Word of the day

February 27, 2015

Acarine  – a small arachnid of the order Acari ; a mite or tick; of like or relating to, or denoting, acarines.


Rural round-up

February 27, 2015

TB testing reductions another step in eradicating the disease:

Farmers and OSPRI continue to make good progress in their fight against bovine tuberculosis (TB) as high risk areas are reduced.

More than 3190 herds across 937,100 hectares will benefit from reductions in both Movement Control Areas (MCA) and cattle and deer bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests from 1 March 2015.

Herds throughout parts of North Canterbury, Otago and Southland will no longer require pre-movement TB testing, but will continue to be tested annually.

Dunsdale dairy farmer Kelvin Brock is moving out of the Hokonui MCA. He said the progress made by OSPRI’s TBfree programme through movement restrictions and possum control has been particularly satisfying. . .

 

Beef and lamb environment plan approved :

Environment Canterbury has approved a farm environment plan template for the beef and lamb industry under the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan.

Acknowledging the quality of the template, Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield said Beef + Lamb New Zealand had met all the requirements of Schedule 7 of the proposed plan.

“We hope the farm environment plans that come from this template are valuable both for farmers and for Beef + Lamb,” Bayfield said. . .

Tagged stock have added value – NAIT – Gerard Hutching:

The move towards tagging and registering all cattle and deer will be a significant boon to farmers and the New Zealand economy, says the agency administering the system.

Farmers have a deadline of July 1 this year to ensure all their cattle are tagged and registered. Deer will have to be up-to-date by March 2016.

Dr Stu Hutchings, head of the OSPRI’s National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme, said there were three main benefits of tagging: for biosecurity; food safety/market access; and farm management.

“The dairy sector thinks about biosecurity implications from a disease perspective such as foot and mouth, so for them it almost becomes an insurance policy,” he said. . .

Nation’s Top Lamb Finalists Announced:

The finalists of the 2015 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, have been announced.

Following stringent scientific testing, over 150 entries have been narrowed down to 20 in the search for the nation’s most tender and tasty lamb.

Carne Technologies General Manager, Nicola Simmons says the tests they run look at yield and the attributes which are relevant to the end product.

“We analyse each lamb leg entry using objective measurements for tenderness, colour and succulence as these are ultimately factors which affect the consumer’s eating experience,” says Nicola. . .

 

The evolution of Fonterra – Keith Woodford:

[This is the first of a series of five articles on Fonterra that I have been writing for the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times. This one was published on 1 February 2015.]

It is now a little more than 13 years since Fonterra was formed. In that time, all of the foundation directors have moved on. There have also been three Chief Executive officers (CEOs) and at least four Chief Financial Officers. None of the current top level management team that reports to the CEO were there at the start.

Fonterra itself is a very different company to those early days. It started off as a traditional co-operative, in which members owned shares in proportion to their production. These shares were purchased directly from the co-operative at a price which the co-operative determined. If a farmer ceased production, then the shares were sold back to the co-operative at the current buy/sell price as determined by Fonterra. Given that production and ownership were aligned, any apportionment between what was paid for the milk and what was paid as a dividend on invested capital, was of no material consequence. . .

Synlait Farms rebrands as Purata:

Synlait Farms – the former subsidiary business of Synlait Ltd – has rebranded as Purata.

With Latin and Maori origins meaning ‘clear, bright – like a beautiful morning,” Purata’s name reflects the company’s new vision post ownership change, says Purata CEO Juliet Maclean.

Accompanied by the tagline ‘Farming for Tomorrow’, the Purata brand embodies the company’s focus on innovation, sustainability and creativity.

Juliet Maclean says changing the brand name, tagline and colour palate will help Purata reinforce its separate identity since leaving parent company Synlait Ltd. . .

 

Positive forecast for PGG Wrightson – Alan Williams:

PGG Wrightson is forecasting a very solid increase in annual earnings after reporting its strongest interim result in seven years.

The after tax profit for the six months ended December 31 was $19.7 million, up from $13.4m in the same period a year earlier.

Though there were still several months of trading and the risk of lower farmer spending because of drought conditions, managing director Mark Dewdney said the group was now forecasting operating earnings (Ebitda) of between $62m and $68m for the full year to June 30, up from $58.7m last year. . .

A weather eye on the climate – Pete Mailler:

A FEW years ago my oldest daughter came home from school in a state of high agitation. I quizzed her on what was concerning her, to which she replied angrily that I was killing the polar bears.

Apparently she had learned at school that our collective continued use of petrol and diesel was causing global warming and this was threatening the bears. In her young mind this was interpreted as the fuel use on our farm was directly and singularly the cause of the problem.

“My agricultural science training compels me to rely on good science in forming my own opinion”

I was more than a little disgusted that climate activists were able to terrorise my daughter in such a way. However, as much as it pains me to say so, it did cause me to check my own assumptions and attitudes to climate change. . .

"Bales as far as the eye can see :-D<br /><br /><br /> #Baling #RounBales"


Peters standing to give Invercargill MP at Northland’s expense

February 27, 2015

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is standing in the Northland by-election.

. . . He said today that standing in the by-election was not an easy decision, but he had a long held concern for “Northland’s forgotten people”.

National had forgotten Northland for years, and the region was stagnating, Peters said. . .

He will be hoping that Northland voters have forgotten, or never knew, about the vagaries of MMP.

Should he win the seat he will become an electorate MP and the next person on NZ First’s list will get into parliament. That’s Ria Bond from Invercargill.

Quite how Peters will persuade the good people of Northland they will be represented by voting him in as an electorate MP with his reputation for talking big and doing little and in the process losing an MP from their end of the country and gifting parliament one from the other will remain to be seen.

Labour has confirmed Willow-Jean Prime as its candidate, and the Act Party will stand Whangarei orchardist Robin Grieve.

The Green Party and the Maori Party are not standing candidates.

If Labour sabotage their candidate in an attempt to unite opposition votes behind Peters it could happen.

Voters often punish the governing party in a by-election and a new candidate usually doesn’t attract the same level of votes a sitting one did.

The 2014 election results show:

NZ First didn’t bother standing a candidate in Northland last year. Mike Sabin won the seat for National with 18,269 votes and a majority of 9,300 over Prime who got 8,969 votes.

National gained 17,412 party votes; Labour got 5,913 and NZ First 4,546. the Green Party managed to get 3,855 votes and its candidate gained 3,639 votes.

National members in the electorate will select their candidate tomorrow.

The five in contention are: Grant McCallum, Mita Harris, Matt King, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

 

 

 

 

 


Friday’s answers

February 27, 2015

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.?

2. On which family was The Sound of Music based?

3. It’s tambour in French; tamburo in Italian, tambor in Spanish and taramu in Maori, what is it in English?

4. In which section of the orchestra would you find a tam tam and a marimba?

5. What was the first record/cd you bought?

Points for answers:

Andrei wins a virtual CD of his choice with a clean sweep.

Gravedodger got four, a smile for his answer to #4 and a query – how did he get a floppy 45? Any I knew were hard and easily scratched and broken.

J Bloggs also wins a virtual CD with five right.

Rob got four, a grin for #1 and a thanks for the music link.

Teletext also wins a virtual CD with a clean sweep.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Just a fire?

February 27, 2015

A van fire in an underground car park  has necessitated the evacuation of a Westfield West City complex in Henderson.

It could be the result of an accident.

It could be the result of criminal action which might or not be an act of terrorism.

The safety of fire fighters and staff, shoppers and others in the vicinity is more important than the cause at this stage.

 


Fonterra holds payout

February 27, 2015

Fonterra’s announcement that it is holding the season’s forecast payout at $4.70 with an estimated dividend range taking it to $4.95 – $5.05 for the current season will have disappointed many after successive increases in the GlobaDairyTrade auction and  commentators had suggested an increase to $5.

Chairman John Wilson said that although dairy commodity prices had gone up, the increase was not sufficient to raise the forecast Farmgate Milk Price at this time.

“Since December, GDT prices for Whole Milk Powder have increased 45 per cent and Skim Milk Powder prices have increased 13 per cent,” Mr Wilson said.

“There continues to be significant volatility in international commodity prices. New Zealand volumes are down, with continued uncertainty in milk production due to climatic conditions in New Zealand with droughts in Canterbury, Marlborough, Central Otago and North Otago.

“Today’s forecast reflects the Board and management’s best estimates at this time. We are advising farmers to continue to be cautious with budgeting and we will update them as the season progresses.”

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Fonterra was sticking to its strategy, with confidence in the long-term fundamentals of dairy demand.

“We will provide a full business update when we report our Interim Result on 25 March,” Mr Spierings said.

Fonterra is required to consider its forecast Farmgate Milk Price every quarter as a condition of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

 

But maintaining the payout will give farmers confidence.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said the Co-operative’s announcement to maintain the 2014/15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price at $4.70 per kg/MS will be a relief for Farmers.

Mr Brown: “On-farm conditions have been really tough throughout the country and Farmers will be pleased that the recent downward trend has stopped.

“It has also been encouraging to see GlobalDairyTrade, and in particular Whole Milk Powder prices, increase significantly recently and given what took place late last year it will go some way to building confidence on farm.”

Mr Brown said that Farmers will be looking with great interest when the forecast dividend is announced at the interim results in late March.

“Our Farmers will want to see the strategy, which is key to adding value long term, deliver a return relative to the significant investment they have made and continue to make in their Co-op.

“In the interim, as always, the Council urges Farmers to be prudent in their financial planning to ensure they place their businesses in the best possible shape for next season.”

 

There is time for an increase but any is likely to be modest.

Most of this season’s milk has already been sold and while the outlook is more optimistic it is still volatile.


MPs can change Act

February 27, 2015

One man I approached to see if he’d be interested in seeking selection as a candidate for National last year said he couldn’t afford to.

He was at a stage in his life where the drop in pay would be too big a hit for him and his family .

That could well be the reason some people don’t stand but many who do enter parliament get a pay rise and few leave to go on to higher paying careers.

That is one of the reasons the news of MPs’ pay rises are met with such outrage although pay should be for what they are actually doing rather than what they did before, or might do after they leave, parliament.

On that basis some are underpaid.

My MP Jacqui Dean, for example serves and services well the country’s third largest general electorate, Waitaki. She is a select committee chair (for which she is paid a little more) and a parliamentary private secretary (which attracts no extra pay) and she’s also co-chair of the Rules Reduction Taskforce.

There is no question that she works hard and substantial increased majorities in successive elections indicate her constituents recognise this.

That can’t be said for all MPs.

Can anyone name more than one or two of the sycophants who are in parliament on New Zealand First’s list let alone provide evidence they do much to earn their salary?

Remuneration Authority members aren’t tasked with what individual MPs do. Salaries are set not on individual performance but the positions they hold so a hard working and effective MP gets the same as a slacker.

In announcing increased pay rates for MPs the Authority said:

The Authority continues to use a total remuneration approach in setting the base salary for members, as it does for other groups for whom it sets pay. The Authority takes as its starting point its payline for public servants undertaking jobs with broadly similar complexity and responsibility. That enables it to identify a total remuneration package, based on market rates, for ordinary members. The Authority then deducts from that total package the value of the employer superannuation subsidy to members (20% of an ordinary member’s salary) and the personal benefit of entitlements to members and their families (as assessed by the Authority). The figure remaining after these deductions from the total package becomes the base salary. If an individual member chooses not to take advantage of one or both of the entitlement and superannuation payments, his or her base salary is not increased.

1.5 The same approach is not taken with senior positions in Parliament, including the Prime Minister, Ministers, the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, Party Leaders, and so on.

1.6 In recognition of the significant element of public service given by those serving in the Executive and in senior roles in Parliament, democracies like our own have traditionally significantly discounted the rate at which their leaders have been materially rewarded, and those aspiring to those positions have accepted such a discount. The rates for these positions are not set based on market rates or the Authority’s general payline, but maintain previous relativities established over many years and reinforced when parliamentary remuneration was fully reviewed in 2001/02. . .

In 2014, the Authority’s payline at the level for ordinary members increased by 3.3%. For this year, the personal benefit of the travel entitlement to members and their families has been assessed at $3,200 per member, a reduction in the amount assessed in previous years, which takes into account tightened provisions around the personal use of travel by family members. Taking into account the change in value of the travel entitlement, this produces a package increase of 3.56% and a salary increase for ordinary members of 5.5%. . .

Which market rates the Authority took account of to get a package increase of 3.5%, and a salary increase for ordinary members of 5.5%, which takes into account the decrease in travel allowances, when inflation is so low isn’t clear, especially when the PM wrote requesting no increase at all:

. . . He told reporters this morning that he wrote to the Remuneration Authority early this year urging it not to give MPs a pay rise at all this year, but the authority had given them a pay rise anyway.  . .

He wants the Authority to review its system:

“What I think the Remuneration Authority should do, if they are going to give a pay increase to MPs, is I think they should point to the law and tell us what in the law is driving the sort of increases that they want to give MPs, and then we should go away and consider whether we think that law is appropriately set,” he said.

“In my view it’s quite clear that inflation is low, that MPs are by any measure well recompensed, and against that the Remuneration Authority has had the view that ministers are a long way away from chief executives and to other senior people in the private sector.

“But you don’t go into politics and become either a minister or a prime minister, or even a backbencher, because you are there for the money. If you do you are there for completely the wrong motivation, so I just don’t think that’s a relevant comparison in my view.” . . .

An Act of Parliament governs how MPs’ remuneration is set and therefore it is in MPs’ power to change it.

David Farrar has been suggesting sensible change for some time:

. . .On multiple occasions I have submitted that the law should be changed so that the sets salaries for an entire parliamentary term, rather than annually. There is no need for annual adjustments in a low inflation environment. They should be set three months before each election and apply for the whole term. . .

That wouldn’t change the howls of outrage every time there is a pay increase.

But it would set a good example when inflation is low and provide an incentive for keeping it low.


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