Word of the day


Shinder – to shatter to pieces.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


MIA Immigration Minister risking food production:

At a time when supply chains are already frayed, the Government’s inaction on border class exceptions for time-critical workers could have an impact on food production and distribution in New Zealand, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“Workers for the grain harvest are needed here in February, but because of Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi’s inaction they’re unlikely to get here on time which could mean late and limited supply of essential food, like bread.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced on 12 December last year that he had created new border exceptions for 200 mobile machinery operators, 40 shearers and 50 wool handlers.

“The Immigration Minister should have sprung to action to enable these workers to get visas, but he sat on his hands for six weeks and didn’t sign off instructions allowing the workers to apply for their visas until 21 January. . .

Marlborough farmers turn to barge travel as road repairs drag on – Maja Burry:

Farming in Marlborough’s Kenepuru Sound has turned nautical, as locals wait for road repairs to be completed following a storm in July last year.

The storm caused significant damage to Kenepuru Road, leaving farmers no option but to use barges to shift tens of thousands of sheep and cattle and bring in farm supplies.

In December, residents were allowed to start using Kenepuru Road againduring set times, but no trucks or trailers were allowed.

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing at Johnson’s Barge Services in Havelock since the storm. . .

Sri Lanka to pay $200m compensation for failed organic farm drive :

Sri Lanka has announced compensation for more than a million rice farmers whose crops failed under a botched scheme to establish the world’s first 100-percent organic farming nation.

The island country is currently reeling from a severe economic crisis that has triggered food shortages and rolling blackouts as the COVID pandemic sent the tourism-dependent economy into a tailspin.

Agricultural chemicals such as fertiliser were among the imports banned last year as authorities tried to save dwindling foreign currency reserves. The restrictions were lifted months later after farmer protests and crop failures.

The government will pay 40,000 million rupees ($200m) to farmers whose harvests were affected by the chemical fertiliser ban, agriculture minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said on Tuesday. . . 

Woolshed and a gym – Richard Gavigan:

THE DOCKING IS DONE FOR 2021 AND it’s not a record result. Last year we did 152% lambs docked to ewes mated, our best ever. This year, despite a lift in scanning, we slipped to 142%.

Tight feed conditions during late pregnancy and lambing, the result of slow pasture growth and Porina damage, didn’t help. More significant was the effect of continuous cold, wet, windy weather during lambing.

My neighbour, Don, summed it up. “We didn’t even have a pet lamb this year,” he said. “The weather was too rough to go round them. If we’d gone out and disturbed the ewes and lambs we’d have done even more damage. As it was there were a fair few dead lambs behind rush bushes.”

We now need to focus on making the most of this year’s lamb crop. Pastures are high quality with the clover coming away, but the low covers have affected ewe lactation performance and lamb growth. With this in mind we decided to try weaning an early lambing mob of 300 cull ewes at around 70 days, with the lambs heading off to new grass on our equity partners’ property just down the road. The process has been successful, with both the ewes and lambs now doing well, and me feeling much better having made some decisions and taken positive action. . .

Hawkes Bay deer farm part of national project involving more than 2000 farms :

A Hawke’s Bay deer farm is part of a ground-breaking Ministry for Primary Industries-funded project providing a national snapshot of farm performance.

The four-year project is bringing together detailed physical/production, environmental and financial data from more than 2,000 farms across the dairy, beef and lamb, deer, arable and horticulture sectors.

“The significance of this project cannot be underestimated. It is the first time such robust data has been collected and analysed,” said Matthew Newman, who’s leading the project for MPI.

“Having quality farm data will enable better decision-making by farmers and growers, industry organisations and policy makers.” . . 

Sam Bain announced as 2021  Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year :

Congratulations to Sam Bain from Villa Maria, Hawke’s Bay who became the 2021 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year on 27th January 2022.

“I’ve finally got it!” he said with a mix of relief, pride and excitement, as it started sinking in that all his hard work had paid off.

Congratulations also to Jess Wilson from Whitehaven Wines in Marlborough who came second and Courtney Sang from Obsidian, Waiheke Island who came third.

The other contestants were Albie Feary from Ata Rangi, Tristan van Schalkwyk from The Boneline and Katrina Jackson from Chard Farm. . .



Yes Prime Minister – Unforeseen Problems


Contact tracing failing


Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are isolating after being told they are close contacts of  a flight attendant who has Covid-19.

That’s as it should be but what is not as it should be is the time it took to contact trace them.

The flight was last Saturday, it took until this Saturday for them to be traced and told to isolate.

Why did it take so long?

Have others on the flight yet to be traced?

Does the delay mean the bluetooth system on the Covid app isn’t working?

This isn’t the only slow tracing. Thousands of people who attended the last weekend’s Soundsplash Festival weren’t alerted to the risk of infection until Thursday.

If contact tracing is failing when numbers of infected people are still relatively low and it is so early into what is expected to be widespread outbreaks of the Omicron variant, we can have no trust in the system coping when numbers escalate.

Apropos of government mismanagement, the story of government seizure of rapid antigen test (RATs) gets worse:

The Government’s confiscation of rapid antigen tests ordered by the private sector has gone from bad to worse, National’s COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Businesses who have had rapid tests seized by the Government have been told that they will not be able to get access to their orders and no compensation will be paid for the seizure of their property. The Government will decide who gets the tests, and how many they will get.

“At the end of last year many New Zealand businesses ordered rapid antigen tests to use for surveillance testing in their workplaces, after finally persuading a deeply reluctant government that the rapid testing ban should be partly removed.

“Having negligently failed to order enough tests for itself in time, the Government is seizing tests ordered by the private sector, overriding private contracts without compensation, and rationing the kits to a limited number of businesses.

“The only businesses who will definitely get tests are the ones doing ‘critical work’ (which will be different to the definition of ‘essential work’). Businesses will have to apply to be registered as ‘critical’, but as yet there is no definition.

“The only purpose the tests can be used for is for workers isolating who can then ‘test to return to work’. The tests will not be able to be used for surveillance purposes.

“Around the world rapid testing is used by many companies (and governments) for surveillance purposes. The test results come in just 15-20 minutes allowing many people to test themselves.

“The New Zealand Government needs to allow every rapid test approved by Australia into New Zealand and let anyone who wants to import tests into the country. Allow them for sale at pharmacies and supermarkets, and stop nicking property from other people and businesses.”

Australia has approved dozens of RATs, last week New Zealand had approved only nine.

This is already having a serious impact on people’s lives:

. . . If Omicron is going to spread here as rampantly as it has in other places, self-testing kits will be vital for all workplaces and the functioning of the economy. Last Tuesday there were just 29 active cases of Covid in New Zealand and nearly 1000 contacts were isolating.

That’s nearly a thousand people, probably perfectly healthy, unable to go to work or school because somebody close to them had returned a positive test. If the same ratio holds when Omicron gets around, the consequences do not bear thinking.

The Government will let staff in health services and other “critical” industries, yet to be named, return to work with a rapid antigen test. All industries should be allowed to use them. It is outrageous the Ministry of Health has been allowed to commandeer (“consolidate”, says Dr Bloomfield) companies’ overseas orders so that the ministry can decide how a limited supply should be used.

The ministry thinks it is the font of all fairness and expertise in these things though its attempt to monopolise the vaccination programme last year proved otherwise. Let’s hope it doesn’t take until the second half of this year for us to be able to buy saliva tests in supermarkets. . . 

Lack of access to RATs will deter people who have mild or no symptoms from getting tested when they know they’ll have to wait a few days, isolating at home, to get a result.

Contract tracing is far too slow now it will be far worse when, as increasingly likely, we follow other countries with infected cases in the 10s of thousands.

The requirement to isolate for up to 24 days if you’re a close contact of a positive case is discouraging people from using the Covid tracer app and signing in which will make tracing harder, and slower still.

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