Word of the day

December 22, 2014

Abibliophobia –  fear of running out of reading material.

Hat tip: Rob Hosking


Which planet are you?

December 22, 2014

Which planet are you?

I’m supposedly Saturn:

You are wise, magnificent, aware, and mindful. Independence gives you power, motivation, and focus. You are a remarkable organizer. You can effortlessly deal with many projects at a time. However, the challenge for you is to keep your sense of proportion. People who are not too keen about you can sometimes see you as bossy and tedious. But of course, they couldn’t be more wrong. The truth is, despite your spontaneity, you are exceptionally warm and genuinely friendly.

I can aspire to the positive but would plead not guilty to these particular negative traits.


Rural round-up

December 22, 2014

Two exciting years in a row – Allan Barber:

2014 and 2015 promise to be two of the most exciting years the red meat industry has seen for a long time and for a change the news is not all bad. There are some clouds around, but also silver linings like better beef and lamb prices, improved profitability and the possibility of positive developments in the industry’s structure.

At long last, after a slow start, there are plenty of signs the industry as a whole has recognised the need for change to address the main challenges of inadequate prices, declining sheep and beef numbers and excess capacity which have inexorably brought about land use conversions to more profitable activities. . .

  –  Allan Barber:

The Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey conducted in November found confidence among sheep and beef farmers had risen from just under 50% to 75% since the previous survey the previous quarter. However the overall confidence level remained low because of pessimism among dairy farmers, although this was slightly better than the two year low in the previous survey.

Sheep and beef farmer confidence is now on a par with dairy farmers’ confidence about their outlook and consistent with the situation two years ago. Major reasons for the turnaround are not difficult to fathom, but apart from the contrasting price trend for the respective products, half the farmers surveyed were optimistic about the outlook for global red meat demand.

The relative investment intentions of the two sectors also bore out the levels of optimism with 41% of sheep and beef farmers intending to invest more in their farms compared with just 18% of dairy farmers. . .

Fiordland rangers prepare for stoat plague – Dave Goosselink :

Rangers in Fiordland National Park are preparing for a major stoat plague, which will threaten one of our most endangered birds.

There are only around 260 takahe left, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is doing its best to prevent any of them from becoming a Christmas dinner.

A remote part of the Murchison Mountains is home to the last wild population of takahe. The critically endangered native birds face a fresh wave of predators this summer due to bumper seed production in beech forests. . .

Tradition ties agents to job – Alan Williams:

There has been a raft of changes in the livestock agency industry in the more than 50 years Fred Fowler and John Honeybone have been working in Canterbury saleyards but one feature stays the same.

They’re both out there in the sprawling Canterbury Park facility wearing a tie.

“That’s the dress code,” Honeybone says.

“It’s good for discipline, specially for the young fellas.”

Fowler agrees. 

“If you’re standing in front of the public then you wear a tie.” . . .

The people behind the scene – Sally Millar:

As the year draws to a close, I would like to reflect on the year from a regional policy perspective. As Federated Farmers Policy Advisor my role is to advocate on behalf of our members to ensure they are able to farm without resource management policies and plans unduly impacting on their farm businesses.

With an ever changing regulatory climate, compliance can make farming tricky at times. We consider that most farming activities should be permitted, with appropriate standards that are essentially good farming practice and should be able to be complied with, with minimum fuss.  There are however areas where farmers will need a resource consent such as for building a bridge, discharging effluent, or getting a water consent for dairy shed wash-down.  This can be a confusing and complicated process.

Where resource consent is required, Federated Farmers Policy works to ensure the controls are appropriate, fair and achievable, without undue cost to the farmer.   This means if we do our job well much of what we achieve will go largely unnoticed. So I don’t necessarily see it as a negative if members are unsure of what I really do.  . .

Farmers face risk of dam-dry summer:

Low reserves of water in Canterbury have farmers and irrigation companies concerned ahead of what is threatening to be a dry summer.

The  Opuha Dam in south Canterbury is half empty – when, by now, it is usually more than 90 percent full and ready to keep pastures green through the summer.

Fish and Game said there had been an over-allocation of available water, which affected rivers and their ecosystems and needed to be addressed.

While the dam supplied water for irrigation, its main purpose was to stop the Opuha River from running dry. A dry spring and a lack of snow melt meant the dam had just over half the water it should have at this time of year. . .

Fonterra Welcomes New Managing Director International Farming:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is pleased to welcome new Managing Director International Farming Alan van der Nagel to the business.

Mr van der Nagel reports directly to Chief Executive Theo Spierings, and replaces Henk Bles who has served as Interim Managing Director since April. Mr Bles is staying on in an advisory role for up to six months, ensuring a smooth leadership transition.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Mr van der Nagel had a considerable level of executive experience in internationally integrated dairy companies in emerging markets, and an impressive track record of driving operational excellence, working with multi-cultural teams, and managing large-scale international joint ventures. . .

 

 


Trickle down works with irrigation

December 22, 2014

The trickle down theory has been discredited in economics but it works with irrigation and North Otago Irrigation Company’s decision to extend its scheme will provide a boost for the whole region:

The decision by the North Otago Irrigation Company to expand its scheme is a big Christmas present for the region. David Bruce looks at what it means.

It’s a pun, but the trickle-down from new irrigation in North Otago is evident in all sectors of the community.

And it’s the old story – when farmers are doing well, so is North Otago. When they shut their chequebooks, all North Otago suffers.

The figures for the first stage of the North Otago irrigation scheme, opened in 2006, tell the story, and here comes the second stage.

Our farm and the two immediate neighbours had four houses on them before the first stage of NOIC’s scheme brought water to our valley, now there are 14.

That has been repeated all over the district and the people living in the new houses have dropped the average age by decades.

The company has committed to a second stage which will spread the benefits further.

An economic benefit study in 2010 of stage 1 said it was ”the single most significant economic development” project in the Waitaki district in recent years.

Until then, and before dairy prices boomed, then collapsed, it had created 76 jobs on farms that now earn $44 million a year more than before. Since then, on-farm development has continued.

More people now live in the irrigated area, many of them young families, which had brought community and social benefits such as increased school rolls.

It also contributed to population growth in the district.

Business people in Oamaru can point to very tangible gains through the whole of the economy, not just from a more stable agricultural sector but new businesses and increases in jobs in existing businesses.

These have resulted in demands for all services, from motorcycles to new houses, and new farm service companies, particularly related to irrigation.

That was echoed by Otago Chamber of Commerce North Otago spokesman Simon Berry who was pleased with the decision.

”The benefits will be felt far and wide through the whole community. The knock-on and trickle down (from stage 1) has already been shown to be major,” he said.

In terms of new businesses, the chamber had noticed not only people returning to Oamaru but also coming in to set up new businesses, he said, quoting the Tees St Cafe and Scott’s Brewery as recent examples.

Another example was an Oamaru company which was building dairy sheds but had now expanded in to prefabricated buildings and housing which it was selling, not only in North Otago but other expanding regions.

”There are the irrigation servicing companies who are growing or have moved in to town to support the development.”

All that activity was benefiting sub-contractors such as painter and plumbers.

”Anyone who tries to get a tradie will know that.”

That was all a direct result of irrigation, Mr Berry said. . .

The mood in North Otago has been increasingly positive since irrigation first came, even when the weather’s dry and drought’s threatening as it is now, in spite of some rain at the weekend.

Nothing beats water from the sky, but there’s now enough critical mass under irrigation to drought-proof the area, giving farmers on dryland options to sell stock and/or buy supplements or grazing.

The growing optimism has been helped by growth in tourism too.

The little blue penguins, Oamaru’s beautiful old (by New Zealand standards) buildings and more recently steam punk and the Alps to Ocean cycle way have brought more people to the area, providing opportunities for artists, artisans, hospitality and other businesses which service and supply visitors.

The latest Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand crowned Oamaru the coolest town in the country.

The expanded irrigation scheme will provide another boost for the area as money spent by farmers trickles through the rest of the community and into the wider economy.

 

 

 


December 22 in history

December 22, 2014

69 – Emperor Vitellius was captured and murdered at the Gemonian stairs in Rome.

880 – Luoyang, eastern capital of the Tang Dynasty, was captured by rebel leader Huang Chao during the reign of Emperor Xizong.

1135 – Stephen of Blois became King of England

1550  Cesare Cremonini, Italian philosopher, was born  (d. 1631).

1639  Jean Racine, French dramatist was born (d. 1699).

1769 – Sino-Burmese War (1765–1769) ended with an uneasy truce.

1790 – Turkish fortress of Izmail was stormed and captured by Alexander Suvorov and his Russian armies.

1805  John Obadiah Westwood, British entomologist, was born (d. 1893).

1807  The Embargo Act, forbidding trade with all foreign countries, was passed by the U.S. Congress, at the urging of President Thomas Jefferson.

1809 The Non-Intercourse Act, lifting the Embargo Act except for the United Kingdom and France, was passed by the U.S. Congress.

1819  Pierre Ossian Bonnet, French mathematician, was born  (d. 1892).

1851 – The first freight train was operated in Roorkee, India.

1858  Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer, was born (d. 1924).

1885 Ito Hirobumi, a samurai, became the first Prime Minister of Japan.

1888  J. Arthur Rank, British film producer, was born  (d. 1972).

1901  André Kostelanetz, American popular music orchestra leader and arranger, was born (d. 1980).

1907  Dame Peggy Ashcroft, English actress, was born(d. 1991).

1909  Patricia Hayes, English actress, was born (d. 1998).

1914 Swami Satchidananda, Yogi and Spiritual teacher, was born  (d. 2002).

1916 Peter Fraser, who later became Prime Minister, was charged with sedition following a speech attacking the government’s military conscription policy.

Future PM Fraser charged with sedition

1942 Dick Parry, English musician (Pink Floyd), was born.

1948 Noel Edmonds, English game show host, was born.

1949  Maurice Gibb, English musician (The Bee Gees) was born  (d. 2003).

1949 – Robin Gibb, English musician (The Bee Gees), was born (d. 2012).

1956  Colo,  the first gorilla to be bred in captivity was born.

1962 Ralph Fiennes, English actor, was born.

1963 The cruise ship Lakonia burned 180 miles north of Madeira with the loss of 128 lives.

1964  First flight of the SR-71 (Blackbird).

1965 A 70mph speed limit was applied to all rural roads in Britain, including motorways, for the first time. Previously, there had been no speed limit.
1974  Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli voted to become the independent nation of Comoros.

1978 The Third Plenum of the 11th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held in Beijing, with Deng Xiaoping reversing Mao-era policies to pursue a program for Chinese economic reform.

1989 After a week of bloody demonstrations, Ion Iliescu took over as president of Romania, ending Nicolae Ceauşescu‘s Communist dictatorship.

1989 – Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate re-opened after nearly 30 years, effectively ending the division of East and West Germany.

1990 Final independence of Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia after termination of trusteeship.

1992 – Archives of Terror  – archives describing the fates of thousands of Latin Americans who had been secretly kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay – were discovered by  Dr. Martín Almada, and a human-rights activist and judge, José Agustín Fernández. This was known as Operation Condor.

1997  Acteal massacre: Attendees at a prayer meeting of Roman Catholic activists for indigenous causes in the small village of Acteal in the Mexican state of Chiapas werre massacred by paramilitary forces.

2001 Burhanuddin Rabbani, political leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance, handeed over power in Afghanistan to the interim government headed by President Hamid Karzai.

2001 – Richard Reid attempted to destroy a passenger airliner by igniting explosives hidden in his shoes aboard American Airlines Flight 63.

2008– An ash dike ruptured at a solid waste containment area in Roane County, Tennessee, releasing 1.1 billion gallons (4.2 million m³) of coal fly ash slurry.

2010 – The repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, the 17-year-old policy banning  homosexuals serving openly in the United States military, was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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