Word of the day

August 31, 2020

Prana – breath, considered as a life-giving force;  a life breath or vital principle in Vedic and later Hindu religion; the energy of consciousness.


Sowell says

August 31, 2020


Rural round-up

August 31, 2020

Millions of tonnes of food at risk without foreign contractors farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers stand to lose $110 million if and 27 million tonnes of food could go to waste if the Government does not allow at least 200 skilled heavy machine operators into the country, a new survey from rural contractors shows.

Contracting firms were desperate to get border exemptions for hundreds of heavy machine operators from overseas to carry out harvesting, hay baling and slurry removal, Rural Contractors chief executive Roger Parton said.

“There are huge implications for the farmers concerned and resulting shortages of feed for animals, especially if climatic events occur,” Parton said.

The survey showed 8200 farmers and 57 contracting firms around the country relied on foreign seasonal labour between October and March. Workers were usually recruited from the Britan and Ireland. . . 

Meat industry continues to do superb job – Allan Barber:

The return of community transmission underlines the excellent performance of the whole meat industry since Covid 19 reached New Zealand nearly six months ago in March. Farmers, transport and logistics operators, sale yards, exporters and domestic processors have all combined to ensure the health and safety of participants, while meeting the demands of customers, with only a minimal number of temporary plant closures. This contrasts markedly with experience overseas in countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Germany with admittedly a much higher incidence of coronavirus outbreaks in the rest of the world than here.

In April seven major American meat facilities shut down with cold storage inventories of beef, pork and poultry equivalent to two weeks of total production and almost half of Canada’s beef processing capacity was halted after Cargill’s closure and a slowdown by JBS in Alberta. A feature of the interruption to processing in the USA was the great difficulty for farmers to get their stock processed, accompanied by a surge in retail pricing which reflected positively in processor margins, while livestock prices plummeted. . . 

A glimmer of hope for New Zealand strong wool – David Anderson:

A Lincoln-based wool products company believes it offers a glimmer of hope against the increasing negativity currently saturating New Zealand’s strong wool industry.

Keraplast Manufacturing processes strong wool into natural keratin proteins for the booming global nutraceuticals market. Keratin is an essential component of hair, finger and toenails, and skin. The company sells its keratin products as an ingredient for use in health (wound treatment), and skin, hair and nail beauty products world-wide.

Keraplast general manager Paul Sapsford says a recent innovation involves a bioactive keratin product that’s taken in tablet or drink form to “supercharge” the body’s production of collagen, promoting wrinkle reduction and supporting hair follicle and nail strength. . . 

RMPP Action Network extended:

The Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network programme has been extended until early next year.

The RMPP Action Network is an initiative to support farmers to develop the confidence to turn ideas into action on-farm. It’s made up of farmer action groups of seven to nine farm businesses. 

Action groups are farmer-led and supported by trained facilitators to guide a group and help identify experts who can share new knowledge and ideas needed to achieve their goals . .

Autogrow releases public API to empower growers:

Autogrow has released a public API (Application Programming Interface) allowing connectivity between their Folium sensor network and other farm sensor data.

“Growers currently feel frustrated by not having systems that speak to each other. And the truth is that, until other large industry players also provide public APIs, growers are always going to be constrained in what they can do with their data. But we’re leading the charge,” explains Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Morgan.

“We know that many growers use CSV exports like Microsoft Excel, which can be slow, labour-intensive and requires a lot of manipulation to get benefit. . . 

Biochar and zinc application can improve wheat grown in certain soils:

Researchers from The University of Western Australia’s Institute of Agriculture and Sultan Qaboos University in Oman have found that the combined application of biochar and zinc can mitigate stress in wheat caused by the heavy metal cadmium.

Cadmium reduces the growth, yield, and zinc concentration in wheat grain due to oxidative stress. Its accumulation in soil can cause significant health risks to humans if it is introduced into the food chain via crops. 

The study, published in Chemosphere, is the first to show that the combined application of biochar and zinc to cadmium-contaminated soil improved both yield and grain zinc concentration, and reduced cadmium concentrations in grain. . . 


Borrowing every dollar

August 31, 2020

Finance Minister Grant Robertson justified not extending the wage subsidy to cover the longer period at alert level 3 by saying: we are borrowing every single dollar that we are paying out.

Did Cabinet take that into account when it signed off the $11.7 million paid to the Green School which has raised the ire of  principals, teacher unions, the Opposition and Green Party members?

Green co-leader James Shaw has copped most of the criticism and warrants it for the hypocrisy in backing the payment when his party policy opposes private schools.

But the decision must have been signed off by Cabinet.

Labour is no doubt enjoying watching Shaw squirm. But it is just as guilty of hypocrisy for agreeing to fund this small, private school with fees of up to $43,000 a year after scrapping the partnership schools which did so much for disadvantaged pupils failed by the conventional education system.

New Zealand First has been uncharacteristically quiet about this but it is in no position to criticise when so many of the projects it has funded with taxpayers’ money would not have passed the cost-benefit test.

That was bad enough when the government books were in surplus.

It is far worse now that every dollar that is spent is borrowed, accruing interest and will have to be repaid.

Robertson reminded us of that in defending his decision to not extend the wage subsidy.

If he, and his government,  took that approach to all other spending the Green School would not have been funded and the country wouldn’t be facing such a mountain of debt.


Word of the day

August 30, 2020

Breatharian – a person who believes that it is possible, through meditation, to reach a level of consciousness where one can obtain all the nutrients one needs from the air or sunlight.


Milne muses

August 30, 2020


Rural round-up

August 30, 2020

Farmers worried about ‘economic situation’ – David Anderson:

Farmers remain cautious and even wary – despite the sector having done reasonably well during the COVID-19 pandemic – according to the latest rural report from the BNZ.

The bank’s Rural Wrap report, published earlier this month, says this should not really surprise anyone.

“A global pandemic simply demands vigilance from a sector that sells the bulk of its produce into offshore markets.”

Report author and BNZ economist Doug Steel says farmers the ‘economic situation’ has been catapulted up the list of farmer worries – after being well down the list in previous surveys. . . 

M bovis investigations for 28 more farms after milk tests – Maja Burry:

Bulk milk testing for Mycoplasma bovis has this month picked up 28 dairy farms requiring further investigation.

Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries show there is just one farm actively infected with the cattle disease at the moment, and a further 249 farms have been culled of their stock and declared safe to repopulate.

The Ministry’s chief science advisor, John Roche, said the 28 farms detected in this month’s national milk screening had been placed under restricted movement controls while more accurate testing was carried out.

Dr Roche said less than 3 percent of farms detected through screening last year ended up being positive for M bovis. . .

FMG grows in complexity and clients – Hugh Stringleman:

FMG made a net profit of $6.1 million in the 2020 financial year and added 6000 clients to its books, the total now numbering 94,300.

Chair Tony Cleland, who sought re-election as a director this year in a crowded field of candidates, said the growth rate was twice that of other insurers.

“While we are not trying to be the biggest, but the best, growth in numbers does lower the unit cost of delivery per client,” he told the mutual group’s online annual meeting.

FMG’s goal is to bring the operating cost from 31% to 25% of premiums over the next 10 years. . .

Abbie reynolds to head Predator Free 2050 Limited:

Predator Free 2050 Limited has appointed Abbie Reynolds as its new CEO

Abbie Reynolds is the former Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Council and in that role helped establish the Climate Leaders Coalition, motivating more than 100 member organisations to climate action.

She received the Board and Management Award at the 2019 New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.

She has also held senior roles in telecommunications as Head of Corporate Responsibility at Telecom and Head of Sustainability and Foundation at Vodafone New Zealand. . . 

New startup supports local Kiwi artisan producers:

New Zealand online startup, The Kiwi Artisan Co, selects the finest small batch artisan goods for food lovers nationwide, supporting and celebrating local independent producers from Southland to Central Otago, Canterbury to Nelson, and Hawkes Bay to Northland.

The artisans, specifically chosen by The Kiwi Artisan Co, handcraft their goods from locally sourced, high quality ingredients in small batches using sustainable production processes. The thoughtfully curated range of delectable sharing platter boxes are tailored to individual tastes and dietary requirements.

Each online order received at kiwiartisan.co.nz is hand packed and delivered direct to your door, making it easier for foodies to entertain, connect and discover the real taste of New Zealand with friends and family. . . 

Uzbekistan’s cotton farms turn to Aussie irrigated farming know-how – Andrew Marshall:

Far from his family farming operation on the NSW-Queensland border, former National Farmers Federation boss Peter Corish is co-ordinating an Australian team leading a multi-million dollar irrigated cotton and grain cropping revamp in Uzbekistan.

In what was a totally unexpected and unusual request two years ago, Mr Corish was called in to help a massive private farming venture adopt Australian cotton growing technology and techniques in the land-locked communist Central Asian country. 

Over the next 18 months, as drought conditions at home kept his own family’s cropping activity in a lull, the advisory job took him back and forth to the former Soviet state 14 times. . . 

Bringing it to the table – farming women who mean business:

Sarah Louise Fairburn has told her empowering story of her role in making one of the UK’s largest egg producers the success that it is today.

It follows the launch of #AgriWomen24 campaign in June, which aims to celebrate women in agriculture.

Sarah Louise’s journey began when she worked as a business improvement driver for Yorkshire Bank and her paths crossed with Daniel Fairburn – who had been in farming all his life at L J Fairburn & Son Limited.

After getting married and having children together, she began helping around the farm, only to realise that as the business grew, so did the need for her to become more involved. . .


Interview with God

August 30, 2020

Whether or not you believe in God, the scenery is stunning.


Can anyone explain . .

August 30, 2020

At midnight Auckland will join the rest of the country at alert level 2 – sort of.

While the rest of us are able to be in groups of up to 100 people, Aucklanders will still be confined to mingling in groups of no more than 10.

But they will be able to travel anywhere else in the country where they can join the rest of us in places with up to 100 people.

Can anyone explain the reasoning behind this?

Does it mean that Covid-19 is more likely to infect more people in Auckland?

Does it mean that people who travel from Auckland are less likely to have Covid-19 than those who stay in the city?

Or does it mean that this is yet another example of government directives that don’t make sense?

That people have been flying out unquestioned supports that:

. . . Alert level 3 means no non-essential travel in or out of Auckland – or does it? 

One Aucklander told Newshub they travelled to Queenstown during lockdown for “fun” .

They say they were never questioned by airport or Air New Zealand staff – not once. 

“It didn’t shock me. I just thought this whole thing’s a sham,” the person said.

“There was no police presence, there was nothing. That’s what shocked me. I expected at least a couple of police cars, a couple of people with dogs or something just grooming around, and there was absolutely nothing.”

While thousands of others queued and struggled for exemptions at the road borders, 13,500 people flew out of Auckland to other domestic locations.

The Aucklander said they didn’t feel any sense of guilt for leaving the Super City during alert level 3.

“Not at all. What I’m sick of is the double standards. So, the Government holds us as citizens to account, but we’re not allowed to hold the Government to account. You’re doing this half-hearted, you’re not doing it correctly, and I proved that you’re not.” . . .

Before Covid-19 this government was so much better at rhetoric than action. It still is.


Sunday soapbox

August 30, 2020

Sunday soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

 

 Sincerity and competence is a strong combination. In politics it is everything. Peggy Noonan.


Word of the day

August 29, 2020

Brouhaha – a noisy and overexcited reaction or response to something; hubbub, uproar; unnecessary excitement, criticism, or activity.


Sowell says

August 29, 2020


Rural round-up

August 29, 2020

Growers caught in no-man’s land – Richard Rennie:

Working south of the Bombays has taken on a whole new level of complexity for produce growers caught with land and operations between Waikato and the locked down super city of Auckland.

During the national level four lockdown the greatest problem for growers was the overnight loss of markets and outlets for produce.

But Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association president Kylie Faulkner said this time it was the logistics of trying to operate blocks of growing land lying in neighbouring Waikato region.

“There is this invisible line which we are dealing with here in Bombay,” she said. . . 

Young Waikato dairy farmer seizes opportunities :

Pete Smit is one of a growing number of young business-savvy New Zealanders seizing opportunities in the dairy sector.

The 22-year-old is in his third season as a herd-owning sharemilker on a 68-hectare farm at Ohaupo near Hamilton.

The property is jointly owned by his mother Nienke Hartog and brother Floyd Smit.

Smit’s herd of just over 200 Holstein Friesian cows produced almost 130,000 kilograms of milksolids (kgMS) in the 2019-20 season. . . 

Venison hits six-year slump due to Covid-19 – Maja Burry:

The impact of Covid-19 on the restaurant trade is expected to see returns for deer farmers slump to a six-year low this spring. The global pandemic has dented demand for venison, mostly eaten at restaurants.

Venison prices often peak in spring, when the meat is highly sought after by European customers during their autumn and winter game season. With winter drawing to a close here, many of New Zealand’s 1400 deer farmers have been focused on getting their stock ready for processing.

North Canterbury farmer, Sam Zino, said through no fault of farmers, returns this season would suffer as a result of Covid-19.

“I fully understand it hasn’t come from anything industry has done, it’s just good old Covid playing out,” Zino said. . .

Rural vet sees grass staggers cow disease spike – Maja Burry:

Having only recently escaped drought, a mild winter on the Hauraki Plains is now creating a different challenge for farmers; grass staggers.

Prolonged gentle rain, combined with mild temperatures and very few frosts has resulted in rapid pasture growth in recent weeks.

That means many farms have increased their pasture rotation, exposing the cows to younger grasses which were high in potassium and non-protein nitrogen, and low in magnesium. That’s a classic recipe for the condition known as grass staggers. . . 

Submissions open on new potato herbicide Soleto:

We are seeking views on an application to import or manufacture Soleto, a broad spectrum herbicide for potatoes.

Soleto contains the active ingredient metobromuron, which is approved in Europe but not currently in New Zealand.

The applicant, Belchim Crop Protection, wants to import Soleto for the control of broadleaf weeds in potatoes, using ground-based application methods. . .

Prince Charles donates funds to new farming mental health charity

Prince Charles has made a “significant” donation to a new charity which aims to tackle mental health in the farming community following the devastating impact of the coronavirus.

In a video message directed at tenants on the Duchy of Cornwall estate, the Prince of Wales admitted he felt “demoralised” to learn how many people working in the food, farming, tourism and hospitality industries had been affected by the pandemic.

“This coronavirus has perhaps reminded us that society works because people do things together for the common good – whether that it key workers keeping us healthy, farmers producing our food, or the supply chain meeting our needs,” he said. . . 


Wahine Warrior

August 29, 2020

Pania Tepaiho-Marsh teaches women to hunt.

You can read director Emma Calveley’s story of making this documentary about at The Spinoff.


Saturday soapbox

August 29, 2020

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Hypocrisy is anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognises it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised. – Leo Tolstoy


Word of the day

August 28, 2020

Pharisaical – marked by hypocritical censorious self-righteousness; practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit.


Sowell says

August 28, 2020


Rural round-up

August 28, 2020

Wool boom from footrot research – Sally Rae:

The development of a commercialised breeding value for footrot resistance represents a “huge opportunity” for the expansion of fine wool sheep production, the New Zealand Merino Company says.

While “not a silver bullet” against the disease which results in lameness and loss of production, it would allow growers to make genetic gains and establish flocks that were footrot resistant, NZM chief executive John Brakenridge said.

Growers would save money from reduced treatment costs and chemical inputs, would not be hit with lower production, all while improving animal welfare.

It was the result of work by the New Zealand Sheep Transformation Project, co-funded by NZM and the Ministry for Primary Industries with a contribution from Merino Inc, to look at ways to contribute to a more productive, profitable and high animal welfare future for fine wool. . . 

From Devine intervention to total faith, highland calf birth adds new blood to line – Laurel Ketel:

Two years ago, Devine, a highland cow living at Plum Tree farm in Glenhope, couldn’t walk.

She had fallen down a bank and with her leg caught in wire fencing, the circulation to her foot was cut off causing severe damage. The rehabilitation costs were huge but owners Lisa and Mal Grennell were determined she wouldn’t be put down.

They worked around the clock for weeks, hoisting her every few hours and after four weeks she was finally able to walk unaided but it took a further six months for her to recover fully.

Last week Devine gave birth to a healthy calf and with the birth came not only new life but the introduction of a new bloodline into New Zealand highland cattle. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ joins call for new national nutrition surveys:

As World Iron Awareness Week kicks off today, Beef + Lamb New Zealand are joining the growing number of calls for the government to conduct new national nutrition surveys, with the most recent in 2008 for adults, and 2002 for children. 

Iron deficiency is the world’s most prevalent nutrient deficiency with two billion sufferers globally. It greatly impacts young children and women, with symptoms often being mistaken for the impacts of a busy life (tiredness, feeling grumpy, lack of focus). This hidden hunger is impacting a growing number of Kiwis, but the true scale is virtually impossible to quantify.  

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Head of Nutrition Fiona Windle points out that such a large data gap leaves a lot to be desired when trying to tackle the impacts of low iron levels among other nutrient deficiencies.  . .  

Prospectors out in force as gold prices reach fever pitch – Tracy Neal:

Since retiring last year as the Grey District’s long-serving mayor, Tony Kokshoorn says he has been good as gold – he just wishes he had joined the recent rush on prospecting for it.

“I generally nowadays invest in sharemarkets and that type of thing, but I wish now I’d taken up the gold-panning and gone out there because it’s a far better payer at the moment, with the gold price going through the roof and the share price of most companies really in the doldrums.”

Record high gold prices have prompted hobby prospectors to dust off spades and pans and head to South Island rivers in the hope of striking it lucky.

The precious metal recently hit $NZ3000 an ounce, as global investors looked to safer bets in shaky economic times. . . 

Comvita posts reduced annual loss :

The honey manufacturer and exporter Comvita has posted a reduced annual loss as it restructures and looks to capitalise on a lift in sales.

The company’s loss for the year ended June was $9.7 million, most of it caused by restructuring costs, compared with a loss of $27.7m a year ago, which had writedowns in asset values.

However, a second half year revival, as Comvita moved to slim and simplify its business and increase margins, resulted in a profit but not enough to overturn a first half loss. . . 

Validation of agriculture as an essential and sustainable industry – Roberto A. Peiretti:

Did you know that our most basic foods could be totally consumed around the world in just a few months?

This is why governments everywhere have labeled agriculture an “essential” activity during the Covid-19 crisis.

It was gratifying to see this appreciation during the social and economic lockdowns because farmers are often overlooked or even abused.

I hope the awareness of what farmers do continues after we recover from the pandemic.

Over the last several months, we’ve learned to live without a lot of the things that we once took for granted, such as sports, dining in restaurants, and going to church. The rules have varied from country to country, but we’ve all learned to cope with new restrictions so that we can prevent the transmission of a dangerous disease. . . 


Tiny tweaks not enough to fix freshwater foul up

August 28, 2020

The government’s freshwater policy is unworkable and the tiny tweaks announced yesterday won’t be enough to fix the foul up:

Federated Farmers aren’t convinced the changes to the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, announced Wednesday, will make much difference for Southland and Otago farmers.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt welcomed the amendments and Government’s acknowledgement that the policy was flawed, but said the changes still didn’t address the unique challenges farmers in the south faced, with its wetter than average winters.

This comes less than a week after Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young called on Southland and Otago farmers to boycott the new regulations, due to take effect on September 3.

His main concerns were in regards to the regulations for winter grazing – specifically pugging depths, paddock slope, and deadlines for re-sowing crop paddock, which Young said had not yet been addressed. . . 

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced Wednesday that cabinet had agreed the winter grazing regulations weren’t practical.

Discrete areas around fixed water troughs and gateways have now been exempted. We’ve also amended the definition for pugging to provide more clarity.”

Pugging is now defined as penetration of soil of more than 5cm, but Hunt said this was still impractical.

Speaking from a paddock inhabited by calves, on a warm, sunny, windy day, even the little animals were creating pugs of more than 5cm deep, she said.

The government has made the rules but expects regional councils to police them. How many people in high viz vests with clip boards and measuring tapes is it going to take to measure pugs and how much will that policing cost?

“The reality in Southland is that the ground is wet,” she said.

Hunt expected more changes to be announced in the future.

The latest amendments would not reduce the number of resources consents Southland farmers would need, she said.

Setting a date by which crop must be sown is simply stupid. When farmers sow paddocks is determined by the weather not the calendar.

Requiring consents for ordinary farming activities will add costs and compliance and reduce food production when farming is one of very few sectors that can keep earning export income to help with the Covid-recovery.

Young agreed. “It’s really only tinkering around the edges.”

He would like to see the whole freshwater policy rewritten, he said . . .

It doesn’t help that while farmers are facing unrealistic demands, more than 100 wastewater treatment plants are breaching consent.

This looks like one set of very tough laws and consequences for breaking them for farmers and no consequences at all for councils.

But urban people thinking this is a rural problem should beware. The new national standards for freshwater apply in town and country and cleaning up some urban waterways will be very, very expensive.

National is promising to review, and if necessary, repeal the policy:

Speculation that Environment Minister David Parker will have to yet again make fixes to his freshwater regulations further exposes the flaws in Labour’s package, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson and Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett say.

“The Minister has developed policy based on ideological notions and once again he has had to back down after realising it isn’t practical or based in science,” Mr Simpson says.

“National recognises the need for a sustainable approach and encourages the constant improvement of our waterways. We want to build on the existing structures around freshwater, while many of the Government’s freshwater proposals will have perverse effects on our primary sector and the wider economy.

National will repeal or review the nine regulations announced on 5 August. Instead National will work with farmers and environmental stakeholders to put in place alternatives that are practical, science-based, and achievable.

“We all want improved fresh water outcomes but we have to back farmers to farm their way to better outcomes as they have been doing. Farmers must see a pathway to improve while being profitable, our rural communities and economic wealth as a country depends on it,” Mr Bennett says

“While the country was focused on the worst economic downturn in 160 years, David Parker was busy rushing through new rules that will enforce impractical restrictions on farmers with no consideration for regional variances.

“National understands you can’t apply a blanket approach to this issue and will work with regions to ensure the rules are suited to every area.

“This Government’s changes will put the shackles on our farmers’ ability to innovate and will heap costs on to a sector that is vitally important to our country.

“Agriculture will lead our post-covid recovery. Unlike Labour, National will work with farmers rather than against them.” 

We all want clean water and most farmers have already changed what they do to protect and enhance waterways.

There is still room for improvement but the best way to achieve that is working with farmers and councils to ensure high standards for all waterways.

There is also a lot of misinformation about winter grazing. Here are some facts:


Word of the day

August 27, 2020

Pecksniffian – affecting benevolence or high moral principles; unctuously hypocritical; pharisaical; sanctimonious.


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