Nick Smith to retire

31/05/2021

National MP Nick Smith has announced his retirement from parliament:

National MP Nick Smith has announced he will retire from Parliament on 10 June at the end of the current Parliamentary sitting block.

“I have decided to retire for personal and professional reasons, including a current Parliamentary Services inquiry into an employment issue.

“I was disappointed to lose the Nelson seat at the 2020 election after 30 years representing the region. It was working for constituents and advocating for the region that I enjoyed most and I have come to realise that the role as a List MP is just not me. I had decided to retire earlier this year and the only question was when.

“Politics does place a significant burden on family and I am incredibly grateful for the support of my wife, children and wider family. There have been recent changes in family circumstances which require me to give greater support.

“Parliamentary Services have been conducting a confidential inquiry into a verbal altercation in my Wellington office last July that has not concluded.

“I was advised on Friday that the inquiry and its details have been leaked to the media for release tomorrow. It is inappropriate for employment disputes to be litigated in public.

It is inappropriate and can prejudice the outcome.

I will put on the record that I regret the incident, I apologised at the time and I apologise again today. I have decided the best course of action for the parties involved, the National Party, my family and myself is to retire now.

“This is an opportunity for National to renew. The Leader, Party and Caucus will continue to have my full support.

“It has been a huge privilege to be a National Member of Parliament, serve as 15 different Ministers under four Prime Ministers and to represent the Nelson region for 30 years.

“I am looking forward to re-joining the Smith family crane and construction businesses in New Zealand, Australia and in the Pacific.”

I am very sorry to read this.

I like and admire Nick and am grateful for his contribution to National, especially for his contribution to policy development.

Having lost the Nelson seat Nick is a list MP so his retirement won’t trigger a by-election. The next person on National’s list is Harete Hipango.


Word of the day

31/05/2021

Thitherto  – up to that time; until then or a particular time; to that place or point; so far.


Yes Sir Humphrey

31/05/2021


Rural round-up

31/05/2021

Stringing bells in glasshouses – Hugh Stringleman:

A business that began in a field in Matakana has grown into a global operation with a sophisticated glasshouse enterprise producing seven million capsicums a year. Hugh Stringleman found out how they do it.

Southern Paprika (SPL) of Warkworth is the largest single-site glasshouse grower of capsicums in New Zealand, with nearly one million plants at any one time under 26ha of cover.

Each bell pepper plant produces 40 fruit per season, as the plants grow up strings to 4m in height.

It’s called Southern Paprika because it is in the Southern Hemisphere and paprika is the Northern Hemisphere word for capsicum. . .

Bootcamps and mental health events target Young Farmers:

A new initiative is being funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to help improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

NZ Young Farmers has been allocated $40,000 to organise events in seven regional areas featuring guest speakers, activities, and skill-building sessions.

“It’s important we continue our efforts to give people the skills to look after their wellbeing, manage stress and to recognise and openly talk about mental health,” says MPI’s director of Rural Communities and Farming Support Nick Story.

NZ Young Farmers has a network of 70 clubs, which provide an opportunity for young people to make friends, network, upskill and socialise. . . 

Farming flavour: chocolate and chilies – Country Life:

Feeding the farm crew at docking time, even as a child, was no problem for Johnty Tatham.

Things culinary have been the 24-year-old’s passion for a while.

Now he’s handcrafting chocolate from a cottage on the family farm and his sleekly packaged Lucid Chocolatier products can be found at top-notch Wellington restaurants and artisan chocolate shops.

Johnty and his brother Paddy are back on the Tatham’s sheep and beef farm in coastal Wairarapa forging new paths in the food industry. . .

Study suggests sheep milk farms produce 50pc less nitrogen water pollution :

Sheep milk farms could produce up to 50 percent less nitrogen loss to water compared to regular dairy farms new research shows.

Carried out by AgResearch, the study was done to better understand the environmental impacts of sheep dairy farms.

Although still comparably small to the regular dairy industry, the dairy sheep industry is quickly growing.

There are 17,000 dairy sheep in New Zealand with another 8000 being introduced next season. . .

 

New technology shown to improve pasture growth without harming the environment:

Many of us are just beginning to understand how soils [and soil fertility] truly work. The dominant model, developed 150 years ago by chemists in Germany has been popularised, used very widely and successfully. This model says: “You have a soil that is deficient in nutrients. You are growing a plant that needs the nutrients to achieve full production. Nutrients or fertilisers are applied to correct the imbalance. If you have multiple deficiencies, then you may apply a cocktail of nutrients and fertilisers to address the balance”. Note that in this model the microbiological elements are ignored. More nutrients and chemicals are applied. The soil biology gets hammered. More maintenance nutrients are required – and so the costly circle continues.

The problem with this model is that it is deficient. It misses the critical component of soil microbiology. This has been substantially invisible until recently, when we have had a new tool, DNA to aid study. When you start to look at the interaction of soil microbiology, it has been a largely invisible third party in agriculture. In forestry it has long been known that nutrient deficiencies in plants can be solved by micro biology. Pine trees need mycorrhizal fungi. Without the fungi, the Pine tree doesn’t grow. . .

Packaging-free milk flowing at shared workspace:

An innovative milk processing system developed by Christchurch startup, Happy Cow Milk, is delivering packaging-free Saltworks co-working space.

Happy Cow Milk raised $400k in an equity crowdfund in 2019 to develop its revolutionary “milk factory in a box”. This system allows any farmer to be a fully compliant milk producer and any cafe, workplace or even school to be a retailer.

Founder Glen Herud says the dairy industry needs disruption. “The current system rewards large-scale farming over small, family farms. Happy Cow wants to replace the complicated milk supply chain system to allow farmers to connect and sell milk to their local communities – because we know that sustainable milk is local milk.” . . 

Wairarapa’s Olive Black wins gold at prestigious New York competition:

Award-winning olive oil producer Olive Black is elated New Zealand olive oils are being noticed globally, as the company wins gold at the New York International Olive Competition.

Hot on the heels of winning Best in Show at the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards 2020, for its extra virgin olive oil, Wairarapa olive grower, Olive Black, now also has a gold medal from one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

This year, there was a record 1100 entries from 28 countries in the New York competition and Olive Black manager Mark Bunny says he is absolutely fizzing. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

31/05/2021


B.J. Thomas 7.8.42 – 29.5.21

30/05/2021

Singer B.J. (Billy Joe) Thomas has died.

Five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, B.J. Thomas, died today at home in Arlington, Texas at the age of 78 from complications due to stage four lung cancer.

Few artists have left a more indelible mark on America’s musical landscape than B.J. Thomas. With his smooth, rich voice and unerring song sense, Thomas’s expansive career crossed multiple genres, including country, pop, and gospel, earning him CMA, Dove, and Grammy awards and nominations since his emergence in the 1960s.

Thomas’ career was anchored by numerous enduring hits, among them his million-selling cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” the Grammy-winning “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” and the iconic “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which won the Academy Award for best original song. A five-time Grammy award winner and Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, Thomas has sold over 70 million albums worldwide, scoring eight No. 1 hits and 26 Top 10 singles over his 50+ years in the music industry. His lengthy chart history led to him being named one of Billboard’s Top 50 Most Played Artists Over The Past 50 Years. Such memorable hits as “I Just Can’t Help Believing, “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love,” “New Looks From An Old Lover” and “Hooked on a Feeling” have made him a staple on multiple radio formats over the years. . . 


Word of the day

30/05/2021

Mysophobia – verminophobia, germophobia, germaphobia, bacillophobia, bacteriophobia; a disproportionate, irrational or pathological fear of contamination and germs; abnormal fear or hatred of uncleanliness or contamination.

Hat tip: Gavin Ellis


Milne muses

30/05/2021


Maya muses

30/05/2021


Sunday soapbox

30/05/2021

Sunday’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.

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book – J.K. Rowling


Word of the day

29/05/2021

Exauctorate – to deprive of authority; dismiss from service; deprive of a benefice; discharge.


Yes Sir Humphrey

29/05/2021


Keep the boy in school

29/05/2021


Yes Sir Humphrey

29/05/2021


Saturday soapbox

29/05/2021

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.

A room without books is like a body without a soul – Cicero


Word of the day

28/05/2021

Claptrap – pretentious, insincere, or empty language;  contrivance for clapping in theatres; contrived but foolish talk; insincere and pretentious talk; deceptive show or pretence; figuratively, an artifice or device to elicit applause or gain popularity; any artifice or expedient for winning applause.


Sowell says

28/05/2021


Rural round-up

28/05/2021

Trade with China – May 2021 – Elbow Deep:

As a dairy farmer, whenever I am asked what I think is the greatest risk to farming in the foreseeable future I invariably and only half-jokingly reply that it is politicians. I wasn’t laughing recently, however, when Brook van Velden, the ACT party’s foreign affairs spokesperson, submitted a motion to Parliament asking MPs to declare China’s treatment of the Uyghur people a genocide. She had the full backing of her leader, David Seymour, who boldly exclaimed “We shouldn’t care about trade and declare a genocide in China”.

This somewhat idealistic proposition came hard on the heels of the Labour Government being criticized by their Five Eyes partners for being too cosy with China. Five Eyes, an intelligence gathering and sharing arrangement between the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, has in recent times tried to expand its remit into other areas of policy. These policy statements are invariably some kind of criticism of China, but New Zealand has annoyed its Five Eyes partners by charting their own course and not signing on to these statements.  . . .

Budget pumps $1.3bn into railways but almost forgets farmers while Fonterra delivers the economy-boosting goods – Point of Order:

Farmers    who  believed   Labour  when it  said  it wanted  to  double  agricultural  exports may have experienced  a  sense  of  disillusion as  they  absorbed the  messages  of  Budget 2021.  While  the  government  is  allocating $1.3bn to modernise rail infrastructure and  build locos  and  wagons in Dunedin,  it  could find  only  $62m  for  agriculture.

Someone  has  calculated  that  the country’s 40,000 farm businesses, if they shared the $62m, would each receive $1550 or $29 a week (less than the ongoing minimum benefit increase).

This  comparatively meagre  sum   is  to be  applied as  follows: . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers win deer environmental award :

The winners of the 2021 Elworthy Award, an environmental accolade for deer farmers, are Grant and Sally Charteris of Forest Road Farm in the Central Hawke’s Bay.

The award was presented at the Deer Industry Conference in Invercargill earlier this month.

Lead judge, Janet Gregory, says the eight entrants in the deer environmental awards had many things in common: active farm environment and business plans, and involvement in the deer industry’s productivity and environmental activities.

“All are leaders in the industry, show great passion and stewardship of the land, and are supporting their local communities. Many of them have calculated their greenhouse gas emissions or are planning to do so,” Gregory says. . . 

How good are New Zealand Farmers?:

“The latest Fonterra announcement of a heightened 2021/2022 farm gate milk price is a big thumbs up for rural New Zealand performance,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“Cheers to our dairy farmers for all their hard work. What this means to New Zealand economic recovery in these crazy COVID times, is greater economic certainty.

“After last week’s la la budget which spent billions of dollars, this boost is exactly what the country needs.

“The new pay-out will mean hundreds of millions of additional dollars that flood into the national economy. A fiscal kick up the backside of a struggling economy. It’s great news to help spirit on our recovery and pay for our ballooning debt. . . 

Confidence constrained by climate:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 220 more farm sales (+89.4%) for the three months ended April 2021 than for the three months ended April 2020. Overall, there were 466 farm sales in the three months ended April 2021, compared to 432 farm sales for the three months ended March 2021 (+7.9%), and 246 farm sales for the three months ended April 2020.

1,677 farms were sold in the year to April 2021, 45.1% more than were sold in the year to April 2020, with 120.0% more Dairy farms, 84.1% more Dairy Support, 20.8% more Grazing farms, 54.4% more Finishing farms and 11.8% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to April 2021 was $29,746 compared to $22,435 recorded for three months ended April 2020 (+32.6%). The median price per hectare increased 14.8% compared to March 2021. . . 

FAO sets the record straight–86% of livestock feed is inedible by humans :

As the media frenzy caused by a ‘planetary health diet’ proposed in a new report from an EAT-Lancet commission this month continues, it is perhaps timely to recall that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has set the record straight regarding not just the level of greenhouse gases that livestock emit (see yesterday’s posting on this blog) but also incorrect information about how much food (crops eatable by humans) is consumed by livestock. It’s not a lot.

The EAT-Lancet report summarizes scientific evidence for a global food system transition towards healthy diets from sustainable agriculture. The report concludes that a global shift towards a diet made up of high quantities of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein and low quantities of animal protein could catalyze the achievement of both the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

Anne Mottet, an FAO livestock development officer specializing in natural resource use efficiency and climate change, usefully informs us of incorrect, if widespread, information and understanding about the so-called ‘food-feed competition’. . . 


Political claptrap infects education system

28/05/2021

“White privilege’ is infecting the education system:

It is right to have important conversations around inequities, but it is wrong to peddle crude, simplistic, stereotypes imported from America which are more divisive than constructive, National’s Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Teachers are being shown videos that instruct them to list their ‘privileges’ and view their students in terms of racial groupings. The training modules we have seen state that ‘education is a form of symbolic violence’ and that the structure of school day doesn’t work for Pacific learners who ‘are not tuned into the different parts of the day’.

“The ‘white privilege theories’ being imposed upon teachers, at what I am sure is a considerable cost to the taxpayers, are woeful. For example, citing the ownership of a beach house and the ability to have a ‘Kiwi holiday’ as a matter of ‘white privilege’ rather than one of socio-economic factors.

“It is alarming to learn how much of teachers’ time and resources are being directed to so-called diversity programmes rather than on ensuring every Kiwi kid receives a good education.

“One of the very best things society can do to resolve inequities of any kind is to ensure that access to education is equal and that any child can gain the knowledge and skills to succeed.

“There are huge issues to be addressed in education currently, including falling maths and science grades and major truancy problems. The Government is allowing imported culture wars to distract us from the basic challenges that if resolved would improve things for all children.

“New Zealand’s teachers work incredibly hard and deserve to feel supported by the Government rather than put through multi-day workshops that require them to interrogate their race, sex, sexual orientation, and any other personal factors the Ministry of Education deems appropriate.

“The Government needs to get some perspective and focus on the issues that have the most consequences on children’s futures.

“They need to set clear priorities and be transparent about them with New Zealanders. They also owe taxpayers a summary of just how much these kinds of cultural engineering training schemes have cost the country.”

This is outrageous.

New Zealand pupils are falling behind in maths and science and teachers don’t feel confident teaching maths and yet time and resources are being wasted on this political claptrap.


Word of the day

27/05/2021

Hypothecation – the practice where a debtor pledges collateral to secure a debt or as a condition precedent to the debt, or a third party pledges collateral for the debtor; the act of putting up an asset as collateral so as to secure a loan, but without giving up ownership to that asset; a route by which borrower can raise funds by providing security (movable) as collateral and still get to use it since the possession remains with the borrower; that which is contracted without delivery of the thing hypothecated.

Hat tip: Eric Crampton


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