366 days of gratitude

August 15, 2016

The first of our calves have moved out of the sheds in which they’re sheltered and fed when they’re very young and a small herd of them is now in the paddock outside my kitchen window.

They spend much of their day attending to the serious business of eating and drinking but every now and then they pause to play – running, jumping and obviously enjoying themselves.

They’re the first sign of spring. They’re also a reminder of the joy of play and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

August 15, 2016

Fain – pleased or willing under the circumstances; gladly; compelled by the circumstances; obliged.


NZ on top per capita

August 15, 2016

New Zealand is on top of the Olympic medal tally on a per capita basis according to Statistics NZ:

On a medals per capita basis, New Zealand now ranks at the top of the table with two gold medals and six silver at the Rio Olympics, Statistics NZ said today.

With eight medals overall at the half way stage at Rio, New Zealand is the highest performing country, with the equivalent of 1.77 medals for every one million people.

Slovenia is second on 1.45 medals for every one million people. Hungary and Denmark are third and fourth respectively, with Fiji coming in fifth based on its one gold for the men’s rugby sevens win.

However, on a per capita basis for gold medals alone, Fiji tops the table, with its one gold for a population of just under 900,000. On that basis, New Zealand’s two gold medals leave it in sixth place, with a population of more than 4.5 million.

During the weekend, Mahe Drysdale’s single sculls gold medal was the high point for the New Zealand team.

On Saturday, New Zealand won two silver medals, for shot-putter Valerie Adams and at the rowing where Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown also picked up a medal in the pair.

 Graph, Gold medals per million population, provisional count (15 August 2016), Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Graph, Medals per million population, provisional count (15 August 2016), Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Olympic Medals Per Capita   also ranks countries by medals per GDP.

1 Grenada 1 0.82 0.82
2 North Korea 6 22.00 3.67
3 Fiji 1 3.81 3.81
4 Mongolia 2 8.56 4.28
5 Jamaica 3 15.07 5.02
6 Kyrgyzstan 1 5.92 5.92
7 Georgia 2 14.37 7.18
8 Ethiopia 4 31.71 7.93
9 Uzbekistan 5 45.36 9.07
10 Hungary 13 140.03 10.77
11 Kenya 3 33.62 11.21
12 Cuba 5 60.81 12.16
13 Belarus 4 55.14 13.78
14 Lithuania 3 42.73 14.24
15 New Zealand 8 130.68 16.33
16 Slovenia 3 49.54 16.51
17 Kosovo 1 18.84 18.84
18 Croatia 3 63.85 21.28
19 Bahrain 1 21.90 21.90
20 Estonia 1 22.18 22.18

It also gives a weighted medals per capita where where gold is worth four points, silver two and bronze one:

1 Grenada 2 106,825 53,412
2 Fiji 4 892,145 223,036
3 New Zealand 20 4,595,700 229,785
4 Slovenia 7 2,063,768 294,824
5 Jamaica 9 2,725,941 302,882
6 Hungary 31 9,844,686 317,570
7 Croatia 10 4,224,404 422,440
8 Denmark 13 5,676,002 436,615
9 Kosovo 4 1,859,203 464,800
10 Australia 47 23,781,169 505,982
11 Great Britain 99 65,138,232 657,961
12 Bahrain 2 1,377,237 688,618
13 Switzerland 12 8,286,976 690,581
14 Lithuania 4 2,910,199 727,549
15 Netherlands 23 16,936,520 736,370
16 Sweden 13 9,798,871 753,759
17 Puerto Rico 4 3,474,182 868,545
18 Slovakia 6 5,424,050 904,008
19 Mongolia 3 2,959,134 986,378
20 Belgium 11 11,285,721 1,025,974

Rural round-up

August 15, 2016

Unreliable rain reduces sheep numbers – Kate Taylor:

The seasons are changing at Patoka Station and less reliable rainfall is affecting the way it’s farmed. Kate Taylor reports.

It looks green but the grass is much shorter than normal for late winter on Patoka Station in Hawke’s Bay.

That picture is about to change, though owners Ben and Suzie Crosse are unaware of it as they discuss their upcoming lambing, starting from August 31. A storm is approaching the central North Island and will dump 190mm of freezing-cold rain on the 1200ha farm.

The farm has monthly records going back to 1948 but the rainfall hasn’t been reliable lately, Ben says. . . 

Biggest year’ ever for avocado growers

With avocados back on the menu, New Zealand growers are gearing up for their best season ever.

That’s according to John Carroll, director of the country’s largest exporter Avoco, who says his firm expects to ship off about 3.2 million trays of the fruit in the coming months.

In total, 5.1 million trays, about 28,000 tonnes, are predicted to depart our shores, mainly bound for Australia and Asia. . . 

Forest industry’s challenge to manage supply fluctuations:

The pan forest and timber processing industry organisation, the New Zealand Wood Council (Woodco) says there is a supply challenge for many regions in the domestic processing industry.

Woodco Chair, Brian Stanley says timber processors are being hindered by a current lack of logs, especially in the higher grades.

He says small scale woodlot owners are being enticed into quick export contracts instead, where the buyers are not providing the domestic processors with an opportunity to purchase these logs. . . 

Deputy PM Bill English visits Blue River dairy factory – Dave Nicoll:

It was a bit surreal for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to see award winning cheeses named after places his mother grew up.

English made a special visit to the Blue River Dairy factory in Invercargill on Friday as part of a trip to the Southland region.

Blue River Dairy produced a number of award winning cheeses, and milk powder from sheep milk and has expanded into exporting sheep milk baby formula into China. . . 

Fonterra Announces New Palm Products Sourcing Standard:

Fonterra has adopted a new standard for sourcing of palm products as part of its commitment to sustainability.

The standard was developed in consultation with key supply partners, and it follows discussions with Greenpeace that began in December 2015 to strengthen Fonterra’s existing sustainable palm products sourcing procedures.

“The new standard requires us to purchase only segregated supply palm oil by 2018, and to work with suppliers of palm products to ensure that plans are in place for full traceability to plantation by 2018,” said Fonterra’s Director of Social Responsibility, Carolyn Mortland. . . 

Action to help farming productivity in Manawatu-Whanganui:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says $465,000 towards primary sector initiatives in the ‘Accelerate 25 Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan’ launched today will make a real difference to the region.

“Manawatū-Whanganui has the largest sheep flock and beef herds of any region in the country, and half of New Zealand’s lamb exports come from within two hours’ drive of Feilding. We need farming to do well to drive economic prosperity here,” says Mr Guy.

Speaking at Ross and Wendy Humphrey’s farm in Cheltenham, Mr Guy says much of the funding will be used for information sharing to lift productivity.   . . 

Report shows good results from flood recovery money:

A report on Government assistance to farmers following the June 2015 Taranaki-Horizons storm shows that good results were achieved, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“These storms had a major impact on the region and caused widespread damage, so it’s pleasing to see that Government funding has made a real difference,” says Mr Guy.

“The storm on 18-20 June 2015 brought widespread heavy rainfall, flooding and erosion to the Taranaki and Horizons regions. Hill sheep and beef farmers were particularly affected by flooding of river margins and damage to tracks and fences, with damage also to dairy land and young forest plantations.” . . 

Wools of New Zealand well set for end of grower-funding

Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) Chairman Mark Shadbolt says the company is making strong commercial progress with an expected maiden profit for the 2016 financial year.

Shadbolt was responding to a recent shareholder comment in a local rural newspaper that the company would “almost certainly fail” without income from farmers’ Wool Market Development Commitment (WMDC).

“To the contrary, WNZ is making investments that are reducing the company’s reliance on the WMDC.” . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2015/16 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2015/16 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and it is currently set by Fonterra at $3.90 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2015/16 season just ended. The report does not cover the forecast 2016/17 price of $4.25 that Fonterra recently announced.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation each year at the end of the dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s calculation of the 2015/16 base milk price is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of DIRA. . . 


Shareholders back SFF

August 15, 2016

Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders have backed the board in its plan to enter into partnership with Shanghai Maling:

A strong majority of 80.4% of votes in favour of the 50/50 partnership with Shanghai Maling reinforced Silver Fern Farms Board’s position that the partnership is in the best interests of shareholders and the Co-operative.

The resounding support from shareholders came at a Special Meeting requisitioned by Messrs John Shrimpton, Blair Gallagher and a group which included 31 other shareholders who supported a statement stating they wanted to stop the $261m investment into Silver Fern Farms.

The 80.4% of shareholders’ votes in support of the partnership follows the result of the October 2015 vote, where 82% of votes cast supported the transaction. Both vote results exceeded the 75% Special Resolution threshold put forward by the Requisitioners. Chairman Rob Hewett said it was pleasing shareholders remained overwhelmingly supportive of the partnership.

“While the Board has clearly stated its view that the outcome of this meeting could not bind the company given the valid and binding approval last October, it is pleasing to see shareholders reaffirm their support and maintain their confidence in this exciting opportunity to create a sustainable Silver Fern Farms,” Mr Hewett said.

Mr Hewett said the partnership would create a strong Silver Fern Farms.

“This partnership will enable us to generate higher, sustainable returns for our shareholders.

“Shareholders have again made it clear they want progress for their company. They want meaningful change and are genuinely excited about the prospects presented through this significant investment and partnership with Shanghai Maling.

“The Board has strongly disagreed with the negative stance on the transaction taken by Messrs Shrimpton and Gallagher. They have caused significant disruption and their actions have been damaging to the company. Their allegations have proven to be entirely unfounded. Independent reviews by both the Financial Markets Authority and the Registrar of Companies have found no issue with the information provided to shareholders in October 2015 or the actions of the Directors.

Chief Executive Dean Hamilton said the process to complete the transaction had continued with all outstanding information now with the Overseas Investment Office for its consideration.

“We remain confident that we will achieve OIO approval prior to 30 September, and proceed to complete the transaction by 4 January 2017 as previously announced.

“The clear message from the voters is to get on with it, and realise this opportunity ahead of us.”

2610 shareholders voted representing 62.15% of eligible votes.

John Shrimpton says he accepts that shareholders have spoken.

New Zealand First which has also been a very vocal opponent of the plan continues to show it doesn’t understand the issue:

New Zealand First says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will regret selling majority control of their co-op to the Chinese but expects the Overseas Investment Office will greenlight it at breakneck speed.

“Today was the owners of Silver Fern Farms last chance to preserve one of New Zealand’s great assets for present and future farmers,” Mr Peters says. . . 

“How is it that foreigners can see value in what we produce, but the producers and this government can’t? Meat progressively joins forestry and increasingly dairying to condemn farmers as price takers at the bottom of the heap. . . 

This was a matter for shareholders not politicians.

SFF needs a large investment if it is to survive. Shareholders weren’t prepared to invest more and the company wasn’t able to get other investment from within New Zealand.

If the partnership doesn’t go ahead the company has no future, and even if it does get OIO approval, SFF has a lot of work ahead of it.

The deal leaves Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industries, farmers who prefer that model can choose to support that company.


Glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer – EPA

August 15, 2016

Glyphosate,  is unlikely to cause cancer in people, according to a new safety review by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

It’s a herbicide widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, and one of the most common brands using it is Roundup which has been targeted by people and organisations opposed to sprays.

The report commissioned by the EPA concludes that based on the weight of evidence, ‘the broad-spectrum herbicide is unlikely to be carcinogenic and should not be classified as a mutagen or carcinogen under the HSNO Act’. This is the latest in a long line of technical and scientific reports by expert bodies and regulators confirming the safety of glyphosate.

Agcarm chief executive, Mark Ross says, “I urge our councils and communities to take heed of this report and rest assured that the use of glyphosate in our parks, gardens and play areas poses no threat to the health of our people, pets or children.

“Glyphosate is an efficient and cost-effective means to keeping our country weed-free, our agricultural economy growing, and our environment protected.”

Agcarm commends the EPA for conducting this review and addressing the concerns that the public has raised about the herbicide. The results help to curtail the fear-mongering around the use of crop protection products – which are among the most highly-regulated substances in the world.

Experts from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) recently concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.”

The European Food Safety Authority, an independent agency funded by the European Union, also concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans”.

“I anticipate that we can put this matter to bed and continue to use a very practical, economic and safe solution – so we can keep our parks and gardens weed-free,” says Ross.

Glyphosate has recorded over 40 years of safe use and has been the subject of over 800 studies, all of which confirmed its safety. It continues to be rigorously tested by regulators in New Zealand and throughout the world, with more than 160 countries approving its safe use.

Unlikely to be carcinogenic  is unlikely to satisfy those most strongly opposed to glyphosate but there are few absolute certainties in these matters and it is virtually impossible to say anything is 100% safe. Even water, on which all life depends, can kill if ingested in sufficient quantities.

Agcarm is the industry association of companies which manufacture, distribute and sell products which include glyphosate and is not a disinterested party but the EPA is unbiased and bases its finding on research.

Its report is here and concludes that there is no convincing evidence of an association between glyphosate exposure and the development of cancer in humans. .


Having problems commenting?

August 15, 2016

An email from a reader has alerted me to problems with comments:

When typing in the comment box it just freezes sometimes as early as the second letter entered.

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This isn’t happening at other sites which suggests it’s this site not the reader’s computer.

If you’re having problems could you please let me know so I can alert the fix-it people at WordPress.

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