365 days of gratitude

May 21, 2018

As electronic communications proliferate, less and less comes through the post.

But magazines to savor are best of the printed variety and one of those came with today’s mail.

I haven’t had time to read it yet, but anticipation adds to the pleasure and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

May 21, 2018

Quire – four sheets of paper or parchment folded to form eight leaves, as in medieval manuscripts; a section of printed leaves in proper sequence after folding; gathering; any collection of leaves one within another in a manuscript or book; 25 (formerly 24) sheets of paper; one twentieth of a ream; choir.


Rural round-up

May 21, 2018

Disease reaches ‘crisis point’ – Annette Scott:

Mycoplasma bovis has reached crisis point and it’s time the Ministry for Primary Industries handed it back to farmers and support them to manage it, Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Frank Peters says.

The Peters family last week had 450 of their 1400-cow herd trucked to slaughter after just one cow tested positive for the cattle disease, now running rampant across the country.

Peters believes a lack of knowledge about M bovis is the biggest threat the disease poses to the dairy industry. . .

Farming and the Fight Against Climate Change – Veronika Meduna:

Climate friendly sheep could soon be romping around as part of the national flock as farmers take action to help reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.

As the interim climate commission begins its work, one of its most controversial tasks is to determine how agricultural greenhouse gas emissions could be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme. At the same time, farmers have an increasing number of options to curb emissions.

On a farm south of Invercargill, a small flock of ewes that burp less methane – a potent greenhouse gas that makes up 76 per cent of emissions from the primary sector – is part of a research project to mitigate agricultural emissions. . . 

Tukituki catchment project aimed at curbing N-leaching big challenge :

A project aimed at determining how Tukituki catchment farmers will operate under new nitrogen leaching targets has found significant changes will have to made to achieve the reduced levels.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Plan Change 6 outlines Land Use Capability (LUC) nitrogen leaching rates for all farms, depending on their physical characteristics and attributes, that have to be achieved by May 2020.

Farmers unable to reach these rates could apply for resource consents provided they stay within 30 per cent of the prescribed rate. . .

Farmer plea to politicians: talk to us not at us – Andrew McGiven:

It certainly is an interesting time to be a farmer now and not necessarily for all the right reasons.

The declaration from Environment Minister David Parker that regulation is his chosen path for dealing with intensive dairying is just the latest salvo from this government that principles and ideology reign supreme over co-operation and common sense.

This comes on top of the Green element of the coalition doing all it can to include agricultural animal emissions in an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), uncertainty around the Tax Working Group and the potential requirements that Plan Change One Healthy Rivers will heap on us.

I am not surprised to see so many farms on the market right now. . .

Technology is getting CRISPR –  Daniel Kelley:

The future of farming just got a lot brighter.

On March 28, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that his department won’t add a new layer of regulations to crops that scientists have enhanced through a cutting-edge method of selective breeding. This wise decision will encourage innovation, helping producers and consumers alike—and it even holds the potential to usher in the next great revolution in food.

After half a century of farming in Illinois, I’ve endured every kind of challenge, from droughts, floods, and diseases to insect invasions and weed infestations. But what I’ll remember best about my career—and the thing for which I’m most grateful—is the stunning technological progress. Today, we have hybrid seed corn that delivers bumper crops, computer databases that overflow with information, and precision agriculture driven by satellites in the Global Positioning System. Compared to what I knew as a boy, these are incomprehensible, head-spinning technologies. . . 

Crop disease: waging modern war against an ancient foe – John Ward:

The problem of world hunger is complex and the threats to our global food supply are many. They include growing populations, loss of arable land, dwindling water supplies, and climate change.

As if these present-day challenges weren’t enough, there is another – far older – adversary that farmers have grappled with for centuries. Crop disease.

Crop losses due to pests and plant pathogens continue to rob world markets of much needed food and cost farmers billions of dollars every year.

But innovators like Ad Bastiaansen, believe that modern information technology might finally help turn the tide of battle against this ancient foe. . . 


New fund for biosecurity?

May 21, 2018

Finance Minister Grant Robertson is considering a fund like EQC to cover biosecurity breaches.

He told Mr Dann he has asked Treasury and the Ministry of Primary Industries to investigate the possibility of creating a fund that could be funded partly by the government and partly by industry.

“We can’t just sit there and wait for these things to happen. We know they’re happening more regularly and I want us to get ahead of that,” he said.

“We are in a very reactive stance when they come in. We have this with Mycoplasma bovis, and we scramble around both as a government and the industry, trying to find the money to respond to them.”

“What I’d like to see is for us to get ahead of those. . .

A Border Clearance Levy was introduced in 2016:

The introduction of the levy allows the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Customs Service to manage resourcing of border clearance activities as passenger numbers go up or down.  This will mean the right resources are in place to keep New Zealand safe from harmful pests, people and dangerous substances and maintain current levels of service.

That’s supposed to stop biosecurity risks at the border, it doesn’t cover dealing with, and compensating for, anything which gets past the border.

The EQC levy and a Fire Service levy,  are imposed on all insurance policies. That does let people without insurance away without paying but the rest of us pay.

While the Canterbury earthquakes have raised issues with EQC, most of us pay the levies without complaint in the knowledge that any of us could be victims of natural disasters or fires.

Farmers, horticulturalists and orchardists, and native species are those most at risk from a direct biosecurity incursions which are very different from earthquakes and fires.

There’s no way to levy our flora and fauna. It would be easier to levy farmers and growers of fruit and vegetables.

The problems and costs of dealing with and compensating for M. bovis show the need for change.

Keith Woodford identifies some of the problems in the way it’s been and is being handled:

As I write this on 20 May 2018, New Zealand is at a crucial point in deciding how to manage Mycoplasma bovis. There are no good options. The worst option is for the Government to try and be the boss.

So, who should try to manage Mycoplasma bovis?

At the national level, the answer is ‘no-one’.  Farmers must make their own business decisions and take responsibility for those decisions.

Elsewhere in the world, governments do not try to manage Mycoplasma bovis. It is up to farmers to do this.

The role of our Government should be to continue monitoring at the national level using sampling techniques. But trying to identify all infected animals so as to eradicate the disease, and even trying to limit stock movements, this will be counter-productive.  Government has neither the resources nor the expertise. And the mess will just get bigger and bigger. . . 

Gypsy Day is in a couple fo weeks, thousands of cows need to be moved for winter feed or to new farms.

Some commentators have been suggesting that we should manage the disease in the short term but still work towards long term eradication. However, the epidemiology of this particular disease is such that this is unlikely to happen. No other country of the world – and Mycoplasma bovis is present in all the main dairy producing countries – is attempting to do this.  Unless some new technologies come forward, this disease is always going to be with us.

In the long term, it may be possible to produce a vaccine for Mycoplasma bovis. However, I do not know of anyone currently working on this.

The hard reality is that all farmers now need to manage their own situation, supported by advice by their veterinarians and other rural professionals with whom they work.  We know the risk factors. It is simply a case of making sure that these risks continue to be communicated, and then decisions must be made for each farm in the context of its specific situation. . .

The M. Bovis outbreak has been mishandled from the start when MPI worked on forward tracing – of cattle going from the farms where it was first identified, rather than backward tracing to find out where it had originated.

MPI now accepts that Mycoplasma bacteria were present in New Zealand at the start of 2016. But among my informal networks, there is no-one who is confident that this is time zero. The debates that we have, based on various pieces of evidence, include whether time zero was around 2014, or whether time zero was even earlier than that.

With hindsight, it seems that the battle between Mycoplasma bovis and MPI was always going to be a victory for Mycoplasma bovis. For it to be otherwise, MPI Biosecurity would have either had to stop its first entry to New Zealand, or else have identified the first incursions before they had spread.

Clearly there have been major deficiencies in NAIT (the national animal tracing system) but this is not the reason that Mycoplasma is currently out of control. Much more fundamental to the issue is that Mycoplasma had a head start, probably of several years.

There will also need to be hard questions asked about MPI itself – not the individuals but the system. Within my networks, which include people working directly on the Mycoplasma project, there is frustration that field-level understandings get lost as messages flow up the chain.

I would like to see MPI staffed at the highest levels by specialists rather than by managers drawn from totally different fields of expertise. From the website, I can see a ten-member senior leadership team with military experience, social development experience, communications experience and even a love of ballet. But apart from one forester and one agricultural economist, I cannot see any signs of people with experience of how things actually happen out in the field, nor an understanding of relevant sciences which determines how different diseases must be attacked differently. If the expertise is there, it is not evident.

I have significant doubts as to whether lack of funding is a key cause of the current situation. More likely, it is about organisational culture. It also needs to be recognised that generic management taught in MBA type programs may not be the ideal training for a Biosecurity Unit.

Anyone who has been affected by the disease and the way it’s been handled would second this.

Questions now have to be asked as to whether or not we have appropriate systems in place in case of a foot and mouth disease outbreak. I cannot answer that.

Foot and mouth disease would play out very differently than Mycoplasma bovis. If Mycoplasma bovis is a stealth bomber, then foot and mouth disease would be a nuclear event.

With foot and mouth disease, there would need to be immediate 100 percent accurate tracing of animal movements of the preceding days and possibly weeks, but not long term historical movements. There would need to be immediate and total lockdown on all animal movements across the country. Emergency vaccinations may need to be part of the toolbox.  All scenarios would need to have been thought through in advance.

With Mycoplasma bovis, it is evident those scenario analyses were not in place, so perhaps they are also not in place for foot and mouth disease.

Coming back to the immediate issues of Mycoplasma bovis, the key constraint going forward may well be for Government itself to recognise that it does not have the capacity to either eradicate or manage Mycoplasma bovis. The idea that ‘we are the Government and we are here to help you’ may well be an oxymoron.   Can Government understand this?

There might be a case for a fund partly paid for by farmers and growers.

But not as a knee jerk reaction to problems caused by the mishandling of M. bovis.

Unless those are addressed the fund would look more like another way to sneak in a new tax.


Quote of the day

May 21, 2018

Punishment is not for revenge, but to lessen crime and reform the criminal.  – Elizabeth Fry who was born on this day in 1780.


May 21 in history

May 21, 2018

293 – Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian appointed GaleriusasCaesar to Diocletian, beginning the period of four rulers known as theTetrarchy.

878  Syracuse, Italy was  captured by the Muslim sultan of Sicily.

879 Pope John VIII gave blessings to Duke Branimir and to Croatian people, considered to be international recognition of Croatian state.

996 Sixteen-year-old Otto III was crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

1502  The island of Saint Helena was discovered by the Portuguese navigator João da Nova.

1527 King Philip II of Spain was born (d. 1598).

1554 A royal Charter was granted to Derby School.

1674  The nobility elected John Sobieski King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.

1688  Alexander Pope, English poet, was born  (d. 1744).

1725 The Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was instituted in Russia by the empress Catherine I.

1758 Mary Campbell was abducted from her home in Pennsylvania byLenape during the French and Indian War.

1780 Elizabeth Fry, British social reformer, was born (d. 1845).

1809 The first day of the Battle of Aspern-Essling between the Austrian army led by Archduke Charles and the French army led by Napoleon I of France.

1840 Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson proclaimed sovereignty over all of New Zealand: over the North Island on the basis of cession by the Treaty of Waitangi and the southern islands by right of discovery.

Hobson proclaims sovereignty over NZ

1851  Slavery was abolished in Colombia.

1856  Lawrence, Kansas was captured and burned by pro-slavery forces.

1863  American Civil War: Siege of Port Hudson – Union forces begin to lay siege to the Confederate-controlled Port Hudson, Louisiana.

1864 Russia declared an end to the Russian-Circassian War and many Circassians were forced into exile. The day is designated the Circassian Day of Mourning.

1871  French troops invaded the Paris Commune and engage its residents in street fighting. By the close of “Bloody Week” some 20,000 communards have been killed and 38,000 arrested.

1871  Opening of the first rack railway in Europe, the Rigi-Bahnen on Mount Rigi.

1879  War of the Pacific: Two Chilean ships blocking the harbour of Iquique (then belonging to Peru) battled two Peruvian vessels in the Battle of Iquique.

1881  The American Red Cross was established by Clara Barton.

1894  The Manchester Ship Canal in England was officially opened by Queen Victoria, who knighted its designer Sir Edward Leader Williams.

1904 Fats Waller, American pianist, was born  (d. 1943).

1904 The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in Paris.

1907 John C. Allen, American roller coaster designer, was born  (d. 1979).

1916 – Harold Robbins, American novelist (d. 1997).

1917 Raymond Burr, Canadian actor (d. 1993).

1917  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was established through Royal Charter to mark, record and maintain the graves and places of commemoration of Commonwealth of Nations military forces.

1917  The Great Atlanta fire of 1917.

1924  Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in a “thrill killing”.

1927 Charles Lindbergh touched down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

1930 Malcolm Fraser, 22nd Prime Minsiter of Australia, was born.

1932 Bad weather forced Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby becme the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

1934 Oskaloosa, Iowa, became the first municipality in the United States to fingerprint all of its citizens.

1936 Sada Abe was arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her hand.

1937  A Soviet station became the first scientific research settlement to operate on the drift ice of the Arctic Ocean.

1939 The National War Memorial (Canada) was unveiled by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Ottawa.

1941 Ronald Isley, American singer (The Isley Brothers), was born.

1943 Hilton Valentine, British guitarist (The Animals), was born.

1944  Mary Robinson, President of Ireland, was born.

1946 Physicist Louis Slotin was fatally irradiated in a criticality incident during an experiment with the Demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

1948 – Leo Sayer, English musician, was born.

1951 The opening of the Ninth Street Show, otherwise known as the 9th Street Art Exhibition – a gathering of a number of notable artists, and the stepping-out of the post war New York avant-garde, collectively know as the New York School.

1952 Mr. T, American actor, was born.

1958 United Kingdom Postmaster General Ernest Marples announced that from December,  subscriber trunk dialling will be introduced in the Bristol area.

1961  American civil rights movement: Alabama Governor John Malcolm Patterson declared martial law in an attempt to restore order after race riots break out.

1966 The Ulster Volunteer Force declared  war on the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.

1969 Civil unrest in Rosario, Argentina, known as Rosariazo, following the death of a 15-year-old student.

1972  Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica was damaged by a vandal,  Hungarian geologist Laszlo Toth.

1979 White Night riots in San Francisco following the manslaughter conviction of Dan White for the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk.

1981 Irish Republican hunger strikers Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara died on hunger strike in Maze prison.

1990  Democratic Republic of Yemen and North Yemen agreed to a unity, merging into Republic of Yemen.

1991  Former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber near Madras.

1991  Mengistu Haile Mariam, president of the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,  fled Ethiopia, effectively bringing the Ethiopian Civil War to an end.

1994 Democratic Republic of Yemen unsuccessful attempts to secede from Republic of Yemen, war breaks out.

1996  The MV Bukoba sank in Tanzanian waters on Lake Victoria, killing nearly 1000.

1996  The Trappist Martyrs of Atlas were executed.

1998  In Miami, Florida, five abortion clinics were hit by a butyric acid attacker.

1998   Suharto, Indonesian president of 32 years, resigns.

2001  French Taubira law officially recognised the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity.

2003  An earthquake hit northern Algeria killing more than 2,000 people.

2004  Sherpa Pemba Dorjie climbed Mount Everest in 8 hours 10 minutes, breaking his rival Sherpa Lakpa Gelu’s record from the previous year.

2006  The Republic of Montenegro held a referendum proposing independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The Montenegrin people choose independence with a majority of 55%.

2006  The Swedish ice hockey team Tre Kronor took gold in the World Championship, becoming the first nation to hold both the World and Olympic titles separately in the same year.

2007  The clipper Cutty Sark was badly damaged by fire.

2010 – JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, launched the solar-sail spacecraft IKAROS aboard an H-IIA rocket.

2012 – In Qafa e Vishës bus tragedy near Himara, Albania 13 students of Aleksandër Xhuvani University were killed in bus crash.

2012 – A suicide bombing killed more than 120 people in Sana’a, Yemen.

2014 – A knife attack on a Taipei Metro train left 4 people dead and almost two dozen others injured.

2014 – The National September 11 Museum opened to the public.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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