366 days of gratitude


Terrible Tuesday in Rio, and woeful Wednesday at home – whichever the day, it was a disappointing one for our Olympians.

But it is only sport and we could wake up to find it’s been wonderful Wednesday there giving us thrilling Thursday here and I’m both hopeful of and grateful for that.

Word of the day


Procrustean – of relating or pertaining to, resembling, or suggestive or typical of,  the practices of Procrustes; enforcing uniformity or conformity without regard to natural variation or individuality.

Rural round-up


Dairy downturn has a $1.3b impact on Waikato/Bay of Plenty farmers – Gerald Piddock:

The dairy slump has ripped more than a billion out of Waikato and Bay of Plenty farmers’ pockets, new figures show.

Farm consultancy group AgFirst’s 2016 Financial Survey shows the average dairy farmer’s net cash income was down $273,000 last season.

When multiplied by the region’s 4800 dairy farms, that’s $1.3b in lost income.

The big question was how much longer farmers could maintain the current situation where they had drastically reduced expenditure, AgFirst consultant Phil Journeaux said. . . 

Wintry blast hits farmers hard – Matt Shand:

The milking shed has frozen shut at Taharua Valley Farm as 200 dairy cows huddle together waiting for the problem to be fixed.

At 783 metres above sea level, the 2000-cow PenXing Group Milk New Zealand farm is one of the hardest hit by the recent snowstorm. Just over 100 metres lower in Taupo, the snow was a fun novelty. But here it is causing serious challenges. 

There is no such thing as time off for farmers and farmhands. Hot water and heaters are used to help thaw the shed out so it can hopefully milk animals tonight.  . . 

The snow has come again – Keith Woodford:

Every year we all talk about the weather and how fickle it is.  This year is no different. In most parts of the country, June and July were unseasonably warm.  Where I am in Canterbury, winter grass growth has possibly been higher than ever before.  Grass covers at the start of August were excellent.

In contrast, last year was one of the coldest winters on record, with many South Island farms getting no net growth in June and July.   That year, there was a string of southerlies, whereas this year warm winds were blowing over the Alps. . . 

MPI investigators target alleged unregulated meat sales:

A team of Ministry for Primary Industries investigators today executed a search warrant at an alleged unregulated meat premises in Turangi.

This was the culmination of a six month undercover operation involving the purchase of considerable quantities of venison, lamb and pork products from a local Turangi man.

The man is now being spoken to by MPI investigators in relation to the alleged sale of meat from an unregulated premises.

MPI Compliance Operations Manager, Gary Orr, says a decision will be made shortly as to whether charges will be laid under the Animal Products Act. . . 

Profit jumps for New Zealand’s leading fresh produce exporter :

Turners & Growers Global has posted an 89 percent gain in first-half profit driven by sales from new and existing businesses and a one-time gain from the sale of its crate hire unit.

The fruit marketer is controlled by Germany’s BayWa but is Auckland based. Their product base includes apples, pears, mandarins, coconuts and kiwifruit.

T&G profit rose to $22.7 million, or 18.2 cents a share in the six months ended June 30, from $12m, or 9.8 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose 14 percent to $423m. . . 

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council to get clearer mandate – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, which represents farmer interests in the world’s biggest dairy exporter, is poised for a refreshed mandate with clearer guidelines on how it interacts with the milk processor.

The council and Fonterra Cooperative Group are seeking feedback from farmers on a series of proposals to update the group’s governance to make the council’s role clearer, explain how it works with Fonterra’s board and management, and improve communication with farmer shareholders. Farmers are expected to vote on any changes to the council’s governance at a special meeting in mid-October. . . 

One of the worlds’ most respected wine consultants appointed to NZ’s boutique vineyard Chateau Waimarama:

After an extensive international search, award winning boutique vineyard Chateau Waimarama, has lured leading Bordeaux wine consultant Ludwig Vanneron half way across the world to be its wine specialist.

Ludwig Vannerons’ stellar career has seen him work in prestigious and major wine areas of Bordeaux, managing the winemaking process in estates from small chateau Bordeaux appellation properties to great classified growths. . . 

Only seven sheep each


New Zealand’s beef cattle population has grown but the sheep population has shrunk:

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 2.8 per cent to 3.7 million during the 2015-16 season – same time as the country’s sheep flock decreased 3.0 per cent and now totals 28.3 million.

That’s nearly one cattle beast each and only around seven sheep per person. At peak sheep when the population was around three million we had 20 sheep each.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s latest stock number survey shows that the 2015-16 year has been an exceptionally trying farming season with facial eczema in the North Island and widespread climatic challenges in other parts of the country particularly, North Canterbury.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Operating Officer, Cros Spooner says the 2.8 per cent increase in beef cattle numbers follows a 3.3 per cent decline in the 2014-15 season.

The largest contributor to the increase in cattle numbers was a lift in weaner cattle across many regions, up 8.2 per cent as farmers responded to good returns. The exception to the increased weaner numbers trend was on the East Coast of the North Island, which experienced dry weather conditions, Spooner said.

“There was a continuing decline in the beef breeding herd, down by 1.6 per cent and reflects the trend to more flexible cattle systems. This reinforces the need for better integration with the dairy industry, particularly with genetics which is a key area of focus for Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Breeding cows are in demand now and prices are reflecting that.

Spooner says breeding ewe numbers fell across all regions of New Zealand. They were down by 3.1 per cent overall – but the largest drop was in Marlborough and Canterbury (-6.5%) due to the ongoing drought conditions.

“North Island ewe numbers decreased 2.9 per cent to 9.0 million with drought conditions and facial eczema a significant cause. South Island numbers dropped 3.3 per cent to 9.5 million also affected significantly by drought. Reducing capital stock numbers is often the least preferred option for farmers so it does reflect a very challenging year.”

Spooner says the national hogget flock is also down on last year.

“Hogget numbers decreased 3.0 per cent to 8.9 million, but the fall was most dramatic in the North Island – down 6.9 per cent. On the East Coast, some of the decrease was driven by a reduced lambing% in spring 2015 and the influence of dry conditions forcing destocking in autumn 2016.In Taranaki-Manawatu, lambs were finished earlier, in response to the conditions, leading to fewer head on hand at season- close. Marlborough and Canterbury hogget numbers increased by 4.8 per cent with higher numbers of bought in trade hoggets held at season end.

“Ewe condition and scanning results have been variable across New Zealand and the lamb crop is expected to be down by 2.9 per cent, to 23.3 million – 0.7 million fewer than last season. This is the result of several factors, including fewer breeding ewes and higher empty rates which will reduce lambs born to ewes mated.”

Spooner said many farmers would want to have more stock on-hand at this time of year, however a combination of dairy farmers rearing more replacements themselves (normally grazed on sheep and beef farms), climatic conditions that have led to early sales of stock, lower pasture covers in some regions and in some cases a shortage of available of replacement stock, are all factors. The challenge for farmers will be maximising the performance of animals on-hand and secondly as farming conditions allow finding profitable stock classes to restock with. . . 

The full report is here.

New Zealand’s sheep population peaked at more than 70 million in response to SMPs – Supplementary Minimum Prices – which created a mutton mountain we couldn’t sell.

A combination of droughts and the end of subsidies in the wake of Roger Douglas’s first Budget in 1984 led to a sharp decline in sheep numbers and they’ve been going down ever since.

The steep decline in stock numbers hasn’t been mirrored by a similar slump in the amount of meat produced.

Better genetics and farming methods have enabled farmers to produce more meat per sheep.

While the quantity of sheep has fallen, the quality of meat exported has improved. In the 1980s most of our meat was sold as frozen carcases. Different cuts, and improved technology which has given chilled meat a longer shelf life, have resulted in better meat which can command a higher price.

New markets have been developed and our reliance on the Uk has decreased, but even so there’s still a lot of the world which isn’t interested in sheep meat.

Falling stock numbers and increasing automation have led to far fewer jobs at meat works too and this report is likely to lead to more debate on over capacity in the industry.

Quote of the day


Fear and prejudice put up a terrible fight when they sense change coming. – Susan Dorothea White, who celebrates her 75th birthday today.

August 10 in history


955 Battle of Lechfeld: Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor defeated the Magyars, ending 50 years of Magyar invasion of the West.

991 Battle of Maldon: English, led by Bryhtnoth, Duke of Essex, were defeated by a band of inland-raiding Vikings.

1270 Yekuno Amlak took the imperial throne of Ethiopia, restoring the Solomonic dynasty to power after a 100-year interregnum.

1316  Second Battle of Athenry.

1519 Ferdinand Magellan’s five ships set sail from Seville to circumnavigate the globe.

1557 Battle of St. Quentin: Spanish victory over the French in the Habsburg-Valois Wars.

1628 The Swedish warship Vasa sank in the Stockholm harbour after only about 20 minutes on her maiden voyage.

1675 The foundation stone of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London was laid.

1680 The Pueblo Revolt began in New Mexico.

1792 French Revolution: Storming of the Tuileries Palace, Louis XVI was arrested.

1809 Quito declared independence from Spain.

1829 First ascent of Finsteraarhorn, the highest summit of the Bernese Alps.

1840 HMS Britomart arrived at Akaroa, on Banks Peninsula, a week before a shipload of French colonists landed. The ship’s captain raised the Union Jack to confirm British sovereignty over the area.

British assert sovereignty as French head for Akaroa

1846 The Smithsonian Institution was chartered by the United States Congress after James Smithson donated $500,000 for that purpose.

1861 American Civil War: Battle of Wilson’s Creek.

1869  – Laurence Binyon, English poet, playwright, and scholar, was born (d. 1943).

1874 – Herbert Hoover, American engineer and politician, 31st President of the United States, was born (d. 1964).

1889 m– Charles Darrow, American game designer, created Monopoly, was born (d. 1967).

1894 – V. V. Giri, Indian lawyer and politician, 4th President of India, was born (d. 1980).

1900 – Arthur Porritt, Baron Porritt, New Zealand physician and politician, 11th Governor-General of New Zealand, was born (d. 1994).

1901 The U.S. Steel Recognition Strike by the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers began.

1904 Russo-Japanese War: the Battle of the Yellow Sea.

1905 Russo-Japanese War: peace negotiations began in Portsmouth.

1913  Delegates from Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece signed the Treaty of Bucharest, ending the Second Balkan War.

1920 World War I: Ottoman sultan Mehmed VI’s representatives signed the Treaty of Sèvres that divides the Ottoman Empire between the Allies.

1926 – Marie-Claire Alain, French organist and educator, was born (d. 2013).

1932 Rin Tin Tin, German shepherd dog, was born (b. 1918).

1932 A 5.1kg  chondrite-type meteorite broke into at least seven pieces and landed near Archie in Cass County, Missouri.

1933 – Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Baroness Butler-Sloss, English lawyer and judge, was born.

1940 Bobby Hatfield, American singer (The Righteous Brothers), was born (d. 2003).

1941  – Susan Dorothea White, Australian painter and sculptor, was born.

1943 Jimmy Griffin, American guitarist (Bread), was born (d. 2005)

1944 World War II: American forces defeated the last Japanese troops on Guam.

1947  Ian Anderson, Scottish singer (Jethro Tull), was born.

1948 Candid Camera made its television debut after being on radio for a year as Candid Microphone.

1951 – Juan Manuel Santos, Colombian businessman and politician, 59th President of Colombia, was born.

1954 The groundbreaking ceremony for the Saint Lawrence Seaway was held.

1961  Jon Farriss, Australian musician (INXS).

1969 Members of Charles Manson‘s cult killed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

1977  David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”) was arrested for a series of killingsin the New York City area over the period of one year.

1988  U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, providing $20,000 payments to Japanese Americans who were either interned in or relocated by the United States during World War II.

1990  The Magellan space probe reached Venus.

1995  Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were indicted for Oklahoma City bombingMichael Fortier pleaded guilty in a plea-bargain agreement for his testimony.

1998 The Royal Proclamation of HRH Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah as the crown prince of Brunei.

2003 The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK – 38.5°C (101.3°F) in Kent.

2003 – Yuri Malenchenko became the first person to marry in space.

2006  Scotland Yard disrupted major terrorist plot to destroy aircraft travelling from the United Kingdom to the United States. In the wake of this all toiletries were banned from commercial airplanes.

2009 – Twenty people were killed in Handlová, Trenčín Region, in the deadliest mining disaster in Slovakia’s history.

2012 – The Marikana miners’ strike began near Rustenburg, South Africa.

2013 – The World Championships in Athletics took place in Moscow.

2014 – 39 people were killed in a plane crash at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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