Yes Sir Humphrey

19/05/2021


Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


Yes Sir Humphrey

19/05/2021


Are we surprised?

19/05/2021

We might have sympathy for a ‘technical anomaly’ that requires a law change because the government’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine went beyond what the Medicines Act allowed.

But that sympathy doesn’t extend to two other health related news items:

Auditor-General John Ryan has raised major doubts about whether everyone will be vaccinated for Covid-19 by the end of the year.

He has released his review of the government’s roll out plan, outlining several shortcomings in the government’s plan.

He outlined worries about enough supply, about the number of vaccinators, about reaching remote communities and about confusion among district health boards.

“Problems were inevitable for a rollout of the scale and complexity of this one,” Ryan said.

“I am not yet confident that all the pieces will fall into place quickly enough for the programme to ramp up to the level required over the second half of 2021. There is a real risk that it will take more time than currently anticipated to get there.”

The lack of vaccinators posed a “significant risk” to getting the rollout done on time, and the Ministry of Health should get moving on the non-regulated workforce – non-medical workers who would be trained to immunise, Ryan said. . .

It’s not difficult to share the AG’s lack of confidence when persisting issues with our contact tracing capacity, with staff during the so-called Valentine’s Day cluster at risk of burnout despite dealing with just a handful of cases.

Emergency planning documents from the February outbreak have been obtained, which show concerns were flagged about “limited resources” almost immediately. 

At the peak of the outbreak, with just 15 active community cases and 160 people to follow up within a day, the majority of staff were not working sustainable or appropriate hours. 

It’s raised concerns with how we’d cope with a significant outbreak – like what Taiwan is currently experiencing, with 700 local cases over the past week. . . 

It’s also raised concerns, added to by the AG’s report, that assurances that everyone who wants to be vaccinated by the end of the year will be.

If the Ministry can’t cope with a relatively small and localised challenge, how can we have confidence it will cope with a nationwide roll-out of the vaccine?

And are we surprised this looks like another government initiative where the promise won’t be matched by the delivery?


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