366 days of gratitude

March 17, 2016

Why is it that St Patrick is celebrated in the way that others, even Andrew, David and George the saints of Ireland’s neighbours Scotland, Wales and England aren’t?

The celebrations are rarely saintly but often lots of fun.

Today I’m grateful for the excuse to celebrate, even if I’m not going to take the opportunity to do so.


Word of the day

March 17, 2016

Ragaire – (Irish) one who enjoys late-night wandering, or for sitting up talking long into the early hours.


Rural round-up

March 17, 2016

It’s cyclic – ‘We will survive’  – Dirk Sieling:

Dairy economist Peter Fraser cannot go unchallenged. The anti-Fonterra and dairying bias he showed during his time at the Ministry for Primary Industries continues unabated.

His simple tactic of building a case on an unsubstantiated or false premise is typical of the misguided notions that often end up in the public domain.

In his March 7 article, he quotes data from the Reserve Bank showing that dairy farmers are borrowing about $3.5 billion per year “just to stay afloat”. This is just a nonsense.

Dairy farmers may well be borrowing that amount on average over time, but it is more often than not to buy another farm, build a new cowshed or convert drystock land to dairying.

But on the premise that it is “just to stay afloat”, he builds a scenario of lots of farmers going broke and collapsing land prices, all in a downward spiral. . . 

From a farming MP to her province – Barbara Kuriger:

The dairy industry is once again headlining news this week. I acknowledge this is a tough time for farmers. You and I as farmers know that the dairy pay-out is volatile; it rises and it dips and as a result of this, it has evolved as one of the most financially enduring industries in the agricultural sector. Falling dairy prices means it may be a tight year for many, and budgets are being adapted to counter this.

There has been much emotive talk by opposition about how our Government is ‘failing the dairy industry’, because they can’t actively step into this situation and raise the dairy pay out back to $8 kilogram MS. But the Government does have in progress three incredibly gutsy pieces of legislation that will assist the dairy industry, for which the benefits to dairy are widely unreported.  . . 

Dairy farmers forget past lessons – Mark Lister:

Milk is a cyclical commodity, and prices have been low before.

he long-term outlook for the dairy sector is strong, but the immediate future is highly concerning. Global prices are down 12 per cent this year and about a third lower than a year ago.

Against that backdrop, it was unsurprising to see Fonterra reduce its milk payout forecast to $3.90 per kg of milksolids this week. Adding in the dividend from Fonterra, the total payout will be about $4.25.

This is the lowest payout since 2006/07, and with a break-even price of about $5.30, the majority of farmers will suffer a second year of operating losses. . . 

Controlling dairy farm cost of production – Keith Woodford:

The key dairy priority at the moment, which stands above all else, is to minimise the number of New Zealand dairy farmers who will succumb to the current downturn. In particular, we all need to try and limit the damage to the latest generation of younger farmers who are often the most indebted.

It is all about getting the cost of production under control.

I have previously written about survival strategies and the need for each farm and farmer to chart his or her own path. I have also tried to caution against panicking and making big system changes when in a crisis. More particularly, I have tried to emphasise that hungry cows always kick their owners in the back pocket. Also, I regularly try and remind people that cost of production has both a numerator (which is cost) and a denominator (which is production). . . 

Irrigation funding boost for Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed three new investments totalling $1.6 million into irrigation projects coming from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

The three irrigation projects receiving funding are in the Wairarapa ($804,000), Hawke’s Bay ($575,000), and Gisborne ($250,000).

“This funding helps support the development of irrigation proposals to the stage where they are investment ready,” says Mr Guy.  . . 

Funding for irrigation unlocks potential:

Irrigation New Zealand applauds the latest announcement by Government sighting three more grants by the Irrigation Acceleration Fund – $804,000 for the Wairarapa Water Use Project, $575,000 for Ruataniwha (Hawke’s Bay) and $250,000 for Gisborne’s Managed Aquifer Recharge Trial.

“It’s great to see the Irrigation Acceleration Fund delivering on what it was set up to do – supporting the potential for irrigated agriculture to contribute to New Zealand’s sustainable economic growth,” says Irrigation New Zealand chairwoman Nicky Hyslop. . . .

Research to set NZ sheep milk apart:

New Zealand’s sheep milk industry is set to benefit from ground-breaking research by AgResearch.

Two hundred people are attending the second Sheep Milk NZ industry conference, being held in Palmerston North this week (14th-15th March). The first conference last year attracted 160 people, with the rise reflecting the increased interest in the industry.

AgResearch scientists presented the initial results from two years of research from the $6 million MBIE-funded programme “Boosting exports of the emerging dairy sheep industry”, ranging from composition of New Zealand sheep milk through to best practice effluent management. . . 

Industry looks beyond radiata:

Future generations of New Zealanders may live in a patchwork landscape where several different forest species compete on the hills for growing space with the familiar Pinus radiata.

“Radiata is a great multi-purpose tree that grows well in many places. But it is not perfect for all growing situations or market needs. And there are obvious risks in having all our eggs in one species basket,” says Forest Owners Association research and development manager Russell Dale.

“We are therefore thrilled as an industry that the government is joining us in the Specialty Woods Products Research Partnership. This is a major programme that will investigate new products and markets for alternative species and build the confidence of forest growers in planting those species that show promise.” . . 

Fonterra’s Anmum Formula Hits Nz Shelves:

Fonterra’s internationally established infant nutrition brand Anmum is now available to New Zealand families.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Managing Director Leon Clement says Anmum is a $200 million brand in Fonterra’s Asian markets with an established track record of quality and trust with parents.

“Anmum draws on Fonterra and its legacy companies’ 50 plus years of experience in dairy research and in producing paediatric formulas for third parties. Bringing Anmum to New Zealand families means we are now providing nutrition for key life stages,” he says. . . 

Growth Attracts 28 New Canterbury Milk Suppliers:

Synlait now has 201 milk suppliers for 2016 / 2017 to meet forecast growth in their value-added nutritional product business.

John Penno, Managing Director and CEO, said a combination of increased customer demand for nutritional products – such as a2 Platimum® Infant Formula – and increased production capacity with a new large scale spray dryer has created an opportunity for Canterbury dairy farmers to supply Synlait.

“We’ve had a very positive response to this opportunity, to the extent we have not been able to accept supply from everyone interested and we now have a waiting list,” said Mr Penno. . . 


Thursday’s quiz

March 17, 2016

It’s up to you to pose the questions with no need to follow the five-question formula I used.

Anyone who stumps us all will win a virtual patch of four leaf clovers.


What if this was a dairy farm?

March 17, 2016

Wastewater overflow is polluting an Auckland beach:

Sanitary items have been washing out of wastewater pipes into one of Auckland’s popular inner-city beaches and upsetting local residents, but Watercare says overflows are a regular occurrence. . .

Watercare says a nearby wastewater pipe had become blocked with fat and rags, causing the volume of wastewater to build up in the network and escape into the bay.

A team cleared the blockage with a sucker truck, and over the past two days carried out tests, which found the overflow caused no contamination.

However, Watercare says overflow caused by fat, rags or wet wipes is a common occurrence and a growing problem.

“We are working to educate our customers on what steps they can take to minimise blockages and keep our beaches and environment clean,” says communications manager Rachel Hughes. . .

Watercare can’t be blamed for people putting things they shouldn’t down loos, sinks or drains, but there’s a double standard here.

Farmers are fined for ponding of effluent that could reach a waterway even if it doesn’t, yet this gross urban pollution is a regular occurrence.


Quote of the day

March 17, 2016

Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration. –  Rudolf Nureyev who was born on this day in 1938.


March 17 in history

March 17, 2016

45 BC Julius Caesar defeated the Pompeian forces of Titus Labienus and Pompey the Younger in the Battle of Munda.

180 Marcus Aurelius died leaving Commodus as the sole emperor of the Roman Empire.

624 Led by Muhammad, the Muslims of Medina defeated the Quraysh of Mecca in the Battle of Badr.

1337 Edward, the Black Prince was made Duke of Cornwall, the first Duchy made in England.

1473 King James IV of Scotland was born (d. 1513).

1756 Saint Patrick’s Day was celebrated in New York City for the first time (at the Crown and Thistle Tavern).

1776 American Revolution: British forces evacuated Boston, Massachusetts after George Washington and Henry Knox placed artillery overlooking the city.

1780 American Revolution: George Washington granted the Continental Army a holiday “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence”.

1805 The Italian Republic, with Napoleon as president, became theKingdom of Italy, with Napoleon as King.

1834 Gottlieb Daimler, German engineer and inventor was born (d. 1900).

1845 The rubber band was patented.

1846 Kate Greenaway, English children’s author and illustrator, was born (d. 1901).

1860 The opening shots of the first Taranaki War were fired when imperial troops attacked a pa built by the Te Ati Awa chief Te Rangitake at Te Kohia.

First Taranaki war erupts at Waitara

1861 The Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946) was proclaimed.

1864 Joseph Baptista Indian Home Rule founder was born  (d. 1930).

1880 Lawrence Oates, English army officer and Antarctic explorer, was born (d. 1912).

1905 – The only surviving Maungatautari Bank cheque was issued.

1919 Nat King Cole, American singer, was born (d. 1965).

1920 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Founding Leader of Bangladesh, was born (d. 1975).

1938 Rudolf Nureyev, Russian-born dancer and choreographer, was born (d. 1993).

1938 Zola Taylor, American singer (The Platters), was born  (d. 2007).

1939 Battle of Nanchang between the Kuomintang and Japan started.

1941 The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC was officially opened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1941 Paul Kantner, American musician (Jefferson Airplane) was born.

1942 The first Jews from the Lviv Ghetto were gassed at the Belzec death camp (eastern Poland).

1945 The Ludendorff Bridge in Remagen, Germany collapsed, ten days after its capture.

1947 First flight of the B-45 Tornado strategic bomber.

1948 Benelux, France and the United Kingdom signed the Treaty of Brussels.

1950  Researchers at the University of California announced the creation of element 98, which they named “Californium.”

1951 Scott Gorham, American musician (Thin Lizzy) was born.

1954 Lesley-Anne Down, English actress, was born.

1957 A plane crash in Cebu killed Philippine President Ramon Magsaysayand 24 others.

1958 The United States launched the Vanguard 1 satellite.

1959 Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, fled Tibet for India.

1960 U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Security Council directive on the anti-Cuban covert action programme that led to the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

1966  Off the coast of Spain, the Alvin submarine found a missing American hydrogen bomb.

1967 Billy Corgan, American musician (Smashing Pumpkins), was born.

1969 Alexander McQueen, British fashion designer, was born (d. 2010).

1969 Golda Meir became the first female Prime Minister of Israel.

1970 My Lai Massacre: The United States Army charged 14 officers with suppressing information related to the incident.

1973 The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph Burst of Joy was taken, depicting a former prisoner of war being reunited with his family.

1976 Stephen Gately, Irish singer, musician, and actor (Boyzone) was born (d. 2009).

1979 The Penmanshiel Tunnel collapsed during engineering works, killing two workers.

1988 A Colombian Boeing 727 jetliner, Avianca Flight 410, crashed into a mountainside near the Venezuelan border killing 143.

1988 Eritrean War of Independence: The Nadew Command, an Ethiopian army corps in Eritrea, was attacked on three sides by military units of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front in the opening action of the Battle of Afabet.

1992 Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Aires: Suicide car bomb attack killed 29 and injured 242.

2000 More than 800 members of the Ugandan cult Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God died in a mass murder and suicide orchestrated by leaders of the cult.

2003 Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook, resigned from the British Cabinet over his disagreement with government plans for the war with Iraq.

2004 –  Unrest in Kosovo: More than 22 killed, 200 wounded, and the destruction of 35 Serbian Orthodox shrines in Kosovo and two mosques in Belgrade and Nis.

2008 – Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer resigned after a scandal involving a high-end prostitute. Lieutenant Governor David Patersonbecame New York State governor.

2011 – Libyan civil war: The United Nations Security Council adoptedUnited Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, authorising a military intervention by member states to protect civilians in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

2013 – The largest meteorite (since NASA started observing the moon in 2005) hit the moon.

Sourced from NZ History and Wikipedia.


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