Word of the day


Scumble – to make less brilliant by covering with a thin coat of opaque or semiopaque colour applied with a nearly dry brush; to apply a colour in this manner; to soften the lines or colors of (a drawing) by rubbing lightly.

Rural round-up


Let’s crunch the facts and the debate on irrigation – AgriView NZ:

The Labour Government’s decision to cut additional funding for new irrigation plans has sparked debate over the value of irrigation to agriculture and the economy in recent weeks. According to the 2017 Manifesto on water policy, Labour will “Honour existing commitments, but remove Crown subsidies for the funding of further water storage and irrigation schemes”, a measure falling under the government’s wider aims to improve water quality nationwide, and “restore our rivers and lakes to a truly swimmable state within a generation”.

For Dr. Mike Joy, senior lecturer in Ecology and Zoology at Massey University’s Institute of Agriculture and Environment, the negative environmental impacts of intensive irrigated systems are undeniable. . . 

Lepto no longer men-only disease – Peter Burke:

With more women working in farming, more are contracting the disease leptospirosis, says the president of Rural Women NZ, Fiona Gower.

She told Dairy News, at a recent international conference on leptospirosis in Palmerston North, that the changing nature of the workforce on farms and in the rural sector generally means this disease is no longer a probably only for men.

Women are getting to work on farms in their own right or in a partnership, “feeding calves, milking cows, doing work with the stock — much more hands on these days”. . . 

The AstinoTM: New Zealand’s newest sheep breed moves wool up the value chain:

Developed by wool innovation specialists Lanaco, The Astino is bred specifically for the company’s premium, wool-based healthcare products – offering farmers the opportunity for better wool returns.

Breeder Andy Ramsden says Astino represents a positive step-change in the industry.

“It’s increasingly clear that supplying generic wool on the open market is not sustainable. The way forward for farmers is twofold – transitioning to innovative new breeds that are branded and controlled and forming partnerships with manufacturers like Lanaco, who have the global reach and marketing capability to earn a premium”. . . 

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Did ewe know . . .  wool clothing helps your skin breathe and regulate temperate better.

New national Dairying Award announced:

A new national award will recognise dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry.

The Fonterra Farm Source Responsible Dairying Award has been introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

Rachel Baker, NZDIA Executive Chair, says that farmers are being encouraged to share stories of how they are farming responsibly, both environmentally and socially. . . 

Beef reads into the headlines – Shan Goodwin:

BY 2020, health related expenditure in Australia is expected to overtake the spend on restaurants and hotels.

Meanwhile, incomes are growing fast in Asia.

Dishonest companies are being exposed online.

Consumers are looking for country of label origins on food packaging.

And the plethora of competing sources of information means nobody knows what or who to trust.

As inconceivable at it may seem, these apparent peripheral tidbits all have quite the potential to influence the future fortunes of the Australian cattle producer. . .

We must not take NAFTA’s blessings for granted – Tim Burrack:

How is NAFTA good for your children and grandchildren?” A very direct – and insightful – question asked by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at a recent round of NAFTA talks, according to an account in last week’s Wall Street Journal.

Patrick J. Ottensmeyer, a railroad executive who described the incident, offered his own response in an op-ed. He cited the usual statistics: U.S. farm exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled since NAFTA lowered tariffs in the 1990s. Without this trade agreement, he wrote, the billions of dollars in goods and services that we now sell to Canadians and Mexicans “would be replaced by products from other markets,” such as Europe and South America.

All that’s true. I’ll even take it a step further: Without NAFTA, America’s agriculture-dependent heartland would sink into a new depression. . . 

Early releases and empty aisles: is this the beginning of the wnd to the #StockShowLife? – Uptown Farms:

The North American International Livestock Exposition is wrapping up and as is customary, my newsfeed is filled with pictures from the green shavings.

There’s an emerging theme to this year’s photos and posts- one of emptiness. The show introduced a new, shortened schedule for the first time in years, drastically reducing the number of animals and people that held over to the end.

Those exhibitors still left are posting pictures of empty barn aisles and vacant ringside seats, even while Supreme Champions are being selected.

It’s heartbreaking. . . 

Universality vs targeting


When redistributing taxpayers’ money by way of benefits governments can go opt for universality or targeting.

The advantage of universality is that administration is simple.

The disadvantage of universal benefits is that they are very expensive and take no account of need.

Those with more than enough get butter and jam while those without enough still struggle to get bread.

The advantage of targeting is that more money can be given to fewer people, making it easier to help those most in need.

The disadvantages are that administration is more complicated, and therefore costly; and that some people in need might miss out.

In New Zealand superannuation isn’t targeted. One reason for that is that targeting would punish the thrifty.

Really wealthy people would be fine and really poor people would get help. But some of those in the middle who had saved for their retirement would find themselves no better off than those who had not.

That is a good reason for universality for the basic pension but it shouldn’t extend to extras like the winter heating payment which the government is going to pay to all beneficiaries, including superannuitants.

It’s contradictory that they don’t want the rich or even middle income people getting a tax cut but they’re going to give wealthy pensioners money towards their power bill.

Another contradiction is the fee-free study. As Bill English pointed out in parliament last week, the government didn’t want him to have a $1,000 tax cut but will pay his son’s university fees which will cost many thousands of dollars more.

Then there’s the $60 a week baby bonus which is also universal.

The good part of that is that poorer single income families who don’t qualify for parental leave payments will get it. The bad part is the wealthy who don’t need it will also get it.

All these extra payments would be far better targeted to give those in real need more and leave those who are more than capable of looking after themselves to do so.



Quote of the day


It often takes more courage to change one’s opinion than to keep it. Willy Brandt who was born on this day in 1913.

December 18 in history


218 BC – Second Punic WarBattle of the Trebia – Hannibal’s Carthaginian forces defeated those of the Roman Republic.

1271  – Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia and China.

1642  Abel Tasman and his men had the first known European encounter with Maori.

First contact between Maori and Europeans

1707 – Charles Wesley, English Methodist hymnist, was born (d. 1788).

1777 The United States celebrated its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the Americans over General John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga in October.

1849 – Henrietta Edwards, Canadian activist and author was born (d. 1931).

1863  Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, was born (d. 1914).

1878 – Joseph Stalin,  leader of the Soviet Union, was born  (d. 1953).

1890 Edwin Armstrong, American inventor (FM radio) was born (d. 1954).

1898  Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat set the new land speed record going 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h), in a Jeantaud electric car. This is the first recognised land speed record.

1900 The Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook Narrow-gauge (2 ft 6 in or 762 mm) Railway (now the Puffing Billy Railway) in Victoria opened.

1908  – Celia Johnson, English actress, was born (d. 1982).

1910 –Eric Tindill, New Zealand cricketer and rugby player, was born  (d. 2010).

1913 – Willy Brandt, Chancellor of Germany, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born (d. 1992).

1916  Betty Grable,  American actress, was born  (d. 1973).

1935 – Jacques Pépin, French chef, was born.

1938 Chas Chandler, English musician (The Animals), was born (d. 1996).

1943  Keith Richards, English guitarist (The Rolling Stones), was born.

1946   Steve Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist, was born  (d. 1977).

1946 – – Steven Spielberg, American director, producer, and screenwriter, co-founded DreamWorks , was born.

1963   – Brad Pitt, American actor and producer was born.

1966  – Saturn‘s moon Epimetheus was discovered by astronomer Richard Walker.

1972 – Vietnam WarPresident Richard Nixon announced that the United States would engage North Vietnam in Operation Linebacker II, a series of Christmas bombings, after peace talks collapsed with North Vietnam on the 13th.

1973 – – Soviet Soyuz ProgrammeSoyuz 13, crewed by cosmonauts Valentin Lebedev and Pyotr Klimuk, is launched from Baikonur in the Soviet Union.

1973 – The Islamic Development Bank was founded.

1981  – First flight of the Russian heavy strategic bomber Tu-160, the world’s largest combat aircraft, largest supersonic aircraft and largest variable-sweep wing aircraft built.

1999 NASA launched into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT.

2006 – The first of a series of floods struck Malaysia. The death toll of all flooding was at least 118, with over 400,000 people displaced.

2009 – The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference closed with the signing of the Copenhagen Accord.

2010 – Anti-government protests began in Tunisia, heralding the Arab Spring.

2015  – Kellingley Colliery, the last deep coal mine in Great Britain, closed.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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