365 days of gratitude

January 19, 2018

Moorpark apricots don’t always look the best but these ones were blemish-free.

Not all of them were the deep colour which signifies ripeness but I bought them anyway.

They might not have the colour but they do have the flavour, every one of the several I’ve eaten has been delicious and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

January 19, 2018

Haply – perchance; perhaps; by accident or luck.


Is pregnant PM a world first?

January 19, 2018

Is this another world first for New Zealand?:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford, have today announced that they are expecting their first child in June.

“We’re both really happy. We wanted a family but weren’t sure it would happen for us, which has made this news unexpected but exciting.

“Yesterday I met with Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, to share the news and to ask him to take on the role of Acting Prime Minister for a period of 6 weeks after our baby is born.

“As is the case when I am overseas, Mr Peters will act as Prime Minister, working with my office while staying in touch with me. I fully intend to be contactable and available throughout the six week period when needed.

“Mr Peters and I have a great relationship, and I know that together we’ll make this period work. I will make arrangements for appropriate Ministers to act in my other portfolios over the six weeks I am away from Parliament.

“At the end of my leave I will resume all Prime Ministerial duties.

“Clarke and I are privileged to be in the position where Clarke can stay home to be our primary caregiver. Knowing that so many parents juggle the care of their new babies, we consider ourselves to be very lucky. . . 

Several women have become mothers while they’re MPs but this is the first New Zealand Prime Minister to be pregnant in office.

Jenny Shipley’s children were in their teens when she became PM and Helen Clark didn’t have children.

Someone with a better knowledge of New Zealand political history than mine might correct me, but I can’t name a New Zealand Prime Minister who became a father while in office. *

My knowledge of international political history is even more scanty. I can name several women Prime Ministers with children but none who gave birth while holding the office.

My generation was probably the last to be brought up thinking we’d marry and have babies, in that order, and that at least while the children were young would put mothering before paid work.

Younger women have been brought up being told girls can do anything which is often interpreted to mean not just everything but everything at once.

That is of course impossible. But younger men have also been brought up with the expectation they will play a much more active role in parenting than the men of earlier generations did.

Providing the pregnancy, birth and childhood go smoothly, it is possible for a woman to grow and deliver a baby, take some leave, then return to work and for the baby’s father to take on the role of stay-at-home parent.

As Liam Hehir says the country should keep running while she’s on leave.

. . . This is good news. Children are a blessing. But apart from happiness for Ardern and her partner, there is another reason to be glad. This is an opportunity for New Zealand to demonstrate its bona fides as a mature and stable liberal democracy.

The good governance of this country should not depend on the constant availability of any one person. If a system breaks down over the temporary absence of a single individual, then that system is not fit for purpose. The prime ministership is not, and should never be, be a single point of failure for the country as a whole. . . 

Mark Richardson was roundly criticised for asking Ardern about her plans to have a family.

The criticism wasn’t entirely fair. The couple’s family plans are their own business but a question on the impact that might have on the country is legitimate.

At the time I thought the critics were underestimating the demands of both roles – that of Prime Minister and parenting. But others can deputise for the PM.

Women have been raising families while their children’s fathers were in demanding jobs for aeons. That is still more common but men are increasingly taking on parenting to enable their children’s mothers to pursue their careers.

Before he was an MP, Bill English was a stay at home parent while his wife Mary worked as a GP.

New Zealand’s systems should be robust enough to ensure there is no cause for concern about the running of the country while motherhood takes priority for Ardern and the running of their home and family is not our business.

I wish them well and I hope that everything goes as planned.

Whether or not it does, I hope that the baby will come before the country.

There are plenty of other people who are able to put New Zealand first. All babies deserve parents who will put them first.

* Update: The Herald says: Benazir Bhutto, then President of Pakistan,  gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar on January, 25 1990,  while in office.

 

 

 

 


Friday’s answers

January 19, 2018

Andrei gets my thanks for posing Thursday’s questions and can claim a virtual case of nectarines by leaving the answers below.

If Teletext is right about the winklepickers I’ve never worn them but remember a friend’s father talking about them.


Rural round-up

January 19, 2018

Request to farmers as rivers dwindle – John Lewis:

Farmers across Otago are being asked to conserve water, with some rivers across the region dropping to their lowest levels on record.

Otago Regional Council data for October-December 2017 shows ”extremely dry” weather conditions in Central Otago and part of South Otago, and ”moderately dry” conditions for the rest of Otago.

ORC engineering, hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said some areas had particularly low rainfall and the present spell of dry weather, combined with little snow cap to augment river levels from snow melt last year, meant most Otago river levels were low compared to average levels for this time of the year. . . 

Cashmere ‘renaissance’ under way – Sally Rae:

Buoyed by the quality of cashmere produced by goats on their Clinton farm, David and Robyn Shaw believe the fibre offers an “amazing opportunity” for New Zealand farmers.

For the past 35 years, they have been working quietly behind the scenes to now be producing fibre they consider of equal quality to the best in the world.

Mr and Mrs Shaw, who have formed New Zealand Cashmere, recently announced a commercialisation programme with luxury lifestyle brand Untouched World and yarn manufacturer Woolyarns. . . 

New Far CEO well versed in industry – Sally Rae:

Alison Stewart has been appointed chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research (Far).

Dr Stewart, who is general manager forest science at Scion, takes over in mid-March from founding chief executive Nick Pyke, who has led the organisation since 1995.

Last year, Mr Pyke signalled his intention to step down from the role, saying making the decision was not easy but the time was right.

Far is an applied research and information transfer organisation responsible primarily to arable growers. . . 

A2 to roll out US business to eastern seaboard -Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co plans to roll out its US business to nine states on the eastern seaboard, which it expects will expand its retail footprint by more than a third.

Auckland-based, Sydney-headquarter a2 is targeting 60 million Americans who account for about a fifth of milk consumption in the world’s biggest economy, adding New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine to the states it services in the US, it said in a statement. The milk marketer’s a2 branded milk has been accepted by a number of retailers in the region, which will this month expand its presence to about 5,000 retail stores across the US from the previous 3,600 stores. . . 

Fonterra helps farmers with green plans:

Environment Canterbury has confirmed that Fonterra’s farm environment plan template has met the requirements of the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The Fonterra template will make the process of designing a farming environmental plan (FEP) a lot easier, says Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield.

FEPs are unique to a property and reflect the local climate and soils, the type of farming operation, and the goals and aspirations of the land user. . . 

Somatic cell to be added into cow Production Worth:

The equivalent of currency for cows will be updated in February to better reflect the industry’s focus on efficient, high quality milk production.

Production Worth, or PW, is an economic index calculated for all New Zealand dairy cows as an estimate of their lifetime production ability. It helps farmers identify the top performers in their herd, to decide which cow’s to keep, cull and assist in determining a value for buying or selling.

Four traits currently contribute to the PW calculation – milk volume, milk fat, protein and liveweight. A fifth trait will be added in February – somatic cell. . . 

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M bovis confirmed on 17 farms

January 19, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis has now been confirmed on 17 farms:

Three new properties have been identified as being infected with the Mycoplasma bovis bacterial cattle disease, bringing the total to 17, but the Ministry of Primary Industries still believes eradication is possible.

“Eradication still remains our prefered option. We have containment at the moment of the infected places to prevent further onward spread. Our belief is that the infection hasn’t been in the country for a large number of years and eradication is still firmly on the table,” David Yard, MPI incident controller, told BusinessDesk. “Clearly if it had been established and been silently dormant for 10 years or so, spreading from animal to animal, we would find it on a lot more farms or herds,” he said.

It might not have been here for 10 years but it is possible the disease was in New Zealand before it was first identified last year.

It’s also probable that it has spread further than the 17 farms which have been identified so far.

Mycoplasma bovis was first confirmed in July on two farms in South Canterbury, marking New Zealand’s first official outbreak of a disease that is present in many other countries. While the disease presents no food safety risk, it can cause a range of symptoms in cattle including mastitis that doesn’t respond to treatment, pneumonia, arthritis and late-term abortions. There are now nine infected properties in South Canterbury, five in Southland, two in Ashburton and one in Hawkes Bay.

Given it was detected seven months ago, 17 confirmed farms is “not a huge number” when you look at the number of dairy and even beef farms across the country, Yard said. There are about 12,000 dairy herds in New Zealand but some farms will have more than one herd.

According to Yard, a national milk testing programme will help determine whether there are any other pockets of infection in the country. Under the testing regime – slated to start in February – every dairy farm will provide three milk samples, one from bulk milk and two from discarded milk unsuitable for collection, for example, from cows with mastitis.

Yard said the results should be ready by the end of March and “if we suddenly found that we have another 10 different pockets then that might change the ball game. We might say eradication is off the table and we are moving to containment or long-term management but that’s a very long bow to draw at the moment,” he said. . . 

But what if beef cattle are infected? They won’t be identified through milk testing.

MPI’s Yard said the ministry is not “chasing the disease as it spreads” but rather the increased number of infected farms is a reflection of MPI’s tracing and testing: “We are actually picking out properties that were probably already infected and we just now know about them.”

However, MPI expects to find more. “We do logically expect that because of the severity of the disease, in some areas, particularly down in the Southland area, further properties because the animals were quite heavily infected and there are have been large number of movements of young susceptible animals,” he said.

In an earlier email Thursday MPI said “we expect that more properties will become positive as our tracing and testing programmes continue to ramp up. From one farm in Ashburton alone, we anticipate tracing some 30 additional properties.” Not all, however, are necessarily infected.

Yard also said MPI is progressing with compensating affected farmers but that there is a process to be followed. He declined to give a dollar figure but said “obviously the cost escalates on a day-to-day basis because every time we serve a notice, those people are entitled to compensation.”

While it is difficult to estimate the final amount “it’s going to be quite a large sum,” he said.

Farmers and sharemilkers with infected herd will have lost at least many 10s of thousands of dollars through the loss of  stock and income.

Confirmation of the disease or concern about the potential for it has stymied the sale of stock for some farmers who rely on it for a considerable amount of their income.

The threat of the disease is causing a lot of stress for anyone with cattle and speculation over its origins isn’t helpful.

Federated Farmers National President Katie Milne says in the current circumstances “patience and a dose of realism” is required.

“Of course there is curiosity among farmers and the media as to how mycoplasma bovis started as it has never been detected before in New Zealand to our knowledge.

“This is a complex disease and there is a significant amount of resources going into testing and surveillance carried out by MPI and the industry.

“Farmers also have a role to play making sure traceability is up to scratch ensuring NAIT tagging and recording of all cattle and deer. We advise also an on-farm disinfecting policy, buffers on boundaries and quarantine of newly introduced stock to their properties.

“This should become part of a new best practice of making your farm a fortress when it comes to biosecurity,” says Katie.

Now that the disease has been identified on so many farms, every farmer with cattle, trucking firms and anyone else working or visiting farms must do everything possible to stop it spreading further.

The disease isn’t harmful to humans and milk and meat from infected animals is safe for consumption. But it compromises production and any ill health in stock also raises welfare issues.


Quote of the day

January 19, 2018

A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art. – Paul Cézanne who was born on this day in 1839.


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