Word of the day

February 12, 2014

Subdermatoglyphic – pertaining to the layer of skin beneath the fingertips; the study of dermal ridges on the fingers, palms, toes, and soles.


Rural round-up

February 12, 2014

Syndicate farming a growing venture – Sue O’Dowd:

School didn’t fit the bill for a young Taranaki man wanting to party and make money.

The man behind Taranaki’s Farm Venture, a business that establishes syndicates to buy and operate dairy farms in Taranaki and the King Country, wanted to get on with life.

Tim Barrett was a pupil at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth and principal Brother Peter Bray was adamant he wanted the 15-year-old to stay at school so he could go to university.

“But I had stuff I wanted to do,” the now 50-year-old millionaire businessman said, “and I needed money to do it.” .

So Barrett got his way and embarked on a farming career. He managed to fit in some partying but he was more focused on becoming a farmer, so he followed the traditional path of working for wages and as a variable order and 50/50 sharemilker to dairy farm ownership at Te Kiri in South Taranaki. Along the way he also spent a year in Canada working on beef and cropping farms. . .

Changing world for sheep farming and sheep meat – Allan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the world for sheep farming, processing and sheep meat has changed dramatically, particularly in the past 30 years.

The age of massive single shift plants, high wool prices, large stations, the frozen carcase trade with the UK and farm subsidies has disappeared for ever. It has been replaced by a new era in which the main characteristics are no subsidies, less sheep and lambs, smaller, more flexible plants, an increasing proportion of chilled product, higher value co-products with less income from wool, and progressively more trade with markets other than the UK and Europe.

To a casual observer or time traveller who has spent the last 30 years elsewhere, there are still some obvious similarities, but a more careful study would show the differences pretty quickly. For example the swathes of irrigated land from mid Canterbury to Southland with dairy cattle instead of sheep grazing, thousands of hectares now covered with vines in Central Otago, Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, the size of lambs going to slaughter, the volume and price of wool at auction and the number of saleyards round the country would all indicate more than a token shift in farming practice. . .

The South Island’s best farmer grows grapes:

The colourful Peter Yealands, who was named 2013 South Island Farmer of the Year, is hosting the winner’s Field Day at his multi award winning Marlborough winery this Thursday (13 February).

“Federated Farmers congratulates the Lincoln University Foundation for recognising the best of South Island farming through its South Island Farmer of the Year competition,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“This Thursday, farmers will have a chance to see just why Marlborough entrepreneur and winemaker, Peter Yealands, was named the South Island’s best farmer for 2013.

“From biological lawn mowers using “baby-doll” sheep to his overall ‘vine to bottle’ approach, the Lincoln Foundation is right to say the knowledge shared at this field day will not just be inspirational, but have relevance to all primary industries. . .

Loyalty and contribution to the betterment of the people of Sarawak honoured:

A man whose career has been marked by an outstanding ability to relate to people across a wide spectrum, from poor indigenous farmers and their communities through to commercial agribusiness and industrial companies, senior government officials and political figures at state and federal level, was today (11 February) awarded the Lincoln Alumni International Medal.

Datu Dr Ngenang Ak Jangu of Sarawak, Malaysia has made an outstanding contribution in his home country, in his chosen field of agriculture.

The Lincoln Alumni International Medal is awarded to a former student, or a past or current staff member of Lincoln University who, in the opinion of the Lincoln University Council, has made an outstanding contribution to his or her chosen field, and brought credit to Lincoln University through achievements in a country other than New Zealand. . .

Weakened milk price predicted to fall back to $7 – Gerald Piddock:

An expected softening in milk prices in mid 2014 has bank economists predicting a milk price of around $7/kg milk solids for the 2014-15 season.

This weakened payout is predicted to occur when northern hemisphere production peaks later this year. The resulting extra supply would push prices down, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said. The bank had forecast an opening price of $7.10/kg MS for the 2014-15 season.

“We’re expecting dairy prices to soften a little bit over the course of 2014 as global supply increases.

“It was still a good price. It’s not quite as good as 2013-2014, but not too bad either.” . . .

A floral fight against green terrorists:

Flower power is alive and well in the Waikato. No, it’s not a hemp-wearing, nettle-tea drinking hippy commune promoting pacifism. Rather, depending on where you stand in the food chain, this one’s a bit more sinister. In fact, it’s designed for death.

No need to alert the authorities, however. The horror is taking place at a more microscopic level, and it’s all for a good cause.

To promote biodiversity and reduce the use of pesticides, award winning food company Snap Fresh Foods has teamed up with Lincoln University to harness the pest-killing attributes of flowers. More to the point, the flowers are being used to attract the right kind of killer insects. . .

Enjoy your kiwi heritage – rafting the Clarence – Stephen Franks:

I’ve just come off 6 days rafting down the Clarence River with 13 friends. We’re raving about good times that surpassed all expectation.

The river starts above Hanmer and reaches the sea near Kaikoura. Rafting it should be on every New Zealander’s heritage ‘must do’ list, like the Otago Rail Trail.

Do it for the scale of the country, its emptiness, the clarity of the sky, the alternating serenity and rush of rafting. Do it to enjoy the chatter of your raft-mates, the walking and climbing from campsites among scrub and snowgrass. Do it to swim in deep blue pools and drink the water you swim in all the way down. Do it to boil the billy on wood fires and taste the difference between manuka  and willow smoke in your tea. Do it to be without electronic contact for the entire trip.

Do it to sip your Waipara wines as the swallows zip and dart over your camp after insects in the evening. . . .


Safety or sexploitation?

February 12, 2014

Air New Zealand’s latest safety video got all the publicity the company could have wished for before it was even launched when it was criticised for being sexpoitive.

The video was was launched today and the media release says:

Air New Zealand has taken the wraps off the world’s most beautiful safety video – a collaboration with Sports Illustrated’s iconic Swimsuit franchise on the eve of its 50th anniversary.

The airline gave online viewers a behind the scenes look at Safety in Paradise last week which was shot in the picturesque Cook Islands and features some of the biggest names in modelling.

Chrissy Teigen, Ariel Meredith, Hannah Davis and Jessica Gomes all star while one of the original supermodels and three time Sports Illustrated cover girl, Christie Brinkley, makes a cameo appearance.

“The behind the scenes video has generated much conversation around the world about our brand and the Cook Islands as a destination since it was released last week. It’s exciting for us to release the full video today and we hope it will encourage many viewers to consider a trip to the Cook Islands,” says Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand Head of Global Brand Development.

Safety in Paradise can be viewed here.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editor MJ Day says Safety in Paradise is an exciting component of the magazine’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

“Our partnership with Air New Zealand is brilliant in every way. We were able to create a raucous safety video in the true spirit of SI Swimsuit and our Kiwi friends,” says Ms Day.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has a major worldwide marketing campaign planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the magazine and Air New Zealand will feature in that activity.

The Cook Islands is a key Pacific Island destination for Air New Zealand. The airline has operated flights there for more than 40 years and in 2013 alone carried almost 200,000 people to the island paradise from Auckland, Sydney and Los Angeles.

To celebrate the launch of Safety in Paradise Air New Zealand is giving online viewers the chance to win one of five trips for two to the Cook Islands. For more information and to enter, visitwww.theflyingsocialnetwork.com/safetyinparadise.

Like the other safety videos Air New Zealand has used in recent years it gets attention.

But is it also sexploitive?


Flower growers want us to buy local

February 12, 2014

Imported flowers give consumers choice but increase competition  for local growers:

Kiwi flower growers are coming under increasing pressure as cheap flower imports, mainly from India, flood the New Zealand market, says Flower Growers Association chairman, David Blewden.

Mr Blewden says around 50 percent of the roses sold each year for Valentine’s Day are now imported.

Not only is this affecting Kiwi growers’ livelihoods, it also poses biosecurity risks, he says.

Any imports pose biosecurity risks but MPI has strict protocols to deal with them.

“Imported flowers are usually treated with harsh chemicals like Round Up. This means they don’t last long once you’ve bought them and you have to be careful when handling them if you are sensitive to chemicals.

Any flowers treated with Round Up would be dead.

“But sometimes imported flowers slip through the cracks, don’t get treated properly and come into NZ carrying pests and diseases. We’ve had several instances of this and the risks to our industry, and to home gardeners, are huge.”

The discovery of a single Queensland fruit fly got major attention a couple of weeks ago. Any pests or diseases on imported flowers would be treated as seriously but I don’t recall any news of one.

He says New Zealanders buy approximately 600,000 rose stems for Valentine’s Day and by far the majority are romantic red.

But Kiwi growers account for only about 300,000 rose stems destined for Valentine’s Day. The balance – another 300,000 stems sold for February 14 – comes into the country from India.

“Import volumes are growing each year because stems are massed produced overseas very cheaply. This is putting our local industry under severe pressure.

“Unfortunately, consumers don’t know that most of the roses they buy are imports. Perhaps if they did they’d ask their florist for NZ-grown stems. They’d certainly last longer and be of better quality when you got them home.” . . .

People base their buying on several factors including cost and quality.

Flower prices soar on Valentine’s Day. Some people might prefer to pay a higher price for local blooms but I suspect many would sacrifice quality and longevity for a lower price.

Competition from overseas will make business more difficult for local growers but gives consumers more choice and lower prices.

That’s what free trade does and as many of the growers will be exporters they can’t argue for any special treatment here without endangering their sales elsewhere.

While on the subject of Valentine’s Day, it’s also my birthday.

On my 40th our accountant had stayed the night and presented me with a gift at breakfast. Minutes later my best friend’s mother arrived out from town with a present.

My farmer muttered that they were showing him up and disappeared into the office.

I learned later he phoned a friend who’s a florist and asked for 40 red roses. She pointed out it was Valentine’s day and they would be very pricey.

He said that didn’t matter. She told him what it would cost, he changed his mind and asked about carnations. They were a similar price so he told her he’d call in later and see what she could come up with.

She came up with a beautiful bunch of mixed blooms, the cost of which remains between them and their country of origin never crossed my mind.

 


Sally’s state of nation shows improvements

February 12, 2014

The Salvation Army’s 2014 State of the Nation report shows some improvements:

. . . In its annual report The Salvation Army gives the thumbs up to an improvement in Maori participation in early childhood education, a drop in infant mortality, reducing teenage pregnancy rates, a reduction in overall criminal offending, a drop in unemployment and a reduction in the per capita spend on gambling.

That is good news and some of the credit for the improvements goes to government policies.

But the Salvation Army remains deeply concerned at the lack of progress in reducing child poverty, family violence, the harmful use of alcohol, and the failure to address criminal re-offending and serious crime.  

“Without doubt the most disturbing data in the report relates to child poverty and family violence,” says Major Roberts. “Neither of these areas is improving. Every day Salvation Army workers see the tragic results of the failure to deal with these issues,” he says.

“Government addresses social deficits when New Zealanders indicate they require action,” he said.

“The failure of Government to effectively reduce child poverty and family violence suggests that New Zealanders are not expressing with enough strength and urgency the need for more effective government action.”

Major Roberts suggests that unless ordinary New Zealanders take these matters seriously, Government is unlikely to.

“Public pressure will help policy makers strike a better balance to ensure effective solutions are found for child poverty and domestic violence. As a nation we must take a brave and more deliberate interventionist approach if we are to see child poverty and family violence significantly reduce,” he says. . .

There is no shortage of pressure from the opposition, lobby groups and the general public on child poverty but there isn’t consensus on solutions.

The opposition and left in general have fought welfare reforms tooth at every step but there is very clear evidence that children in families dependent on welfare have worse outcomes than those in families on the same income from work.

Then there’s the elephant in the room – sole parent families, and those where the parent is very young in particular, are far more likely to be poorer with all the problems associated with that.

That’s not an argument to return to the days when young mothers were shamed and forced to give up their babies for adoption.

But it would be helpful to have research on whether the pendulum has now swung too far in the opposite direction.

The full report is here.


Shirley Temple 23.4.28. – 10.2.14

February 12, 2014

Child star and adult diplomat Shirley Temple Black has died.

Shirley Temple Black, who as a dimpled, precocious and determined little girl in the 1930s sang and tap-danced her way to a height of Hollywood stardom and worldwide fame that no other child has reached, died on Monday night at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85. . . .

After marrying Charles Alden Black in 1950, she became a prominent Republican fund-raiser. She was appointed a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969. She went on to win wide respect as the United States ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976, was President Gerald R. Ford’s chief of protocol in 1976 and 1977, and became President George H. W. Bush’s ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989, serving there during the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

After winning an honorary Academy Award at the age of 6 and earning $3 million before puberty, Shirley Temple grew up to be a level-headed adult. When her cancerous left breast was removed in 1972, at a time when operations for cancer were shrouded in secrecy, she held a news conference in her hospital room to speak out about her mastectomy and to urge women discovering breast lumps not to “sit home and be afraid.” She is widely credited with helping to make it acceptable to talk about breast cancer. . . .


National’s plan is working

February 12, 2014

National’s plan for a brighter future is working – and as a consequence so are more young people:

The latest HLFS employment figures show the Government’s focus on young people is paying off, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett say.

“An increase of 28,500 (9.3 per cent) 15 to 24 year-olds in work over the past year and the lowest number of young people not being in employment, education, or training since 2008 is promising news for them and their families,” Mr Joyce says.

“Through our Business Growth Agenda the Government has been investing heavily in education and training to lift the skills and qualifications of our young people while matching the needs of employers.

“Initiatives such as Youth Guarantee, the Apprenticeship Reboot and Maori and Pasifika Trades Training are proving very successful in providing young people with important skills they will have for life.”

Mrs Bennett says the Government’s investment in youth services as part of the welfare reforms was also having a big impact in reducing the number of NEETs.

“Government funded youth providers are actively supporting 9,602 NEETs to get enrolled and remain in education, training or work based learning,” Mrs Bennett says.

“The Government’s Job Streams subsidies are encouraging more employers to give young people a go in good jobs with training. Thanks to these subsidies 2,578 young people got jobs.

“The Government is proud of what we are achieving in making a real difference for young people to get work and to get on with a bright future ahead of them.”

Employment has been lagging other positive indicators so this improvement is very encouraging.

Youth who go from school to a benefit are likely to stay on it for longer at a huge cost to them and the country financially and in terms of social outcomes like poorer health and a greater likelihood of committing crimes.

Keeping young people in education or getting them into training or work has both social and economic benefits for them and the rest of us.
>National’s focus on young people is paying off and making a real difference: www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43060


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