Sowell says

22/04/2021


Rural round-up

22/04/2021

Risks to our industry – Elbow Deep:

On the 14th of August 2020, Gulf Livestock 1 left the Port of Napier bound for China carrying 43 crew and 5,867 cattle. Seventeen days into its journey, after sailing into the path of a typhoon and losing power to its engine, Gulf Livestock 1 capsized with only one crew member surviving and all the animals on board perishing.

This tragedy spurred the Government to suspend live export shipments while a review was undertaken. Two months later shipments resumed but the writing was on the wall, public sentiment had been heavily against the practice for years, and last week the Government announced shipments of live animals would be phased out over two years’ time.

It doesn’t matter that the sinking of Gulf Livestock 1 was a maritime disaster unrelated to its cargo, the vessel had been flagged in both Indonesia and Australia for poor engine maintenance and improperly filed voyage plans, or that it was the only vessel to head directly into the typhoon while all the other ships in the vicinity sought shelter. . . 

Nor does it matter what the conditions were like on-board more modern livestock carriers; how much feed is available; how many vets are on call or even if that the animals gain weight on their journey. . .

Farmers struggling to access water for stock – Sally Murphy:

Dry conditions around the country are causing issues with stock drinking water supplies and crop production a new survey has found.

Nearly 550 farmers responded to Federated Farmers 2021 Drought Survey over the last couple of weeks, painting a picture of conditions.

The survey found with little to no rain farmers are struggling to access water for their stock as dams waterways and aquifers are either substantially lower than normal or completely dry.

Respondents also highlighted issues with authority operated schemes not able to monitor those who are taking too much water from urban development, causing those down the scheme to have too little. . . 

‘Designer’ deer herds touted to help farmers – Hugo Cameron:

A researcher looking at the different foraging behaviours of deer says it could help farmers create the perfect “designer herd” for their land.

AgResearch associate Bryan Thompson said individual deer had preferences for where they wanted to feed – ranging from intensive lowland farms to rugged high-country hills.

He said there was a range of factors that influenced where a deer wanted to forage, including its personality, health, social interactions, past experience, food availability and diet.

Thompson said if those foraging behaviours were better understood, it might be possible to create herds with deer that were suited to specific farms. . . 

‘Game-changer’ tool for agricultural aircraft safety – Riley Kennedy:

A new tool has been launched to make sure agricultural spreader pilots are safer in the air.

Mosgiel technology company TracMap released its new TML-A GPS aviation guidance unit yesterday at a special event at the Otago aerodrome.

The digital, touch screen system, which sits in the cockpit with the pilots, aims to make the pilots’ time in the air more effective, enjoyable, and eliminates one of their greatest risks.

The new system can detect wires, such as powerlines, and lets the pilots know when the hazards are near. . . 

Smaller vintage of exceptional quality:

The New Zealand wine harvest is nearing completion, and a superb summer throughout most of the country means the industry is looking forward to a vintage of excellent quality, according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

“All reports indicate the quality of the harvest so far is exceptional, and we are looking forward to some fantastic wines coming out of this year’s vintage,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

While it is still too early to confirm final numbers, it is clear the overall crop size is down on previous years. “There will be some variability across different parts of the country, but the industry is anticipating a significantly smaller vintage across several New Zealand wine regions this year.” . . 

Substantial Northland kiwifruit landholding placed on the market for sale:

A substantial kiwifruit landholding owned and managed by New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit producer – and with potential to convert vines to higher-value kiwifruit varieties – has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio consists of three blocks in Kerikeri, Northland. Combined, the three separate lots comprise some 12 hectares of kiwifruit growing operations in various stages of production – complete with irrigation and established shelters – and a further near 15 hectares of land.

The property is owned and fully managed by leading New Zealand kiwifruit growing and harvesting specialist firm Seeka. In their current format and configuration, the orchards within the Kerikeri block consist of: . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

22/04/2021


Wrong prescription for ailing health system

22/04/2021

The health system is sick and has been ailing for a long time.

My contact with it started with my children from the mid 1980s until the mid 1990s,  then my elderly parents needed help from the late 90s to early 2000s and  in recent years I’ve seen too much of it because my daughter has cancer.

Almost all the health professionals treating my children and parents have been dedicated, skilled and better than competent but more than three decades ago they were overworked and that has got worse.

While I have generally been appreciative of the people working in health, I have got more and more concerned about problems with the system in which they’re working.

The government has come up with a radical prescription to treat the system’s ills includes disbanding the District Health Boards.

Electing some board members for DHBs was always Clayton’s democracy.  Elections are not the best way to get the skills needed to run complex health organisations. They were answerable to the Minister, not electors, but the system allowed the government to blame DHBs for shortcomings and the shortcomings were many.

So I am not sorry to see the DHBs go but I am not confident that centralisation under the new National Health Authority is the answer, especially for those of us who live a long way from main centres.

And I am strongly opposed to two health authorities – one Maori, the other not in co-governance with the Maori authority having veto over all national health plans.

National’s health spokesman Dr Shane Reti points out:

. . . “National believes whoever has the greatest needs should receive the appropriate resources. We know Māori have the greatest inequity across health, and therefore greater needs across many health metrics.

“But we do not support a separate Māori Health Authority as it runs the risk of a fragmented two-tier system. On one hand Health Minister Andrew Little claims he’s trying to create a single, harmonious, joined-up health system and on the other he’s creating a two-tiered funding system based on race. . .

This is the wrong prescription for the ailing health system.

Maori and Pacific people are disproportionately represented in poorer health statistics but the focus for improving that should be at the primary health care and community level. It doesn’t need a whole new, expensive bureaucracy.

The government must also recognise that the health system is just one piece in the health and wellbeing puzzle. If it’s not to continue getting worse, the government must address the causes of preventable ill-health including benefit dependency, educational failure and inadequate housing.

 


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