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.

 


Quote of the day

May 29, 2018

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. – G. K. Chesterton who was born on this day in 1874.

 


May 29 in history

May 29, 2018

363 Roman Emperor Julian defeated the Sassanid army in the Battle of Ctesiphon, under the walls of the Sassanid capital, but was unable to take the city.

1167 Battle of Monte Porzio – A Roman army supporting Pope Alexander III was defeated by Christian of Buch and Rainald of Dassel.

1176 Battle of Legnano: The Lombard League defeated Emperor Frederick I.

1630 Charles II of England was born (d. 1685).

1414  Council of Constance.

1453 Byzantine-Ottoman Wars: Ottoman armies under Sultan Mehmed IIFatih sacked and captured Constantinople after a siege, ending the Byzantine Empire.

1660 English Restoration: Charles II (on his birthday) was restored to the throne of Great Britain.

1677  Treaty of Middle Plantation established peace between the Virginia colonists and the local Natives.

1727  Peter II became Tsar of Russia.

1733 The right of Canadians to keep Indian slaves was upheld.

1780 American Revolutionary War: At the Battle of Waxhaws Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton massacred Colonel Abraham Buford’s continentals.

1790  Rhode Island became the last of the original United States‘ colonies to ratify the Constitution and was admitted as the 13th U.S. state.

1848  Wisconsin was admitted as the 30th U.S. state.

1864  Emperor Maximilian of Mexico arrived in Mexico for the first time.

1867  The Austro-Hungarian agreement – Ausgleich (“the Compromise“) – was born through Act 12, which established the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

1868  The assassination of Michael Obrenovich III, Prince of Serbia.

1874  G. K. Chesterton, English novelist, was born (d. 1936).

1886 Chemist John Pemberton placed his first advertisement for Coca-Cola, it appeared in the Atlanta Journal.

1900 – N’Djamena was founded as Fort-Lamy by French commanderÉmile Gentil.

1903 Bob Hope, British-born comedian and actor, was born (d. 2003).

1903  May coup d’etat: Alexander Obrenovich, King of Serbia, and Queen Draga, were assassinated in Belgrade by the Black Hand (Crna Ruka) organization.

1906 T.H. White, British author, was born (d. 1964).

1913 Igor Stravinsky‘s ballet score The Rite of Spring received its premiere performance in Paris, provoking a riot.

1914 – Tenzing Norgay, Nepalese-Indian mountaineer, was born, (d. 1986).

1914  Ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland sank in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives.

1917 – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, was born (d. 1963).

1919 – Einstein’s theory of general relativity was tested (later confirmed) by Arthur Eddington’s observation of a total solar eclipse in Principe and by Andrew Crommelin in Sobral, Ceará, Brazil.

1919 The Republic of Prekmurje founded.

1924  AEK Athens FC was established on the anniversary of the siege ofConstantinople by the Turks.

1935  The Hoover Dam was completed.

1939  Albanian fascist leader Tefik Mborja is appointed as member of the Italian Chamber of Fasces and Corporations.

1940  The first flight of the F4U Corsair.

1941 Doug Scott, British mountaineer, was born.

1942  Bing Crosby, the Ken Darby Singers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra recorded Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”.

1945 Gary Brooker, musician (Procol Harum), was born.

1945  First combat mission of the Consolidated B-32 Dominator heavy bomber.

1947 – Mabel Howard became New Zealand’s first female Cabinet Minister.

Mabel Howard becomes first female Cabinet minister

1948  Creation of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation

1950  The St. Roch, the first ship to circumnavigate North America, arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia .

1953 Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on Tenzing Norgay’s (adopted) 39th birthday.

Hillary and Tenzing reach summit of Everest
1954  First of the annual Bilderberg conferences.

1959 Rupert Everett, English actor, was born.

1961 Melissa Etheridge, American musician, was born.

1963 Tracey E. Bregman, American actress, was born.

1967 Noel Gallagher, English musician (former Oasis), was born.

1969  General strike in Córdoba, Argentina, leading to the Cordobazo civil unrest.

1973  Tom Bradley was elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles.

1975 Melanie Brown, English musician and actress (Spice Girls), was born.

1978 Adam Rickitt, British actor, was born.

1982 – Pope John Paul II became the first pontiff to visit Canterbury Cathedral.

1985 – Heysel Stadium disaster: At the European Cup final in Brussels 39 football fans died and hundreds are injured when a dilapidated retaining wall collapses after Liverpool F.C. fans breached a fence separating them from Juventus F.C. fans.

1985  Amputee Steve Fonyo completed cross-Canada marathonatVictoria, British Columbia, after 14 months.

1988  U.S. President Ronald Reagan began his first visit to the Soviet Union.

1990 The Russian parliament elected Boris Yeltsin president of the Russian SFSR.

1999  Olusegun Obasanjo took office as President of Nigeria, the first elected and civilian head of state in Nigeria after 16 years of military rule.

1999 Space Shuttle Discovery completed the first docking with theInternational Space Station.

1999 – Charlotte Perrelli won the Eurovision Song Contest 1999  for Sweden with the song Take Me to Your Heaven.

2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruled that disabled golfer Casey Martin could use a cart to ride in at tournaments.

2004  The National World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.

2008 – A strong earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck Iceland near the town of Selfoss, injuring 30 people.

2012 – A 5.8-magnitude earthquake hit northern Italy near Bologna, killing at least 24 people.

2014 – Ignatius Aphrem II was enthroned as the Syriac OrthodoxPatriarch of Antioch.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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