Word of the day

August 6, 2014

Anguilliform – resembling or shaped like an eel.


Scientific way to cut round cake

August 6, 2014

Who’d have thought – there’s a mathematically perfect way to cut a round cake:

The extra bit referred to at the end is here.


Rural round-up

August 6, 2014

Agricultural growth predictions for the coming decade – Keith Woodford:

New estimates of global food demand and supply through to December 2023 have recently become available in a joint publication from the OECD and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations). One big message is that demand for most products will increase by between 10 and 20 percent from 2014 through to 2023. A second big message is that the overall increase in supply will at least match the increase in demand. Hence, for most products, and particularly the staple grains of rice and wheat, any price increases will be at a lower rate than overall inflation.

About half of the overall rise in demand for food will be due to increasing global population. This global population will increase at about 1% per annum, driven primarily by growth in Asia and Africa. The other half of the demand increase will come from rising consumption of protein based foods including meat, fish and dairy. This will increase the amount of animal feed that needs to be grown. . . .

Golden times for genetics firm – Yvonne O’Hara:

The sheep and beef sector stands to gain by a potential $845 million in added value during the next 20 years once a new Dunedin-based genetics research and development entity hits its stride. Yvonne O’Hara reports.

Upgrading the Sheep Improvement Limited (SIL) database, developing a ram and bull selection app, and contracting out genetics research projects for both sheep and beef are expected to begin later this year for the Dunedin-based Beef + Lamb Genetics (BLNZG).

BLNZG signed a $15 million funding contract for the next five years with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment earlier this month.

The balance of BLNZG’s $44 million five-year budget will come from sheep and beef farmers and the wider red meat industry. . .

Wagyu ramps up dairy options this spring:

Strong global demand for premium Wagyu beef has created an opportunity for dairy farmers to share in the returns this spring.

Firstlight Wagyu managing director Gerard Hickey recently returned from visiting markets in United States and Europe, buoyed by the positive feedback and strong sales figures his company’s grass fed Wagyu is enjoying there.

In response to the positive market conditions, Firstlight Wagyu has ramped up its supply of bulls and semen for artificial breeding (AB) this spring. . .

Manuka Guidelines Need to Align Closer with International Standard for Honey for NZ to Restore Global Trust Says Country’s Oldest Brand

According to Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest and most technically advanced honey brand, the Interim Labelling Guide for Manuka Honey that was released by the Ministry of Primary Industries last week needs to become closer aligned to the CODEX International Standard for Honey if the aim is to regulate the industry and restore global trust.

The Codex Commission is a group run by the United Nations FAO and represents countries with over 99 percent of the world’s population. According to CODEX, honey may be designated according to a floral or plant source if it comes wholly or mainly from that particular source and has the organoleptic, physicochemical and microscopic properties corresponding with that origin. . .

Our five regional finalists have been found:

It has taken 6 weeks, in four winegrowing regions, with over 45 budding viticulturists applying and now we are down to our five regional finalists that will compete in the Grand Final of the Young Viticulturist of the Year 2014.

Introducing the Five Finalists: . . .

 

Deer need a triple drench:

Deer farmers are being strongly advised to use three drench families in combination to keep parasites under control.

This follows four years of research showing that internal parasite resistance is becoming widespread across the industry. Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) producer manager Tony Pearse says the use of one drench family – mectins – applied as pour-ons, along with poor application technique, are the cause.

“Replacing a mectin pour-on with an injectable can dramatically improve growth rates, but the best bet – based on recent on-farm trials – is to use a triple mix: a mectin injection, plus a white/clear combination oral drench.” . . .

Agnus Dei by Marty Smith – Tuesday Poem:

I carried the lamb in a sack on my horse

the tongue hanging grey and limp.

It’s buggered, said Dad, throw it in the creek.

The creek leaped, dimpled. Small bubbles

whirled, it rumpled where I was looking

the water shadowed half-blue-black

deep just there with duckweed floating out

the yards behind all noise, the cattle swirling

up air swelled with dust and bellowing. . .


ACC fees dropping

August 6, 2014

The government is delivering a $480m reduction in ACC fees:

ACC Minister Judith Collins today announced reductions to motor vehicle levies in 2015/16 meaning the average New Zealand vehicle owner will be $135 better off each year.

“Earlier this year the Government signalled our intention to reduce ACC levies as part of Budget 2014 – today’s announcement delivers on this,” Ms Collins says.

“ACC continues to improve its financial situation, transforming the way it supports injured New Zealanders and building on its investment returns.”

In the last levy round significant reductions were made to the Work and Earners’ Accounts. This year’s focus is on reductions to the Motor Vehicle Account. The average levy will fall from around $330 to $195. This includes reductions to the licence fee and a drop of 3 cents per litre off the petrol levy.

In addition, the average levy paid by employers and self-employed people into the Work Account will fall to 90 cents per $100 of liable earnings, down from 95 cents.

“These reductions to Work and Motor Vehicle levies represent an annual saving of $480 million to New Zealand households and businesses in the 2015/16 levy year,” Ms Collins says.

“This year’s reductions, which come on top of reductions over recent years, have meant that New Zealand households and businesses will keep almost $1.5 billion, since 2011/12.

“The Government will also introduce risk rating for light passenger vehicles (cars). This will place vehicles into bands, based on their crash safety ratings, from most safe to least safe and charge each band a levy based on the cost to the scheme of different vehicles.

Pricing based on safety ratings matches the costs with the risks.

“While all vehicle owners will receive considerable reductions in their ACC levies, we want to ensure the amount people are paying reflects the cost to the Scheme.”

As an example, the introduction of risk rating for cars, together with the overall reduction of motor vehicle levies, owners of petrol-driven cars in the safest grouping will see the ACC component of their annual vehicle licence fee fall by 66 per cent.

Ms Collins says while the Government remains on track for further levy cuts across all accounts in 2016/17, it’s important levies continue to be set in a way that is fair, fiscally responsible and maintains ACC’s ability to fund entitlements in the future.

“We are working through the exact amounts and timing of those levy reductions and a review of the residual levy – whose role is effectively completed – is part of that consideration,” Ms Collins says.

The new ACC levy rates for motor vehicles will come into effect on 1 July 2015. The lower Work Account levy rate takes effect on 1 April 2015.

 

Today we announced $480 million in levy cuts for 2015/16 which will include the average motor vehicle registration being $135 cheaper from July next year. This is wonderful news for households and businesses and is a testament to ACC’s fantastic performance. Well done! http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/government-delivers-480-million-reduction-acc-levies


What’s missing matters more

August 6, 2014

Labour’s small business policy contains a lot of what the government is already doing  but it’s what they don’t say that businesses, of any size, need to be wary of:

The Labour Party appears to have misplaced the second page of their Small Business Policy when they released it this morning, Small Business Minister Steven Joyce says.

“The paper they released contained a number of business-as-usual items that the Government is already doing, like the IRD’s transformation project for simplifying taxation and compliance costs for small businesses, the flexi-wage wage subsidy, and changing the Government procurement rules to encourage small businesses,” Mr Joyce says.

But what’s missing matters more:

“However, they seem to have missed out a number of key new initiatives they are proposing that would have a much bigger impact on small businesses than those announced.”

These include:

  • dropping the 90-day trial for new employees
  • dropping the starting-out wage to encourage businesses to take on young people
  • immediate big increases in the minimum wage
  • KiwiSaver contribution increases
  • a comprehensive capital gains tax on all businesses
  • a much more expensive ETS which would slow down economies in regional New Zealand
  • tough new taxes on water use
  • a national award pay system that would require small regional businesses to pay the same pay rates as large big-city businesses

“Unfortunately Labour’s short list of what they say they would do for small businesses is far outweighed by their long list of what they would do to small businesses. It’s just a pity they didn’t release the full policy,” Mr Joyce says.

“The reality is that small businesses would only get smaller under Labour.” 

Anything which makes business more difficult and employment more inflexible has a negative impact on all businesses.

The smaller the business the worse the impact because they are less able to cope with higher costs and greater complexity.

Higher costs and greater complexity reduce productivity, profits and taxable income. They also threaten existing employees and reduce the chances of expansion of the business and its workforce.


Foreign owner’s conservation gift

August 6, 2014

New Zealand’s largest-ever conservation covenant of 53,000 hectares between Arrowtown and Wanaka is the result of the generosity and foresight of a foreign owner.

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith made the announcement yesterday:

“The permanent protection of this idyllic area of Otago that forms the backdrop for Wanaka and Arrowtown is a fantastic conservation achievement. The area between the Shotover River and Cardrona Range covering 80 per cent of the Motatapu, Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations is equivalent to the combined size of the Abel Tasman and Paparoa National Parks. The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust secures protection for about 3500 hectares per year and so to achieve 53,000 in a single covenant is extraordinary,” Dr Smith says.

“The covenant protects a wide variety of ecosystems from wetlands, tussock grasslands, native shrub lands, alpine cushion fields and stunning mountain peaks. The area already hosts the annual Motatapu event and a multi-day tramping track from Glendhu Bay to Arrowtown. Added areas are to be opened up for public access and enjoyment as part of the agreement reached with the landowner.

“I want to acknowledge this extraordinary act of generosity by Soho Property Limited and Mr Mutt Lange. This huge conservation covenant illustrates how overseas ownership can bring benefits to New Zealand. They have invested millions in weed and pest control, fencing and over 95 per cent of the stations are now in protection. New Zealanders have greater access to this stunning country and better facilities than ever before. We should judge proposals for overseas ownership of farms on merit rather than simplistic bans that would lose positive initiatives like this.

This would never happen if the xenophobic policies of Labour, New Zealand First and their anti-foreign ownership fellow travellers.

“This initiative is part of the Government’s broader programme of achieving more for conservation through partnerships. The Government increased the funding for the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust this year from $3.2 million to $4.2 million per annum as well as establishing the $26 million Community Conservation Partnership Fund. The Government does not need to own every area of land with conservation values and can achieve more by helping private sector conservation.”

In Labour’s last term it stopped pastoral lease land being covented in this way.

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is an independent statutory organisation established in 1977 to secure long-term protection of natural and cultural features on private land. The Trust partners with landowners on open space covenants, which are legally binding protection agreements registered on the title of the land. Covenants are voluntary but once in place, they bind the current and all subsequent owners of the affected land.

“I commend the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust on securing this covenant and their work with Soho Property Limited. This is the largest covenant ever achieved, with covenants generally averaging 30 hectares. This is an important and lasting legacy for the protection of New Zealand’s heritage that will be appreciated for generations to come.”

This shows that ownership by the public, or individual New Zealanders, isn’t essential for conservation.

Dr Smith said the agreement showed the Government did not need to own every area of land with conservation values, and could achieve more by helping private sector conservation.

Little would be gained from having the land in a conservation or national park, as the covenants provided ”very strong” protection – ”albeit the public is getting the benefit, but someone else is meeting the costs of the ongoing maintenance of the area”.

”We’re ending up with 95% of these four huge stations in protection with good quality public access and improved visitor facilities.

”It’s a real message to those who are point-blank opposed to overseas ownership that you need to be more flexible than that.”

Soho Properties lawyer Willy Sussman said he had been ”at pains” to explain to Mr Lange the magnitude of what he was agreeing to.

”I was almost labouring the point – I asked him ‘do you understand what this means?”

”His reply was just one word – ‘absolutely’.”

As well as being a ”musical genius”, his Switzerland-based client was an unconventional and far-sighted thinker who wanted to ”make a positive difference to the world”.

”He doesn’t do it for fame, he doesn’t do it for fortune, and he doesn’t do it for publicity – he does it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Queen Elizabeth II National Trust chairman James Guild said Mr Lange had made an ”extraordinary bequest to the country” that went far beyond any Overseas Investment Office requirements.

As well as protecting native plant and animal habitats and historic and recreation values, the agreement would formalise and improve public access to the area.

Soho Properties and the trust were working with the New Zealand Walking Access Commission, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, the Queenstown Trails Trust and local walking and mountain biking groups to further improve public access.

”It will effectively be New Zealand’s first national park in private hands.”

The company was spending ”significant sums” to control wilding pines, weeds, goats, possums and mustelids.

It was also planting on river margins and fencing off waterways, wetlands, tussocklands and shrublands. . .

Lange and his ex-wife bought Motatapu Station with the approval of the last Labour government.  Something current leader David Cunliffe is turning his back on and says wouldn’t happen again under his watch.

Lange’s is an extraordinarily generous gift to New Zealand and the world.

It wouldn’t have been possible had the policies Labour and the other parties on the left had been in force then.

It won’t be possible if they enact their policies even though the economic and environmental benefits from it can’t be questioned.


Dairy down 8.4%

August 6, 2014

GlobalDairyTrade’s price index dropped 8.4% in this morning’ auction.

Supply and demand rules.


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