Word of the day


Grumbletonian – a person who is often discontented, thereby taken to grumbling; a grumbler; originally a member of the 17th century UK Country Party and later a member of the opposition.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Inexperienced farm machine operators ‘cause havoc’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Harvest is in full swing across the country, and while rural contractors have managed to get workers in the tractor driving seat, in many cases the work hasn’t been up to the necessary standard, industry commentators say.

Rural Contractors president David Kean said the organisation had done everything Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor had asked to fill the worker shortage left by border closures, but reports of inexperienced workers causing havoc were common.

“If you can imagine that you’ve got a guy on the tractor that doesn’t know how to work that tractor to its full potential, so he leaves it in the wrong gear and he over-revs it, which overheats the machine.

“There was an incident that cost a contractor $60,000 because something went through the bailer. There’s been quite a few issues like from what I’ve heard but contractors don’t want to speak out and run down the workers.” . . 

‘Pretty extraordinary’ – Fonterra on GDT results – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra’s reliable supply chain and strong demand from China and South East Asia are helping drive dairy prices up, says co-op chief executive Miles Hurrell.

In an email to farmer suppliers, Hurrell described the overnight Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction results as “pretty extraordinary”.

The GDT price index jumped 15% compared to the previous auction, its eight consecutive price rise. Whole milk powder prices, used by Fonterra to set its milk payout, rose a whopping 21% to US$4364/MT, a seven-year high. Hurrell says farmers would be keen to know what the latest result means for Fonterra’s farmgate milk price. . .

AgMatch grows wool range – Neal Wallace:

It’s niche and has strict specifications to be met, but a farmer collective buying and selling group is proving that consumers still love crossbred wool.

AgMatch is using member’s wool to make jerseys, socks, carpet and carpet underlay, which is then sold via the members and the AgMatch website, earning growers up to $40/kg net for the wool used.

The group’s newest venture is floor coverings, with suppliers recently taking delivery of 900 lineal metres of carpet manufactured in Australia, enough for more than 40 homes.

Most has already been sold for $300 a lineal metre. . .

Doing the unimaginable – Gerald Piddock:

Despite never having farmed, a Waikato couple who had successful careers in Australia, returned home to milk sheep on the family farm and have had to learn everything from scratch.

Imagine quitting your career to embark on a new profession that is the least likely and most unexpected thing one envisions themselves doing.

That’s exactly what Matthew and Katherine Spataro did when they ditched the city grind by shifting from Melbourne to the outskirts of Te Awamutu to milk sheep. . . 

Thousands enjoy terrier-ific day at show

From highland dancers to livestock competitions, the North Otago A&P Show in Oamaru had it all.

However, the most exciting event was the terrier race on Saturday when 20 or so specimens, of widely varying shapes and sizes, raced to catch a dead rabbit tethered to a four-wheeler.

Taking the win was Thomas, a speedy dog who won for the second year in a row.

His owner, Tomlyn Morrissey, of Southland, was happy to see his name on the cup again. Mrs Morrissey’s pooch was so fast the race had been restarted because he caught the rabbit before getting halfway to the finish. . .

Call goes out for kiwifruit pickers and packers:

The first kiwifruit will be picked off the vines this week and growers across the country anticipate needing around 23,000 workers for the harvest. The harvest runs through till June and is expected to produce even more than last year’s record of 157 million trays of Green and Gold.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says ongoing COVID-19 overseas travel restrictions mean growers will be looking to offer job opportunities to even more New Zealanders to provide most of the workforce – meeting the shortfall of people on the RSE scheme from the Pacific islands and working holiday visa-holders.

As in previous years, NZKGI has been working for several months to prepare for the season opening and the significant labour requirements. . . 

Farmers apply to Defra to grow genome-edited wheat:

Researchers are preparing an application to the government to run a field trial of a new genome edited wheat, the first such trial to be carried out in Europe.

Scientists from Rothamsted Research have used genome editing to reduce a cancer-causing compound commonly found in toast.

Acrylamide forms during bread baking and is further increased when bread is toasted: the darker the toast, the more of this carcinogenic compound it contains.

Now the team have used genome editing to develop a type of wheat that is less likely to produce acrylamide when baked. . . 

Yes Sir Humphrey


Questions Royal Commission can answer


Richard Prebble has many questions only a Royal Commission can answer:

. . .The Herald set out issues for a Royal Commission. The country’s pandemic plan was so “fatally flawed” it had to be abandoned. “In late March, stockpiles of tests were down to only six days’ supply. Our contract-tracing capacity was limited and able to manage only 10 cases simultaneously”. “New Zealand was ill-prepared. It was only by good fortune…- that we avoided the fates of Milan, New York or London.”

We can now add more issues. The critical shortage of PPE equipment. New Zealand was the 63rd country to close its borders.

The forecast of 3.32 million Covid-19 cases by July last year was wildly inaccurate.

Opposition MPs in an election year were placed under what was effectively house arrest.

The High Court has ruled the first lockdown was illegal. What was Crown Law’s advice?

Why was technology not used like in the UK to keep Parliament open? The Opposition was co-operating. If Parliament had been open legislation could have authorised the lockdown.

Why were butcher’s shops and greengrocers closed but supermarkets remained open?

Why did the Cabinet override officials and close down low-risk occupations like construction?

Are researchers correct in claiming because of hospitals closing down and deferring appointments and operations the lockdowns over time will kill more people than they have saved?

How is it that Taiwan with a population of 23 million has had fewer Covid cases and not one lockdown or school closure? Why can Taiwan track community transmissions in a few hours?

Why does the Government still not know the origin of the present outbreak?

The Prime Minister is placing the blame for the present lockdown on a 21-year-old. He got tested at his initiative. Would an inquiry find that as a known contact of a positive case contact-tracing should have ensured he was tested 10 days ago? Is the Government also to blame for the lockdown?

Then we have the quarantine. Is it sensible to lock up travellers for 14 days from countries that have no Covid?

The most serious long-term issue is the admission by the Prime Minister that the Government adopted eradication because our hospitals are so poorly equipped the health system would be overwhelmed. . . .

Other questions a Royal Commission could answer:

  • Why did the PM and DG of Health keep saying there were no problems with PPE and flu vaccines when those on the ground kept saying there were and were proved to be right?
  • Why were there so many mixed messages over who should be self-isolating after last month’s community transmission?
  • Why didn’t contacts who didn’t respond to phone calls and emails get a visit?
  • Why did it take so long to regularly test border staff?
  • If we were at the front of the queue for vaccines, why have so many other countries been able to vaccinate so many more people so much sooner?
  • Why don’t the Ministry and Ministers learn from mistakes?

And another very important question: why won’t the government initiate a Royal Commission?

Prebble has the answer:

The Government has concluded the political cost of refusing to hold an enquiry is less than the cost to its reputation of having one.

It was re-elected with an outright majority because of its response to Covid.

It, and the PM, have garnered international praise for that response.

But day by day it becomes apparent just how much of the success was due to luck and the latest debacle shows the luck is running out.

If the government is not prepared to undergo the scrutiny of a Royal Commission it won’t understand what went wrong and why, and worse it won’t be able to learn from its mistakes and ensure they don’t happen again.

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