365 days of gratitude

May 31, 2018

The ringing phone heralded a video call from Seville.

We could hear the bells ringing for the celebration of Corpus Christi, and see the blue sky and the faces of our friends as we caught up on their travels.

We had blue sky here today too, but the temperature didn’t get into double fingers. There it was mid 20s.

Tonight I’m grateful for a call from friends and a reminder that though it’s winter here, it’s summer somewhere else.

 


Word of the day

May 31, 2018

Vomitorium – each of a series of entrance or exit passages in an ancient Roman amphitheatre or theatre; a passage situated below or behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre or a stadium, through which big crowds can exit rapidly at the end of a performance;  pathways for actors to enter and leave stage; a place in which, according to popular misconception, the ancient Romans are supposed to have vomited during feasts to make room for more food.


Rural round-up

May 31, 2018

‘We’d better off if we had it’ – Sally Rae:

Southland farmer John Young reckons he would be in a better position if his cattle had Mycoplasma bovis.

With a contract for 1000 calves cancelled by Ngai Tahu Farming, he described himself as a ”by-product” of the disease saying there was no recognition for those in similar situations.

Left short of feed and likely to take a massive financial hit, he was perplexed by the iwi’s motivation as he felt he had done everything to mitigate any concerns.

”We’d be better off if we had it. We would know where we’re at [and could] set a plan and work around it. It would be acknowledged we had it, we’d be compensated. The way we are at the moment, we don’t know where we stand,” he said. . . 

Farmer provides positive advice on coping – Sally Rae:

Argentinian-born Leo Bensegues came to New Zealand with only $700 and the desire for a good life.

Fast forward 16 and a-half years and he has a wife, Maite, and a family and his own business, sharemilking at Morven in the Waimate district.

Last August, that good life was interrupted by confirmation there was Mycoplasma bovis in the couple’s herd.

Their 950 cows and 222 young stock were one of the first herds to be culled, although they had 200 heifers which had not been affected by the disease.

Yesterday, Mr Bensegues declined to talk about how he felt seeing those animals dispatched to slaughter, saying that was ”in the past” and they had to focus on the future.

They were starting over again and he had a message for other farmers affected by this week’s announcement of a massive cull of animals in a bid to eradicate the disease.

They had to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries, rather than against it, and they had to stay positive. . . 

‘Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on  milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . .

 Business case for cattle disease plan kept secret from public – Andrea Fox:

The cost-benefit analysis behind the $886 million government-agriculture sector decision to try to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is being kept secret from taxpayers picking up most of the bill.

A Herald request to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for a copy of the cost-benefit analysis is being treated by MPI as an Official Information Act request, which normally means waiting nearly a month for a response, with no guarantee of full disclosure.

When the Herald tried to clarify that the cost-benefit analysis was not being made public, and if so, who had access to it, the response from an MPI spokesman was: “This has been part of the decision-making process so the decision makers have had access to this information.” . .

Live deer capture: ‘a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive’, says pioneer– Heather Chalmers:

Recalling the pioneering live deer capture days, veterans like Bryan Bassett-Smith get a gleam in their eyes.

In the 1970s the emphasis changed from killing deer as a feral pest to wanting to capture and keep deer alive for a fledging farming industry. Deer farming made live recovery more profitable than hunting; there were fortunes to be made and adventures to have.

These were the days before clipboards, hi-vis vests and health and safety regulations.

Bassett-Smith didn’t fly helicopters himself. “I was a guy that jumped out and used the tranquilliser gun.

READ MORE: Deer farmer recalls days of live capture derring-do

“It was a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive” he says, referring to the casualties and fatalities from helicopter crashes. “Sadly, there were a few too many funerals,” he told deer industry conference delegates during a visit to Mesopotamia Station in the South Canterbury high country, a property actively involved in live deer recovery. . . 

Distribution deal for Mastatest– Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based veterinary diagnostics company Mastaplex has secured a national distribution partnership with AgriHealth for its bovine mastitis diagnostic products.

Company founder and inventor Olaf Bork said Mastatest  was an on-farm or veterinary clinic-based bovine mastitis test which generated results within 24 hours, enabling dairy farmers to select specific antibiotic treatments recommended by their veterinarian once target bacteria had been identified.

The early  growth-stage company, which is based at the University of Otago’s Centre for Innovation, was also negotiating with a European distributor and  seeking an alliance in the United States, he said. . . 

Rural health must be integral in health services review:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network today welcomed an announcement of a comprehensive review of health services in New Zealand.

The NZRGPN is the national network representing the staff of rural medical practices across New Zealand.

“A comprehensive review of the delivery of health and disability services is timely,” said NZRGPN Chief Executive Dalton Kelly. “This review must be comprehensive and wide-ranging, taking into account the full range of communities and health service providers across New Zealand. . .

Tough year hits Anzco profits – Alan Williams:

A difficult year in beef procurement and processing caused a big fall in profit for Anzco Foods.

Intense competition for stock and uneven livestock flows increased costs while consumer market prices were just steady, chief executive Peter Conley said.

Anzco’s pre-tax profit fell to just $1.8 million in the year ended December 31, from $17m a year earlier. Because the group’s international trade offices are required to pay tax in the countries they’re based in, overall group tax took up $1.7m of the earnings, leaving an after-tax operating profit of $100,000, down from $12m previously. . . 

How a routine day on the farm turned into a pig’s dinner – Joyce Wyllie:

Sometimes routine jobs on a routine day take a less routine turn.

With Jock away at dog trials, I walked to the kennels one evening to run and feed the remainder of his team left at home.

It’s a familiar routine of letting energetic dogs off for enthusiastic exercise, feeding pellets to pigs and shutting the team up with their tea.

It was drizzling as I opened the doors and let animated animals race off for time out and toilet. Pushing the feed shed door open to get pig tucker revealed a four-legged super surprise. . . 

Hounding the horehound weed:

Two moths may be imported to combat the horehound weed, which a recent survey estimates to cost New Zealand dryland farmers almost $7 million per year.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application from a collective of affected farmers – the Horehound Biocontrol Group – to introduce the horehound plume moth and horehound clearwing moth to attack this invasive weed, and is calling for public submissions. The application is supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ sustainable farming fund. . .


Thursday’s quiz

May 31, 2018

Everyone is invited to pose the questions.

Anyone who stumps us all will win a bag of toasted hazelnuts.


Tweet of the day

May 31, 2018

This was the drug company’s response to Roseanne Barr who blamed sleeping pills for her racist tweet which led to the cancellation of her TV show.


Another plank from urban-rural bridge

May 31, 2018

Stuff’ is oging ahead with its plan to close its rural papers and reduce its reporting.

. . . Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher said farming stories would still appear online on Stuff’s website and app, but the closure of the rural titles will mean the loss of nine journalists and six commercial staff.

Stuff is proposing to retain just three editorial staff to cater for the major newspapers’ farming sections and online content. . . 

That is very sad for the people who are losing their jobs and the three editorial staff covering farming news will be spread very thinly.

However, we have been getting so many free papers – sometimes two or three a day – it’s difficult to keep up with them.

All of them provide different news, views and features but it really was too much of a good thing with too little time to read them all.

If as often happens we don’t have time to read one, the next day’s mail will bring another and the first goes out having had no more than a passing glance.

Country people will still be well served by the rural publications that remain.

The hole will be in urban papers which will no longer have such comprehensive coverage of rural news and views and another plank will go from the urban-rural bridge.


Quote of the day

May 31, 2018

Writers and painters alike are in the business of consulting their own imaginations, and stimulating the imaginations of others. Together, and separately, they celebrate the absolute mystery of otherness. –  Lynne Truss who celebrates her 63rd birthday today.


May 31 in history

May 31, 2018

1279 BC – Rameses II (The Great) (19th dynasty) became pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

526  A an earthquake in Antioch, Turkey, killed 250,000.

1223 Mongol invasion of the Cumans: Battle of the Kalka River – Mongol armies of Genghis Khan led by Subutai defeated Kievan Rus and Cumans.

1578  Martin Frobisher sailed from Harwich,  to Frobisher Bay, Canada, eventually to mine fool’s gold, used to pave streets in London.

1669   Samuel Pepys recorded the last event in his diary.

1678  The Godiva procession through Coventry began.

1759  The Province of Pennsylvania banned all theatre productions.

1775  American Revolution: The Mecklenburg Resolutions adopted in the Province of North Carolina.

1790 Alferez Manuel Quimper explored the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

1790 – The United States enacted its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.

1813  LawsonBlaxland and Wentworth, reached Mount Blaxland, effectively marking the end of a route across the Blue Mountains.

1819 Walt Whitman, American poet, was born (d. 1892).

1859  The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, started keeping time.

1862  American Civil War Peninsula Campaign: Battle of Seven Pines or (Battle of Fair Oaks) – Confederate forces under Joseph E. Johnston & G. W. Smith engaged Union forces under George B. McClellan outside Richmond, Virginia.

1864 American Civil War Overland Campaign: Battle of Cold Harbor – The Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee engaged the Army of the Potomac under Ulysses S. Grant & George G. Meade.

1866  In the Fenian Invasion of Canada, John O’Neill led 850 Fenian raiders across the Niagara Riveras part of an effort to  free Ireland from the English.

1872 Heath Robinson, English cartoonist, was born (d. 1944).

1884 Arrival at Plymouth of Tawhiao,  Maori king, to claim protection of Queen Victoria.

TawhiaoNLA.jpg

1889 – Johnstown Flood: Over 2,200 people died after a dam break sent a 60-foot (18-meter) wall of water over the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

1898 Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, American clergyman, was born (d. 1993).

1902 The Treaty of Vereeniging ended the second Boer War war and ensured British control of South Africa.

1910 Creation of the Union of South Africa.

1911  The ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic was launched.

1916  World War I: Battle of Jutland – The British Grand Fleet under the command of Sir John Jellicoe & Sir David Beatty engaged the Kaiserliche Marine under the command of Reinhard Scheer & Franz von Hipper in the largest naval battle of the war, which proved indecisive. Among the ships was HMS New Zealand.

HMS <em>New Zealand</em> fights at Jutland

1921 Tulsa Race Riot: A civil unrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the official death toll was 39, but recent investigations suggest the actual toll was much higher.

1923 Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, was born (d. 2005).

1924  The Soviet Union signed an agreement with the Peking government, referring to Outer Mongolia as an “integral part of the Republic of China”, whose “sovereignty” therein the Soviet Union promised to respect.

1927  The last Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line after a production run of 15,007,003 vehicles.

1930 Clint Eastwood, American film director and actor, was born.

1935  A 7.7 Mw earthquake destroyed Quetta, Pakistan,: 40,000 dead.

1935 Jim Bolger, 35th Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born.

1938 Peter Yarrow, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary), was born.

1939 Terry Waite, British humanitarian, was born.

1941 – Anglo-Iraqi War: The United Kingdom completed the re-occupation of Iraq and returned Abd al-Ilah to power as regent for Faisal II.

1942 World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines began a series of attacks on Sydney.

1943  Zoot Suit Riots began.

1953 – Lynne Truss, English journalist and author.

1961 Republic of South Africa created.

1962 The West Indies Federation dissolved.

1962  Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel.

1965 Brooke Shields, American actress and supermodel, was born.

1967 Phil Keoghan, New Zealand-born US television personality, was born.

1970  The Ancash earthquake caused a landslide that buried the town of Yungay, Peru; more than 47,000 people were killed.

1971  In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May for the first time, rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.

1973  The United States Senate voted to cut off funding for the bombing of Khmer Rouge targets within Cambodia, hastening the end of theCambodian Civil War.

1975 Mona Blades, an 18 year-old htich hiker disappeared, after last being seen in an orange Datsun.

Mona Blades vanishes

1977  The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System completed.

1981  Burning of Jaffna library, Sri Lanka.

1985 Forty-one tornadoes hit Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario, leaving 76 dead.

1989 – A group of six members of the guerrilla group Revolutionary Movement Tupac Amaru (MRTA) of Peru, shot dead eight transsexuals, in the city of Tarapoto

1991 – Bicesse Accords in Angola laid out a transition to multi-party democracy under the supervision of the United Nations’ UNAVEM IImission.

2005 – Vanity Fair revealed that Mark Felt was Deep Throat

2010 – In international waters, armed Shayetet 13 commandos, intending to force the flotilla to anchor at the Ashdod port, boarded ships trying to break the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, resulting in 9 civilian deaths.

2013 – The asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon made their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries.

2013 – An EF5 tornado devastated El Reno, Oklahoma, killing nine people, becoming the widest tornado in recorded history, with an astounding diameter of 2.6 miles (4.2 km).

2013 – The asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon made their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


365 days of gratitude

May 30, 2018

Just as I was thinking about considering to start contemplating what I might cook for dinner my farmer phoned.

“How about we go out for dinner?” he said.

We chose Cucina, took a couple of friends and enjoyed the delectable meal we can rely on always getting there.

Tonight I’m grateful for delicious food in the company of friends.


Word of the day

May 30, 2018

Quaxing – shopping, in the western world, by means of walking, cycling or public transit.


Rural round-up

May 30, 2018
Collective responsibility tough – ODT editorial:

The Government and farming leaders have made one of the hardest decisions imaginable in deciding to attempt the eradication of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand.

The decision has been made to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.

Farming leaders have thrown their support behind the eradication attempt, but it is the actual farmers with the infected herds who will now be facing the reality of losing cows they may have bred into milk-producing animals. . . 

Mycolplasma bovis – focusing on the immediate – Keith Woodford:

[This is an open letter to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, sent on the evening of 29 May 2018, as part of an ongoing dialogue.]

Dear Damien

Mycoplasma bovis: focusing on the immediate

This is a further open letter. It is an open letter because it contains information that I believe both you and others need to hear.

First of all, I want to acknowledge phone and email interactions we have had in recent days. I note in particular that you emailed me at 3am this morning which surely tells its own story. Farmers too are emailing me at that time, indicative of the stress they are under.

Now that the eradication decision has been made, then I do not wish to debate that here. Instead I want to focus on maximising the chances that it will work and minimising the pain to the affected farmers.

On the Newshub AM show this morning I focused among other things on the need for MPI to ‘up its game’. Response Director Geoff Gwyn subsequently acknowledged that there may well be lessons to learn, but did not name any when asked by the presenter, and said that he thought that MPI had done many things well. . . 

Mental health fears for farmers over mass cow cull – Tim Brown:

The people at ground zero of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak are warning that the eradication bid could have disastrous knock-on effects.

Others in the small Southland town of Winton are backing the government cull of 150,000 cows.

Yesterday, the government announced it was committed to eradicating the illness with a ten year plan that would cost about $886 million.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease.

It was discovered in July last year and since then 41 farms have been confirmed as infected. That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis rated ‘low risk’ by health officials – Gerard Hutching:

The possibility of humans contracting Mycoplasma bovis from eating meat or drinking milk from infected cattle has been dismissed by officials and food safety experts as a “low risk”.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said the disease was not a food safety risk. Concerns have again been raised over the culling of 152,000 cattle and whether their meat or milk might threaten human health.

“There is no issue with eating beef or drinking milk from infected herds. This disease is in every other farming nation and people have been consuming products from cattle with Mycoplasma bovis for decades,” MPI said. . . 

Good on-farm management essential for eradication plan to succeed:

Good on-farm animal management will be essential if plans to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) are to succeed, the New Zealand Veterinary Association says.

“This will be essential to stop the infection spreading and to ensure M. bovis isn’t re-introduced into New Zealand,” NZVA President Dr. Peter Blaikie said.

The industry and government today announced a phased eradication plan to attempt to get rid of M. bovis. . . 

M, bovis: how did we get here?:

Everyone’s been playing catch-up since the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak – and everyone’s blamed each other.

On Monday, the government announced a 10-year plan to eradicate the disease, saying about 150,000 cows would have to be slaughtered.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease, at a cost of about $886 million to government and industry bodies.

The news is devastating for many farmers who have devoted their lives to the industry. Some fear their livelihoods will be destroyed.

But how did we get here? . . 

In a word from Sir Humphrey – courageous – Gravedodger:

During my life spent in primary production one of the most stressful segments arose around the determination to eradicate TB. Bovine Tuberculosis is one insidious little beastie with a remarkable ability to thwart detection.

Once every  year all bovine stock were mustered and put up a race where a MAF person would inject a small dose of reagent  in the soft skin  between the tail and the rump, three days later that crat would return and scan by feel for a lump at that injection site and if a reactor (a palpable lump) was discovered that beast would be slaughtered asap where TB would be confirmed  post mortem but alas sometimes the animal would be a “clear”.
One reactor and the whole heard would be placed on ‘movement control’ requiring any cattle for sale to carry a “white ear tag” and receive  a discounted price.

We farmed in an area of the Wairarapa where our eight neighbours all went on and off “movement control” over the twenty years yet surprisingly  we managed to remain “Clear” throughout the two decades we operated there.
It did not come easy, I wish to forget how many nights were spent sometimes more than five hours on an open quad bike seeking the dreaded Possum, an uninvited guest that could become infected with Bovine TB but before inevitable death could infect pasture from suppurating lesions, leaving infected grass to be ingested by a grazing beast and a “reactor”  created. . .

Olive Oil 
the New Zealand Way: –

David Walshaw 

“I have a lot invested in each drop of this gorgeous, golden liquid. There is the time and money, of course, but there is far more than that, too. It is the distillation of a dream and the physical and emotional effort required to realise that dream. The flavours and the aromas of the oil are like a story — the story of the tree’s experience of a year, itself a chapter in the life of the tree, and the tree’s life a volume in the ages long story of the cultivation of the olive. My own story is in there, too, intertwined with the gnarled wood of the olive tree.” 

When, after a successful career in banking and finance, David Walshaw decided it was time for a change, he settled on growing olives for oil as his new direction. Neither he nor his wife Helen had any previous experience, but by doing the research, by seeking the advice of other growers, by putting in the work, by trial and not a few errors, they made a go of it. . . 

The build of Synlait’s liquid packaging facility is on track:

Synlait Milk is pleased with the progress made on the building of its advanced liquid dairy packaging facility by Tetra Pak.

The two companies have worked together for over ten years, beginning with the building of Synlait’s anhydrous milkfat (AMF) plant in 2007.

The new facility will produce fresh milk and cream for Foodstuffs South Island’s private label brands from early 2019, and will be a platform for Synlait to pursue a range of dairy-based products for export markets. . . 

Milk NZ Holding surprised by Fonterra’s $7 payout for 2019 given outlook for global demand Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Milk New Zealand Holding, which owns and manages dairy operations controlled by Shanghai Pengxin, says it didn’t expect such a bullish forecast from Fonterra Cooperative Group for its 2019 milk payout.

Last week Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for 2019 of $7 per kilogram of milk solids from the $6.75 /kgMS projected for the current season, while cutting its projected dividends for 2018, saying rising global dairy prices were squeezing margins. . .

Federated Farmers appoints Terry Copeland as its new CEO:

The man who helped transform NZ Young Farmers has been appointed to lead the country’s most influential rural lobby group.

Terry Copeland, 50, has been named the next chief executive of Federated Farmers. He replaces Graham Smith.

Mr Copeland has been the chief executive of NZ Young Farmers since 2013 and is looking forward to a new challenge. . . 

Butchers ‘living in fear’ as vegan attacks on the rise, says Countryside Alliance – Helena Horton:

Attacks on small businesses by vegan activists are on the rise, according to the Countryside Alliance.

Death threats, stoked by social media and encouraged by international groups of activists, have caused butchers and farmers to “live in fear.”

Marlow Butchers, in, Ashford, Kent, was targeted earlier this month by activists who daubed red paint on the doors and windows of the shop . .

Organic vs conventional food fight: Focus on pesticides distracts from real environmental problems – Marc Brazeau :

A quick note in my news feed highlighted a new data set from the World Bank that shows that while the US has one of the most productive agriculture sectors in the world, it also has some of the lowest rates of pesticide and fertilizer use. Good news. The author’s title, however, stuck me as unfortunate: World’s Model for Sustainability in Food Production. His write up was about pesticide and fertilizer use, and while high yields, with low pesticide and fertilizer rates are very commendable (and surprising to many), pesticide and fertilizer use is hardly the last word in sustainability in agriculture. And among the biggest impacts of agriculture: land use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution; pesticides hardly rate. And yet…

One of the things that has really begun to stand out in the debate between advocates of technologically progressive agriculture and the critics of technological agriculture is the persistence of the idea that the use of pesticides is still a major problem, if not the central environmental impact of agriculture, that needs to be addressed. This is unfortunate. It’s just not accurate. It’s a cul-de-sac in the discussion about how to improve the environmental footprint of agriculture. It’s a distraction from the addressing the major environmental impacts. . .


On grief

May 30, 2018

This is one of the clearest and most helpful  explanations of grief I’ve come across.


National in drag difficult sell

May 30, 2018

Two polls this week show the National Party still ahead of Labour with about 45% support.

That is encouraging for National and worrying for Labour.

But the latter has two support parties, although New Zealand First is registering below the 5% and the Green Party is hovering close enough  to the threshold to make it possible it might not make it back into parliament and we’d return to a two-party system in spite of MMP.

Possible isn’t probable and in spite of being the most popular party, National lacks any allies with sufficient support to enable it to form a government with more than 50% of the vote.

Act could gain another MP or two, but it hasn’t managed to do that in recent elections and would have to do so without taking votes from National to make a positive difference.

The Maori Party might win back a seat or two, but that too is more possible than probable.

Finding another party which could either win a seat or cross the 5% threshold would not be easy.

Some are suggesting a National MP leaves the party to form another one. But National in drag would be a very difficult sell for party members and other voters, and would only help if it got votes from the left and not the centre-right.

Tariana Turia managed to win a seat when she left Labour and formed the Maori Party; Winston Peters did it with NZ First; Peter Dunne held his seat under several manifestations of what eventually became United Future and former Labour MP Richard Prebble won a seat for Act but they are the exceptions. Any other MPs that I can recall who left a party and formed another failed to hold their seats.

The other option is standing back and making an accommodation to let a new party, which would take votes from Labour, NZ First and/or the Greens, take a National-held seat.

But that would be very difficult to do and would be entering very dubious territory.

National voters gave electorate votes to Dunne but he was a sitting MP when he formed his own party. Act voters opted for Rodney Hide of their own volition and not because National made an accommodation. They supported him and subsequently David Seymour but didn’t have to vote against a sitting National electorate MP to do so.

Trying to persuade National voters to swap support from an MP they voted in for someone from a new party would be a very different matter.

National is a victim of its own success and any attempt to help another party is likely to backfire and sabotage its own support.

It’s also a victim of the failure of MMP to give us a party in the middle that stands for something and could go centre-right but what can it do about without endangering its own support?


Quote of the day

May 30, 2018

From space, the earth appears predominantly blue; the clouds are brilliant white. Surprisingly, you don’t see much green, although Ireland looks green, and so do Scandinavia and New Zealand. The deserts are brick red and really stand out. – Helen Sharman who celebrates her 55th birthday today.


May 30 in history

May 30, 2018

70 Siege of JerusalemTitus and his Roman legions breached the Second Wall of Jerusalem. The Jewish defenders retreated to the First Wall. The Romans built a circumvallation, all trees within fifteen kilometres were cut down.

1416 The Council of Constance, called by the Emperor Sigismund, a supporter of Antipope John XXIII, burned Jerome of Prague following a trial for heresy.

1431  Hundred Years’ War: 19-year-old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by an English-dominated tribunal. Because of this the Catholic Church remember this day as the celebration of Saint Joan of Arc.

1434  Hussite Wars (Bohemian Wars): Battle of Lipany – effectively ending the war, Utraquist forces led by Diviš Bořek of Miletínek defeated and almost annihilated Taborite forces led by Prokop the Great.

1536  Henry VIII of England married Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to his first two wives.

1539 Hernando de Soto landed at Tampa Bay, Florida,  with 600 soldiers with the goal of finding gold.

1574  Henry III became King of France.

1588 The last ship of the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel.

1635  Thirty Years’ War: the Peace of Prague (1635) was signed.

1642  From this date all honours granted by Charles I were retrospectively annulled by Parliament.

1757 Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1844).

1806 Andrew Jackson killed Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson had accused Jackson’s wife of bigamy.

1814 Napoleonic Wars: War of the Sixth Coalition – the Treaty of Paris (1814) was signed returning French borders to their 1792 extent.

1819 – William McMurdo, English general, was born (d. 1894).

1832  The Rideau Canal in eastern Ontario opened.

1842  John Francis attempted to murder Queen Victoria as she drove down Constitution Hill with Prince Albert.

1845 – Amadeo I, King of Spain, was born (d. 1890).

1846 Peter Carl Fabergé, Russian goldsmith and jeweller, was born (d. 1920).

1854 The Kansas-Nebraska Act became law establishing the US territories of Nebraska and Kansas.

1859 Westminster’s Big Ben rang for the first time in London.

1862 – Mirza Alakbar Sabir, Azerbaijani philosopher and poet, was born (d. 1911).

1868  Decoration Day (the predecessor of the modern “Memorial Day) was observed in the United States for the first time (By “Commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic” John A. Logan‘s proclamation on May 5).

1869  – Grace Andrews, American mathematician, was born (d. 1951).

1871  The Paris Commune fell.

1876  Ottoman sultan Abd-ul-Aziz was deposed and succeeded by his nephew Murat V.

1879 New York City’s Gilmores Garden was renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt and opened to the public at 26th Street and Madison Avenue.

1883  A rumour that the Brooklyn Bridge was going to collapse causes a stampede that crushes twelve people.

1901 – A 10-man Royal Commission reported unanimously that New Zealand should not become a state of the Commonwealth of Australia.

New Zealand says no to federation with Australia
1909 – Benny Goodman, American clarinet player, songwriter, and bandleader, was born (d. 1986).

1911  At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first Indianapolis 500 ended with Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp becoming the first winner of the 500-mile auto race.

1913  First Balkan War: the Treaty of London, 1913 is signed ending the war. Albania becomes an independent nation.

1914  The new and then largest Cunard ocean liner RMS Aquitania, 45,647 tons, set sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City.

1915  The East Indiaman ship Arniston was wrecked during a storm at Waenhuiskrans, the loss of 372 lives.

1917  Alexander I became king of Greece.

1919 – René Barrientos, Bolivian army officer and politician, 55th President of Bolivia, was born. (d. 1969).

1922  In Washington, D.C. the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated.

1928 – Joan Birman, American mathematician, was born.

1941  World War II: Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas climb on the Athenian Acropolis, tear down the Nazi swastika and replace it with the Greek flag.

1942  World War II: 1000 British bombers launched a 90-minute attack on Cologne, Germany.

1948  A dike along the flooding Columbia River broke, obliterating Vanport, Oregon within minutes. Fifteen people die and tens of thousands are left homeless.

1955 – Caroline Swift, English lawyer and judge, was born.

1955 Topper Headon, British musician (The Clash), was born.

1958  Memorial Day: the remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War respectively, were buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

1959  The Auckland Harbour Bridge, crossing the Waitemata Harbour was officially opened by Governor-General Lord Cobham.

Auckland harbour bridge opened

1961  Long time Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo was assassinated in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

1961 – Harry Enfield, English actor, director, and screenwriter, was born

1962 Kevin Eastman, American comic book creator (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), was born.

1963  A protest against pro-Catholic discrimination during the Buddhist crisis was held outside South Vietnam’s National Assembly, the first open demonstration during the eight-year rule of Ngo Dinh Diem.

1963 – Helen Sharman, English chemist and astronaut, was born.

1966 Former Congolese Prime Minister Evariste Kimba and several other politicians are publicly executed in Kinshasa on the orders of President Joseph Mobutu.

1967 Daredevil Evel Knievel jumped his motorcycle over 16 cars lined up in a row.

1967  The Nigerian Eastern Region declared independence as the Republic of Biafra, sparking a civil war.

1971 Mariner 9 was launched to map 70% of the surface, and to study temporal changes in the atmosphere and surface, of Mars.

1972 The Angry Brigade went on trial over a series of 25 bombings throughout Britain.

1972  In Tel Aviv members of the Japanese Red Army carried out the Lod Airport Massacre, killing 24 people and injuring 78 others.

1989  Tiananmen Square protests of 1989: the 33-foot high “Goddess of Democracy” statue was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.

1996 – A New Zealand Royal Honours System was established with the institution of the New Zealand Order of Merit, which replaced the various British State Orders of Chivalry.

1998  A magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit northern Afghanistan, killing up to 5,000.2002– 272 days after the September 11 attacks, closing ceremonies were held for the clean up/recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site in New York City.2003 – Depayin massacre: at least 70 people associated with the National League for Democracy were killed by government-sponsored mob in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi fled the scene, but was arrested soon afterwards.

2012 – Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in atrocities committed during the Sierra Leone Civil War.

2013  – Nigeria passed a law banning same-sex marriage.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


365 days of gratitude

May 29, 2018

We woke to fresh snow on the Kakanuis this morning and a light frost  but, as often happens with a frost in the south, we also got a cloudless sky and bright sun.

It was still a little chilly outside but nothing an extra layer of merino couldn’t counter and for that I’m grateful.


Word of the day

May 29, 2018

Crepuscular – of, resembling or relating to twilight; appearing or active in the twilight or just before dawn when the light is dim.


e-mob for Roxburgh children’s village

May 29, 2018

Southern mayors are asking people to join an e-mob today to save Roxburgh children’s village.

Message from Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan: the people of the South are being asked to join in an e-mob protest (possibly the first of its kind) to get the message that failing to increase funding so the Roxburgh Children’s Village can remain operating is unacceptable to the people of the South.

Those who care about the Village and the children and families of the South that have used its services since 1949 are asked to join an “e-mob” protest, sending the very poignant Garrick Tremain cartoon (with his permission) to Jacinda Ardern this Tuesday 29 May.

The cartoon attached (is available and instructions for where to email it by emailing cartoon@codc.govt.nz

May 29 has been chosen as it is one month until the doors close on the Village. It is very important that you know that the residential therapeutic service that the Village offers will no longer be available to the children of the South, while it does remain in place for other parts of New Zealand. This is service by geography at its worst.

May 29 is also the anniversary of Mabel Howard being made our first female Cabinet Minister in 1949. Ironically, she was made Minister of Health and Children’s Welfare.

The cartoon (is available and instructions for where to email it by emailing cartoon@codc.govt.nz

No automatic alt text available.

Everyone who sends the cartoon is asked to email: roxburroxburghletsnotdothis@gmail.com so an accurate count of support can be made.

The ODT answers questions about the village and the service it provides for children in desperate need here.



Rebuilding trust

May 29, 2018

The government’s decisions to attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is an expensive one, but not eradicating it would be even more costly:

The Government says it has reached an agreement with farming sector leaders to attempt to eradicate the disease from New Zealand.

The cull, of around 126,000 in addition to the 26,000 already underway, will take place over one to two years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said to not act would cost even more than what would be spent on trying to eradicate it – $886 million.

$1.3b over 10 years was the estimated cost of not acting.

“Today’s decision to eradicate is driven by the Government’s desire to protect the national herd from the disease and to protect the base of economy – the farming sector,” Ardern said.

“This is a tough call – no one ever wants to see mass culls. But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd,” she said.

“I personally do not want to look back on this time … and say I wish we had tried harder.

“We have this one shot to eradicate, and we are taking it together.

“We want New Zealand to be free of it,” Ardern said.

The Government will meet 68% of the cost and Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand will meet 32%. . . 

Farmers have mixed views on the wisdom of this decision but it’s backed by DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb, Federated Farmers and the National Party.

Culling all the cattle will be devastating for farmers and sharemilkers but at least the government has committed to much faster action on compensation claims:

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said:

. . “I’ve also asked MPI to revisit the compensation process and they’ve developed a new streamlined approach for those whose animals are culled to enable a substantial payment within a matter of days.

“Farmer welfare is crucial and I’d like to thank the Rural Support Trusts for the work they’re doing. With this decision we know more help is needed and the Government and industry groups are committed to helping farmers through this stressful time. . . 

No-one thinks eradicating the disease will be easy and as David Williams writes, another  difficult task will be rebuilding trust in MPI:

. . When the dust settles, and the debate about eradication – or not – is over, MPI needs to start listening. Listening to farmers, to vets, to business people. Because I think MPI’s biggest job is not getting rid of M. bovis, it’s regaining trust. . . 

(MPI admits compensation payments have been too slow. Biosecurity response director Geoff Gwyn told Newshub: “I lose sleep over the fact there are people out there suffering as a result of the actions we’re putting on, and I know it’s cold comfort for them, but they are taking a hit for the national herd.”)

It doesn’t stop there, however. Criticism of MPI is also happening in the supermarket aisles, over the bar in rural pubs and over farm fences. Most importantly, it’s happening at the dining table, shaping the attitudes of the next generation of farmers. Many are probably saying the same things as the infected farmers – but some are undoubtedly going further.

In South Canterbury, there’s talk that there have been signs of disease in some herds for years. Given what’s happened, some are asking why authorities were told at all.

Trouble ahead

That’s the biggest problem. A few people tell me the way MPI has handled this outbreak means, they think, some farmers won’t be inclined to report problems in the future. They don’t think MPI has their back. This is not to defend such behaviour, but to give the authorities a heads-up. If that attitude spreads like M. bovis has, there’s trouble ahead.

As with TB, farmers must be confident that if they report a problem it will be taken seriously, they will be treated fairly and compensated quickly.

Without that confidence, some farmers will be tempted to quietly shoot and bury infected stock.

Of course, in Roger Smith’s perfect world, everyone would do the right thing. But human nature – as proved by the failure of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) system – tells us that doesn’t always happen.

MPI can’t possibly put field officers in every farm, so it has to rely on farmers to report problems. But this mood of mistrust, born of M. bovis, creates a climate of fear and self-reliance rather than faith in the system. The country needs faith, however, and it’s up to MPI to restore it.

What we’ve seen in recent months, however, is farmers turning on farmers, as the secrecy over which farms are infected leads to suspicion and accusation, not just about who knew what but when they knew it. The slowness or non-existence of compensation payments is an added stress. Businesses are failing, people are struggling and MPI is coming across as detached and cold-hearted.

At a national level, Federated Farmers says its members have to lift their game, particularly when it comes to animal identification and tracing. (Northland’s branch is calling for a full, independent inquiry about MPI’s approach to biosecurity.) Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has instructed officials to take a tougher approach to compliance with the tracing system, NAIT. These conversations should have been had years ago.

Problems with NAIT – both the system itself and compliance – must be addressed and addressed quickly.

The tougher conversations are to be had face-to-face with farmers. Yes, there needs to be a better job of selling the benefits of NAIT – that’ll help uptake. But the crucial conversations will be farmers telling MPI what they need, how best to help them and how, when the next outbreak hits – because it will – the ministry can improve its response.

Of course, just because the farmers are talking, doesn’t mean that MPI will listen.

MPI has lost the confidence of farmers.

They didn’t appear to realise the human and financial cost to farmers whose businesses have been threatened and the importance of clear communication and speedy settling of compensation.

Eradicating M. bovis must be its primary focus but it must take seriously the criticisms aimed at it and ensure that its systems and staff training improve so it and they regain farmers’ trust and are ready and able to respond faster and better to the next biosecurity incursion.

MPI’s media release gives some hope that it has already learned from its mistakes.

We understand this will be painful for farmers who are affected, and we are committed to looking after those who have Mycoplasma bovis on their farms.

If you are a farmer and need support, help is available through your industry group representative, individual response case manager, or the Rural Support Trust.

• Rural Support Trust: 0800 78 72 54

• MPI: 0800 00 83 33

Industry representatives:

• Dairy NZ: 0800 43 24 79 69

• Beef + Lamb NZ: 0800 23 33 52

• Federated Farmers: 0800 32 76 46

We’re calling on rural communities to support each other, especially affected farmers and those that appear to be finding it hard. If you have any concerns about someone you know, contact the Rural Support Trust or other community support services.

Download the Looking after yourself fact sheet [PDF, 813 KB]

Compensation

Compensation is available for anyone who has verifiable losses as a result of directions they are given by MPI under the Biosecurity Act to manage Mycoplasma bovis.

Farmers that are directed to have animals culled or their farm operations restricted under movement controls will be eligible for compensation. In particular, farmers whose animals are being culled will receive an initial payment for the value of culled stock within 2 weeks of a completed claim being lodged.

Learn more about Biosecurity Act compensation

Mycoplasma bovis compensation claim form user guide [PDF, 446 KB]

MPI must now ensure its actions match its words, and to date, this from Keith Woodford, shows they haven’t:

There are going to be huge challenges for MPI. To date, they have not covered themselves in glory. All members of their response team will have been working hard within imposed limits, but the MPI system has let them down with too many layers of management and an inability to make timely operational decisions for each farm.

The most urgent issue right now relates to all of the NOD (suspect) farms in the South Island that have their cows and their feed in different locations. As just one example of many, there is a Mid Canterbury farmer I know of who is caught in the constipated bureaucracy and as of today still cannot get approval to shift his stock less than two kilometres to another farm he owns (and which he agrees will then also become a NOD farm).

These cows need to be moved and should have been progressively moved over recent weeks as they were dried-off, if they are to have feed to eat. This farm is not one of the infected properties, rather it is just one of the 300 NOD suspect properties.

We don’t know how many farms are in this situation of cows isolated from their winter feed, but almost certainly well over 100. This is not the ‘gypsy day’ situation but something quite different. And it is a big animal and human welfare issue.

There should be no hold-up over permission to move stock from one block to another owned by the same farmer who agrees to it becoming a NOD farm.

The Government appears to be underestimating the complexity of the compensation claims. The challenge is that claims have to be ‘verified’, but loss of income claims are always debatable. Claim settlements require agreements on what would have happened and by definition that is impossible to verify objectively.

An MPI source advises that any claim over $75,000 requires five separate signatures across various ministries from within the Wellington bureaucracy after the technical assessors have reached agreement. Given the future tsunami of claims, from both infected and suspect properties, and the reality that almost no claims have yet to be settled except in partial amounts, there will be a need for a separate and preferably independent Claims Assessment Commission. . . 

 

This map shows the extent of the known spread of the disease. It looks bad and it is.

But so far all cases can be traced back to a single source, all infections are the same strain and nothing has been traced back further than 2015. It is a lot of farms and a lot of cows and devastating personally and financially for those affected.

Eradication will require a huge effort by the farmers affected and MPI and big changes within the dairy industry and those who support and service it.

 


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