Word of the day

May 14, 2014

Toque – a woman’s small hat, typically having a narrow, closely turned-up brim; a  hat with a narrow brim or no brim at all;  a small cap or bonnet resembling a toque worn by a man or woman; a velvet hat with a narrow, sometimes turned-up brim, a full crown, and usually a plume, worn by men and women especially in 16th-century France; a tall white hat with a full pouched crown, worn by chefs.

Rural round-up

May 14, 2014

Fonterra says price gap between milk powder vs casein and cheese is easing:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, which posted a 53 percent drop in first-half profit as gains in prices of milk powder ran ahead of products such as casein and cheese, says the gap is becoming less pronounced – a sign that pressure on margins may ease.

Prices of reference commodity prices used to calculate the farmgate milk price– whole and skim milk powder, butter milk powder, butter and anhydrous milk fat – rose 44 percent to $5,981 a tonne in the third quarter while non-reference product prices, cheese and casein, rose 22 percent to $7,499 a tonne.

That’s a smaller gap than in the first quarter, when prices gained 62 percent and 22 percent respectively, the Auckland-based company said in its latest global dairy update.

Last November, Fonterra took a $157 million provision against inventory of specialised ingredients and branded consumer products produced by its NZ Milk Products division because rising input costs squeezed margins. In March this year, it posted a slump in first-half earnings as gross margin shrank to 12.5 percent from 18.6 percent. . . .

Zespri’s regular claim has scientific backing – Richard Rennie:

Zespri can stand by the claim its green kiwifruit variety helps keep humans regular, at least on the inside.

The kiwifruit marketer has added a health angle to its marketing, saying its green kiwifruit contribute to regular bowel function.

While health claims can be made at different levels, Zespri’s is backed by 10 years of clinical trial data and literature reviews by independent scientists.

Zespri is seeking recognition from Food Standards Australia-New Zealand on the benefits of green kiwifruit for healthy bowel function.

Zespri global marketing manager Veronique Parmentier said the claim was the first lodged in the world for fresh fruit. . .

New security check list for rural communities:

The Police have released a checklist to help rural New Zealanders consider the security of their farm or property.

The checklist poses questions about a range of security measures and environmental factors concerning properties, and provides the respondent with a security score at the end.

Inspector Glyn Rowland, of the NZ Police National Prevention Centre, said although there is less recorded crime in rural areas, crime does happen. . .

The check list is here.

AgInnovation events in full swing at Feilding:

It’s all go at Manfeild Park in Feilding, where Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual AgInnovation event is in full swing.

The four day programme pulls together what used to be a range of separate activities, culminating in the bull beef sales on Wednesday.

Beef genetics and breeding were the initial focus of the AgInnovation conference which opened on Sunday.

But more than 40 speakers will be covering sheep as well as beef issues over the two days. . .

Certification of nutrient management advisers – the icing on the cake:

 The Nutrient Management Adviser Certification process has now been available for six months and has achieved an impressive level of uptake. To date there are more than 40 certified advisers in the field, with another 60 currently in application phase.

Jason Griffin, Ballance Agri-Nutrients key and corporate accounts manager for the lower North Island, described the certification programme as “the icing on the cake” which brings together years of training and experience in nutrient management. He is grateful that the certification programme is available to formalise the level of knowledge and skills involved in effective nutrient management, and to ensure farmers are receiving advice from qualified people.

Likewise, Sue Quilter, Ravensdown key account manager for the East Coast of the North Island said “after 16 years in the field I found the certification process a valuable experience”. . . .

Jacobs Highlights Irrigation Lessons Learned at 2014 Irrigation New Zealand Conference and Expo

Representatives from Jacobs* attended the 2014 Irrigation New Zealand Conference and Expo recently held in Hawkes Bay, presenting a paper focused on lessons learned from irrigation modernisation projects undertaken in the Australian state of Victoria.

The presentation described work Jacobs is doing on the Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project (GMWCP) in northern Victoria. The objective of the A$2 billion project is to improve the irrigation delivery efficiency and achieve water savings by rationalising and modernising out-dated irrigation systems.

The GMWCP to date has focused upon:
• automation and upgrading of regulating structures in channels
• remodelling and lining of the delivery channels
• construction of pipelines to replace small spur channels or facilitate rationalisation of spur channel systems, and
• automation and accuracy upgrades for metered outlets to farms . .

Concentrating on what matters

May 14, 2014

I’ve sat through countless candidate college and campaign training sessions where aspiring MPs have been told if the PM is talking about them when he wants to be talking about something else, it’s rarely good news.

Given the amount of time he’d had to be talking about a couple of senior members of caucus recently, a big hit in the polls could have been expected.

There was a drop in support for National in the Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll, but not a big one, and Labour went down further:

While both major parties took a slight hit, National remains high on 47.6 per cent support.

That was down 1.8 percentage points on our last poll, but still enough to govern alone if the results were mirrored on election night. . . .

Labour has slipped 2.3 percentage points to 29.50 per cent, taking it below the morale-busting 30 per cent threshold for the first time. . .

There will be a multitude of reasons for this, among them is that each time he got the opportunity, the PM said, that the side shows exercising political tragics weren’t what matters and then talked about what does – the economy, health, education, law and order, welfare.

Meanwhile, Labour wasted valuable media opportunities trying to manufacture scandal instead of talking about the things that really matter to people.

The result is they lost 2.3 percentage points of support and David Cunliffe dropped 3.9%


Preferred Prime Minister


Stuff political poll

One of the factors helping National’s support is voter confidence in the country’s direction:

. . . But Labour’s biggest enemy may be the improving economy, with the poll showing 63.6 per cent of voters believe the country is on the right track. . .

There’s still more than four months until the election and anything could happen before then.

It was rare for a party to get more than 50% support under FPP, there’s only a very faint hope this poll would be replicated at the election and allow National to govern alone.

The only certainty to take from this  poll is that what the opposition concentrates on, and the media appears to be interested in, isn’t what matters to most voters.


May 14, 2014

10/14 in the Huffington Post’s language quiz.


It’s about values

May 14, 2014

Why join a political party?

Why support a political party?

Why vote for a political party?

It’s about values – yours, the party whose values best match them and politicians who are guided by them.


Photo: What she said. http://nzyn.at/3moreyears</>

Green bank risks putting us in the red

May 14, 2014

The Green Party wants to establish a Green Investment Bank.

The Green Party will establish a Green Investment Bank as a first step in accelerating New Zealand’s transition to a smarter greener economy, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman announced today.

The Green Investment Bank will be an enduring, government-owned, for-profit bank partnering with the private sector to fund new projects ranging from renewable energy and biofuel production to new clean technologies.

“Like Kiwibank before it, the Green Investment Bank will combine the best of the public and private sectors to accelerate New Zealand’s transition to a smarter, greener economy,” said Dr Norman. . .

Like Kiwibank this would be a bank subsidised by taxpayers in competition with private businesses.

As the Taxpayers’ Unions asks – what could go wrong?

The Taxpayers’ Union is disappointed that the Green Party have announced plans to risk $120 million of taxpayers’ money on a so called ‘green investment bank’.

“Despite successive failure, why do politicians think that they can manage a bank better than the experts?” asks Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union. “The Green Party claims that their bank will be ‘for profit’ but if green technologies were so profitable, what’s stopped commercial banks getting in on the action?”

“The Green Party have a history of incorrectly forecasting high returns in green technologies. In 2001 the Party trumpeted its superannuation fund investing in a wind farm company. Since then, the shares have lost 96% of their value.”

“Does Russel Norman really think that bureaucrats will make profitable decisions with $120 million of taxpayer money, when the Green’s can’t even get it right with their own?”

“We all support developing green energy, but people should pick winners with their own money not be forced to risk nearly $70 per household taken via the tax system.”

The Green plan is to raise the money for the bank by doubling the tax on oil companies.

. . .The party would raise the overall tax take on oil companies to 70 percent from 46 percent, something it says will bring New Zealand in line with the international average. The bank would be expected to cover operational costs from investment returns. The bank will have to be financially self-sufficient, achieving a target rate of return at or above the government’s bond rate, the paper said. . .

Fuel taxes are already high and they impact on everyone directly or indirectly.

Have they thought what the resulting increase in fuel costs would do to motorists and the transport industry?

All investment carries risk.

If people want to risk their own money in investments, green or otherwise, that’s up to them.

If the business case stacked up existing banks would be happy to back them without the need for taxpayer intervention and higher taxes on oil companies which would hit us all and hit the poor hardest.

That would be much better than a government-owned bank which would risk putting us in the red.


Dead don’t vote

May 14, 2014

Good grief, this is getting ridiculous.

The National Party is facing more accusations of systematic fundraising like it does with its Cabinet Clubs.
This time it’s through a trust called the National Foundation, which targets large donations from deceased estates.
The party’s home, National House, is the core asset of the foundation.
“The foundation is largely for people who want to give larger amounts, perhaps when they pass away,” says National Party President Peter Goodfellow.
There’s even a sample codicil for wannabe donors to change their wills with ease.
Donations that go into the trust are invested. Profits are spent on the party and campaigning.
National says the donations are declared and within the rules.
The trust was set up last year, so apart from the $2 million National House, the coffers are still relatively dry.

Bequests are a tried and true method for people to help organisations they support.

What’s wrong with a political party doing it?

The Foundation’s not secret, it even has a website.

National can’t be accused of letting these donors influence policy.

Dead people don’t vote.

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