365 days of gratitude

June 29, 2018

When it’s still dark long after 7am and the temperature is hovering around 0 it’s easy to find excuses not to go for a walk.

But in spite of the temptation to stay inside, I’ve been maintaining the routine of a 90 minute walk most mornings.

Even when I’m not so keen on doing it, I always feel better for having done it and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

June 29, 2018

Copperas –  green crystals of hydrated ferrous sulphate, especially as an industrial product; a green hydrated ferrous sulfate FeSO4·7H2O used especially in making inks and pigments.


What if you don’t have a power bill?

June 29, 2018

This is an extraordinary admission from a minister:

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today told the Environment Select Committee that her key achievement in office is requiring New Zealanders who go tramping to carry power bills to prove to DOC rangers that they are kiwis, National’s Conservation Spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“This is outrageous. New Zealanders have an expectation that they have open access to the great outdoors. Instead, Ms Sage expects when we pack our tramping bags – we will remember to include our latest power bill,” Ms Dowie says. . . 

What happens to the many of us who don’t have power bills in our names?

Our bill is addressed to the farm not my farmer and me.

That will apply to a lot of people whose business is also their home.

But it’s not only home-based business people who won’t have power bills addressed to them.

Children, including adults, who live with their parents are unlikely to be the bill addressee; not all couples have bills in both their names and accounts for flats could well be addressed to one or some rather than all of the flatmates.

There could be a case for charging overseas tourists to access National Parks, but requiring us to carry a power bill when tramping isn’t the best way to sort the local sheep from the touring goats.


Rural round-up

June 29, 2018

Kindness is the best way to train a cow, dairy leaders say – Esther Taunton:

Dairy farmers were quick to condemn the “training” methods of a Northland sharemilker filmed beating cows with a steel pipe, saying kindness and positivity were more effective.

The hidden camera footage, released to Newsroom, shows the sharemilker repeatedly hitting animals with an alkathene pipe, a stick and a steel pipe during milking. 

When asked if he hit the cows, the sharemilker told journalist Melanie Reid he did, but only to train them and the best approach was to be “kind and firm”.  

“You’ve got to train your cows. You can’t let your cows rule you,” he said.

However, dairy industry leaders rejected his methods and said brute force was never warranted. 

Federated Farmers sharemilkers’ chairman Richard McIntyre said training dairy cattle was about making them want to do what the farmer wanted. . . 

Bridgit Hawkins’ app is helping farmers save water, money and time – Simon Pound:

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week Simon is joined by Bridget Hawkins, CEO of Regen, an app helping to drive efficiency on farms.

We love a good chat about the things being done to improve farming practice on this show. And today’s guest is the CEO of an app that helps farmers use less water and more efficiently use nitrate fertilisers to only irrigate at times the soil is ready, meaning less runoff of fertiliser and effluent – meaning less crap getting into our waterways.

Sounds pretty good already. But it also helps farmers save money and keep to their council water usage consents  – so it is a tool that you don’t have to be a big greenie to want. . .

New technology finds a greener way to improve NZ’s crops – Charlie Dreaver:

A new research project that’s underway has the potential to give New Zealand’s horticultural industry a bumper crop.

Hot Lime Labs, through Callaghan Innovation, has created a way to use wood chips and limestone to pump CO2 into greenhouses.

They say it will increase crop production and is cheaper and greener than the current alternative.

It’s no secret in the horticultural industry that pumping extra CO2 into greenhouses can significantly increase crop growth.

But Tomatoes New Zealand’s general manager, Helen Barnes, said giving plants an extra dose of CO2 could be difficult. . .

Red Meat Profit Partnership brainstorm ideas to increase profitability:

Farmers are known for their ingenuity and the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) is asking them to bring ideas to the table.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership, which is a joint project between government, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) and the Meat Industry Association, is offering funding to farmers in the form of action groups.

BLNZ southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said RMPP was established to increase profitability across the industry. . .

Agriculture sector salary increases:

After little movement in wages in recent years, people working in primary industries have made gains in what they earn according to the latest Federated Farmers Rabobank Remuneration Survey.

The report released today was developed following the survey conducted in late 2017 and early 2018.

Responses were collected from 940 employers on 13 separate farm positions across the dairy, sheep and beef and arable sectors. In addition to information on salaries the report also provides a range of other data including weekly hours worked by employees, employee age, length of employment and recruitment ease. . . .

Leon Clement Announced as Synlait Milk’s New CEO :

Synlait Milk  is pleased to announce Leon Clement will join the organisation as Chief Executive Officer from mid-August.

The appointment is the outcome of a global recruitment search undertaken following co-founder and inaugural CEO John Penno’s announcement in November 2017 of his intention to stand down.

“Leon has led major businesses internationally, specifically in Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and has deep experience in the branded dairy sector,” says Graeme Milne, Chairman. . .

Synlait commits to a sustainable future with bold targets:

Synlait Milk has committed to reducing its environmental impact significantly over the next decade by targeting key areas of their value chain.

The commitments were revealed at Synlait’s annual conference in Christchurch on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 June to staff, dairy farmers and partners:
• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 35% per kilogram of milk solids on-farm (consisting of -50% nitrous oxide, -30% methane and -30% carbon dioxide) and 50% per kilogram of milk solids off-farm by 2028
• Reducing water consumption by 20% per kgMS both on-farm and off-farm by 2028
• Reducing nitrogen loss on-farm by 45% per kgMS by 2028
• Significantly boosting support for best practice dairy farming through increased Lead With Pride™ premium payments, including a 100% PKE-free incentive . . .

Sensible solutions making forest safety seamless and smart :

A major national conference on forest safety practices is set to showcase how our forestry leaders have delivered both safety and productivity benefits for people across a range of workplaces.

“Some of our most inspiring forestry leaders have developed safety improvements in both crew culture and harvesting technologies,” says Forest Industry Engineering Association spokesman, Gordon Thomson.

“We’re delighted to have skilled industry leaders outlining their teams’ experiences – especially people who know that safety and productivity can be improved simultaneously. It’s an intriguing line up of case studies for this year’s conference,” he added. . . 

‘Silver Fern Farms National Youth Scholarships applications now open:

Applications are now open for Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships. In their second year, the scholarships award six young people around New Zealand $5000 to assist with developing their careers and capabilities in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the response to last year’s inaugural scholarships indicate a bright future for the red meat sector. . . 

Forget the Hunger Games, greet the driverless tractor – Marian L. Tupy and Chelsea Follett:

If you are a sci-fi fan, then you have probably noticed the dystopian character of movies about the future. From the classics, such as Soylent Green and Blade Runner, to modern hits, such as the Matrix trilogy and District 9, Hollywood’s take on the future is almost invariably negative. The story lines tend to centre on depletion of natural resources, like in the Mad Max movies, the emergence of highly stratified societies, like Elysium, or both.

In Hollywood’s rendition, the future consists of a few people at the top, who partake in the good life and enjoy what’s left of earth’s resources, while the much more numerous masses suffer some form of enslavement and destitution. That is, until one day, a messianic figure emerges to overthrow the existing order, slaughters the oppressors, liberates the untermenschen and ushers in an era of peace and prosperity. . .

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Friday’s answers

June 29, 2018

Teletext gets my thanks for posing Thursday’s questions which didn’t get a single answer.

A virtual apple crumble can be claimed for stumping us all by leaving the answers below.

 


Poor pay less and more

June 29, 2018

Transport Minister Phil Twyford says the poor will pay less fuel tax than wealthier people.

He’s right in dollar terms but if he’s worried about the impact that’s not what matters, it’s the proportion of income that counts:

“Transport Minister Phil Twyford is either very brave or very stupid in arguing that fuel taxes are easiest on the poor,” says Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke.
 
“He is doggedly focusing on the dollar impact of the fuel tax, and ignoring the cost as a proportion of total income.”
 
“It’s no surprise that rich people buy more fuel – they buy more of everything. But people on low incomes spend a far larger proportion of their income on fuel, meaning a tax hike will have a far bigger effect on their real quality of life.”
 
“It only takes five minutes to graph Twyford’s figures and see the real impact of fuel tax.”

“The verdict is clear: fuel taxes whack the poorest almost four times as hard as they whack the richest.”
 
“It’s stunning to see such selective ignorance from a centre-left Minister who is meant to understand issues of fairness and equality. Isn’t this stuff Labour Party 101?”

As David Farrar points out, the poor consume less of almost everything (except tobacco) but spend a higher proportion of their income on it

The cost of the fuel tax will be greater for higher income people but the poor will pay more of what they earn on it:

Now let’s look at the average incomes for each decile

  • Decile 1 – under $23,900
  • Decile 5 – $64,400 to $80,199
  • Decile 10 – over $188,900

So the extra fuel tax as a percentage of income is:

  • Decile 1: 0.52%
  • Decile 5: 0.27%
  • Decile 10: 0.14%

Let’s not forget it’s not just the direct cost that will hit the poorest hardest.

Every service and all goods with a transport component (and can you think of anything that doesn’t have one?) will be impacted by the tax and that will, sooner or later, lead to price increases, inflationary pressure and interest rate rises.

The Ardern/Peters/Shaw/Davidson coalition government, all parties in which purport to represent and work for the poor, is adding to the cost of living and making life harder for them.

And adding to that is yesterday’s announcement we’ll all be paying an extra 10.5 cents a litre over the next two years in excise tax.

P.S.

Michael Redell writes on regressivity, petrol taxes, and ministerial PR at Croaking Cassandra.

Thomas Lumley examines the issue at Stats Chat.

Sam Warburton tweets on it here.

 


Cruelty always wrong

June 29, 2018

Dairy NZ’s strategy leader Jenny Jago says the well-being of animals is at the heart of every dairy farm.

It is not okay to treat any animal poorly – ever – and the vast majority of farmers care deeply about their animals. This footage is disturbing and it has been reported that a complaint has been laid. This type of appalling behaviour is absolutely not representative of the thousands of farmers that work with cows every day and are passionate about animal welfare.

Cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the dairy sector as part of dairy farming. If a farmer treats their cows badly, they shouldn’t be working in the dairy sector. It’s as simple as that.

She was responding to a video which showed a sharemilker abusing cows:

A Northland sharemilker caught on hidden cameras hitting dairy cows with a steel pipe in his milking shed had previously been the subject of a complaint to the Ministry for Primary Industries about other claims of animal abuse.

That inquiry was dropped due to a lack of evidence but the new video from the milking shed cameras has been given to the Ministry by farm animal advocacy group Farmwatch as part of a new complaint.

A month’s footage from the hidden cameras supplied to Newsroom by Farmwatch shows the sharemilker repeatedly hitting cows during milking. At times the cows were hit on the head, at other times their legs were struck with a steel pipe.  . .

What makes this case worse is that a farm worker complained to MPI whose investigation found nothing amiss the first time and said they could do nothing the second.

The former worker contacted MPI again by phone to tell them about the steel pipe. They said MPI told them the case was closed and nothing more could be done without proof. 

“We went through the right channels. We went to the owner first, nothing was done. We went to MPI, nothing was done. We didn’t want to leave it,” said the former worker who made the complaint. 

At this point, worried for the welfare of the herd and with nowhere else to turn, the former worker contacted farm animal advocacy group, Farmwatch. 

Farmwatch installed hidden cameras in the milking shed to gather proof.

Farmwatch volunteer investigator, John Darroch, said he has spent time in milking sheds in the past and knew good farming practice. He was shocked at what was caught on camera. 

“I was stunned and sickened by what I saw. The level of anger towards the cows was quite disturbing to see.”  

This footage has now been supplied to MPI in the hope something can be done.  

“We’re willing to co-operate with MPI so that they can prosecute people based off our hidden camera footage. This includes a willingness to give formal statements to MPI and to appear in court as witnesses,” Darroch said. . . 

Treating cows like this is inhumane and also stupid – cows need quiet and calm to produce milk. The sharemilker wasn’t only being cruel to the stock, his actions would have reduced milk production which would have reduced his income.

There is no excuse for cruelty to animals and MPI must learn from this case so that any complaints made in future are investigated more thoroughly.

The abuse was bad enough, that it continued after complaints were made makes it worse.


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