366 days of gratitude

October 25, 2016

It’s not unusual to run into someone you know when your nearest town is small.

But to bump into friends, one of whom lives nearly three hours away, just in time for afternoon tea isn’t very common.

Today that’s what happened serendipitously and I’m grateful for it.


Word of the day

October 25, 2016

Vainglorious – . characterised or marked by, showing, or proceeding from vainglory; vain, excessively boastful; excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements.


How’s your musculo-skeletal health?

October 25, 2016

You can get a scan if you’re worried about your bone density but there’s an easier way to test your musculo-skeletal health:

One in three women and one in five men will suffer a fracture as a consequence of low bone density.

But a challenge has been launched for World Osteoporosis Day to help gauge our resilience against osteoporosis.

It’s a simple test to count how many times you can sit and stand in 30 seconds without using your hands.

It measures overall musculo-skeletal health, that researchers say is vital to preventing osteoporosis.

You start seated in a chair, then count how many times you can stand and sit, with arms folded, in half a minute.  It’s important to fully stand and fully sit at each repetition to get a good measure.

A healthy person with average fitness under 40 should be able to achieve a score of more than 19.

If you are over 40, you should be able to score 1-2 less than this for every decade beyond 40.

If you struggle, you may want to consult a health professional.

Fonterra Principal Research Scientist Linda Schollum says the challenge is not in a formal research setting, but launched as a fun and engaging way to raise awareness.

“The test is a bit of fun and anyone in reasonable health can do it. It’s really valuable to test how well your body is faring.” . . 

I managed 25.


Rural round-up

October 25, 2016

Golden harvest from Fiordland farm – Sally Rae:

Growing saffron and Fiordland might sound an unlikely combination.

But Te Anau couple Steve and Jo Daley have big plans for their fledgling organic operation with an ambitious goal of becoming world-renowned for the costly spice.

“It’s just so damn exciting, the product, and people are so interested in what we’re doing,” Mr Daley said.

Mr and Mrs Daley have 1.5million crocus corms on their property and their intention is to  increase that  to 50million, which would make them the biggest saffron producers in New Zealand.

With a day job as a fencing contractor, Mr Daley, while stationed behind the post driver, got thinking about other ways to make a living.  . . 

Sand and milk: Dairy farming in the desert – Sally Rae:

For Clayton Buckley, the past 12 years working for Almarai — the world’s largest vertically integrated dairy company — have been quite an experience.

Suffice to say, it was ‘‘not like farming here’’, he said during a recent visit home. 

Mr Buckley (35) was brought up in North Canterbury, where his father Russ was a ‘‘part-time’’ deer farmer.

He used to head south during school holidays to stay with his aunt and uncle Gail and Trevor Meikle and help on their farm, near Oamaru.

He enjoyed it so much that when he was about nine, he announced to his parents he was going to buy Mr and Mrs Meikle’s farm, he recalled. . . 

Quad bike deaths at record high – Catherine Hutton:

The number of deaths from quad bike accidents has reached a record annual high of 14, and an agriculture expert says the rate is predicted to rise.

A quad bike accident in Taupō on Saturday night left one person dead and another with moderate injuries, bringing the number of deaths from quad bikes this year to 14, a record for a single year.

The former director of Lincoln University’s Telford campus, Charley Lamb, said the deaths were occurring as a result of crush injuries, which research showed roll bars would prevent.

“Very few bikes have roll over protection, which of course they should do. Whether people want to debate that and argue that, they can. But they used to do the same about safety frames on tractors and they did the same about seatbelts in cars.” . . 

DIRA changes don’t go far enough – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra has criticised proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act as not going far enough because they continue to impose constraints on the co-operative that help its competitors.  

The proposed changes to DIRA announced by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy provided a mixed bag for Fonterra which its Farm Source chief operating officer Miles Hurrell labelled a “lost opportunity to address artificial constraints”.  

While an end was in sight for the requirement to sell milk to its largest competitors, Hurrell said Fonterra was still obligated to accept and process all milk produced which meant shareholders having to invest in stainless steel. . . 

Age ousts three directors – Sally Rae:

Three directors, including founder and chairman Graham Cooney, have stepped down from the board of Blue Sky Meats due to an age-related clause in the company’s constitution.

A letter sent to suppliers of the Southland-based meat company this week, signed by chairman Scott O’Donnell and directors Peter Carnahan and Andy Lowe, said Mr Cooney, Peter Houlker and Malcolm McMillan were unable to continue as the constitution precluded any individual from being a director once they reached 65. . . 

Don’t blame staff – Annette Scott:

Agri businesses are bad at attracting the right staff rather than being victims of a shortage of skilled and experienced people, Synlait Milk chief executive John Penno says.  

“Effectively, I’m saying our primary industry business models are not strong enough to compete for the right people.  

“We need leaders growing up in our businesses and we need businesses growing these leaders.”  Penno focused on the challenges of knowledge and skills for land-based industries towards 2030, in a presentation to an Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum.  

“This really made me think,” Penno said. . . 

A changing of the guard for DWN:

Dairy Women’s Network has a new skipper at the helm after today’s AGM, with incumbent chair Justine Kidd stepping down and Cathy Brown of Pahoia being warmly welcomed into the role.

A crowd of about 60 DWN members, staff and sponsors gathered at Wintec in Hamilton today to celebrate another successful year for the 9000-strong not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to supporting and inspiring women to succeed in the business of dairying.

Brown has been involved with DWN since the late 90s, first hearing about the organisation when she worked at CRV Ambreed. She quickly became a member of what was at that point a largely internet based network and attended the organisation’s first conference in 2001. . . 


Cathy Brown (left) with Justine Kidd.

‘Good dog’ makes dog training easier – Anna Holland:

Two words I find invaluable when training dogs are “good dog”.

The secret to their effectiveness is understanding, timing and correct usage; overuse them and their power is lost.

Not only do you need to understand when and how to use “good dog”, but the dog needs to understand the meaning. I once commented to someone, “You never say ‘good dog’.” And the next thing he was like a stuck record with the words; the trouble is he may as well have been speaking a foreign language because the words had no meaning for his dogs. . . 


DIRA improvements

October 25, 2016

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to the  Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA):

“When Fonterra was formed as the dominant market player, DIRA was established to ensure an efficient and innovative dairy industry to promote the long-term interests of farmers and consumers,” says Mr Guy.

“A report from the Commerce Commission earlier this year found that competition is not yet sufficient to warrant deregulation at this point. Once sufficient competition is in place, competitive pressure, rather than the DIRA regulatory provisions, should drive the efficiency of New Zealand dairy markets. Competition helps keep businesses efficient, giving individual dairy farmers more options and choice.

“Around 100 submissions were received on the Government’s subsequent proposals to amend DIRA. These were split between those who wanted further deregulation of Fonterra and those who said Fonterra was still in a dominant position.

“Having considered these submissions, the Government has now agreed to a number of changes to the DIRA regulatory regime.”

The changes are:

  • Prevent the efficiency and contestability provisions of the DIRA from expiring in the South Island, and require that the next review of the state of competition in the New Zealand dairy industry commence during the 2020/21 dairy season (20 years since DIRA began).
  • Enable ongoing monitoring of dairy markets.
  • Allow Fonterra discretion to accept applications to become shareholders from new dairy conversions from 2018/19.
  • Alter who is eligible for regulated milk from Fonterra, and the terms that it is available on. Specifically:
  • Fonterra will no longer be required to sell regulated milk to large, export-focused processors from the start of the 2019/20 season.
  • All processors purchasing regulated milk will have reduced flexibility in forecasting the volume of regulated milk they intend to purchase from Fonterra from the start of the 2018/19 season.

“Consultation provided new information about risks of some of the originally proposed changes to regulated milk – particularly for downstream markets and consumers. The Government is therefore deferring the consideration of those potential changes to regulated milk for Goodman Fielder and small or domestically focused processors.

“Officials will start a body of work to understand the complexities in this area and any outcomes will inform the next review.

“The next review will commence by the 2020/21 season – 20 years since DIRA was created. The scope of this review will be wider than just competition policy to take into account any impacts from the work on downstream milk markets,” says Mr Guy.

An Amendment Bill is likely to be considered by the Primary Production Select Committee in early 2017. The Select Committee process will provide further opportunity for public input. Changes to the Raw Milk Regulations will be made via Order in Council. . . 

The wrong question on business formation has been asked if government legislation is the answer.

However, the legislation was passed 15 years ago and the change to allow Fonterra to turn down applications from new suppliers is a welcome one.

The requirement to accept all applications from new suppliers has forced the company to pick up milk from farms in far-flung places. Without that requirement many of these farms would not have converted which would have been better for the company and possibly the environment.

This requirement has also forced the company to over-invest in processing.

No longer requiring Fonterra to supply the larger exporters which are its competitors will be better for it without harming them as they are well able to get alternative supplies.


More murky milk in China

October 25, 2016

Fonterra has launched an internal investigation after 19 people were arrested in Shanghai for selling nearly 300 tonnes of expired milk powder.

The suspects were reportedly managing a company which was packaging expired products of the New Zealand dairy giant into smaller packages for resale below market prices.

After a lengthy investigation, police discovered one of the suspects sold the expired products to another company, who in turn allegedly resold almost 200 tonnes to distributors in Shanghai and in the Jiangsu, Henan and Qinghai provinces, who sold them on e-commerce platforms or in wholesale.

Authorities have seized 100 tonnes of these products and have shut down the websites selling them.

A spokesman for Fonterra said the company supported the action taken by Chinese authorities and that it believed the case was a one-off.

“We support the enforcement steps taken by Chinese officials. While we believe this is an isolated criminal incident, we are reviewing the case internally,” spokesman Phil Johnstone told Reuters.

The milk powder scandal is the latest to hit China’s beleaguered food industry, where food safety incidents, including sale of adulterated or expired products have been on the rise. . . 

 The company is doing the right thing by investigating another murky milk mess in China.

The expired milk powder probably isn’t a health risk. Use-by dates are very conservative and a lot of food is still safe after the expiry date.

But that’s not the point.

Milk powder that has passed its expiry date has not been disposed of appropriately. The company needs to find out how that happened and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.


Quote of the day

October 25, 2016

Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.  Pablo Picasso who was  born on this day in 1881.

He also said:

It takes a long time to become young.

And:

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

And:

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

And:

Every positive value has its price in negative terms… the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.


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