Word of the day

May 20, 2014

Mooncalf – foolish person, dolt; a congenitally grossly deformed and mentally defective person; a person who spends time idly daydreaming; the abortive fetus of a cow or other farm animal.


What career should you have?

May 20, 2014

What career should you have?

I got writer.

You are a maker. Creative from the day you were born, you spend most of your time thinking about the world you live in. You are open to new ideas and value beauty and originality more than most. We both know you’re not really the office type, so give yourself some room to create. Other occupations: director, producer, advertiser.

 With this quiz too:

You have a skill for language, your imagination is vast and you are artistic and creative. Your brain is just overflowing with ideas, and all you have to do is get a piece of paper and share it with the world. You were born to turn words into magical stories.

I live in hope . . .


Rural round-up

May 20, 2014

10,000 reasons to remain ambitious – Diane Bishop:

Producing 10,000 lambs a year is an ambitious goal.

But it’s one that the Lawson family hope to achieve on their East Otago hill country property.

Jim Lawson and his sons Rob and Willy farm 5500 Romney- Perendale first-cross breeding ewes and 1350 ewe hogget replacements on their 2336-hectare property Moana Farm, south of Waikouaiti.

Their main focus is lamb production and cattle, which have currently taken the place of a modern tractor, and are used as a pasture management tool. . .

Farm plantings help snare top award -Jill Galloway:

Winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in the Horizons Regional Council area Mary and Justin Vennell have planted 57,000 trees since 2007 on their Rewa sheep and beef farm.

They hosted more than 100 people, mainly farmers, but some academics and rural business people, at a farm field day they held as supreme winners of the awards.

Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), which give awards for protection and enhancement of the environment on farms in the Horizons Regional Council area, celebrated its 10th year.

Fourteen farms – seven sheep and beef and seven dairy farms – entered this year’s event. . .

Irrigation schemes require professional input:

Increasingly complex water regulations mean directors and managers of irrigation schemes need to take their professional responsibilities even more seriously, says IrrigationNZ.

Irrigators need to adapt to new environmental requirements and those governing and managing irrigation schemes must have the necessary skills to manage the transition, says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

To help the industry rise to the challenge, IrrigationNZ will hold a one-day ‘Governance Essentials’ workshop next month in Christchurch sponsored by KPMG, BNZ and Tavendale&Partners. The 12th June workshop will cover the separation between management and governance as well as governance principles and responsibilities. The workshop is aimed at both directors and managers of irrigation schemes, as well as irrigators wishing to learn more about governance fundamentals. 

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says with increasing regulation, poor decision making by irrigation schemes can result in severe consequences. . . .

NZ bees battle devastating disease – Sophie Lowery:

New Zealand’s beekeepers have launched a mission to rid honey bees of a potentially devastating disease.

American foulbrood can’t be treated and if left uncontrolled it could damage exports and ultimately wipe out the honey bee population.

If beekeepers can succeed in eliminating the disease it would be a world first.

Around 80 of Hamilton City’s hives were inspected today for signs of the contagious disease, with some samples sent to a lab.

One team came across healthy looking hives, but also found some examples of the deadly disease. . .

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative produces food, change in North End   – Marney Rich Keenan:

It is the height of irony that Tyson Gersh is shy a handful of credits until he graduates from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

At 24, the president of one the fastest-growing, most successful Detroit nonprofits that hardly anybody (over 30 years old anyway) has ever heard of, is short a French class and another class he could probably teach blindfolded.

“Yeah I know,” the collegiate rower and triathlete says, head down, in a rare display of self consciousness. “I failed ‘Urban Entrepreneurship: Doing Business in Detroit.’ ”

Judging from the speed at which Michigan Urban Farming Initiative has taken off, Gersh was likely doing business in Detroit during class time. . . Hat tip: A.E. Ideas

Rural Women NZ celebrates Road Safety Week with good news from 20K school bus signs trial:

A year-long school bus safety trial in Ashburton has shown that illuminated 20K signs on buses can have a big impact on driver behaviour.

“For years Rural Women NZ has called for clear signage on school buses to indicate the 20K speed limit in both directions when passing a bus that’s stopped to let children on or off. This is great news and a perfect way to celebrate Road Safety Week,” says Rural Women NZ vice president, Kerry Maw.

“Every day motorists speeding past school buses on rural roads put children’s lives at risk.”

During the ‘Either Way It’s 20K’ trial in Ashburton there was a marked drop in speeds when the 20K signs were in operation, with many motorists slowing to between 25 and 35 km/h. . . .


Rain From Nowhere

May 20, 2014

Farmers are reputed to be hardy and they have to be.

Even with modern equipment, methods and technology, farming is a physically and intellectually demanding occupation.

But that hardy exterior can and does hide deep, and too often dark, feelings:

Depression is an increasing issue for rural communities. The latest data released by the Ministry of Health shows there is a significantly higher rate of suicide in rural areas than in urban areas.

The most recent suicide rate for people living in rural areas is 16 per 100,000 people compared to 11.2 for every 100,000 people living in urban areas.

With mounting compliance costs, increasing local and central government demands, weather events, coupled with the reduced forecasted lamb and milk pay-outs, along with the normal stresses and strains of life, things are only going to get harder for rural communities. . . .

Stories about depression by Federated Farmers can be found here.

Depression among farmers isn’t peculiar to New Zealand.

Australian entertainer Murray Hartin, was concerned about it in his country and that prompted him to write this poem:

RAIN FROM NOWHERE

His cattle didn’t get a bid, they were fairly bloody poor,
What was he going to do? He couldn’t feed them anymore,
The dams were all but dry, hay was thirteen bucks a bale,
Last month’s talk of rain was just a fairytale,
His credit had run out, no chance to pay what’s owed,
Bad thoughts ran through his head as he drove down Gully Road.

“Geez, great grandad bought the place back in 1898,
“Now I’m such a useless bastard, I’ll have to shut the gate.
“Can’t support my wife and kids, not like dad and those before,
“Crikey, Grandma kept it going while Pop fought in the war.”
With depression now his master, he abandoned what was right,
There’s no place in life for failures, he’d end it all tonight. . .

You can read the rest of the poem here.


ACC proposes across board cuts next year

May 20, 2014

ACC is proposing significant cuts to motor vehicle levies, including the ACC petrol levy, next year, as well as further reductions to work and earner levies.

The corporation is seeking feedback on these and other proposed changes as part of its annual levy consultation process, which starts today. . .

“On average, we’re proposing a forty per cent cut to motor vehicle levies, which are paid when relicensing a vehicle and through the petrol levy paid at the pump,” says ACC Chair Paula Rebstock.

“We’re also proposing an average twenty-one per cent cut to work levies, and a five per cent cut to the earners’ levy in 2015.”

This would have a similar effect to tax cuts, leaving more money in the pockets of workers and motorists.

This follows the significant reductions to work and earner levies which took effect in April this year.

Ms Rebstock says “This is a significant package of proposed levy cuts, made possible by the fact that the Scheme has achieved its goal of being fully funded.”

Full funding means ACC has sufficient financial assets to meet the lifetime costs of all existing claims.

That is the only way to ensure the scheme is sustainable.

As well as reducing motor vehicle and petrol levies, ACC is also proposing the introduction of ‘risk rating’ for cars in 2015.

Risk rating would see the levy paid by car owners reflect how their vehicle’s design affects injury outcomes in a crash.

Motor vehicle levies already reflect the different risk and cost of injury associated with different classes of vehicle. Risk rating would enable a more sophisticated classification of risk, based on real life crash data, within the ‘light passenger’ classes, which essentially comprise cars.

“Risk rating would mean owners of safer cars pay lower levies, to reflect the fact their vehicle is less likely to cause injury if involved in a crash.

This means the cost would reflect the risk.

The alternative is people with safer vehicles subsidising those whose vehicles are more dangerous.

Wait for the uproar from the usual suspects pointing out that poorer people are likely to have less safe cars and therefore will be paying more.

“While owners of the safest cars may receive the largest levy cut, I’d like to emphasise that all car owners will pay lower levies under our proposed changes.”

Ms Rebstock says ACC is not proposing levy reductions for motorcycles next year. This is because motorcycle-related injuries continue to generate disproportionately high costs for the scheme, and motorcycle levies are already heavily subsidised by owners of other types of motor vehicle.

Proposed changes to levies in 2015/16
• combined average motor vehicle levy reduced from $330.68 to $200 (40% reduction)
• petrol levy reduced from 9.9 cents to 5.9 cents per litre (40% reduction)
• average work levy reduced from $0.95 to $0.75 per $100 of liable earnings (21% reduction)
• earners’ levy reduced from $1.26 to $1.20 per $100 of liable earnings (5% reduction)

Other changes that ACC is proposing for 2015/16 include:
• increasing the minimum and maximum liable earnings limits for work and earners’ levies. . . 

There’s more on the proposed changes here.


Next census target 70% online

May 20, 2014

Statistics Minister Nicky Wagner has announced that a new internet first model will transform how the next census is delivered and collected, and will increase the use of administrative data.

“The 2018 Census will have a target of 70 per cent of forms completed online, a workforce half the 7,500 used in 2013, and investment in systems and processes that support a future model that further utilises administrative data.

“A modernised census will deliver more timely and relevant data, which is important for regions that are changing rapidly and it will help inform decisions on how billions of dollars of government funding is spent.

“Modernising what was a dated model is also consistent with, and will contribute to, the government’s ICT Strategy, Better Public Services and the New Zealand Geospatial Strategy. . .

A trial was carried out in Oamaru with last year’s census to encourage people to fill in their forms online, although they could request paper versions which were delivered and collected.

About 65% of people used the online option which was nearly double the national rate.

This shows the online version was more convenient for the majority.

It shouldn’t take much to encourage most people to use the electronic version and it will result in a considerable saving in time and money.

 


Lower welfare costs fund surplus

May 20, 2014

A reduction in welfare spending is funding the surplus.

Economic growth has helped but a faster than expected drop in the cost of welfare is the bigger contributor:

English told an audience of business people that in 2010 the Government had expected to be spending $11.5b on welfare this year.

However in following Budgets it trimmed the forecasts and this coming year it would be spending about $10.5b.

“The welfare bill is going down and going down faster than we expected. . .

English said governments in the past had been passive on these costs but National had tightened up the system and the expectations of people on welfare.

It got experts to work out what the 290,000 people on welfare would cost in the long run.

Their total liability was $76b. Apart from superannuation it was one of the big costs that underpinned the tax bill.

That is a huge amount of money, and National has proven that with the right policies it is possible to reduce it.

Two thirds of the liability came from people who first got a benefit under the age of 20. “So it confirms what grandma told you. “Don’t let those young people get off the rails because when they do it’s very expensive.”

The experts told the Government that if a person got a benefit once it made them much more likely to get a benefit again. If a young woman under 20 with a child went on a benefit the average length of stay on the benefit was 20 years.

“That’s expensive, very expensive,” English said.

A couple of years ago the Government put a supervising adult with the 4600 mostly young women under 20 with a child who were on a benefit. They typically had little education and lived in old, cold houses and had been left to sink or swim on their own.

That number had now shrunk by 40 per cent to 2600.

“And that’s going to save us hundreds of millions.”

Kiwiblog has a budget slide that illustrates the savings:

welfare

The savings aren’t just in welfare spending.

Health and educational outcomes are better for children in families supported by work rather than welfare.

Those savings aren’t just financial either – there are significant social dividends from stopping people going on to welfare and helping those who can work to work.

 

 


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