Word of the day


Outbrave – outdo in bravery; to face or resist courageously or defiantly.

Thatcher thinks


Rural round-up


Push continues for land use ‘fair and even playing field’ :

Federated Farmers believes new requirements announced today for overseas investors buying New Zealand farmland for forestry are encouraging but are only step one of a suite of changes required.

“For years Feds and other organisations have been calling for a reversal of rules that exempt overseas buyers intending to convert our farmland into forestry from the ‘proof of benefit to New Zealand’ requirements that apply when buyers intend continuing farm production land use,” Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson William Beetham says.

“That chorus has grown ever louder as tens of thousands of hectares of productive farmland are blanketed in pine trees, in large part because of the chase for carbon credit revenue.

“We’re glad the government is listening and taking action. But more must be done,” William says. . .

Fonterra lifts milk payout forecast to record level – but farmers will be soured if govt demands their herds be culled – Point of Order:

Dairy  giant Fonterra has lifted its 2021/22 forecast farmgate milk price range to $9.30 – $9.90kg/MS, up from its previous forecast of $8.90 – $9.50.

This increases the midpoint of the range, at which farmers are paid, by 40c to $9.60 – easily the highest on record.

At that level, Fonterra estimates that the milk price  payout will contribute $14bn this season to the NZ economy.

Truly  exciting times for the dairy industry and  rural regions.  They  have  become  even more  important, as a  key prop to the economy  through the Covid pandemic, because of the  loss of  earnings from the international tourism  and  hospitality industries. . . 

Free trade area could help post Covid recovery – Sudesh Kissun:

Moves to bring all free trade deals in Asia Pacific into one ‘free trade area’ could help countries like New Zealand bounce back from Covid, according to trade expert Stephen Jacobi.

He says, if achieved, it would mean trade rules around the region would be harmonised.

“NZ’s agriculture and horticulture exporters would face fewer barriers and be able to do business more easily and cheaply,” he told Rural News. “It would be just the thing to help us bounce back from Covid.”

The Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) was discussed at the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting in Singapore two weeks ago. . . .

Women landing rural laboring jobs and loving it – Karen Coltman:

Campaigns to attract female butchers, fruit harvesters, farm machine operators, shearers and dairy farmers are in full swing across the country as employers face a labour shortage.

DairyNZ has launched a recruitment campaign fronted by Eastern Bay of Plenty dairy farmer Shannon Munro.

Munro says that as a young, Māori woman, she was proud to be presenting a different face to dairy farming and to be associated with the campaign.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle ​says the sector is between 4000 to 6000 workers short for the coming dairy season. . .

Halter plans to start selling its high-tech cow collars to Canterbury farmers after raising $32 Million – Bonnie Flaws:

Farming technology company Halter, which sells high-tech collars to manage and monitor dairy herds remotely, is using a $32 million of new investment funding to expand into Canterbury.

Halter is a solar-powered GPS enabled smart collar, which guides cows around a farm using sound and vibrations, allowing farmers to automate herd movements and create virtual fences. The technology can also tell a farmer when a cow is hurt or on heat.

The compamy has has been operating commercially in Waikato since early last year, working with farmers to make improvements to its halters, and since raising new capital in April has been working towards its Canterbury launch.

Chief executive Craig Piggott said word of mouth had driven significant demand in the region ahead of the November launch. . . .


Thumbs up from Feds on rural broadband upgrade :

The announcement of a big push to upgrade capacity on congested rural broadband networks gets a big thumbs up from Federated Farmers.

“Every year Feds surveys members on broadband and cellphone coverage in rural areas, to gather data on the worst blackspots and inform our advocacy to government,” Federated Farmers NZ President and telecommunications spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“The frustration of farming families whose businesses, distance education and everyday activities are hampered by poor or sometimes non-existent services comes through loud and clear.

“So news that upgrades to existing cell towers and construction of new towers should see 47,000 rural households and businesses experience faster internet speeds and better reception by the end of 2024 will come as a relief.” . .

NZ 2021 Young Horticulturist announced:

For the third consecutive time, a viticulturist has won the Young Horticulturist ((Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) competition.

Blenheim’s Rhys Hall,28, who works in Waihopai Valley as assistant vineyard manager for Indevin, took out the top title after intense competition that ended on Wednesday. Rhys has worked at this company – a leading producer of high-quality NZ wine – for five years, starting as a vineyard worker, then viticulture technician before promoting to his current job two years’ ago. He has a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in plant science from Massey University.

In winning the grand award, Rhys follows in the footsteps of Simon Gourley, and before that, Annabel Bulk. Both those viticulturists were based in Central Otago when announced as competition winners. . . 

Greenwashing strengthened Putin’s hand


Theodore Dalrymple explains how green energy policies played into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hands:

. . .Europe finds itself as weak as a baby in the face of Russia, despite the fact that it has an economy many times the size of Russia’s and a standard of living incomparably higher.

One of the reasons for this seeming paradox—it’s usually polities with the strongest economies that have the upper hand—is the energy policies pursued by European countries. Under pressure from “idealistic,” that is to say utopian, green activists, they have decided to reduce their consumption of oil, ban coal, decommission nuclear power stations and prohibit the practice of fracking. Britain stopped oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, and Germany chose the very time of the Ukrainian crisis to close its last nuclear power stations.

At the same time, Europe is committed to the electrification of all its vehicles (which initially, at any rate, will act as a heavy tax on the poor). The extra electricity required will have to be generated somehow. So-called renewables are unreliable: The wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine. For the moment, the only plausible solution is natural gas, much of which must be imported from Russia. One may accuse Putin of many things, but not of stupidity: He’s fully aware of the lever this has put into his hands, and many people believe that he has been funding ecological movements in Europe that stymie a more realistic policy. Whether or not this is true, he now has the perfect tool for causing serious stagflation in Europe, restricting the supply of a vital productive factor and raising the price of everything.

It isn’t even as if the green utopians care much for the environment, or at any rate not for its beauty. They would be happy to see the land covered with hideous, noisy, wildlife destroying wind farms. What they care for is not power generation, but political power, their own power to dictate policy irrespective of consequences.

Thus, the green utopians, whom cowardly or corrupt governments have appeased, have strengthened Putin’s hand and condemned Ukrainians to a very anxious future.

The same kind of people believe in a world without conflict in which armed forces are unnecessary at best and a menace at worst. A combination of utopian pacifism and utter military reliance on the United States has disarmed Europe completely: It probably couldn’t long withstand an attack from Turkey, let alone from Russia. . .

Meanwhile, American power is itself being undermined and weakened by utopian social movements that are making its armed forces a laughing-stock to the Russians and Chinese. Their mission is no longer to defend the country and its interests but to further the cause of so-called diversity, inclusion, and equity, in the same way that universities and colleges have been sapped of their true purpose. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are like termites in a wooden building: The building appears to be just the same as it always was until it suddenly collapses in a heap of sawdust. Suffice it to say that it’s doubtful that the armed forces of Russia and China are much concerned with diversity, inclusion, and equity—which in any case are, in true Newspeak fashion, the very opposite of what they appear to mean. They are really uniformity, exclusion, and injustice. . .

Is New Zealand any different? Do you remember the soldier whose essay prize was taken from him because it didn’t conform to the offenderati’s thoughts?

Melanie Phillips also writes of how the green dream has turned lethal:

But even more shocking that all this is that, through their unhinged obsession with “climate change,” America, Britain and Europe have handed Putin his greatest weapon against them.

In their determination to reduce carbon emissions by turning against fossil fuels, and having put so many of their eggs in the basket of renewables which are desperately unreliable as national sources of energy, they have made themselves overly dependent on gas.

Not only that, but they have made themselves reliant upon gas sold to them by Russia. As Senator Marco Rubio has observed:

While Biden’s been working on this Green New Deal which is a joke and ridiculous and terrible, Russia’s become the second-largest natural gas supplier in the world, the third-largest oil exporter.

So now Putin, with his hand on the gas spigots which he can open or shut at will, has the power to restrict gas supplies, send the price of gas shootin up and inflict on western nations both power outages and eye-watering increases in their cost of living.

Western countries are already paying dearly for their supreme green folly.

New Zealand is a long way from Europe but we too are paying the price for green folly, not least of which is the importation of coal from Indonesia which is dirtier than our own coal which we’re not permitted to mine.

Germany and mainland Europe are particularly vulnerable to Putin’s blackmail since they now get around one third of their energy supplies from Russia. Germany, which backed the Nord Stream pipeline, has now come under extreme pressure from the Biden administration to resist its coming on stream.

As a result, Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has said its operation is suspended. But he should have said it was now cancelled altogether. Suspension will reinforce Putin’s probable assessment that, before too long, the west will tire of fretting over Ukraine and will return to business as normal — just as it did after he annexed Crimea.

It gets worse. As Andrew Bolt noted on his HeraldSun blog, Europe was so eager to posture as defenders of the planet against man-made global warming that it shut down factories with high carbon emissions — only for factories making the same goods to open up in China, a world leader in carbon emissions, and export such goods from there. This not only merely outsourced carbon emissions from Europe to China, but in the process made China richer and Europe poorer. How brilliant was that?!

Now the potency of the energy weapon that the west has gifted to Putin means that it won’t undertake the measures necessary to resist his aggression. Italy, for example, which imports some 90 per cent of its gas from Russia, wants European sanctions to exclude energy. As the Wall Street Journal commented:

This kind of pre-emptive surrender is exactly why Mr. Putin figures the price of an invasion would be lower than advertised. . .

Greenwashing policies come at a high economic and social cost. At best they do nothing good for the environment and too often they cause it harm.

The factors behind Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are multiple and complex, but greenwashing which reduced energy self-sufficiency in Western Europe has strengthened his hand.

A message from a Dutch farmer in the Ukraine


A message from a Dutch farmer in Ukraine:

What is the local situation in Ukraine?

The Ukrainians are fighting hard, everyone side by side. All important politicians are united in staying in Kiev and our president has risen to the occasion and has shown the world his courage. 

So far the Ukrainian army holds on strong against the army of Putin. Putin’s army which is made up of young boys who are told to fight their brothers, their cousins, their uncles.

We need to stop this slaughtering of those young men and women by wish of only one man. And let’s not fool ourselves, these men and women are not only fighting for their own life and their own country, they are fighting for the safety of the whole of Europe, the whole of the world.

NATO is no guarantee for fending of a war in the rest of Europe, Putin has proven to be unstable and unpredictable and self-destructive.

If he is willing to destroy Ukraine, he is willing to destroy the rest of Europe and take himself down with us.

All the people in Ukraine are doing their bit, our company has sent of their machines to build roadblocks on the central highway, we send our milk for free to the factory and they will distribute it for free among those who need it.

We send carrots, onions and meat to the army and arrange shelter for refugees to stay.

We are only a small company and our efforts will not make the final decision in this war and Ukraine is only a small country that will take the worst against their bigger brother, like Abel did to Cain.

Cain was doomed after killing his brother, just like we know Putin will be in the end but do we really want to wait for that?

We need to stand up and request our governments to act fast and with fury, ALL EFFORTS TO UKRAINE!

We need to send all we have, weapons that we don’t want to use now in Ukraine, we will later have to be used in the rest of Europe and the rest of the world. We simply cannot afford to have Ukraine loose this war.

There is no time for lingering and extensive consultation. This is no Covid, this isn’t an enemy that we know nothing about.

We know who the enemy is, his name is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin 69 years old, he is a Russian politician and former intelligence officer who is the current president of Russia.

The target is identified, and we need all power we have to take him down. If you are wondering what you can do?

Go out, demonstrate, request your government that they act even faster than they do; volunteer to take up Ukrainians in your house, women and children whose men have stayed behind to fight for all of us.

Send out this email to everyone you know and most important of all don’t relax, don’t sit back until we have brought this man down.

We will pay a price, that’s for sure, but if we let him get away with it the price will be so much higher.

We are now paying for not stepping up eight years ago when we were selfish and our thoughts were that it is better they fight in Ukraine than they fight with us.

Wake up people! They are fighting with us, and Ukraine is taking the blows.

Don’t let them down, don’t let your children down, don’t let the future down.

Rise up to the occasion: ALL EFFORTS TO UKRAINE!

Please share

Word of the day


Peregrination – a journey, especially a long or meandering one; travel from one place to another, especially on foot; a journey made by a pilgrim; a pilgrimage.

Milne muses


Wild Geese


Mary Oliver reads Wild Geese:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Maya muses


Sunday soapbox


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.

Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. – Les Brown

Word of the day


Lumpenproletariat – the unorganised and unpolitical lower orders of society who are not interested in revolutionary advancement; the lowest level of the proletariat comprising unskilled workers, vagrants, and criminals and characterised by a lack of class identification and solidarity.

Spotted in Why the woke Left is so discombobulated by Camp Freedom by Karl du Fresne

Olive and Mabel Keeping Up Appearances


A tale of romance and microbiology


Against aloneness



One Voice


Saturday soapbox


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.

Freedom, in any case, is only possible by constantly struggling for it.  – Albert Einstein

Word of the day


Inquination – the act of corrupting, defiling or polluting; the condition of being corrupted, defiled or polluted; pollution; corruption; defilement.

Yes Sir Humphrey


Rural round-up


Forestry rule changes for overseas investors planning to convert farmland – Maja Burry:

The government is winding back rules which have made it easier for foreign investors to purchase farmland in New Zealand for forestry conversions.

The special forestry test is used when an investor is looking to invest in production forestry for harvesting.

It was introduced in late 2018 in a bid to support the government’s forestry priorities, including more tree planting.

Farming groups have repeatedly called on the government to urgently review foreign investment in forestry, warning too much productive farmland was being lost . .

Passion fruit growers lose up to 80% of crop to Fasarium disease – Sally Murphy:

Some of the country’s passion fruit growers have lost up to 80 percent of their crop due to a plant disease.

Fasarium – also known as passion fruit wilt – is a fungus that infects the plant through the roots, travels up the plant stem and cause the leaves to yellow, killing the plant.

NZ Passion fruit Growers Association president Rebekah Vlaanderen said the disease had been more prevalent in the last two years due to warmer weather.

“It was first discovered here in 2015 but we think it’s probably always been here, it’s pretty common overseas,” Vlaanderen said. . . 

TEG wins Gold Award for  project to keep meat processing industry safe :

Workers at some of Aotearoa’s largest meat processing plants are feeling safer at work thanks to a large-scale project by TEG Risk and Sustainability Services that has won Gold at the ACE Awards Tuesday 22 February.

TEG was employed by ANZCO Foods, Bremworth, Sanford, and Alliance Group to identify risks at their seven plants across the country to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

One of the biggest meat processors in the country with 2,800 machines and 5,000 employees, Alliance Group needed a pragmatic and risk-effective approach. TEG worked on a massive scale to identify nearly 7,000 risks. . . 

Record first half earnings at Comvita:

§ Record H1 operating profit $7.2m, +39.4% versus PCP (+2.0m)

§ Record H1 EBITDA $12.1m, +14.1% versus PCP (+$1.5m)

Double digit top and bottom-line growth in focus growth markets, China and North America

Double digit top and bottom-line growth in Mānuka honey product category . . 

Wireless providers ready to speed up rural broadband:

New Zealand’s wireless internet service providers are gearing up to take part in a major upgrade to benefit New Zealand’s rural Internet users.

$47 million dollars is going to be spent to upgrade New Zealand’s rural broadband capacity with the goal of increasing the internet speed of 47,000 rural households and businesses by the end of 2024.

The Minister for the Digital Economy, David Clark, made the announcement yesterday, saying the Rural Capacity Upgrade will see cell towers upgraded and new towers built in rural areas experiencing poor performance, as well as fibre, additional VDSL coverage and other wireless technology deployed in congested areas.

Mike Smith, the head of WISPA NZ, the group representing more than 30 wireless internet service providers around New Zealand, says this is a great step up for many rural households. . . 

The hidden life of a farmer: playful cows, imperious sheep – and a grinding struggle for survival – Sirin Kale:

The UK has some of the cheapest food in the world, but thanks to spiralling costs and the effects of Brexit, farmers like Rachel Hallos are on the edge. She explains why she could soon lose the way of life she loves – and her family depends on.

The stereotype is that farmers are up with the crowing cockerel, but that’s only really dairy farmers. Most days it is not until 7.45am that you’ll find Rachel Hallos swinging open the door of Beeston Hall Farm in Ripponden, Yorkshire. Beeston Hall is a hill farm overlooking Baitings reservoir, which lies in the valley of the River Ryburn. The 800-hectare (2,000-acre) farm consists of steep fields demarcated by dry stone walls that crumble in a squall. The hill is crested by heather-covered moorland that turns purple in summer and copper in autumn. Hallos lives in a traditional Pennines farmhouse made out of handsome slabs of grey Yorkshire gritstone. A Brontë house, for Brontë country. Inside, wan light streams through single-pane windows on to a well-trodden oak staircase that creaks.

Hallos steps outside, dressed in a padded waterproof coat and wellies. She is met by a cacophony of noise. Her terrier Jack yaps with shrill urgency. Jim, a border collie, barks incessantly. Hallos feeds the dogs and then the two scrawny black-and-white cats, which sleep in the outbuildings and yowl for treats at the kitchen window. She fills a sack with hay that is sweet-smelling and almost yeasty, from the fermentation process that takes place when it is stored in plastic for the winter months. She hoists the sack on to her shoulder like Father Christmas and takes it to feed Aiden and Danny, her dun geldings.

It is late October 2021. Autumn is Hallos’s favourite season. The trees around the reservoir are gold-flecked, ochre and vermilion. Her herd of 200 cows and calves and flock of 400 sheep are out in the fields. The cows will return when the frost sets in; the sheep stay out all winter. Hallos usually feels a sense of quiet satisfaction this time of year. The autumn calves are grazing beside their mothers in the fields. The sheds have been power-hosed and disinfected, ready for winter. There’s a bit of breathing room, after the rigours of summer: the never-ending hay baling and attending to the newborn calves and lambs. In autumn, Hallos can start to plan for the spring calves and lambs. Which tup will go with which sheep, and which bull with which cow? . . 

Groundswell keeps focus


Groundswell is keeping its focus on holding the government to account on unworkable regulations:

In recent days Groundswell NZ has been pulled in all directions over the protests currently in Wellington.

In response to suggestions that Groundswell NZ are going to Wellington – we can assure you this is not happening.

While we can sympathise with the anti-mandate protesters’ frustrations over the Government’s antagonism and lack of response, people must respect that we are an organisation for our rural community, advocating predominately on rural issues. As tempting as it is to line up in support of other causes, we need to stay focused on our core mission.

When Laurie and I established Groundswell NZ, it was in response to the unworkable regulations placed on hard-working Kiwi farmers. Although we have sympathy with those questioning mandates, it is not something Groundswell NZ is going to get involved in at this stage.

I know many Groundswell NZ members are against mandates. Others aren’t. And that is OK. We come together and fight for what we all agree on – the over-regulation and arrogance from the Government.

As an organisation, we’re tackling rural issues and don’t want to take away from our core mission – focusing on holding this government to account on unworkable regulations.

As farmers, we know first-hand how divisive this Government can be. We understand the frustration that many New Zealanders are feeling.

Behind the scenes, we are planning the next stages of what is going to be a sustained campaign to push back on unworkable regulations impeding rural New Zealand. I hope you’ll join our fight for rural communities and our way of life.

Watch this space and thank you for your support.

Bryce McKenzie, Groundswell NZ

Groundswell has always been clear on its focus and did all it could to keep those supporting its protests to stick to its messages.

A very small minority of people who joined the protests went off-message but the vast majority abided by Groundswell’s rules and kept the focus on its objectives.

The organisation is quite rightly not getting involved in the protest in Wellington which would be much more effective if it followed Groundswell’s example – strong leadership, clear messages and no tolerance for illegal actions.

A big fat zero


The government’s photo-op for its plan to reduce the road toll to zero is a gift to meme makers:

The memes are amusing, the road toll isn’t.

Any death is too many, but a toll of zero is an impossible goal.

Even if all motor vehicles were banned and we were reduced to traveling by cycle or on horse back, accidents would happen and deaths would result.

Making roads safer with more median barriers and passing lanes would help.

Reducing speeds in lieu of improving the roads is an admission of failure of planning and funding; and more policing of lower speeds looks more like a revenue gathering exercise than a safety one.

Apropos of funding, the government spent tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of dollars on full page advertisements for its impossible goal in newspapers on Wednesday.:

That money would have been much better spent on making roads safer, or addressing another horrific toll.

Ovarian cancer kills more women than die on the roads every year.

February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The only publicity, educating women of the symptoms, and the only funding for research is being done by small charities run by volunteers.

How much does the government spend on raising awareness of the disease to help earlier diagnosis, and research that will lead to better treatments and an eventual cure to reduce that toll?

A big fat zero.

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