365 days of gratitude

July 4, 2018

Baking used to be a weekly task.

These days it’s much less frequent.

However often it’s done, there are times it goes well and times it doesn’t.

This evening was one of the times it went well and I have three trays of biscuits ready for morning tea tomorrow with some left over for a gift for a friend.

Tonight I’m grateful that baking went well and lets me give gifts from my kitchen.


Word of the day

July 4, 2018

Fusil – a light flintlock musket; fusible or fusing; fused; melted; made by melting and molding, or casting; molten; founded; a charge shaped like a lengthened lozenge.


IHC cans calf scheme

July 4, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis has claimed another victim – the IHC Calf Scheme:

Due to the very real risk of spreading the Mycoplasma bovis disease, IHC has decided for the first time in 33 years to suspend crucial aspects of its Calf and Rural Scheme.

This includes picking up calves and organising IHC sales, simply because we cannot be part of something that puts farmers’ livelihoods at risk.

IHC has had a long and important partnership with farmers, which means together we have been able to make a real difference to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities – particularly those people living in rural communities.

We’ve spoken to many farmers, including at this year’s Fieldays, many of whom were concerned about the spread of Mycoplasma bovis.

Since the eradication programme was announced by Government, IHC has been in ongoing talks with the Ministry for Primary Industries – and based on information provided to us we have had to make some very tough decisions.

Over many years, IHC has tightened its practices – only picking up animals with National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) ear tags and Animal Status Declaration (ASD) forms.

IHC National Manager Fundraising Greg Millar says despite significant improvements in these systems, the risk remains too high.

“We have determined there should neither be IHC-organised transportation of weaned calves to sales, nor IHC calf sale days,” says Greg.

“IHC looked at every possible way to keep the scheme running as is, but after deliberating with MPI we determined it was too much of a risk.

“This is an important decision and one that we have not made lightly – the Calf and Rural Scheme is a long-standing fundraising programme that is now in its 33rd year, and generates more than $1 million annually for people with intellectual disabilities.

“We have a real obligation to do what is right for New Zealand farmers, their livelihoods and long-term sustainability.

“We are keeping up to date with the latest findings, and are working to gather the best data possible, to determine how the scheme will operate in the future.”

IHC would like to encourage people who want to continue to support people with intellectual disabilities to donate and take part in our virtual calf scheme, donating $300 in lieu of a calf, by visiting www.ihc.org.nz/pledge.

“We would also like to acknowledge what a tough time this has been for farmers, and we’re making a commitment to those in rural communities around New Zealand who have supported those with intellectual disabilities over the past 33 years.

“IHC is very grateful for the ongoing support in this difficult year of the key sponsors, in particular PGG Wrightson, who has supported us from the beginning of the calf scheme.” 

On The Country today, Jamie Mackay was encouraging everyone to donate money in lieu of stock.

We will be.

IHC was wonderfully supportive of our son who was profoundly disabled, and us.

Their attitude was summed up by the response to a query about what help was available.

The local IHC manager said, “You tell us what you need and we’ll make our system work for you.”

It’s more than 20 years since we needed that help but there are lots of other disabled people and their families who still need IHC’s assistance.


Farm quiz

July 4, 2018

88% in this farm quiz.

Not good at imperial measurements – old enough to remember the relief when they were dropped in favour of metrics but not old enough to be fluent in them.


Dowry update

July 4, 2018

The Taxpayers’ Union says Winston’s dowry continues to grow:

It was revealed last week, that the tax break for racing industry bloodstock is expected to cost significantly more than previously anticipated. The tax breaks for the racing industry have faced ridicule as the only tax cut in Budget 2018. 

That’s not surprising: the racing industry has historically been a strong supporter of New Zealand First. The Electoral Commission recently found that Sir Patrick Hogan was in breach of the Electoral Act when he funded a full page ad in support of the party prior to the General Election last year. 

At Budget 2018, the cost of the tax break was expected to equal $4.8 million over the next four years, however IRD officials expect the tax break will cost up to $40 million – a 733% increase in the cost of the policy. That means taxpayers will be on the line for an additional $35.2 million over the next four years, which is all added onto Winston’s Dowry!

Winston’s Dowry as at 2 July: $5.168 billion ($2989 per household)

The total cost so far is $5.168 billion – or $2989 for the average New Zealand household, although if officials continue to increase the expected cost of policies, this figure will grow. 

“The Dowry” to date:

  • Provincial Growth Fund: $3 billion or $1735 per household
  • Additional funding for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: $1.144 billion or $661 per household
  • Additional funding for the Ministry of Defence: $426 million or $246 per household
  • Additional funding for learning support: $272.8 million or $157 per household
  • Additional funding for Oranga Tamariki: $269.9 million or $156 per household 
  • Adjusted ‘Hot horses’ tax break, the new Forestry Hub, and a rename for the Ministry of Children: $55.4 million or $32.05 per household

Some of that spend could be necessary and provide value for money.

But hot-horse tax breaks? Neigh!


Rural round-up

July 4, 2018

Dairy prices tumble 5% at latest auction – Gerard Hutching:

Prices plunged at the latest global dairy auction by 5 per cent per cent to reach an average of US$3232, the most dramatic decrease seen in the index this year.

The price for New Zealand’s key export whole milk powder (WMP) was US$2905, a fall of 7.3 per cent. Futures markets had suggested WMP might fall by 1 per cent. 

AgriHQ said Fonterra’s latest Global Dairy Update appeared to have given the market the jitters, especially for WMP. . . 

Trade dispute causes dairy prices to tumble – Fran O’Leary:

Dairy markets appear to be reacting negatively to President Donald Trump’s decision to place tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum, and on a number of Chinese products.

“In retaliation, Mexico announced that they will place a tariff on U.S. cheese, and China announced tariffs on some dairy products, corn, soybeans and other products. Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. cheese,” says Bob Cropp, University of Wisconsin Extension dairy economist.

“In 2017, Mexico accounted for 28.3% of U.S. cheese exports. While these tariffs didn’t take effect until July, and the degree of impact on U.S. dairy exports is unknown at this time, dairy product prices have already fallen.” . . 

2019 Zanda McDonald Award now open:

Talented young agri-leaders from Australia and New Zealand are being urged to apply for the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award. Applications for this prestigious award open today, with an impressive prize package worth over $50,000 up for grabs.

Now in its fifth year, the award provides the winner with an all-expenses paid trans-Tasman mentoring trip, $1,000 cash, a place on Rabobank’s Farm Managers Course, and access to the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group – a network of over 150 influential agri-business men and women from across Australasia.

Richard Rains, Chairman of the Zanda McDonald Award, says the award provides a fantastic opportunity for young agricultural leaders to further their career and their personal development. . . 

Backing our Southern men:

There’s something magical about having a hometown advantage.

But that advantage comes with a twist for two southern men who are competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final in Invercargill this week.

Technically, there are two southerners competing in the final, but they represent different regions in the contest. 

Logan Wallace, 28, leases his parents farm at Waipahi in south Otago and is the Otago-Southland regional finalist, while Cameron Black, 25, who is based in Christchurch as a rural consultant for New Zealand Agri Brokers is the Aorangi regional finalist. . . 

A2 Synlait agree to extend infant formula supply deal – Sophie Boot

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy marketer A2 Milk and milk processor Synlait Milk have agreed to extend their infant formula supply deal and increase the volume of formula Synlait will supply as the two continue to focus on sales in the lucrative Chinese market.

A2 and Synlait first signed a supply agreement in 2012 to support the milk marketing firm’s plans to launch infant formula sales into China, and inked a new deal in August 2016 providing for increased scale if market demand warranted it.

The companies’ arrangements were for a minimum of five years from 2016, with a rolling three-year term from August this year, but have been extended by two years so will last until at least July 2023. Synlait will increase the volume of infant formula products it is A2’s exclusive supplier for and increase its committed production capacity. . .

Latest report from Land and Water Forum:

The Government has said it will act immediately on some recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. This includes prioritising action in the most “at-risk” catchments.

Advice was sought by Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor on a number of issues on waterways and the primary sector.

“The Government will act on some of the Forum’s recommendations immediately, while the remaining recommendations will be considered in more detail as part of our work programme,” David Parker said. . .

First female arable chair joins Feds national board:

Federated Farmers has a new board member as a result of elections held during last week’s national conference in Wellington.

Karen Williams, who was elected arable chairperson at that industry group’s annual meeting in Timaru in June, was elected to the national board by delegates from Federated Farmers’ 24 provinces. She replaces Guy Wigley, who stepped down after three years as arable leader. . . 

A new chapter in the history of Vidal – one of New Zealand’s oldest wineries:

On June 30 the doors of the Vidal Estate winery and restaurant in Hastings closed for the last time. It was a historic moment for the winery established by pioneer Anthony Vidal in 1905, but the future of Vidal Estate looks bright with the relocation to a new state-of-the-art winery located in the Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay.

To make great wine, the closer to the vineyards the better, said Hugh Crichton, winemaker at Vidal Estate. “It was an exciting time to move our winemaking base out to the Gimblett Gravels for vintage 2018. While it has been immensely satisfying to ferment and age our wines in the historic cellars in Hastings there’s no denying there were challenges. Being closer to our vineyards and working within a winery designed for quality will without a doubt further push us into the premium market”. . . .

Leading New Zealand winery-based hospitality business placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest winery-based tourism and hospitality operations – encompassing vineyards, a function centre, restaurant, and high-end accommodation – has been placed on the market for sale.

Mahana Estates just west of Nelson generates income from four revenue streams which operate both independently and conjunction with each other.

The Mahana Estates property portfolio encompasses:
• A 21-hectare vineyard planted in pinot noir, pinot gris, Riesling and chardonnay
• A nine hectare sauvignon blanc vineyard in the nearby region of Hope
• A 2,589 square metre four-level winery capable of crushing 500 tonnes of grapes annually and sustained by its own on-site cellaring facility and bottling plant which operates on a gravity feed system to minimize the need for pumps . . 

Aussie grain giant puts mega farm up for sale – Chris Mccullough:

The owner of the 495,000 acre farm is asking $72 to $82 million
for what is one of Australia’s largest arable operations

One of Australia’s biggest arable farms extending to 495,000 acres is up for sale at a price tag of $72 to $82 million.

Western Australian grain giant John Nicoletti decided to retire from grain farming at 64 years old. . .


Fight back against fake meat

July 4, 2018

Air New Zealand is serving the impossible burger:

Air New Zealand is giving customers a taste of the future with a new inflight collaboration with Silicon Valley food tech start-up Impossible Foods.

The airline is the first in the world to serve the award-winning, plant-based Impossible Burger which is now available as part of its Business Premier menu on flights from Los Angeles to Auckland.

Impossible Burger’s magic ingredient is an iron-containing molecule called heme which comes from the roots of soy plants. The heme in the Impossible Burger is the same as the heme found in animal meat. The result is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever. . . 

Air New Zealand will serve the Impossible Burger on flights NZ1 and NZ5 from Los Angeles to Auckland through until late October.

Many farmers and some MPs aren’t impressed that the national airline is serving fake meat.

Shouldn’t it be showcasing New Zealand’s fine, free range real meat?

The fake meat burgers will only be served on flights from the USA when the airline is less likely to be using New Zealand produce and only for three months.

But alternative proteins are one of the challenges facing traditional primary producers.

Fake meat is being sold as healthier and better for the environment, but is it?

Joanna Blythman thinks not and says: Fake meat: Impossibly hard to swallow :

The Impossible Burger is arguably the perfect veggie analog to the ubiquitous beef burger and it is making a big splash as the veggie burger that ‘bleeds’. Joanna Blythman, a renowned investigator of the unpronounceable ingredients in processed food, has a look at the newest fake meat arrival.

The ‘Impossible Burger’ is being marketed in the US as the revolutionary product that will make meat redundant. Its ingredients are as follows: water, textured wheat protein, coconut oil, potato protein, natural flavors, leghemoglobin (soy), yeast extract, salt, soy protein isolate, konjac gum, xanthan gum, vitamins and zinc.

Now even for me, a seasoned investigator of obscure techno-ingredients, this list requires annotation. Let’s start with its first ingredient by weight: water. Suffice it to say that no quality product uses it as a bulk ingredient. Textured wheat protein, potato protein and soya protein isolate are all powdery derivatives, extracted from their eponymous food using hi-tech chemical and physical methods that are veiled in commercial secrecy. Coconut oil has a trendy ‘superfood’ ring to it, except that here it isn’t raw, so the inherent nutrition of the nut has been heavily compromised by the harsh industrial refining process to which it has been subjected. Konjac and xanthan are industrial hydrocolloid gums. (The latter was designed to thicken the drilling mud in the oil industry.) Their role here is to absorb all that water and glue together ingredients that wouldn’t naturally bond. . . 

She goes on to dissect the flavourings which don’t sound very appetising either.

And what of the most arcane ingredient in this faux meat? Soy leghemoglobin (SLH) is a vat-grown, genetically engineered form of the heme iron found in the root nodules of soybean plants. We’re told that it gives the fake meat a ‘bloody’, meat-like taste and colour. It has emerged that the US Food and Drug Administration’s view is that “the current arguments at hand, individually and collectively, were not enough to establish the safety of SLH for consumption”. . .

I am open to the use of genetic modification but I suspect many of those lauding fake meat as better than the real thing aren’t.

So that’s the Impossible Burger: water, protein powders, glues, factory flavourings, flavour enhancers, synthetic vitamins – all signifiers of low-grade, ultra-processed food – and a novel ingredient that has no proven track record of safety.

Reading this list of ingredients, it’s not the sort of product that I, and many other food-aware citizens, would buy. It’s the very antithesis of local food with a transparent provenance and backstory. I’d have absolutely no chance of tracing the origins or uncovering any substantive detail on the assiduously guarded production methods behind its utterly anonymous components.

And although the sales pitch for the Impossible burger is that it’s ‘made from simple, all-natural ingredients’, it’s patently the brainchild of a technocratic mindset, one brought to us by food engineers and scientists whose natural environment is the laboratory and the factory – not the kitchen, farm or field – and people who believe that everything nature can do, man can do so much better, and more profitably. . .

I’m also awed by nature’s complex systems that gift us humans the privilege of nutritionally perfect, health-giving natural foods, be they eggs, milk, meat, cereals, or fruit and vegetables. Cutting-edge food engineers who create ‘plant meat’ are undeniably clever, but they do not have nature’s sure nutritional judgment, good taste, and wise, all-seeing intelligence, or fully understand how her elaborate natural systems work.

It’s a great pity that the vegan versus omnivore debate has become so heated and binary. The equation that plant food is good and animal food is bad, is simplistic at best. Those who rush to embrace the ‘plant meat’ revolution as our environmental and ethical salvation, fail to interrogate the product in any deeper way, and that’s a significant blind spot in evaluating its ultimate sustainability and moral rightness.

Like it or not, there’s a market for fake meat and as Landcare Trust Nelson-Marlborough coordinator  Annette Litherland says, farmers must find ‘sweet spot’ of economic, environmental sustainability if we’re going to compete with it.


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