Word of the day

24/10/2020

Yūgen – a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe; an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words; mysterious profundity.


Sowell says

24/10/2020


100 years of stats

24/10/2020

StatsNZ has illustrated some of the changes in spending through the decades:

 


Rural round-up

24/10/2020

Fired up over freshwater – Hamish MacLean:

Stop the degradation, show real improvements in five years, restore New Zealand’s waterways in a generation, and infuriate how many farmers? Environment reporter Hamish MacLean checks in on the fight for healthy rivers after 100 tractors rolled through Gore last week in protest over new freshwater regulations. 

Southern farmers are facing reams of new rules and red tape as New Zealand starts to go hard on keeping sediment, E.coli, phosphorous, and nitrogen out of its rivers.

But Federated Farmers calls some of the new rules “unworkable” and prohibitively costly, and says they will need to be amended by Cabinet.

Federated Farmers environment and water spokesman Chris Allen says a parade of tractors down Gore’s main street and a gathering of hundreds of farmers in Invercargill last week amid public calls for ignoring the new rules en masse are representative of farmers’ anger about the costs and the extent of the changes being forced upon them.

Measures would squeeze businesses ‘doing it tough’ – Jacob McSweeny:

Business and farming leaders in the South are joining a chorus of similar stakeholders throughout the country hoping the Labour Party forms its own government rather than going into a coalition with the Greens.

Labour won 64 seats according to Saturday’s preliminary results and can govern alone if it chooses.

Farra Engineering chief executive and Southern Otago Regional Engineering Collective chairman Gareth Evans said he was not surprised by the result, just that it was more comprehensive than expected.

“It’s good in a sense that Labour have an absolute majority so that they have to be accountable for everything that they do from here on in.” . . 

Research funded to unlock seaweed’s potential as new ‘superfood‘ –

It is far from a staple on most Kiwi dinner tables, but AgResearch scientists are aiming to unlock the potential of seaweed as a go-to food with proven health benefits. And they have enlisted the services a of a world-class chef to help them do it.

The scientists are joining counterparts in Singapore in a project funded by New Zealand government, in the amount of $3.3 million, alongside parallel funding from the Government of Singapore. The New Zealand funding is from the Catalyst Fund:Strategic – New Zealand-Singapore Future Foods Research Programme.

The research, focused on the Undaria pinnatifida species of seaweed abundant in waters around New Zealand and Singapore, also involves partners the University of Otago, University of Auckland, A*STAR, AgriSea NZ, Ideas 2 Plate and AMiLi. . . 

Waikato berry farm expecting influx of visitors due to strawberry picker shortage:

Strawberries may be harder to come by on supermarket shelves this year due to an expected shortage of pickers, so a Waikato berry farm is gearing up for a big influx of Kiwis wanting to pick their own.

Whatawhata Berry Farm, located five minutes from Hamilton on the Raglan Road will open for the summer this Friday (23 October) and is expecting record crowds during the strawberry picking season, which runs from now until late March or Easter if demand exists.

Owner Darien McFadden says commercial growers are deeply concerned there won’t be enough overseas RSE workers or those on Working Holiday Visas to pick this year’s crop, leaving fruit to go to waste and creating supply and demand issues for both export and domestic markets. . . 

Shearers were among those travelling to Melbourne via Sydney :

New Zealand shearers were on the first flights to Australia and among those who travelled on to Melbourne.

Shearers who boarded the first flights to Melbourne should have been praised for their work ethic not “poo-pooed by the Premier”, an industry representative has said.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford confirmed New Zealand shearers were on the first flights out of New Zealand to Sydney, and they later went on to catch a flight to Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.

“Anecdotally I know they were on those flights and there was nothing illegal or incorrect in what they did – they followed process and were sponsored by their employers and had the correct permit to travel from metropolitan Melbourne to rural Victoria,” he said. . . 

HappyMoo developing tools to monitor cow health :

ICBF is participating in a large-scale European research project called HappyMoo. The project aims to develop tools to identify cow welfare issues before they become a problem and affect performance. There are many different aspects to cow welfare and essential among them are freedom from hunger, stress, and disease. These are the areas that the HappyMoo research project is focusing on.

The project will use machine learning to identify patterns in milk spectral data that are associated with undesirable conditions in the cow. Milk spectral data is recorded when milk samples are analysed in a milk recording lab by mid-infrared machines. Essentially a mid-infrared laser is shined into a milk sample and the absorbance levels are recorded. Every analysed milk sample generates 1060 data points and when we consider the thousands of cows in the thousands of milk recording herds it does not take long to add up to Big Data. Therefore, these absorbance levels provide a deep dataset and in the HappyMoo project the spectral data will be correlated with phenotypes. Already, spectral data can be used to measure milk constituents, but it has also been shown to indicate difficult to measure phenotypes such as energy balance. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

24/10/2020


Saturday soapbox

24/10/2020

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.

People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow. – Erma Bombeck


Word of the day

23/10/2020

Mantle – a cloak; something that conceals; the role or appearance of an authoritative or important person; an important role or responsibility that passes from one person to another; a shelf that projects from the wall above a fireplace; the outer covering of a wall; a zone of hot gases around a flame; a device in gas lamps consisting of a sheath of threads that gives off brilliant illumination when heated by the flame; an incombustible hood that becomes incandescent and gives off a brilliant light when placed around a flame;  the cerebral cortex; the zone of the earth between the crust and the core; the outer wall and casing of a blast furnace above the hearth; the shoulder feathers, upper back, and sometimes the wings of a bird when differently coloured from the rest of the body;  fold or pair of folds of the body wall that covers the internalorgans and typically secretes the substance that forms the shell in mollusks and brachiopods; the soft outer wall lining the shell of a tunicate or barnacle; to cover with a mantle or something that acts like one; cover, envelop, or conceal.to spread or become extended over a surface; to become covered with a coating, as scum or froth on the surface of a liquid; to blush.


Sowell says

23/10/2020


Rural round-up

23/10/2020

Farm profit 26% drop predicted – Sally Rae:

Average farm profit before tax on sheep and beef farms is predicted to fall 26% this season amid continued uncertainty due to Covid-19, Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s new season outlook says.

The report, released yesterday, sets the scene for a challenging year with declines predicted in both sheep meat and beef export receipts as the pandemic affects global economies, consumer demand and trading channels.

Lamb export receipts were forecast to drop by almost 15% and co-products to decline about 8% compared with the 2019-20 season. Beef and veal export revenue was predicted to decline by 9%.

The uncertainty in the export market would be reflected in farm-gate prices and subsequent farm profitability, B+LNZ’s chief economist Andrew Burtt said in a statement. . . 

Jobs warning over migrant worker rules – Sally Rae:

Jobs are in jeopardy in the meat processing and exporting sector unless the Government recognises the essential role of its skilled migrant workforce, the Meat Industry Association has warned.

About a third of the country’s 250 halal processing workers would have to leave New Zealand next year due to the Government’s one-year stand-down policy, MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said in statement.

The loss of those people, along with ‘‘hundreds of other essential meat workers’’, could result in reduced production and job losses in New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry, Ms Karapeeva said.

“Most of the 42 halal processing plants in New Zealand now operate between 10-12 months per year. A shortage of skilled halal processing people could result in production at many plants being limited to six months in the year, which would mean processing of livestock for farmers is severely disrupted and employees might be let go. . . 

New woman at the helm of IrrigationNZ – Annette Scott:

Irrigation New Zealand is to be guided by a new chief executive in a new location and with a refreshed strategy. Annette Scott talked with Vanessa Winning about her new role.

FORMER DairyNZ farm performance manager Vanessa Winning is looking forward to leading New Zealand’s irrigation sector as it heads into a new era of management and renewed focus.

Winning has been appointed the new chief executive of IrrigationNZ, taking up the role in the organisation’s new Wellington base.

Following a review of the organisation’s activities the board, in July, put renewed focus on solving the tension between the fundamental need for irrigation in a post-covid NZ and the sector’s increasingly restricted license to operate. . . 

Campaign launched to help keep New Zealand Food and Beverage in hearts and minds of global consumers:

A global campaign designed to grow awareness, preference and demand for New Zealand Food and Beverage products in the key export markets of Australia, China, Japan, the USA and the UK has launched today.

The campaign, titled ‘Made with Care’, is being led by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and is part of a wider ‘Messages from New Zealand’ country brand campaign, which sees Tourism New Zealand (TNZ), NZTE, Ministry for Primary Industries, Education New Zealand and New Zealand Story join forces to promote New Zealand’s brand on the world stage.

New Zealand’s food and beverage industry is a key player in our economy, accounting for close to 46% of all goods and services exports in the past year. In 2018/2019, the industry had a combined revenue of $71.7 billion, with exports reaching more than 140 countries. . .

CBD lifts mānuka value higher – Richard Rennie:

If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, then a snap-pack of Manuka honey may help you down a daily dose of CBD. Richard Renniespoke to Derek Burchell-Burger of Naki New Zealand about the company’s ground-breaking cannabidiol-infused honey nutraceutical.

For centuries cannabis and honey have been remedies used by assorted civilisations, and a Taranaki-based company is combining the two as a unique nutraceutical product.

“Indigenous cultures have been putting medicine in honey for generations, honey is a very good delivery system,” Naki New Zealand global marketing manager Derek Burchell-Burger said.

With Manuka honey’s popularity rising particularly over the covid pandemic, the company saw an opportunity for adding the therapeutic cannabidiol (CBD) to leverage off Manuka’s health and healing claims. . . 

 

Highly productive dairy farm and cropping operation placed on the market for sale:

A former market gardening operation now fully converted into a highly productive dairy farm and supporting cropping unit in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has been placed on the market for sale.

The 153.9-hectare property at Otakiri some 24-kilometres west of Whakatane milks a herd of between 410-430 cows to produce between 133,000-153,186 kilogrammes of milk solids annually, while also producing maize and silage for the herd.

The farm is made up of seven freehold land titles – all with a flat topography and linked by an extensive and high-quality network of crushed-lime races – with the maize and silage grown on a pair of 7.5-hectare blocks within the property. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

23/10/2020


Not just bias

23/10/2020

Is our media biased? A new website Media Bias has the result of a year’s analysis and found that it is:

This shows all  the mainstream media outlets are biased towards the left and the only two right sources are blogs.

How bad is the bias? Karl du Fresne, who starts by saying he’s not a National supporter, writes:

In recent weeks I’ve watched with mounting disbelief as the network formerly known as TV3 has conducted what appears to be a sustained offensive against the National Party.

Initially I gave Newshub and its political reporters the benefit of the doubt, thinking perhaps the run of events was against National and over time the playing field would be levelled. But that hasn’t happened, leaving me convinced that Newshub is functioning as Labour’s unofficial propaganda arm.

I shouldn’t be completely surprised, because it’s happened before (I wrote about it here). But nine years on, the bias is even more explicit and infinitely more mischievous.

No one who believes in the importance of fair and impartial news media can accept this is right. Fair, accurate and impartial journalism is never more important than during an election campaign. Some of us can remember when in every newspaper newsroom, someone was assigned to tot up the daily column inches given to each of the major parties to ensure no one was given an unfair advantage. But Newshub doesn’t appear to care about maintaining even a pretence of neutrality. . . 

He analyses the news and concludes:

It’s impossible to convey in words the striking disparity in this coverage. It’s relentlessly positive toward Ardern – fawning isn’t too strong a word – but strives tirelessly to nobble her main rival with stories of caucus disloyalty and belittling scenes from the campaign trail. On top of all this, O’Brien had the chutzpah last night to make sympathetic noises about the ordeal Collins is being put through. To paraphrase a quotation from Robert Muldoon when talking about his bete noire The Dominion: with friends like O’Brien, who needs enemies?

I detest this style of journalism. It attempts to place journalists at the centre of the action rather than on the periphery, where they belong. They abuse their power by seeking to influence events rather than simply reporting them in a fair and balanced way and allowing the public to make up their own minds. They are every bit as guilty of abuse of power as the most despised press baron. 

And while some journalists insist on seeing themselves as morally superior to politicians, it can be argued that the reverse is true. As devious and self-serving as some politicians may be, they can still claim the moral high ground because ultimately they are accountable to someone: namely, the voters, to whom they must answer every three years. No journalists have to submit to that judgment. . . 

It’s not just bias but attack dog journalism which, as Sarah Ditum writes, is bad for democracy:

. . . Yes, there’s a simple principle of right and wrong, truth and falsehood here — but simplicity is exactly the problem with the way a lot of issues are handled by the media.

Carve any subject down to its barest conflicts, and you won’t help people find enlightenment and resolution. Instead, you’ll make them feel attacked, embattled, inflexible. In a recent piece Amanda Ripley warned of the dangers of journalism that goes in pursuit of simplicity; and which has, unfortunately, the effect of making everyone more committed to the certainties they’ve already chosen. Instead, she says, they should look for complexity, arguing that “Complexity counters this craving, restoring the cracks and inconsistencies that had been air-brushed out of the picture. It’s less comforting, yes. But it’s also more interesting — and true.” . . .

Rather than attack people as liars or presume their bad faith, Ripley suggests journalists should look for ways to open conversations: instead of telling people what they think, ask them about why they believe the things they do. Often, the things that people seem to be at odds over are just proxies for underlying issues; and sometimes, those underlying issues are more tractable than you ever expected.

It’s even possible that the questioner could be the one to change their mind about something. A world where you might be the dumbass after all isn’t very reassuring, but it’s a lot more plausible than one where you’re only ever right.

Newshub is privately owned and therefore has more freedom to take a side but TV1 and RNZ which are also biased towards the left have a duty to be non-partisan.

We’d be better served at any time if all media focussed much more on political performance and policy than personality, if journalists sought to understand and if they didn’t try to tell us what to think. That is even more important during an election campaign.


Word of the day

22/10/2020

Obdormition – the state or condition of being asleep; numbness of an extremity due to pressure on a sensory nerve  or lack of movement.


Sowell says

22/10/2020


Rural round-up

22/10/2020

Drought fears for South Canterbury, North Otago farmers – Maja Burry, Eleisha Foon:

South Canterbury and North Otago farmers are concerned they are on the precipice of a drought.

NIWA’s latest hotspot report showed the driest soils in the South Island and both winter and spring had so far failed to deliver meaningful rain.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said the Waimate and Waitaki districts had received little rain since autumn and pasture covers are low for this time of year.

MPI’s rural communities and farming support director, Nick Story, said farmers were feeding out grain, destocking and looking for alternative grazing. . . 

Wildlife rules for private land queried by owners and businesses – Farah Hancock:

A policy aimed at protecting indigenous wildlife, which has struggled to gain consensus, is on its final dash to the finish line. Public support is strong, but landowners and industry still have concerns

The National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which will force councils to identify significant natural areas, including on private land, is hoped to improve the outlook for New Zealand’s 4000 threatened species

Not all are happy with the proposed policy, with submissions expressing concern about how areas on private land will be identified, and the impact on private landowners’ ability to use their land. . . .

 

Watermelon shortage predicted as biosecurity concerns hold up Tongan supply – Maja

Supermarket shelves could soon run dry of watermelons with all import channels for the fruit currently closed due to biosecurity concerns.

Imports of the fruit from Tonga were halted last week after live fruit fly larvae were detected at the New Zealand border on a consignment of watermelons from the country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said there would now be an investigation into the non-compliance by the Ministry of Agriculture Food, Forestry and Fisheries in Tonga.

“Until the suspension is lifted, all consignments of watermelons from Tonga arriving at New Zealand’s border will be held with the option of destruction or re-shipment in accordance with the Import Health Standard,” MPI said in a statement. . . 

Green lipped mussels are becoming heavy lifters – Keith Woodford:

Hatchery technologies and open-sea farms provide the platform for new endeavours with green-lipped mussels

A little over five years ago, I asked the question as to whether green-lipped mussels could be the next heavy lifter for the New Zealand export economy. At the time, the Government had a goal of doubling exports by 2025, which seemed exceedingly optimistic.

Both then and since then I have been frustrated by what I see as naivety within the broader community as to how New Zealand is going to pay its way in a complex and competitive world. There often seems to be unwillingness to grapple with the hard realities of a small isolated country in the South Pacific with a rapidly growing population and increasing inequalities.

I have listened many times to speakers who say that services rather than goods are going to be our salvation. When I ask where within that framework might we find a competitive advantage, I typically hear only generic terms such as ‘technology’   Our two big service industries are tourism and the education of foreign students. . . 

Election 2020, the red tsunami – Elbow Deep:

I had intended to use this month’s column to look back at the three years which have passed since the farmer protests in Morrinsville and determine if a Labour/New Zealand First/Greens Government was as scary as predicted.

Events overtook me and clearly, since Labour won the party vote in all but four electorates, it wasn’t that scary at all.

At the last election farming issues were front and centre in a highly divisive campaign that left farmers feeling kicked around like the proverbial political football. At the heart of this division was the proposed water levy, a proposal that didn’t even make it past coalition negotiations, which generated a lot of heat while distracting from the real message David Parker was trying to push; freshwater reform.

This election, in the wake of plummeting tax receipts and a higher than normal reliance on income from agricultural exports, every single political party was courting the farming vote. . . 

Agricultural equipment sector remains positive :

The agricultural equipment sector remains in a positive mood throughout the country says the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA), which represents the sector in manufacturing, retailing and distribution.

TAMA sales statistics for the year to date (September 30) are down around 18 percent compared with 2019‘s record-breaking year, however indicators remain positive as New Zealand enters the peak of another growing season.

TAMA president Kyle Baxter said despite sales volumes being down in some equipment ranges, members were confident regarding business trading across dealerships and local equipment manufacturing. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

22/10/2020


Who do you believe?

22/10/2020

Nurses in MIQ hotels are complaining about staff shortages and 20 hour working days:

Twenty nurses have been pulled away from other jobs around New Zealand to staff Auckland’s managed isolation facilities.

Nurses say they’re concerned about serious staff shortages and burnouts, and claim some are expected to work 20-hour shifts.

One registered nurse, who asked to remain anonymous, said while she takes pride in protecting Kiwis in isolation hotels, she is now disillusioned and fed up.

“I know many other nurses who are feeling despondent, despairing, frustrated and angry,” she told Newshub. . . 

She said the situation changed for nurses after the Northern Regions District Health Board took over employing staff from healthcare agency Geneva. Pay was slashed and nurses started leaving.

The nurse said shortages are widespread across Auckland’s isolation hotels.

“I would describe them as being critically low and dangerous,” she said.

She added those on the job are sometimes asked to work extra hours.

“It can amount to 20 hours straight, which is very unsafe.” . . .

The DHB, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield and Minister in charge of MIQ Megan Woods all say there is no problem.

Health workers said they had insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE). Officials and politicians said they were wrong but there were right.

Health workers said there was a shortage of flu vaccines. Officials and politicians said there wasn’t but there was.

Now nurses are saying there are staff shortages and unsafe working hours. Officials and politicians say they’re wrong.

Who do you believe?


Word of the day

21/10/2020

Yarborough – a hand in bridge or whist containing no ace and no card higher than a nine.


Sowell says

21/10/2020


Rural round-up

21/10/2020

Urban New Zealand – you have been lied to – Jane Smith:

 Environmentalist and farmer Jane Smith says she wants to make urban New Zealand aware of the true long term costs of “headline-grabbing heroic environmental crusades”.

Urban New Zealand you have been lied to. You believed someone had your back, a master plan, a blue print for the future. In its place is a lonely black box. They say the devil is in the detail. There are no details – only hyperbole and headlines.

At record speed, New Zealand is blindsiding opportunities to embrace the unique advantage we have as a sustainable island nation.

As a humble food producer, environmentalist, taxpayer and common sense advocate I can’t help but analyse all aspects of policies, not just a one-sided narrow environmental view. . . 

Farmers want Labour to govern alone – Sally Murphy:

Farmers are anxiously waiting to see whether or not Labour will choose to govern alone or bring in the Green Party.

In one of the elections biggest surprises the strong National electorate of Rangitata swung with Labour candidate Jo Luxton winning the seat – becoming the first Labour MP to do so.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark said he has heard of farmers voting strategically.

“I think potentially plenty of farmers have voted Labour so they can govern alone rather than having a Labour-Greens government- there’s been a lot of chat around about that but each to their own, the people have spoken.” . . 

IrrigationNZ appoints Vanessa Winning as new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ is delighted to announce that Vanessa Winning has been appointed as the organisation’s new chief executive starting on Monday 19th October, based in its new Wellington HQ.

Vanessa is a strategic executive leader with over 20 years experience in the agriculture, banking and corporate sectors with excellent stakeholder management and engagement skills.

Vanessa was most recently General Manager Farm Performance at DairyNZ, where she led a large team across the country to help farmers improve their businesses and reduce environmental impacts. Prior to DairyNZ, Vanessa spent 18 years in banking; trade; product development; marketing and communications. Vanessa has a commerce degree in economics and management, and a postgraduate degree in marketing. . . 

The cavalry arrives — finally! – Sudesh Kissun:

The first batch of overseas drivers for local agricultural contracting work is expected in the country next week, says Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) chief executive Roger Parton.

He says 119 applications filed on behalf of members by RCNZ were approved by the Ministry of Primary Industries and passed onto Immigration NZ for final verification and issuance of visas.

After arriving in the country, the drivers will spend two weeks at a Government quarantine facility. The cost will be met by the sponsoring contractor. Visas are being issued for six months and this includes the two-week spent in quarantine.

Parton says contractors will be breathing a huge sigh of relief. . . 

Family farm and sport combine for simple balanced life – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Farmer, husband, father, multisporter: Hamish Mackay prides himself on keeping life simple.

He owns Spotts Creek Station, a 1300ha property in the Cardrona Valley, near Wanaka, that he runs himself, with a bit of help from his father and uncle.

“I don’t have health and safety, PAYE or employment contracts, because I don’t need to, and because it’s frustrating. Keeping things simple is my priority.”

The straight-talking eldest son of Don and Sally Mackay grew up on Motatapu Station, near Wanaka, one of four stations in the Wanaka-Queenstown high country leased from the Crown by Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain’s ex-husband, Robert Lange. . . 

New Tasmanian program to look at wool workforce needs – Caitlin Jarvis:

Tasmania’s shearer shortage will be put under the microscope as part of a new program run by Primary Employers Tasmania.

PET has secured funding from Skills Tasmania to run a program to examine the present and future workforce needs of wool.

Shearers and wool classers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the inability to move around the country.

Border restrictions and quarantine measures have left some shearers stranded in a state, other than the one where they normally live. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

21/10/2020


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