Word of the day

April 24, 2014

Vole – a small, typically burrowing, mouse-like rodent with a rounded muzzle; the winning by one player of all the tricks of a deal in cards; to risk everything in the hope of great rewards; to try every possibility.


Rural round-up

April 24, 2014

Three challenging numbers – Conor English:

There has been a lot of discussion recently about New Zealand’s meat industry. We all want more profitable and sustainable farming. Meat farmers have been concerned that their gross incomes are a bit lower than dairy farmers on similar sized farms. For meat, three numbers make bridging that gap challenging.

Firstly, the weighted average kg/ha production for meat farmers across all land classes and regions for 2011/2012 was around 187kg/ha (lamb – 90.77, beef – 66.43 and wool-30.16). Now this is a very rough number as farms vary significantly from the high country to the coastal flats.

According to DairyNZ, the average Kg of MS per effective hectare for the 2012/13 season was 988 Kg MS/ha. Despite issues with assumptions made to get these numbers, such as supplementary feed and how run offs are counted, the basic maths indicate that dairy farmers produce a reasonable amount more weight of product per hectare. . .

Study suggests advice on saturated fats could be wrong:

Federated Farmers is welcoming a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which found no link between saturated fats and heart disease.  While this in no way endorses an unbalanced diet, it is perhaps a start on centring the pendulum.

“It is significant that the British Heart Foundation helped to fund a study which questions current dietary advice that polyunsaturated fats are good and saturated fats are inherently bad,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“An international team led by the University of Cambridge’s Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury has collated and re-analysed data from 72 separate studies involving over 600,000 participants. . .

Developing new venison markets – Keith Woodford:

Several weeks back I wrote about how the venison industry was at the crossroads. [Venison at the crossroads] The industry has been drifting backwards because farm gate prices relative to the costs make it more attractive for farmers to pursue other endeavours.

In that article I wrote how the potential for on-farm productivity gains with deer is limited by the fundamental biology of the species. Accordingly, the future of venison depends on increasing price premiums which, in recent years, have become eroded. However, in that previous article, for time and space reasons, I left the debate at that point. Here, I address the strategies that have potential to make a difference.

Until now it has always been the European market that has underpinned New Zealand venison prices, with more than 80% of our venison sold there. The market channels developed in the 1980s alongside those already in place to handle the wild-shot trade. Even now, most European consumers do not understand that they are eating farm-raised venison in their ragout rather than wild-shot game. . . .

Export Statistics for the First Half of the 2013-14 Season:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the combined export statistics for the first six months of the 2013-14 meat export season (1 October 2013 to 31 March 2014).

B+LNZ has developed an interactive tool for further analysis of New Zealand’s meat exports. The tool allows you to generate and download customised data and graphs of export lamb and beef statistics, by market, value, and volume. Access it at: portal.beeflambnz.com/tools/export-tool

Summary
While a smaller lamb crop contributed to a decrease in total exports of lamb over the first half of 2013-14, compared with same period last season, an increase in average value translated to total lamb exports rising in value by 11 per cent. An early processing season pushed mutton exports up significantly. However, this is expected to balance out in the second half of the season. Mutton exports averaged $5,310 Free on Board (FOB) per tonne, up 14 per cent on the same period last season. Meanwhile, beef and veal exports were stable in both volume and value. . . .

Fonterra’s Waitoa UHT Site Produces First Commercial Product:

 

Process Operators Neeta Sharma and Greg Smith with some of the first product produced at Fonterra’s Waitoa UHT Site

Fonterra’s $120 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa has produced its first 25,000 Anchor UHT cream packs ready for sale.

UHT Operations Manager, Donald Lumsden, says the first production marks a significant milestone for the Waitoa UHT site, which has transformed from a green field to a state-of-the-art milk processing facility in just 12 months. . .

 


Thursday’s quiz

April 24, 2014

1. Who said, Ah yes, but if you wave they’ll wave back. and to what was he replying?

2. Whose autobiography is titled Adolf Hitler:My Part In His Downfall?

3. It’s guerre in Frnech,  guerra in Italian and Spanish and whawhai in Maori, what is it in English?

4. In which country are Flanders Fields?

5. How will you mark Anzac Day?


Who are denialists now?

April 24, 2014

Federated Farmers’ Hawkes Bay president Will Foley asks, who are the denialists now?

RadioLIVE recently ran an online poll asking its listeners if they were frightened of climate change.  To the shock of host Marcus Lush, two-thirds of respondents apparently said no, they’re not.  I would have said yes.

As some groups are cock-a-hoop over tough consent conditions imposed on the Ruataniwha water storage scheme and others think them lax, you have to wonder if this public climate weariness has spread to them too.

What it all means for the viability of Ruataniwha won’t be known until the 700-page decision is crunched but what I know is this.  If the scheme does not progress it won’t affect Green Party MP’s in their air conditioned offices or the paid Wellington staff at Forest & Bird.  They don’t have to worry about the El Nino being talked about for spring.  They don’t have to watch our region increasingly turn into a retirement village while our young drift to Auckland or Australia.  They don’t have to deal with crime since Hawke’s Bay bucked the national trend last year.

I cannot understand why some are so hell-bent on derailing a scheme, which gives Hawke’s Bay its best shot at adapting to a changing climate. Federated Farmers hosted Dr Russel Norman at the South Island’s Opuha water storage scheme a few years ago.  Memories seem short unless you are a politician.

With a medium level of confidence the climate experts say that average rainfall on the east coast will decrease this century.  This will lead to lower flows of the Makaroro River, Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers. The International Panel on Climate Change warns that by 2040, the East Coast can expect to double or even triple the time spent in drought.  This is our future unless we adapt and that means new pastures, crops, technologies and even animals.  Above all, adaption means storing water like that proposed by Ruataniwha.

I will be blunt to make a point; the shit in the Tukituki during summer low flows has mostly been human.  Up to 70 percent of phosphorous loading during low flows had come from the wastewater plants of Waipukurau, Waipawa, Otane and Takapau.  That’s thankfully changing with upgrades in hand while the allocation regime will put more water into the Tukituki during summer.

Ruataniwha could do more.  It could put a quarter of a billion dollars into those towns each year providing councils with the means to meet increasing drinking water standards.  This proves that the environment and economy are flipsides of the same coin.  If there’s no scheme, there’s no dam supported flushing and little additional money to upgrade existing plant.  Can anyone tell me the environmental win in that?

Is it just me or has the media and Ruataniwha opponents overlooked the IPCC’s warning that New Zealand is underprepared for a changing climate.  If anything, there seems to be outright denial since these groups seem to believe our rivers in 2040 will be exactly as they were in 2014.  It is not like the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company got a muppet to look into climate issues and Ruataniwha either.  Victoria University’s Dr James Renwick happens to be an international expert in this field.

While dryland places like North Otago have been averaging twice their normal rainfall over the past five years, in the same timeframe, we’ve had three droughts and it is dragging Hawke’s Bay down.  Out of 67 councils in the last census, Hastings District slipped nine spots to 30th spot, Napier went back one to 31st while Central Hawke’s Bay District dropped to 58th – losing 1.8 percent of its usually resident population.

If Ruataniwha’s consents are so tough they are Clayton’s ones, then it will be a Pyrrhic victory for the environment.  As the climate warms so will the waterways while the volume going into them drops. While that’s great for algae it doesn’t sound so flash for introduced trout or native fish and birds. 

While we can expect less intense rainfall we can store what falls and that’s the beauty of Ruataniwha and the secret recipe of our economy; just add water.

So is Ruataniwha perfect, probably not, but what is?  Do I have the information to make an informed investment decision? That now hinges on the consent conditions attached by the Board of Inquiry.  Yet debating the principle of storing water, given towns and cities do it, is a bit like debating the wisdom of sunblock, dumb. 

If we accept the climate is changing then we need to store water and adapt how we currently do things.  If you deny the climate will ever change then I guess you won’t be at the National Aquarium of NZ on 6 May, where NIWA’s Dr Andrew Tait is talking at 730pm on The Climate and Weather of Hawke’s Bay.

New Zealand makes a tiny contribution to green house gases.

No matter how hard we try to reduce emissions, we are at the mercy of other countries whose emissions are much greater.

We can continue to do our bit but we must also prepare to adapt to whatever nature throws at us.

If, as is predicted, parts of New Zealand will be hotter and drier, then water storage schemes like Ruataniwha which will enable irrigation and maintain minimum flows in rivers, are not just sensible, the economic, environmental and social benefits they provide.


LabourGreen power play will cost us all

April 24, 2014

Who are you going to believe – politicians trying to win votes or the director of the Programme on Energy and Sustainable Development and Holbrook working professor of commodity price studies with the department of economics at Stanford University?

Frank Wolak is the latter and he’s not impressed with the LabourGreen power plan:

This desire to “reboot” the electricity supply industry is understandable, but it is almost certainly not the best course of action. As a participant in many electricity industry restructuring processes around the world, one important lesson that I have learned is that all reforms start with significant unintended defects that can only be eliminated through a rigorous ongoing analysis of market outcomes and targeted regulatory reforms.

Many features of the current industry structure are consistent with international best-practice and a number of positive changes have been implemented since I completed my report for the Commerce Commission in 2009.

Continuing these efforts to identify and fix flaws in the existing market is likely to provide greater long-term benefits than undertaking a major restructuring of the industry. . .

He thinks major change is needed, but not the LabourGreen one.

His suggestion is to establish a regulator for the industry with a statutory mandate to protect electricity consumers from economic harm.

There are a number of legal rights that a regulator must have.

First, the regulator must have the ability to request any information from market participants necessary to carry out its statutory mandate, receive this information in a timely manner, and have the authority to impose financial penalties on market participants that fail to provide the requested information in a timely manner.

The regulator should also be allowed to require that all of the firms that it regulates prepare balance sheets and income statements using a standardised accounting system designed by the regulator. These accounting systems will allow the regulator to carry out the very important task of setting prices for monopoly services such as transmission access and distribution network access.

The regulator should be required to set prospectively the price of these monopoly services to allow the firm the opportunity to recover the prudently incurred cost of providing these services.

This does not mean that the firm is guaranteed full cost recovery regardless of how it incurs these costs. Because its price is prospectively set by the regulator, the firm’s revenues are independent of any actions it takes, so it has the opportunity to recover these costs if it incurs them in a manner consistent with what the regulator deemed to be reasonable when the price was set.

The final right of the regulator is to set the market rules governing the operation of the wholesale and retail markets.

Rather than allowing market participants to determine the terms and conditions governing participation in these markets, the regulator must set these market rules to protect the electricity consumers from economic harm. Market participants and other interested parties can provide input to this process, but ultimately the regulator must set these market rules because of the enormous impact they have on wholesale and retail electricity prices paid by consumers.

An essential feature of this redesigned regulatory process is an ongoing market monitoring process where the regulator uses data compiled from market participants and data submitted to and produced by the market operator to undertake market performance analyses. Although this market monitoring process is extremely data and human resource intensive, it is necessary for the regulator to anticipate significant market performance problems and take action to ensure a small problem does not become a large problem that harms consumers.

Another role of the regulator is to provide transparent information to customers on the components of retail electricity prices. . .

This is very different from the LabourGreen plan which Wolak described as:

“a sham that might make me feel a bit better”, but was the wrong weapon to attack “runaway” retail electricity tariffs, which he says are the real problem in current market arrangements. . .

Wolak says the NZ Power policy, which would unpick a 25-year-old experiment in electricity market design in favour of a centrally planned model, “may not even solve the problem, which is runaway retail prices.” . . .

“It may look good, but it’s got lots of challenges,” said Wolak of the Labour-Greens policy. “You’re throwing the entire baby out just to get rid of the bathwater and you’re going to start over, as if you have all these problems.

“My argument is that some of the changes since 2009 are pushing in the right direction,” said Wolak, whose 2009 report for the commission found evidence of electricity generators wielding market power at different times, to maximise the value of their generation efforts.

From that, officials calculated $4.3 billion of “excess charges”, which then Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee acted on by shaking up the national retail market, which is now more competitive, with high levels of customer churn. . .

However, Wolak believes moving to a cost-based, single buyer model could be a disaster.

“If what they are going to try and do is say ‘we are recovering costs and allowing you a fair return’, then oh my god, it’s just a can of worms that you wouldn’t believe that’s going to get opened,” Wolak said of Labour’s plan to calculate rates at every power station in the country on a cost-plus return basis.

“They are going about it in a kind of bass-ackwards (sic) way and saying ‘we’re going to say what each guy’s price can be in terms of generators selling’. That’s just a nightmare.”

“What’s simplest is to say we’re going to make this thing as competitive as possible.” . . .

The Labour-Greens' 1970s power policy won’t reduce your power bill, but it could cost millions to taxpayers.</p> <p>www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11241830


How many others feel that way?

April 24, 2014

Shane Jones said he would have refused to work with the Greens in government:

Mr Jones has gone blue – National Party blue, off to work for the Government, revealing his hatred for Labour’s Green allies is so deep that he could never have worked in a Labour-Green coalition government, which would likely have co-leader Russel Norman as deputy Prime Minister.
“I would not have been able to work under Russel Norman as Deputy Prime Minister,” he says.
“I’m totally disinterested in a political career where there may have been a dim prospect that he would be my chief. It would be a long day in hell before that happens.” . . .
How many others in the Labour caucus feel that way and who could blame them? But the weaker Labour is the more bargaining power the Greens will have.

Mr Jones says going Green is wrecking Labour.

“I’ve never ever subscribed to the notion that the only way Labour would be strong is by ‘greening’ itself, so we are some sort of version of the Tasmanian Green Party. I never agreed with that.”

Back to Jones.

Mr Jones says Labour would never elect him leader, that Labour has gone too left and left him.

“The test over whether brand Labour is a broad church will rest in the breath of the September vote. Lose no sleep over doubting whether that is the truth.”

So it’s goodbye to the man they call Jonesy and haere ra to Mr Jones. He crusies off into the Pacific, but his parting shot could not be clearer.

The once broad church that housed people like him is becoming so increasingly narrow that it risks being punished in the polls.

It is still a long time until election day in which time a lot could change.
But once more the media is focussing on disarray within Labour which will not endear it to voters.

April 24 in history

April 24, 2014

1479 BC – Thutmose III ascended to the throne of Egypt, although power effectively shifted to Hatshepsut.

1184 BC – The Greeks entered Troy using the Trojan Horse (traditional date).

1533 William I of Orange was born (d. 1584), .

1558 Mary, Queen of Scots, married the Dauphin of France, François, at Notre Dame de Paris.

1581 Vincent de Paul, French saint was born  (d. 1660),

1620  John Graunt, English statistician and founder of the science of demography, was born  (d. 1674), .

1704 The first regular newspaper in the United States, the News-Letter, was published.

1800 The United States Library of Congress was established when President John Adams signed legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress”.

1815 Anthony Trollope, English novelist was born (d. 1882), .

1862 American Civil War: A flotilla commanded by Union Admiral David Farragut passed two Confederate forts on the Mississippi River on its way to capture New Orleans.

1877  Russo-Turkish War: Russia declared war on Ottoman Empire.

1898 The Spanish-American War: The United States declared war on Spain.

1904 The Lithuanian press ban was lifted after almost 40 years.

1907 Hersheypark, founded by Milton S. Hershey for the exclusive use of his employees, was opened.

1913 The Woolworth Building skyscraper in New York was opened.

1915  The Armenian Genocide began when Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople.:

1916 Easter Rising: The Irish Republican Brotherhood led by nationalists Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and Joseph Plunkett started a rebellion.

1916 Ernest Shackleton and five men of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition launched a lifeboat from uninhabited Elephant Island to organise a rescue for the ice-trapped ship Endurance.

 Men with digging tools removing ice surrounding the ship's hull, creating an icy pool of water

1918 First tank-to-tank combat, at Villers-Bretonneux, when three British Mark IVs met three German A7Vs.

1922 New Zealand’s first Poppy Day.

New Zealand's first poppy day

1926 The Treaty of Berlin was signed. Germany and the Soviet Union each pledged neutrality in the event of an attack on the other by a third party for the next five years.

1932 Benny Rothman led the Mass trespass of Kinder Scout, leading to substantial legal reforms in the United Kingdom.

1941 – A large number of civilians and Commonwealth troops, including New Zealanders, were killed boarding the Greek yacht Hellas at the port of Piraeus, near Athens.

Sinking of the <em>Hellas</em>

1951 – New Zealand’s Kay Force suffered its first fatal battle casualty with the death of Second Lieutenant Dennis Fielden.

1953 Winston Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

1955 – The Bandung Conference ended Twenty-nine non-aligned nations of Asia and Africa finished a meeting that condemned colonialism, racism, and the Cold War.

1957 Suez Crisis: The Suez Canal was reopened following the introduction of UNEF peacekeepers to the region.

1960 A severe earthquake shook Lar in Fars province, Iran, killing more than 200 people.

1961 The 17th century Swedish ship Vasa was salvaged.

1963 Marriage of Princess Alexandra of Kent to Angus Ogilvy at Westminster Abbey.

1965 Civil war broke out in the Dominican Republic when Colonel Francisco Caamaño, overthrew the triumvirate that had been in power.

1967 Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov died in Soyuz 1 when its parachute failed to open. He was the first human to die during a space mission.

1967 – Vietnam War: American General William Westmoreland said in a news conference that the enemy had “gained support in the United States that gave him hope that he could win politically that which he cannot win militarily.”

1970 The first Chinese satellite, Dong Fang Hong I, was launched.

1970 – The Gambia became a republic with Dawda Jawara as the first President.

1971 Soyuz 10 docked with Salyut 1.

1980 Eight U.S. servicemen died in Operation Eagle Claw as they attempted to end the Iran hostage crisis.

1990 STS-31: The Hubble Space Telescope was launched by the Space Shuttle Discovery.

1990 – Gruinard Island, Scotland, was officially declared free of the anthrax disease after 48 years of quarantine.

1993 – An IRA bomb devastated the Bishopsgate area of London.

1996  In the United States, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was introduced.

2004 The United States lifted economic sanctions imposed on Libya 18 years previously, as a reward for its cooperation in eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

200 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was inaugurated as the 265th Pope taking the name Pope Benedict XVI.

2005  Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog was born in South Korea.

2006  King Gyanendra of Nepal gave into the demands of protesters and restored the parliament that he dissolved in 2002.

2007 Iceland announced that Norway would shoulder the defence of Iceland during peacetime.

2013 – A building collapsed near Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing 1,129 people and injuring 2,500 others.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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