison, Gore, elected by a narrow margin.

The Silver Fern voter turnout was 26.76% of eligible voters, up from 16.70% in the previous election in 2010. . .

Voter turnout was also higher in the Alliance election.

Approximately forty-nine percent (48.83%) of eligible votes were exercised in the directors’ election.

Alliance Group Chairman Murray Taggart said that the forty-nine per cent turnout for the directors’  election was significantly improved over recent years and reflected the interest in the issue. . . .

In 2012 the turnout for the directors election was 25% compared with 42% in 2011 and 30% in 2010. . .

There is discontent in the industry and a mood for change but there are no easy answers.

Jason Miller, who lost his seat on the Alliance board to Morrison, was elected by the Meat Industry Action Group with a mandate for change in 2007.

Little has changed since then.

 


Another side of the foreign ownership story

December 16, 2013

Federated Farmers Dairy chair Willy Leferink writes:

. . . In recent weeks, I have found myself in the NZ Herald after the sale of a farm that gave me a taste of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).  What I found after the event is that the OIO releases approvals at the end of the month, after the month in which approval is granted.  This fact and the calls it generated came as a bolt out of the blue.

Okay, what we sold our farm for seems like a lot of money at face value but just like any home owner, you have something called a mortgage to repay first.  While there is a sum left over my wife and I are not boarding the next plane for the Sunshine Coast, which seems the path for many small to medium sized businesspeople after selling.  Instead, we are pouring a great deal of the surplus into more sustainable farming particularly wintering barns.  I am putting my money where my mouth is because I am convinced these are a solution to nutrient loss; especially Nitrogen.  I am not saying it is ’the’ solution but one of many coming on-stream. It’s a personal opinion, but for the farms I have interests in, I believe these barns are the right thing by our animals and the environment.  I can only hope the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan evolves to reflect this and other innovative ways of farming.  My wintering barns are also a solution any capital gains tax would rob me a slice of for productive reinvestment.  If we strip away the rhetoric, a capital gains tax is a penalty on success and I’m not sure that’s a good message to send to society.

While I don’t have an issue with public disclosure over the sale of my farm, it would have been nice to have been told when.  As it was, I was caught on the hop at the Australian Dairy Farmers conference.  If it caught me on the hop I imagine it caught the Barilla family too.  It means their first taste of New Zealand was not Kia Ora but a media scrum.  Is this how we want to treat one of the largest family owned food companies in the World?  The very people who can open doors for our exports. My excellent sharemilkers remain on the farm but are now partners with a multinational family owned food business that started in 1877.  There’s is a ton of upsides for New Zealand here.

Being an immigrant myself we are not helping ourselves when politicians play the ‘johnny foreigner’ card.  On the same day the OIO revealed the sale of my farm, the Auckland house of former Hanover Finance director Mark Hotchin was sold to a foreign-born businessman for $39 million.  Where are Phil Goff and his rural land Bill on that?

Opposition policies, pandering to emotion rather than facts, would add costs and reduce benefits, if they allowed the deal to go through at all.

OIO rules are already rigorous.

A capital gains tax would divert money which could otherwise be used to improve productivity and/or environmental practices.

Under the existing, tough rules, the Leferinks got good money for their farm and they are putting it into improvements on another property.

The sharemilkers are still on the farm, sharing in the profits they help generate.

New Zealand has more inward investment.

This is a win-win, opposition policies would make it lose-lose.


Peter O’Toole: 2.8.32 – 14.12.13

December 16, 2013

Irish actor Peter O’Toole has died.

O’Toole began his acting career as an exciting young talent on the British stage and his Hamlet in 1955 at the Bristol Old Vic, was critically acclaimed.

He hit international stardom when Sir David cast him as British adventurer T E Lawrence, the British World War I soldier and scholar who led an Arab rebellion against the Turks.

Playwright Noel Coward once said that if O’Toole had been any prettier, they would have had to call the film “Florence of Arabia”.

Lawrence of Arabia earned him the first of eight Oscar nominations, with his second coming for 1964’s Becket, in which he played King Henry II to Richard Burton’s Thomas Becket. . .

O’Toole played Henry again in 1968 in The Lion in Winter, for which he received his third Oscar nod, opposite Katharine Hepburn.

His five other nominations were for Goodbye, Mr Chips in 1968, The Ruling Class in 1971, 1980’s The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year [1982] and finally for Venus in 2006. . . .


It’s about integrity not politics

December 16, 2013

Len Brown says he’s staying.

. . . And while he conceded there were a significant number of people who did not support him, he insisted: “The overwhelming sentiment, no matter what they think of me, is ‘for goodness sake get on with the job’.”

A Herald poll contradicts this:

Should Len Brown remain mayor of Auckland?

9750–9800 votes: Yes 28%    No 72%

But that’s not a scientific poll and even if it was it would be unlikely to influence him.
He’s expected to face tough questions from his council today but what can they do, especially when party politics is likely to play a part?
How would you feel if a right-wing politician secretly took $39,000 from a casino company to cheat on his wife while he was lobbying to have the law changed to benefit that casino company and then lied about it to the public?
Well, my reaction to that would be that the hypothetical right-wing politician was a disgusting, corrupt untrustworthy crook and that he’d disgraced his office and should resign. Which means – since I think politicians should be held to the same standard irrespective of their political allegiances – that I think Len Brown is disgusting, corrupt etc and should resign.
This is about integrity not politics but while Brown’s actions  breached the council code of conduct they were immoral rather than illegal.
He’s not going to jump and it would be very hard to push him when he’s driven by politics rather than integrity.

Holistic farming needed to meet world food demand

December 16, 2013

A holistic approach to farming is required to introduce sustainability into the food and agriculture (F&A) equation, a new report from Rabobank concludes.

Fundamentally, this would entail a shift in farmers’ focus away from yield maximisation and towards input optimisation. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and technological innovations tailored towards the specific issues within a farming category are pivotal to improving best practices, and impact the way farm input companies view their business models.

“Without a holistic approach towards feeding the world, the global agriculture industry’s capacity to keep up with demand will be stretched at the expense of the environment”, states Rabobank analyst, Dirk Jan Kennes. “A strategy that includes resolving structural resource imbalances, optimising F&A supply chain efficiency and reducing waste within the global F&A complex would ease the pressure on agricultural yield improvement and would help align the interests of the different stakeholders”.

Rabobank has identified the over-application of fertilisers and inefficient water usage as critical to a step change shift in farmers’ perception of best practice. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of global water demand and technologies to optimise irrigation systems will be key to future water conservation. Similarly, an integrated approach is needed to optimise farm inputs to enable farmers to apply at the right time, place and rate; subsequently reducing the environmental impact and initial cost. Technological innovations in both areas are being developed as higher farm input prices incentivise farm input companies to spend more on research and development (R&D).

Every year, an estimated 1 billion tonnes of produce is wasted along global F&A supply chains. In addition to reducing waste, it is crucial that all links in the supply chain work together to solve the food supply problem. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Rabobank has identified four different farming groups – agro-enterprises, family farms, smallholders and agricultural adventurers – which each require a unique approach to improving best practices. Such methods include:

• Soil conditioning for those farms which operate with less crop rotation
• High-tech innovations including accurate soil-water sensors and GPS technology for variable planting density
• Research, education and farming recommendations through less intensive ICT-services
• Land transformation and infrastructure through collaborations of funders, agronomic consultants and contract farmers

“The ability to gather a broad set of data on climatic conditions, soil conditions and crop conditions transfers farming into more of a science”, continues Kennes. “Turning this data into farming practices requires intense cooperation between all partners in the agricultural production chain for which product form, application technology and farm operations need to be fully aligned”.

Good farmers have always taken a long-term view, regarding themselves as stewards of the land with a responsibility to pass it on to the next generation in as good, and preferably better, condition than they found it.

However, sometimes it’s only in hindsight that mistakes are recognised.

Ensuring there’s enough food to meet the increasing demand in a sustainable way requires good science and best practice in all links of the production and distribution chain.


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