Word of the day

22/08/2021

Indagate – to  seek or search out; investigate; research; inquire into.


Milne muses

22/08/2021


Rural round-up

22/08/2021

Primary producers charter ships to beat global ports logjam – Jonathan Milne:

A bold proposal for the Government to invest in shipping charters has been put on ice, as ministers watch to see whether exporters can work together to get their produce to international markets.

New Zealand’s biggest fruit, meat and seafood producers are paying up to double the odds to charter ships to the lucrative markets of Asia, Europe and the USA.

It will add to the consumer price of this country’s food in Northern Hemisphere supermarket chillers or cut into export margins – but for some producers, the alternative is dumping their produce.

The international supply chain crisis, getting supplies in and exports out, has become critical. It’s understood the Government was in industry talks to intervene, floating the radical solution of buying or chartering its own ships like the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s NZ Shipping Corporation. . .

A delay getting lambs to the meat works could cost farmers if lockdown drags on – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers should get stock away to the meat works as early as possible because the risk to the supply chain is growing by the day, Silver Fern Farms supply chain manager Dan Boulton says.

Level 4 lockdown could lead to delays at the works depending on how long it continued and farmers could face problems if they waited, he said.

But he said the timing of the current lockdown was better than last year’s because livestock numbers were low. Lamb numbers were down between 20 per cent and 30 per cent nationally.

“That tells me farmers are sitting on lambs chasing higher prices. There’s a real risk with that as capacity may not be there. And as we get into the main season there is a risk there will be problems with the volume coming at us.” . .

Climate change work on track – Colin Williscroft:

Concerns about the effectiveness of Overseer by an independent panel will have little effect on agriculture climate change partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which is well on track to meeting its targets.

Programme director for the partnership between Government, industry and Māori Kelly Forster says Overseer is on its list of approved tools when it comes to raising awareness of farmers knowing their greenhouse gas (GHG) numbers and having a plan to measure and manage their emissions, but He Waka Eke Noa does not look at it as a regulatory tool and its ability to provide real-time data, which is the problem raised by the panel.

“We’ve said it’s suitable for building awareness, for getting an understanding of tracking direction,” Forster said. . .

How to keep safe during milking in a lockdown – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ has developed advice, tools and resources to support dairy farmers and their teams to farm safely during the Covid lockdown.

It urges farmers to keep themselves and their employees safe at milking during COVID-19 with the following tips:

“We know from medical professionals that Covid-19 stays on surfaces for at least 72 hours and is transferred via droplets. This means that we have to be extra vigilant with the hygiene of our shared work surfaces, and that we must maintain a distance of two metres from others to minimise its spread over the next four weeks of lockdown.

“Traditionally, and especially in our herringbone milking platforms, we worked closely together and with no disinfection of our surfaces. To keep everyone safe, we now need to make changes to how we milk

Farmer protest a time for reflection – Melissa Slattery:

I also loved hearing farmers were dropping into foodbanks on their travels and donating some farmer goodness; that’s just such great stuff to hear and a great outcome for the day.

There’s no doubt the protest arose out of frustration. Many farmers are feeling overwhelmed by too many regulations, coming in too fast. There is a lot to consider and often the timeframes are too short to allow meaningful consultation.

As farmers, we’d rather not get bogged in politics. We’d much rather look ahead at what we can do to continue running progressive, environmentally sustainable and successful businesses into the future.  . .

Victorian agriculture still looks to horses – Rebecca Nadge:

While many sectors in agriculture have adopted technologies to improve efficiency, there are some places where traditional horsepower is still the best way to go.

Cobungra station, Omeo, was established in the 1850s and has both freehold and grazing leases across 30,000 hectares.

The station runs Full Blood Wagyu, and British breeds to use as recipients for an embryo transfer program

Station manager Bruce Guaran said almost all mustering was carried out on horseback. . . 


Maya muses

22/08/2021


Government’s let the team down

22/08/2021

The government has let the team down:

We are in lockdown for two reasons; because the border has failed and because nearly 80 per cent of the country has still not been fully vaccinated, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“The Labour Government claimed last year we were ‘at the front of the queue’. Given what we now know, this was at best naïve and delusional and at worst, a complete lie.

We can’t have been at the front of the queue then and so far back now.

“Here are five things Kiwis need to know about the vaccine roll-out in New Zealand:

    1. We were slow to sign a contract with Pfizer – the 29th slowest out of the 38 countries in the OECD.
    2. We were slow to approve Pfizer for use in New Zealand. The UK approved it in early December 2020.  We didn’t approve it until 3 February 2021.
    3. We only ordered our Pfizer vaccines on January 29th this year. By this point, the UK and the US had administered tens of millions of doses.
    4. We refused to offer incentive payments for early delivery. It has been reported that an extra $50 million could have prevented the supply shortage earlier this year.
    5. We still haven’t ordered any Pfizer booster shots for 2022/2023. The US has just announced they will start administering boosters from September this year and other western countries have already got their orders in.

“We are in lockdown because the Government did not act with urgency to protect New Zealanders. Their complacency and inability to ensure supply and delivery of the vaccine roll-out has left New Zealanders as sitting ducks; completely vulnerable to the Delta variant when it inevitably got into the community.

“It is not enough for the Prime Minister to lock us in our homes and speak from the podium once a day. New Zealanders don’t need sermons, we need vaccines in arms right now.”

The government has believed too much of its own publicity while it basked in international praise. Now that it’s been caught out, Steven Joyce says it’s time for some humility as we learn lockdown lessons:

The conceit is in thinking that we can come up with a completely 100 per cent water-tight border. Short of letting no goods or people cross it at all, which would truly mean North Korea, there is always a risk. Fortification is effective but not failsafe. And so it proved.

Still, hopefully some good can come from this new reality. Perhaps we could collectively use the time to develop some greater clarity of thinking on our response to this pandemic, knowing what we know now.

We could start by dropping talk of “elimination” or elimination strategies”.

The word elimination has become Orwellian and unhelpful. Covid is not eliminated when we keep it out of the country. It is simply shut out and we have barricaded ourselves in.

And all the evidence suggests the world won’t be eliminating it, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Kicking the term elimination to touch is important because its use by our politicians has bred smugness and complacency, particularly in them. They have acted as if Covid has been eliminated, and signalled the same to the public with their actions.

The vaccine rollout has been accurately described as a strollout.

That strollout has left the whole country vulnerable.

There has been scandalous negligence in preparing our hospital facilities for another wave of the pandemic, as alluded to in the Skegg Report last week.

The Government has instead busied itself looking down its nose at the outbreaks in Australia, reorganising hospital administration (during a pandemic?), and paying for things like school lunches for kids whose parents don’t want them, or putting cameras on fishing boats, all out of the Covid emergency fund.

This is not the sort of stuff on the top of your to-do list when there is a war on.

And it is a war, with a tricky and persistent invader.

Fortifying our defences and using our moat to protect ourselves is a legitimate tactic and I support it.

Where we have fallen down is in not using the time those fortifications have given us to urgently vaccinate the population and prepare our hospital facilities to cope better with another outbreak.

When one occurs, there is no alternative to locking down.

The government is already patting itself on the back for going hard and early on the lockdown, conveniently overlooking its culpability for needing to do that because of the vaccine strollout.

Which brings us to the second thing we can take out of this lockdown. A new urgency for vaccination for everyone.

Vaccinations don’t prevent transmission, but they do suppress serious illness. It should by now be clear that vaccination is the only known way out of this pandemic. Frankly, it was apparent months ago, but at least with the clear and present danger we have now, the Government and all of us should have the impetus to rapidly get it done.

Queues at vaccine clinics and frustration with the on-line booking system indicate that many more people are willing to get vaccinated than the availability allows.

A friend’s first shot was cancelled on Tuesday and the first alternative appointment was more than a month away.

Temporarily halting vaccinations at the start of lockdown was not a good first step. You mean you hadn’t prepared vaccination centres for operating under Level 3 or 4? . . 

If ministers start admitting that people won’t need to be locked down once we are all vaccinated, it’s a short step from there to blaming them for the current lockdown, given that they have been supervising the world’s slowest rollout.

Alternatively, they really believe our hospital system won’t cope with even a small increase in Covid-related hospitalisations next year alongside our regular flu season. I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes if that proved to be the case, having by then had two years to prepare. . .

The stress on hospitals just a few weeks ago with the RSV outbreak doesn’t auger well for their ability to cope with flu and Covid.

We did well in the early stages of Covid but this outbreak should remove any remaining temptation to rest on our laurels. Hopefully it teaches some humility to our politicians and senior public servants and a much-needed reassessment of our plan forward from here.

We only need to lock down now because we are not vaccinated.

Our businesses, our kids missing their schooling and friends, our families missing life events, elderly neighbours prevented from talking to each other, those who feel life and its opportunities are passing them by, can’t put up with much more of “lockdown is the only solution”.

Compounding the negligence with the strollout is the lack of preparedness for community transmission of Covid-19 now it’s here.

There are long queues at testing stations; vaccination clinics had to shut to get them ready for operating at level 4, or to free up staff for testing; and now nurses are worried about lack of PPE – again.

Widespread and repeated advertising, including that woman with the bedtime-story voice on the radio, has been warning us all to be vigilant and do everything possible to keep ourselves and others safe.

If only the government had followed its own advice and done everything it could and should have to keep us all safe, and if only we could believe that it has learned from its mistakes and we could have confidence that it won’t let the team down again.


Sunday soapbox

22/08/2021

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 to abuse.

Mistakes are not a problem, not learning from them is.


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