Word of the day

October 10, 2019

Kulak – a peasant in Russia wealthy enough to own a farm and hire labour; a comparatively wealthy peasant who employed hired labor or possessed farm machinery and who was viewed and treated by the Communists during the drive to collectivise agriculture in the 1920s and 1930s as an oppressor and class enemy; before the revolution of 1917 a prosperous, ruthless, and stingy merchant or village usurer.


Thatcher thinks

October 10, 2019


Rural round-up

October 10, 2019

Green Rush: will pines really save the planet? – Kate Newton and Guyon Espiner:

Vast new pine forests are being hailed as a solution to New Zealand’s carbon emissions deficit – and promise a lucrative pay-day for investors. But farmers say they’re gutting rural communities, not all environmentalists see them as a silver bullet, and the profits are largely being reaped by foreign owners. 

Want to plant a pine tree? It’ll cost you a dollar. 38 cents for the seedling, a spiky, spindly finger; 55 cents for the labour to plant it; 8 cents for the cost of managing the labour.

John Rogan’s crew have planted about 350,000 of them so far. “Tree here, tree there – it’s like tossing little dollar coins on the ground,” he says. Concentrate on the variations in the grass and, like a magic-eye illustration, the seedlings flip into focus one after the other, every three metres, all the way to the grey horizon at the crest of the hill.

Rogan’s mostly teenage workers, skin burnished by wind and sun, tramp up and down hillsides, lugging 200 seedlings at a time in canvas buckets slung into harnesses. After 10 weeks of planting, their movements with spade, seedling and boot are sparse and sure: stab open a wedge of earth, jab a tree into the ground, stomp the hole closed. Stab, jab, stomp. The crew’s mascot Johnny, a beady-eyed little dog who looks like he was assembled from wispy oddments of wool, scampers behind on short legs. . .

Woman shares partner’s farm death story as lesson – Luke Kirkeby:

Harriet Bremner still struggles to talk about the death of her long-term partner.

But two and a half years on, the Canterbury primary school teacher and children’s author, whose partner James Hayman was killed in a baler in the Hakataramea Valley in 2017, is finding strength in using her grief to prevent other farm workers from putting themselves in harm’s way.

Bremner is working alongside WorkSafe New Zealand, travelling throughout New Zealand to share her story.

She recently stopped in at Putaruru College in the South Waikato where she spoke with a group of horticultural and agricultural students. Since 2013 there have been approximately 16 on-farm deaths in the Waikato alone. . . 

Doug Avery seeks to inspire Yorkshire farmers to adopt power of the positive – Ben Barnett:

Farmers have an “amazing opportunity” despite the challenges that lie ahead, as long as they forge a truly resilient mindset to embrace change, according to the author of a best-selling book about positive mental health.

New Zealand farmer Doug Avery, whose book The Resilient Farmer documents his own journey from debt-heaped depression to one of his country’s biggest agricultural success stories, wants to use his current UK tour to help smash the taboo that stops both farmers, and the wider public, from talking about poor mental health.

A farmer who is empowered by positive mental health can see through their worries and capitalise on opportunities, the 64-year-old told Country Week ahead of a public speaking appearance in Harrogate in 12 days’ time. . .

‘Gran’ shows us how it’s done – Jill Galloway:

It was hard for Suzanne Giesen when her husband John died.

She was just 32, had five children aged from 1 to 11 and had a farm to run. More than 50 years later she is still living and working on the farm.

“When John died, my father-in-law said I should go into town. I have never lived in town and I wanted to stay on the farm,” Suzanne Giesen told Rural News.

The Giesens had leased the farm for 10 years, with the right to buy. When John was around, they set about improving the property. “There was gorse in almost every paddock. I don’t think there was a stock proof fence on the place. The gorse was so thick you couldn’t walk through some paddocks.” . . 

Seeds are earning us big money  – Annette Scott:

Small seeds have yielded big gains for New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar agri-food sector.

The quiet achieving seed sector pumped almost $800 million into the NZ economy last year with pasture and vegetable seeds putting food on the table in more ways than one.

A new economic impact report shows NZ’s world class seed production is one of the country’s smallest primary industries but with a modest footprint it contributes much more to NZ’s bottom line than many realise, NZ Grain and Seed Trade Association general manager Thomas Chin said.

Business and Economic Research (BERL) reports the total output value of seeds grown in 2018 was $798m, adding $329m to NZ’s GDP. . . 

 

Biotech policy a step in the right direction, says Agcarm:

The peak association that represents New Zealand’s animal medicine and crop protection industries welcomes the National party’s new biotech policy.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says that updating New Zealand’s biotechnology regulations to embrace the latest science will “allow life-saving medicines, benefit the environment, eradicate pests and boost food production”.

“New Zealand is being stalled from adopting the latest science due to archaic laws that halt innovation. . . 


Coalition unravelling?

October 10, 2019

Barry soper thinks the coalition cardigan is beginning to look a bit threadbare:

Governments, since coalitions were forced on us 23 years ago, are a bit like – and just as scary as – the Fair Isle cardigan mum used to knit for you to keep you snuggly during winter.

Catch a thread on a barbed wire fence though and they begin to unravel – and with the current Beehive crop their red, black-and-white and green cardie is starting to look motley. . . 

He takes a look at the last two weeks: Shane Jones doing his vote seeking rant then doubling down with threats of utu against those who complained; that was followed by leaks from New Zealand First disgruntled members.

Then came the dropping of the electric vehicle target and next:

But the red yarn simply wouldn’t knit with the green when it came to Labour ministers rightly giving the Greens’ Eugenie Sage the bird when it came to her rejection of a company buying land to extend its gold-mining operation in Waihi. . . .

This coalition cardigan’s now beginning to look a little threadbare.

That was before yesterday’s report on Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway’s handling of  Czech drug-smuggler Karel Sroubek’s residency case:

The Heron review found that the INZ processes were adequate but could be improved.

It said that Ministers applying absolute discretion may have limited time and did not usually receive free and frank advice on deportation cases – though Ministers were also free to take more time and seek further information.

“It is obvious to state that a process which allows a Minister to make a quick decision on a complex case with as little as an oral briefing and no advice is fraught with risk,” the review said.

The risk could be mitigated if more decision-making was delegated to experienced experts, which would keep the Minister “above the fray”. . . 

Except that there is no requirement for a Minister to make a quick decision and Minister’s are paid to make careful, reasoned decisions.

Heron said it was also risky for the Minister to make a decision “without receiving any advice or recommendations and without any verification of the reliability of the information”.

“This process puts both the Minister and INZ at risk. Whilst Sroubek is an unusual case, it does provide an example of the manifestation of that risk.

“The grounds contained in the case file summary were understood by most to be sufficiently powerful such that the original decision of the Minister was unexpected.” . . 

Unexpected is bureaucratise for wrong.

If the case file summary made a sufficiently powerful case it’s the minister who’s at fault, not officials and not the system.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she still had confidence in Lees-Galloway.

“These are complex cases and I think the Heron report rightly suggests the whole process needs to change, because both Immigration New Zealand and Ministers were carrying too much risk.”

Ministers are paid to carry risk.

That she maintains confidence in him reflects very poorly on both her judgement and leadership.

This ought to have been a sacking offence but with the coalition cardigan looking so threadbare she can’t afford any more dropped stitches, or dropped ministers.


Labour pains? National delivers

October 10, 2019

When you serve a large rural electorate you have to be prepared to lend a hand:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker’s duties took a turn for the unusual when he drove past a bleeding ewe in a paddock, pulled over, and helped deliver a lamb. . . 

“What’s great about small communities is it only takes one phone call to find the local information you need. The lady I phoned knew who the paddock belonged to. She phoned the farmer, who arrived 45 minutes later.”

A gloveless Walker then assisted the farmer in birthing the lamb, which required him to reach in and pull out the lamb by hand, a process Walker described as “normal”. . . 

That’s taking the adage that Labour pains, National delivers literally.


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