366 days of gratitude

July 7, 2016

When the world seems like an increasingly uncertain and unstable place, and events beyond our control threaten to impact on us, it’s helpful to retain a bit of perspective and remember that regardless of what hits the headlines and the gloomy prognosis the opinionati deliver as a result of that, the sun still rises in the east.

This week it has been doing so in a particularly spectacular fashion, painting the sky above the horizon in brilliant shades as I begin my morning constitutional and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

July 7, 2016

Whenua – land, homeland, country; afterbirth, placenta.

(Recognising  Maori Language Week).


Rural round-up

July 7, 2016

Need for young blood – Peter Burke:

The aging population in agriculture is working against New Zealand, says Lincoln University’s Jon Hickford.

Speaking to Rural News at the Careers in Agriculture hub at Fieldays, Hickford says this is a huge problem, compounded by NZ’s rapid urbanisation and disconnection from the agri sector.

The problem now is to find enough good young people to work in agriculture.

“The problem across the western world is that young people are entirely urbanised and don’t realise the job opportunities out there on the land. In the case of NZ, agri defines our existence as a country. . . 

Cheap food has high price:

A Lincoln University expert is warning of the cost of focusing on producing food cheaply.  

A report into European farming policy ‘Does the CAP still fit’, co-authored by Lincoln University Professor of Farm Management Alison Bailey, says there is overwhelming evidence at local, national and global levels that food systems need to change.  

The paper was for the Food Research Collaboration on the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which provides support to Europe’s farmers. . . 

Feds support stance on GMOs by 107 world-leading scientists:

As more than 100 world-leading and award-winning scientists voice their support of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Federated Farmers continues to endorse farmers’ rights to decide what technologies are used on their farms.

Federated Farmers’ spokesperson Katie Milne said it’s clear that the long-term stance opponents have against all GMO is well and truly outdated and lacks scientific scrutiny.

“Federated Farmers recognises GMOs can provide many positive benefits to farmers and it’s up to individual farmers to decide whether to use GMOs or not. We have a neutral stance on this.

“Through GMOs farmers could have cows without horns or have the ability to not breed calves, there are many positive animal welfare outcomes for the industry,” said Ms Milne. . . 

Feds unveil guide to local government excellence:

See full Federated Farmers Local Government Manifesto here.

A best-practice, practical and common-sense approach to governance has been unveiled by Federated Farmers at its national conference in Wellington today.

Federated Farmers’ Local Government spokesperson Katie Milne said this tri-annual guide promotes the latest thinking on how councils should be engaging with and providing services to farmers and other ratepayers.

“Farmers are some of the largest funders of local government and the sector most likely to be impacted by regulation developed and implemented by councils. “Farmers need level-headed councillors who prioritise real needs over the ‘nice to haves’. They also need to respect the considerable contributions from ratepayers,” said Ms Milne. . . 

Livestock and sustainability – challenges and opportunities for New Zealand:

Livestock may provide one-third of the value of global agricultural production, but it comes at a big cost for the planet. Livestock uses 80 per cent of the world’s agricultural land, putting pressure on water resources and biodiversity and emitting 14.5 per cent of the planet’s greenhouse gases.

The benefits, risk, trade-offs and consequences are complex and policy makers are always looking for guidance. Now, new guidelines have been developed by the Committee on World Food Security’s High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE). The Committee’s report Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition: what roles for livestock? was launched last week at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome. . . 

UK referendum opens can of worms and some opportunities  – Allan Barber:

The referendum on EU membership produced a result nobody really expected and nearly half the voters didn’t want, but now everyone has to plan for an uncertain future. There have even been suggestions the exit might not happen, unless the Westminster Parliament passes the required motion to activate the start of the exit process. It’s not worth thinking about the implications for British democracy, if that were to happen.

In the immediate aftermath of the 23 June referendum there are only two certainties in a sea of uncertainty – the pound is worth a lot less than it was which will affect export receipts, but red meat access to the EU including the UK will not change for two years from the time the UK invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which sets the exit process officially in motion. . . 

Agriculture set for slow-down – OECD:

The latest 10-year outlook from the OECD warns the recent period of high agricultural commodity prices is most likely over.

The report, produced with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said overall market growth was projected to slow and agricultural trade was expected to grow at less than half the rate of the previous decade.

The report – ‘OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2016-2025’ – said global agricultural trade was expected to grow by 1.8 percent per annum in volume during the next 10 years. . . 

Do possums howl at the moon?

Knowing if nocturnal pest mammals are more affected by the phases of the moon or by illumination could bring New Zealand one step closer to being pest free and save control agencies significant sums of money.

Lincoln UniversityEcology Master’s student Shannon Gilmore’s research into the effect lunar phases and illumination have on activity levels in possums, stoats, rats and mice is aimed at finding more effective and efficient means of targeting and managing these pests.

“It costs millions every year to control their populations,” says Shannon. “We’re waging a kind of war on pests. We need to discover their weaknesses. What trait do all four have in common that we can take advantage of? They are all nocturnal, and many nocturnal animals dramatically reduce their activity with the full moon, while others can become more active. . .

 


Thursday’s quiz

July 7, 2016

Anyone is welcome to pose the questions.

Everyone who stumps us all will win a virtual batch of shortbread.


The spousing crisis

July 7, 2016

Behind the humour is the sorry truth of an unfortunate aspect of modern life:

The spousing crisis is leading to homelessness and child poverty.

Rental spouses are just too expensive.They are insecure and impermanent. You could get kicked out at any time and have to go looking for another. Some spouses have become P-contaminated and put children at risk. But there simply aren’t enough solid, life-time spouses available, so more and more people are being forced into the rental spouse market. . . 

Read the rest at Lindsay Mitchell.


Chasing Great

July 7, 2016

The official trailer for Chasing Great, the story of Richie McCaw and the path to the 2015 World Cup, has been released.

IMDb has the plot summary:

All Black captain Richie McCaw has lived his dream with characteristic precision and calculated determination. He’s 34 and perhaps the best rugby player ever. But the dream is almost over. He is old by professional sport standards and everyone is asking when he’s going to retire. Before his career ends Richie McCaw sets his sights on a risk-all attempt to win the Rugby World Cup back to back. No team has won it a second time in a row. No captain has won it twice. He will either end his career on an impossibly high note or take a nation’s dreams down with him. Chasing Great follows Richie McCaw through his final season as he attempts to captain the All Blacks to the first ever-back-to back World Cup win. Until now Richie McCaw’s achievements have been well documented, but little is known about the man himself. He has never courted the media and remains intensely private. Chasing Great takes the audience inside his world for the first time and what emerges is a very personal insight into high level international sport and a revealing psychological profile of the mind of a champion. Natural strength, hard work and sacrifice only get him so far. To become the best he has to master his mind. The mental toughness and self knowledge that McCaw has honed and worked to attain over the later years of his career has elevated him from a great player into perhaps the greatest ever. . . 

This film is about more than rugby and sport.

It’s the story of a country kid who worked out what he wanted to do and what it took to not only do it but do it to the best of his ability.

It launches on September 1.

 


Quote of the day

July 7, 2016

We undress men and women, we don’t dress them any more. –  Pierre Cardin who celebrates his 94th birthday today.


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