365 days of gratitude

February 2, 2018

We’ve gone from high summer temperatures to autumn in a couple of days.

The rain was very welcome, the cooler temperature not so much which makes me very grateful for a house that is warm when the weather isn’t.


Word of the day

February 2, 2018

Imbolc – the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox; an ancient Celtic festival celebrated on the first or second day of February; Saint Brigid’s or Candlemas Day, a Gaelic traditional festival celebrating spring, the beginning of the lambing season and new life.

 


When I rule the world

February 2, 2018

When I rule the world* media and advertisers will not have auto-play videos on websites.

They are an irritant without which life will be much more pleasant.

*Accepting that universal health and happiness have already been achieved.

 


Friday’s answers

February 2, 2018

Andrei and Teletext posed Thursday’s questions for which they get my thanks.

They can claim a virtual case of apricots by leaving the answers below.


Rural round-up

February 2, 2018

New Zealand Agribusiness Outlook 2018:

Favourable market conditions should underpin a second year of broad-based profitability for New Zealand agriculture. Where the industry chooses to direct improved cash flow and focus amid this sustained positive run will be important for many years to come. . .

Lewis Road investor Southern Pastures ties up with Westland Milk – Paul McBeth:

Dairy farm fund Southern Pastures LP, which took a quarter stake in Lewis Road Creamery last year, will link with Westland Milk Products as a supplier from the 2018/19 season and with plans for a high-value product joint venture. Separately, Westland cut its forecast milk payout for this season.

Southern Pastures and Westland signed a letter of intent where the dairy farm investor’s nine Canterbury farms will supply an extra 4 million kilograms of milk solids to Westland from 2019, and investigate a business case for a 50/50 joint venture to create products from free-range, grass-fed milk based on strict animal welfare, health, sustainability, climate change and human rights standards. . . 

Why the CPTPP is important for New Zealand:

There is no question that our small, remote nation depends on trade. But there were times during the protracted negotiations that have now culminated in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) when the visceral debate here could easily have led bystanders to believe New Zealanders specialise primarily in trading insults.

The fact that there is now a deal to be signed – after the efforts of successive prime ministers ranging from Helen Clark and John Key to Bill English and now Jacinda Ardern – is a cause for real celebration. Our role in recent decades as free-trade pioneers, in the teeth of other countries’ stubbornly defended protectionism, should be a source of national pride. Our exports reap more than $70 billion a year, but farmers and manufacturers know what courage it has taken to open our borders, forgo subsidies and eschew protectionism. They and the country are better off as a result. . . 

Environment and agriculture can both benefit from CPTTP:

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) trade agreement has the potential to transform the agricultural sector and at the same time benefit the environment, agribusiness expert Dr Nic Lees of Lincoln University says.

However, he added, the public needed to be convinced of that.

The CPTTP is the re-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership after the USA withdrew, and is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Negotiations have concluded between the countries but it is yet to be ratified by New Zealand. The TTP had met some public and political opposition. . .

Farm machinery sales back to 2014 levels – TAMA:

Sales of tractors in 2017 increased markedly, just topping the previous highest recorded levels of 2014, says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) General Manager, Ron Gall.

Mr Gall said the association recognised that some farmers in both islands were currently experiencing hardship with the very hot and dry conditions. The challenging drought conditions may affect sales in the coming months but it was hoped changing weather would provide some relief.

Mr Gall said in 2017, a total of 4079 tractors were sold. This is up 13% on 2016, up 14% on 2015 and even slightly up on the boom dairy year of 2014, which had 4062 sales. . . 

 

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q1: Evolution of sourcing strategies:

2017 was a dynamic year for the wine industry, marked by short-term scarcity and rising prices, according to Rabobank’s latest Global Wine Quarterly report.

The report says while “2017 was an unusual one for the wine industry, forcing all players to rethink their short-term strategies” – changing consumer behaviour, global shifts in demand volumes and changing trading frameworks, could represent long-term structural changes.

“Although the unconventional year that 2017 was may just be a one-off, it may also be enough to accelerate deeper changes that were already developing in the wine industry,” says RaboResearch senior beverages analyst Maria Castroviejo. . . 

Green light for China opens up new export opportunities for leading supply group:

Leading avocado export supply group AVOCO has welcomed this week’s announcement that New Zealand market access to China has been granted for the 2018-19 export season.

AVOCO exports New Zealand avocados to various Asian markets under its AVANZA brand and the company has been preparing for access to China for some time. Preliminary planning has included the development of a market-specific brand name designed to be the exemplar brand from New Zealand for China. . . 

Millennials are leaving desk jobs for this surprising profession – Alexandra Hayes:

The millennial generation is often called out for its social media addictions, its work habits, and even its unhealthy ideals around perfection, but according to the Washington Post, many of them are diverging from the status ladder and leading a crusade toward a different purpose entirely: farming.

Take Liz Whitehurst. Two years ago, she left her non-profit job and bought her farm, Owl’s Nest, from a retiring farmer. Now she grows an array of organically certified produce and sells to restaurants, through CSA shares, or at local farmers markets.

According to the latest Census of Agriculture in 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 69 percent of farmers today have a college degree, a number that suggests more millennials are leaving traditional desk jobs to pursue this very different life. . .

Manuka South® latest Manuka honey is making a legendary entrance:

The highly anticipated Limited Reserve batch of 26+ UMF features some of the rarest and most potent Manuka honey available in the world. Manuka South® is releasing only a limited amount of the high-end honey.

Manuka South® 26+ Limited Reserve – available at select Aotea Gifts stores in New Zealand – is the latest in the line of premium Manuka honey products produced by Manuka South®, a trusted brand from New Zealand Health Food Company (NZHF). But it will also be the rarest among them, because jars won’t be on store shelves long. . . 


Poverty policy lacks ambition

February 2, 2018

The government talks a lot about reducing child poverty but its policy lacks ambition:

The Prime Minister’s ‘good intentions’ have once again fallen short, with the Government’s child poverty targets aiming to lift fewer children out of poverty than National actually lifted out in the last five years, National’s Children spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“The Prime Minister committed her Government to reducing the number of children in material hardship over the next ten years by 70,000. Yet, over the last five years of the National government, the number of children in material hardship fell by 85,000.

“So this Government is promising to do less over a longer period of time than National did – in spite of its bold claims it would do better.

It’s making a lot of noise but aims to do less than National already did.

“National also remains more ambitious – that’s why we had committed to reducing the number of children in low-income households by 100,000 over three years, while Labour is committing to reducing the number by 100,000 in 10 years.

“National’s Family Incomes Package was also projected to lift 50,000 children out of poverty on 1 April 2018. It would have given 1.2 million working Kiwis an extra $1060 per year in the hand – and, we had committed to a further package in 2020 that would have had a similar impact.

“Labour, on the other hand, have no money for another Family Incomes Package – they’ve spent it all on a year’s free tertiary education. That is why they are giving themselves such a long timeframe to achieve what National would have done in the next three years.

What’s more important – fees-free tertiary study for people, most of whom don’t need it, or lifting children out of poverty; money and expertise for children who don’t have the pre-learning skills they need when they start school and those failing at school or adults who’ve already got through school?

“If the Government was truly serious about reducing child poverty it would reconsider abolishing the Better Public Services targets, which directly focused the public service on reducing the number of children living in poverty and tackling the causes of long-term deprivation.

Poverty isn’t just about income. It’s causes are complex and include lack of education, poor physical and mental health, and drug and alcohol dependency.

“As is becoming the Government’s modus operandi, it is all intentions and no substance. Its ambition falls way short of the action needed to actually deal seriously with child poverty in New Zealand.”

Poverty is a serious issue. Reducing it requires serious and substantial action not just good intentions.


Ovarian Cancer Awareness could save lives

February 2, 2018

The media release from the Ovarian Cancer Support Group, a voluntary group of around 90 women who have or have had the disease and who are working to raise awareness, was emailed to me.

I am reproducing it in full in the hope that it might save lives.

Loud call to understand ignored killer this February:

 It’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness month in February, and there’s a group of women out to make as much noise about it as possible.

Incorrectly labelled as one of the silent killer cancers, ovarian cancer often isn’t identified until it has spread significantly, and as a result, there is just a 42% survival rate beyond five years.

That’s why the Ovarian Cancer Support Group, a collective of some 90 women who have or have had the disease, believe it’s about time the message is shared widely to New Zealand women. As well as telling their own stories, they’ve produced a poster that’s being sent to every GP surgery in New Zealand, outlining symptoms to improve awareness.

Spokesperson Lisa Finucane says that ovarian cancer isn’t so much silent – just often not heard in the hubbub of daily life. And not just because gynaecological issues aren’t usually discussed outside of the doctors’ surgery.

“There are clear symptoms of this cancer and it’s so important that women and their GPs consider ovarian cancer as a possibility when they experience them, “she believes.

“The four main symptoms are: persistent stomach/pelvic pain, persistent bloating, difficulty eating/feeling full more quickly, and needing to wee more frequently. Alongside these are back pain, changes in bowel habits (going more often or a lot less), abnormal vaginal bleeding, and extreme tiredness for no obvious reason.

“For most women these will have another, less serious cause. But, for some these are the early warning of ovarian cancer, and if they are overlooked, either by the GP or the person experiencing them, the outcome can be devastating.”

With her sister, Rachel Brown co-founded the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation and then the Ovarian Cancer Support Group, following the death of their mother from ovarian cancer more than 10 years ago. She says that many cases are unnecessarily slow to be diagnosed. That’s why the most important thing, she says, is for women to understand their bodies’ warning signs, to monitor them, and to persist in advising their health providers about the symptoms.

“We want to encourage any woman to act if she has those symptoms, particularly if they are ongoing, severe, frequent, or out of the ordinary.

“We want women to know to see their GPs as soon as possible and to keep a record of the symptoms to help support a speedier diagnosis. There are online symptom diaries and phone apps available which can help provide more clarity around the severity and regularity of symptoms.

“This could be the difference between a cancer that is contained and can be treated, to one that has spread and frankly has a very serious consequence.”

Unlike many cancers which have made significant survival advances in recent decades, the mortality rate for ovarian cancer is still close to 60% of women dying within five years of diagnosis. In comparison, women with breast cancer fare considerably better, with mortality rates reducing from 47% to 13% in the same time frame.

Ovarian cancer lags behind breast cancer for several reasons including lack of funding for research, and late diagnosis contributed to by lack of symptom awareness.

“The statistics show that about one in 70 women in will get ovarian cancer,” says Rachel.  “Increasing awareness about the symptoms should mean that a higher percentage of these will be diagnosed earlier when treatment is more likely to be successful.  And that’s what we are aiming for.

“It’s time that we talked about symptoms of this and other gynae cancers, the same way we are comfortable talking about breast lumps and dodgy moles. Awareness leads to better vigilance – and will save lives.”

Ovarian cancer – the facts and fallacies

  • Anyone woman, any age, any ethnicity can get ovarian cancer – this includes children, women who have had hysterectomies, and pre-and post-menopause.
  • It is not detected by cervical screening, nor is the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine (available to girls in New Zealand) a prevention for ovarian cancer
  • Evidence suggests taking the contraceptive pill reduces risk while some lifestyle factors may increase the chances of developing it. These include smoking, obesity, giving birth to your first child after 30, not having any children, not breastfeeding, and using HRT. Other contributing factors include a family history of breast, ovarian or colorectal cancer, getting older, and having endometriosis.  (ovarian.org.uk)

See more at: www.ovariancancernz.org.nz

 

 

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