Word of the day

January 29, 2014

Agerasia – the quality of not growing old; the absence of the signs of age; youthful appearance in someone/thing old.


Rural round-up

January 29, 2014

Cattle top NZ’s most dangerous farm animal list – Chris Hyde:

Cattle are New Zealand’s most dangerous farm animals according to ACC.

Figures obtained by Fairfax Media under the Official Information Act show that in 2013 there were 2262 cattle-related injuries requiring ACC funding.

Sheep were in second, inflicting 1612 injuries, while the horse also had a hoof in the payout of 1285 claims.

Cattle were not, however, the most dangerous farm animal in all areas of the country.

For example, in the Manawatu district, Manawatu District farmers in particular flocked to ACC in 2013, claiming 43 sheep-related injuries in the calendar year, a number that earned the sheep the title of Manawatu’s most dangerous farm animal – beating out cattle on 40. . .

End of an era as breeders downsize and head to town – Jill Galloway:

Steph Holloway and Hamish Hawker are getting out of their breeding farm at Hunterville, after a long family association with the property.

Five generations of Holloway’s family, including her, have worked on the hill country farm.

She said she and Hawker sold 600 two-tooth ewes at last week’s Feilding ewe fair. A further 1300 mixed-age ewes were sold at the sale on Friday.

Holloway said that while they could stay on the farm until May, they were already looking for a smaller finishing farm closer to town.

“Our breeding unit was 800 acres [324 hectares], and it was 50 minutes to Feilding, where I work. We want 200 acres [80ha], and it will mean a day or two a week on the farm.” . . .

Synlait ups the milk price ante:

Canterbury milk processor Synlait has fired the dairy equivalent of a full broadside by upping its forecast milk price for 2013/14 to a range of $8.30 to $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS).

“Before Christmas, the coop Westland Milk Products lifted its in-season forecast to $7.90-$8.30 kg/MS. Now we see Synlait joining the fray to be in the same ballpark as Fonterra,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Of course, Open Country operates a continuous payout while we know Miraka will be highly competitive as will be that darling of value-add, Tatua.

“For farmers, this level of farm gate competition is positive with other processors getting closer to joining the market. . .

Decline in dairy cow fertility may have halted:

New dairy industry data indicates a long-term decline in dairy cow fertility may have been halted.

It’s an issue that’s been challenging dairy scientists and farmers in New Zealand and overseas, because cow fertility is fundamental to dairy farm productivity and profitability.

Dairy New Zealand strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says the lower fertility was linked to the import of American Holstein cows into the country in the late 1990s. . .

“Importantly, we are getting advance rates that will help cashflow following the train wreck drought hit season that was 2012/13. . . .

What it takes to compete in the global dairy industry – Dr Jon Hauser,

The dairy industry is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, a prized dairy asset in southwest Victoria, is up for grabs. There is currently a 3 way bidding war between local publicly listed dairy company Bega, farmer co-operative Murray Goulburn, and the Canadian dairy giant Saputo.

This week United Dairyfarmers Victoria organised a meeting of farmers in Warrnambool. The UDV is a farmer representative group charged with lobbying government and industry on behalf of Victorian dairy farmers. They invited me to talk about the global dairy market – what it takes to compete, and what industry capital and marketing structures are best suited to serving farmer interests. This article reproduces the main content of the presentation. . .

Going the distance to get to school – Shane Gilchrist:

As another school year looms so, too, does the weekday routine of actually getting children to class. For some, that means going the distance, as Shane Gilchrist discovers.

Off to school on a sunny morning into the farm truck and heading to the boat. Open the gate, out of the truck and into the boat. Lifejackets on and we are heading to Camp Creek. That is where we meet the school bus to get to school …

”If it is a smooth lake we play and you can move or guess what we are going to do for the day. But on a rough lake we have to sit in our seats for the whole way. When we get there I race to the bus. I get on and one of my friends said, `You are early – it was only 8.20 when you should be there at 8.30′. But it doesn’t really matter …”

Eight-year-old Alice Wallis’ story might be relatively short, but her weekday journey is a wee bit longer than that typically taken by the many thousands of New Zealand children who return to school next week.

Even though Makarora School can be seen from Minaret Station, on the western shore of Lake Wanaka, it still takes 45 minutes to make the one-way trip by (as Alice has explained) farm truck, boat then bus. . .


What is your mental age?

January 29, 2014

What is your mental age?

Mine’s 34 – just a couple of decades different from the actual one.


Big Ben beats Shrek

January 29, 2014

Shrek, the merino wether hermit found on Bendigo Station, has held the unofficial title for the heaviest fleece since being shorn in 2004.

But he’s now been beaten by Big Ben:

A merino wether dubbed Big Ben has been shorn of a fleece even heavier than Shrek’s in what is claimed as a world record.

Big Ben was captured with three other renegades on a high country station near Twizel after years escaping musters.

The merinos, estimated to be aged about 7, were clipped at Omahau Hill Station on Saturday night in accordance with Guinness World Records criteria.

Big Ben weighed 71kg before he was relieved of his 28.9kg fleece by New Zealand blade shearing champion and former world champion Tony Dobbs, who said his 25-minute effort was ”certainly not the fastest I have shorn a sheep”.

Shrek’s 27kg fleece had been unofficially regarded as the heaviest in the world.

If confirmed, Big Ben’s record will be the first recognised by Guinness World Records. . .

The fleece will be spun and used to make a baby’s shawl which will be auctioned to raise funds for the Twizel Medical Centre.


Baby bribe threshold higher than $150,000

January 29, 2014

Giving welfare to a couple earning up to $150,000 a year is bad enough, but now the details of Labour’s baby bribe are being released we find that people earning up to twice that could qualify.

. . . Labour leader David Cunliffe has confirmed that the income threshold would apply to what a family expects to earn in the year ahead, not what they earned in the year before the birth.

Under Labour’s policy, it is possible that families earning well over $200,000 before the birth of their child would be eligible for the benefit. . . .

Take a couple each earning $150,000 a year before the baby is born.

The woman takes paid parental leave – extended to 26 weeks under Labour – and when it runs out decides not to return to work until the baby is at least one.

They will already have received the highest possible paid parental leave payments and will now be eligible for the baby bribe of $60 a week for the next 26 weeks.

That is an extreme example but incomes well below this are still too high for welfare.

Labour is a fan of the so-called living wage of $18.40 an hour which is about $38,000 a year.

No-one would call that wealthy, even with what working for families would add on top of that.

But it is by the proponents of the living wage say it is:

. . . the minimum wage necessary for a worker to survive and participate in society. It reflects the basic expenses of workers and their families such as food, transportation, housing and child care.

If just over $38,000 a year, without the working for families supplement on top, is enough for a family of two to survive and participate in society, why is Labour extending welfare to people earning up to $300,000?

Had they offered $60 a week to people earning up to the so-called living wage it would have been difficult to argue against.

Even if they’d extended it to a family on $50,000, who currently pay no net tax if they have two children thanks to working for families, opponents would have found little fertile ground on which to sow their criticism.

But giving welfare to people on well above what Labour accepts as enough, even if there weren’t more pressing needs for taxpayer funding would be questionable.

When there are so many higher priorities, including helping vulnerable children and giving them the best start possible, the policy is irresponsible and show a reckless disregard for public money and those most in need.

It’s easy enough to criticise a policy from which I wouldn’t benefit, but at least one potential recipient is principled enough to say it’s wrong:

Dr. Jane Silloway Smith, Research Manager at independent think tank Maxim Institute and soon to be mother of two, questions how helpful Labour’s Best Start for Children package—and an extension of paid parental leave as indicated by National today—are, calling them poorly targeted to the problem of child poverty and a waste of money.

Smith says: “While there is little doubt that a child’s experiences and care in the first few years of life are vitally important, it’s hard to see how Labour’s intended spending will have as profound of an impact on child poverty as they anticipate.”

“My husband and I are both working, and I am seven months pregnant with our second child. We are a family who would benefit under Labour’s Best Start for Children package—but we shouldn’t.”

“Children are expensive even in two professional-income households like ours, but my husband and I are fortunate enough to be able to handle that financial burden and still be able to make decisions that are in the best interests of our family. Fourteen weeks of paid parental leave are nice, and getting even more leave and $60 a week in our new baby’s first year would be appreciated, but it’s far from necessary in cases like ours.”

There will be some Kiwi families who will truly be helped out by the additional cash. But for so many others the money will be wasted either because the family doesn’t really need it or because there are bigger issues in the family home than mere money can solve—drug and alcohol addictions, lack of family or community support, or volatile adult relationships.”

“Governments have a limited budget, and as a policy researcher, I hate to see any government spending its money on pointless programmes. There are families out there who can’t make the choices that my husband and I can make for our family. So instead, it would be great to see Labour target their spending on families who could really use the money, while diverting the savings from handing out upper-middle class welfare to invest in community initiatives and programmes that have demonstrated an impact on the bigger issues some families face.”

“If any government is going to hand out money, I’d like to see them putting it towards helping families in real need, rather than simply padding the bank accounts of families like mine.”

The necessity to address real need is the point of opposition to Labour’s policy.

New Zealand is facing many pressing needs and it is those to which any spare money should be directed, not welfare for people well able to look after themselves and their children.


Blogger faces death and rape threats

January 29, 2014

The Whale Oil site has been off-line following a cyber attack and he has received threats against himself and his family on social media.

Cameron Slater’s is the most widely read blog in the country and almost certainly the most inflammatory.

He upsets and enrages people.

His posts can be irrational and he sometimes uses a scatter gun approach which hits the innocent as well as the guilty.

Nothing he writes justifies threats to his life and the safety of his family.

The Facebook post I saw is probably actionable and definitely stupid.

It gives him more publicity and will increase readership which will upset and enrage the people attacking him even more.

 


Pete Seeger: 3.5.19 – 27.1.14

January 29, 2014

Folk singer Pete Seeger has died.

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 94. . .


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