Word of the day


Fremescence – a slow-building roar; a growing sense of unease or dissatisfaction.; a dull or incipient rumbling or roaring sound; very noisy and tumultuous; riotous; raging.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


If GM opponents aren’t swayed by the potential of genetic science to help feed the world, might the health benefits do the trick? – Point of Order:

Is NZ  steering  itself  back  into the  Dark  Ages  with its  negative  policy  on genetic  modification?

Thanks  to the  pressure   of the  Green movement  20  or so  years  ago, releasing a genetically modified organism  in New Zealand without approval is illegal.

In New Zealand you cannot import, develop, field test or release a genetically modified organism without approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (previously known at the  Environmental Risk Management Authority).

Yet  because  of great strides in fundamental research, biology is becoming ever more programmable, as  The  Economist  reported last week. . . 

Councils talk Three Waters at Select Committee :

Two district councils have spoken to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee this week, expressing opposition and concerns regarding the controversial Three Waters Reform.

If passed, the Water Services Entities Bill would see the set up of new entities and transfer council management of water services to four water services entities. In return, councils would be made the sole shareholders in the entities, possessing one share per 50,000 people in their area.

A delegation from Manawatū District Council (MDC), led by Deputy Mayor Michael Ford, presented their opposition on Monday.

They expressed concerns around property rights and fair compensation for the investment made by residents, claiming there was a possibility that the transfer of Three Waters services into the proposed entities would stifle economic development. . . 

Huge rivers of gravel pose farming challenges – Brendon McMahon:

Parts of a Barrytown farm are slowly being smothered by gravel brought down from creeks in the Paparoa Range.

Dairy farmer Richard Reynolds said the blowout of creeks on to farmland had been remarkable in the past year, often triggered by sudden and localised cloud bursts.

The situation was not helped by the loss of vegetation flattened and killed off in the headwaters during Cyclone Fehi in 2014.

“The cyclone was the tipping point of it and it’s just taken off since then,” Reynolds said. . . 

Farmers look to ride on the sheep’s back once again – Georgia Merton:

Wool prices have languished in the doldrums for decades but the worldwide drive for a more sustainable future where natural fibres replace synthetics has raised hopes that strong wool can finally make a comeback

Once upon a time, strong wool was a major money spinner for New Zealand.

It was the golden fleece, with farmers rumoured to have paid off their mortgages in one wool clip during the boom of the 50s. Retired fourth generation sheep farmer Murray Urquhart remembers family tales from the famous boom. “My uncle was the biggest single taxpayer in Canterbury for three years in a row,” Murray tells Frank Film, and explains that this was mostly because of the US Army needing to keep their soldiers warm during the Korean War.

These days, though, it’s costing many farmers more to shear their strong wool sheep than they can get back for the wool itself. As Highfield Station farmer Michael Northcote points out, wool has almost become a by-product of meat – a nuisance, even. “Because there’s just no money in it,” Michael says. “It costs . . 

Mairi Whittle a Taihape farmer with two tiny tots in tow – Country Life:

A toddler on her back, a newborn in front and five dogs alongside… that’s how you might find Taihape sheep and beef farmer Mairi Whittle.

While Tad has now graduated out of his pack and sits alongside as Mairi feeds out to the cattle and rounds up ewes, things do take longer with two under two, she says. 

Mairi’s little boys are the fifth generation on Makatote – 600 hectares of steep but fertile hill country which has been in the family for more than a century.

Mairi has farmed it for four years and in April bought the block from her family. . . 


New Zealand Young Farmers launch FMG Young Farmer of the Year season 55 :

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) is proud to launch the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest into its 55th season.

The Contest kicks off on the 15th of October 2022 with the first of 11 District Contests to be held throughout Aotearoa. NZYF members are invited to register for the agricultural challenge where they’ll flaunt their practical and theoretical know-how in the bid to qualify through to the next round, the Regional Finals.

The District Contests are one-day events organised by NZYF Clubs. Whether it be through organising, competing, or coming along as support, all members are encouraged to get behind their local District Contest to be a part of NZYFs largest event.

The top contestants from each District Contest will progress through to the Regional Finals, where they will once again demonstrate the broad and varied skillset of a modern farmer. Seven Regional Finals will be held between February and April 2023. . . 

Wool the natural choice


Anti-farming eco zealots have been trying to put people off wool.

The industry is fighting back with the compelling message: wool is the natural choice and the natural alternative to fossil fuel.

Racist prescription wrong


Which of these two is worse?

People get health treatment based not on their need but their race.

People get priority treatment that addresses their symptoms but doesn’t address the causes.

Both will be the consequence of a decision to provide treatment  based on a theory of a Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) that, Damien Grant explains,   doesn’t treat  every life as worth the same:

. . . Pharmac has a capped budget and purchases drugs that do the maximum good for the maximum number. Forcing Pharmac to focus on increasing the QALY of one sector of society means it must cancel a medicine elsewhere.

Wilkinson writes: “To oblige Pharmac to fund medicines according to race or ethnicity is to propose that a unit of quality-adjusted life year for Māori is worth more than a unit for non-Māori, regardless of any other consideration.”

The argument is a little technical but easy to grasp with a simplified example.

Bowel cancer screening costs, say, $10 million and saves 100 lives. Five are Māori.

A diabetes drug costs $10 million and saves 50 lives. Ten are Māori.

Under the current rules Pharmac invests in bowel cancer screening. Under the proposed guidelines it chooses the diabetes drug.

Wilkinson goes further.

Part of the justification of these changes are claims of systemic racism, being laid by, amongst others, the yet-to-be-knighted Dr Ashley Bloomfield, who told the Waitangi Tribunal: “The impact of personal and institutional racism is significant on both the determinants of health and on access to and outcome from health care itself.”

Wilkinson issued several Official Information Act requests for the evidence of this “institutional racism”. He received a weak response and concluded that what the research shows is a link between self-reported experiences of racism and ill-health, and notes that this shows a correlation, but not that racism causes or is responsible for Māori and Pasifika health outcomes.

He is more restrained that I am willing to be. The cupboard is bare and the data self-evident.

Lung cancer and heart disease are, by and large, illnesses of choice. To assume that those who smoke or enjoy the delights of a diet light in vegetables are ignorant of the consequences of their decisions is to deny the agency of those individuals.

Or if people are ignorant of the consequences, education and help them make healthier choices is a better strategy than waiting until they have poor health as a result of bad decisions.

I know that carrying a spare tyre around my mid-riff comes with the cost of years not lived. I am aware that earning a living in the stress-filled existence of commerce comes with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

More men than women make these choices, and is part of the reason males spend less time between being born and buried than women do. That and a penchant for riding motorbikes, boxing, and other acts of recklessness that we do to impress females.

This lack of lived masculine years isn’t the result of sexism, and it isn’t a justification to junk screening for breast cancer in favour of compulsory prostate exams.

What is being proposed by Andrew Little and his minions is morally abhorrent. It is a paternalistic, white-man’s burden re-imagined for a modern era. . . 

It is also based on the false assumption of systemic racism in the health system which is not backed up by the data.

As the Initiative report’s title states, every life is worth the same.

It is incredible that this needs to be stated, and it is a credit to Bryce Wilkinson and the Initiative that they have done so.

Dr Wilkinson’s report is here.

It clearly shows that the government made the wrong diagnosis for Pharmac and on the basis of that has come up with a racist prescription which makes some lives worth more than others.

It isn’t what’s needed to change the factors which lead to poorer health among many Maori and Pacific people and it will lead to poorer treatment for others because of race not need.

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