Appreciating the appreciation

December 24, 2017

Aucklander Matt Shirtcliffe wrote a Facebook post expressing his appreciation of farmers:

Dear Farmers
I’m sitting here in my city office sipping my first of several lattes, and thinking of you.
This should be a time of peace and joy throughout the land. But for many on the land right now, this is a time of deep pain and sorrow. Six of your own have died from suicide over the last month alone. And they were all young, with a life full of promise.
That is heartbreaking news, and although I’m just another latte-sipping Aucklander, actually I give a damn. One life lost, is one too many. Six is an epidemic that’s hard to comprehend. It’s not just those precious lives that have ended. It’s the impact on the families, farm workers, and rural communities left behind to try and deal with what’s happened and pick up the pieces as best they can.
So what’s going on?
I heard a Masters student on the radio yesterday who’s been talking to many farmers. She said that amongst the triggers leading to farmer suicide, one factor was the feeling of being continually picked on by the media.
She’s right. You farmers get it in the neck for shitting in our rivers, using up our water, treating your stock badly, warming our planet with emissions, and so on.
Of course, we never stop and thank you for the milk for our lattes, the cream for our strawberries, the steak for our summer barbecues. These things all come from the supermarket, right? That’s about as much as we want to know.
We never choose to see or believe the care you have for your land, or the work that goes into providing exactly what we need.
So I want to say thank you to the farmers like you who do a bloody hard job, bloody well. No matter how tough it gets out there, please remember that even if you start to feel worthless, your life is a very precious thing. It’s worth a shit-tonne more than your farm will ever be.
So this Christmas, give yourself a break. And please, share the word dear farmers, that you’re not hated. You’re loved. Take care.
Merry Christmas.

Thanks Matt, we appreciate your appreciation.

 

Advertisements

Rural round-up

December 20, 2017

Six suspected suicides of farmers ‘tragic’ – Alexa Cook:

A group representing young farmers says a spate of suicides over the past few weeks is tragic – but not surprising – after a really stressful year for the sector.

New Zealand Young Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said it’s been a really tough time for the farming community and there have been six suspected suicides in recent weeks.

“My understanding is that there were four young men in Canterbury last week that had taken their own lives.

“But also I’ve heard two in the Waikato as well, and one of them in the Waikato was one of our young farmer members … it’s tragic,” he said. . . 

Federated Farmers president’s message to workers after sudden deaths in rural communities

Farming groups are pleading with stressed workers to speak up if they need support in the wake of a series of deaths of young men across the country.

The Herald on Sunday understands four farmers died suddenly in the past few weeks, including a Hamilton City Young Farmer member, and a popular rodeo competitor in Canterbury. Both were aged in their 20s.

The coroner’s office has confirmed one of the deaths is before coroner Michael Robb.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne broke down in tears while speaking to the Herald on Sunday, saying she was becoming increasingly desperate to remind farmers that help was available if they needed it. . . 

The faces of disease-fearing farmers: Mycoplasma bovis meeting spills out of Southland hall – Dave Nicoll:

Farmers spilled out of a Winton hall as hundreds of them gathered at a meeting, concerned about the discovery of Mycoplasma bovis in Southland.

The Memorial Hall was packed to capacity with people standing, and even spilling outside as they waited to hear what the Ministry for Primary Industries had to say about the containment of the disease.

Ministry director of response Geoff Gwyn said the response team was working to identify where in Southland infected cattle had been moving, in an effort to contain the disease. . . 

Japan’s Itoham Yonekyu buys 100% of Anzco Foods as part of Asia growth strategy – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – Japanese-listed Itoham Yonekyu Holdings has received Overseas Investment Office approval to increase its shareholding of Anzco Foods to 100 percent, from the 65 percent it already owned.

Anzco was New Zealand’s second-largest meat company and fifth-largest exporter in 2016, with turnover of $1.5 billion and 3,000 employees. It was already 83.3 percent overseas owned, with 16.8 percent of the company held by Japanese marine products company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, known as Nissui, and the remaining 18.2 percent owned by the company’s chair Graeme Harrison and management. Harrison will step down at the company’s next annual meeting in March, having signalled his plans for retirement in 2015. . . 

What do we do? Agriculture in the age of synthetic food – William Ray:

Meatless meats and milkless milks seem to be just over the horizon and with many companies aiming to undercut the price of the ‘real’ stuff there’s the potential for a real threat to the New Zealand economy.

In this special episode of Our Changing World, William Ray investigates.

“We’ve got chicken or beef!” yells comedian Ben Hurley from an ad in my Facebook feed (cue sound effects for clucking chickens and mooing cattle).

“Wow, that’s absolutely delicious!” gushes a smiling stranger, which is the only polite response when someone hands you a free taco and pushes a microphone into your face.

Now the big reveal: “Do you know what… that’s 100 percent plant based!” (cue record scratch sound effect). . . 

Social licence and NZ aquaculture:

Research from the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge has found that personal relationships go a long way towards aquaculture companies gaining/maintaining community acceptance and social licence to operate.

Interviews with aquaculture, fishing and enviro community groups have revealed that social licence to operate (SLO) is easily lost – or absent – if a company’s relationship is purely transactional; ie if links with the local community are solely business-related.

“Relational relationships, where one or more employees have personal as well as professional relationships with community, go a very long way to gaining and maintaining SLO,” said Peter Edwards, a co-author of the paper and a Political Scientist at Scion. “In other words, these employees are part of community life.” . . 

Director election for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island electoral district:

A Director election will be held for Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Northern North Island electoral district after three nominations were received.

Martin Coup of Aria, Murray Jagger of Whangarei and Ross Wallis of Raglan will stand as candidates to replace current Northern North Island director and chairman James Parsons, who announced last month he was not seeking re-election. . . 


What euthanasia isn’t

December 15, 2017

Polls show a sizable majority in favour of euthanasia but a new poll shows many don’t understand what it means.

A new Curia Market Research poll shows New Zealanders are confused about what ‘assisted dying’ even means.

“This groundbreaking poll challenges the validity of most other polls on the issue. It shows that support for euphemisms such as ‘assisted dying’, ‘aid in dying’ or ‘assistance to end their life’ should not be taken as support for a law change,” says Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.

The more strongly a person supports ‘assisted dying’, the more likely they are confused about what it includes.

Of those who strongly support ‘assisted dying’:

• 85% thought it includes turning off life support

• 79% thought it includes ‘do not resuscitate’ (no CPR) requests

• 67% thought it includes the stopping of medical tests, treatments and surgeries.

In all three cases a person would die from their underlying medical condition – of natural causes.

These ‘end-of-life choices’ are legal and people can make their wishes known via Advance Care Planning.

This might look like angels dancing on a pin head but there is a very important difference between not doing something to prolong life and doing something to end it, withholding treatment that would extend a life and actively cutting it short.

Dr Amanda Landers is a palliative care doctor in the South Island, caring for people with a range of life-limiting conditions. She also gives presentations to nurses, doctors and the general public.

She says that many patients, and even some doctors, are unaware that stopping life-prolonging treatment and medication is legal and ethically acceptable. This means the person dies from their underlying illness – which is completely different from an intervention which deliberately ends their life prematurely.

“I was caring for a man in his 60s who was on peritoneal dialysis. He thought he would be committing euthanasia/suicide by stopping it. This belief was weighing heavily on his mind as he thought it was morally wrong.

“Once I explained to him that stopping dialysis was acceptable and that it would allow a natural death from his underlying illness, he stopped it.

“His family was unaware of his fears of dying by suicide/euthanasia and that he wanted to stop the dialysis. It was a very emotional moment for them when they heard how he was feeling, but ultimately they supported him in his choice.”

ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill proposes ‘assisted dying’ by administering drugs to end someone’s life, either by injection or ingestion through a tube (euthanasia) or by giving a lethal dose to a person to swallow or administer (assisted suicide).

There are subtle differences between suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia: It’s suicide when a person ends their own life. It’s assisted suicide when a person receives help to access the means to end their life but then takes the final action themselves. It’s euthanasia when the final action is performed by another person.

Only 62% of the 894 respondents polled thought that ‘assisted dying’ includes receiving deadly drugs to swallow or self-administer (assisted suicide).

Only 68% of respondents thought that ‘assisted dying’ includes receiving deadly drugs by injection (euthanasia).

New Zealanders are significantly less supportive of the administration of lethal drugs to end someone’s life than the notion of ‘assisted dying’ as a whole.

This is asking doctors to kill people.

After hearing which practices the proposed Bill would be limited to, support for ‘assisted dying’ dropped from 62% to 55%, opposition rose from 22% to 26% and unsure/refuse responses rose from 6% to 11%.

“We would expect public support to drop even further when people consider the wider implications and unintended consequences of euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation,” says Ms Joubert.

“A case in point is a 2014 UK ComRes poll which showed that public support for the Falconer Assisted Dying Bill dropped as low as 43% when people heard various arguments against changing the law or were provided with certain facts – for example the fact that six out of ten people requesting a lethal prescription in Washington State said a reason for doing so was their concern about being a burden on friends, family or caregivers.”

Assisted dying, euthanasia . . . call it what you will, it is a very emotional issue.

But as Bill English said during Wednesday evening’s debate, the issue for MPs is one of law.

.  . . I’m sure we’ve all had the experience—I know I have—or know about the experience, of witnessing the suffering, the fear, and the anxiety of a dying person and those around them and, sometimes, a difficult death. Alongside that personal connection, we have to weigh up, in our role as law makers—not just as parents or children or siblings or friends of those who we’ve seen die, but as law makers. Our role is not principally to alleviate suffering; our role is to ensure that our society has a set of laws that protect those who most need protection.

Did you know that in our law, section 179 of the Crimes Act, it is a crime to induce the suicide of another person, even if they don’t actually commit it—even if they don’t actually commit it? Why is that there? Because we don’t want people encouraging a depressed disabled young person that their life isn’t worth anything. As law makers, the reason there is a blanket prohibition is because “you” are not always the best judge of the value of your life, and the price that our community pays for enabling a doctor to take your life, free of criminal scrutiny, is that many other people are more vulnerable. Their lives will become more fearful, and they’ll become more subject to the pressure to make the judgment themselves that their life has less value and therefore they should make the decision. It is a slippery slope. That is why this bill, with its cold technical bureaucratic process of death, tries to look like it’s safe.

We have to weigh it up, and every Parliament up to now has said that the balance between what is enabled for an individual and the cost of that enablement to the rest of society is too big a risk to take. I put the case that as law makers that is the question that we need to weigh up: is the gain in personal autonomy—because the research shows people embark on euthanasia principally for autonomy reasons; they may not be suffering that much—worth the broader cost to our community? I don’t think anyone can in their heart of hearts believe that this bill will make life safer for the disabled or that it will make our community more warmly embracing of our ageing population. Who pretends that? It won’t—it won’t.

That is why I will oppose it and invite others to. You know, we’re not creating medical procedure here; we’re creating an exemption from the criminal law against killing for a specified group—that is doctors, who do not want to carry this burden—under some conditions that amount to box-ticking. So I ask the Parliament to consider that very carefully—the removal of the blanket prohibition against taking a life, which should be subject to scrutiny and accountability.

Euthanasia isn’t turning of life support.

It’s not adhering to do-not-resuscitate requests.

It’s not stopping treatment.

All those happen now and are both ethical and legal.

What doesn’t happen now is deliberately acting to end a life.

Proponents of euthanasia talk about a person’s right to die.

We all have the right to die.

What we don’t have is the right to kill and that’s what this Bill would give to doctors if it becomes law.


Join dots between science deniers and epidemic risk

December 4, 2017

The Environmental Protection Authority’s  2016/17 annual report warns that scepticism about experts and opposition to bureaucracy are key pressures faced by environmental regulators.

“New Zealand has its share of science deniers whose opinions are reinforced and nurtured in the unmoderated milieu of the internet,” the report says. . . 

The report says New Zealand is not immune to the global phenomenon of scepticism of science and the role of experts.

“We have our share of science deniers, who oppose fluoride, 1080, vaccinations, glyphosate, genetic modification and much more,” the report notes. . . 

Scepticism of experts and opposition to bureaucracy can be healthy, but not when they’re based on emotion rather than science, feelings instead of facts, rheteric not reason.

Then they can be dangerous, as the national outbreak of whooping cough illustrates:

Director of public health Caroline McElnay said babies under one year old were most vulnerable.

Dr McElnay said the best way to protect against whooping cough was for babies to get free immunisations when they were six weeks old, three months old, and five months old.

Pregnant women should get vaccinated between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy to protect the child until they’re old enough to be immunised.

Outbreaks of the disease happen every three to five years – the most recent spanned August 2011 to December 2013.

During the outbreak hundreds of babies and children needed to go to hospital, and three died.

Health professionals are expecting the outbreak to turn into an epidemic. . . 

Herd immunity is necessary to stop epidemics – that means enough people are vaccinated to stop disease spreading among people who aren’t.

Some people aren’t vaccinated for medical reasons, for example children with leukemia. Some aren’t vaccinated through inertia or choice, and if it’s children it’s almost always because their parents, don’t get round to vaccinating them or won’t allow them to be vaccinated.

Those who opt out of vaccinating their children are denying the science and in doing so posing a risk to their children and to those who can’t be vaccinated.

 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

December 2, 2017

Depression and anxiety a sickness not a weakness – Marc Gascoigne:

I don’t know anyone in my circle of friends and family who has been killed in a car accident. Or on a quad bike, or by drowning, or in a work accident, or any other sudden accidental death.

Except for suicide. In the last few years I have lost three close friends or family to suicide, the latest being my nephew on January 10.

Almost everyone I have talked to since then has said the same thing to me. . . 

Milking marvels: sheep one side of the shed, cows the other – Kate Taylor:

Belief in how they do things and the values their family hold are the prime drivers behind Sentry Hill Organics. Kate Taylor visited Tom and PJ White to find out more about how they do things their way.

There’s a lot of laughter at the White family home in Ashley Clinton – much of it aimed at themselves.

“We just do things differently,” Phillippa White says, who is known locally as PJ.

“Yep, we’re definitely not followers,” adds her husband Tom.

“We’re not leaders either though,” interrupts PJ, with a shake of her head. . .

Final plea for water intake – Annette Scott:

The final plea is out to farmers and investors to ensure a South Canterbury irrigation project can proceed.

Without the minimum uptake the proposers of the $110 million Hunter Downs irrigation scheme have indicated they would be forced to pull the plug.

The project, which had been 12 years in the making, was 10% short of the minimum uptake needed to proceed.

“We are making a final appeal to farmers and other key stakeholders to invest in this project,” Hunter Downs Water chairman Andrew Fraser said. . .

Dairy auction prices expected to lift on looming threat of drought – Tina Morrison:

(Business Desk) Prices on the GlobalDairyTrade auction may lift next week, snapping four consecutive declines, as the increased threat of drought in New Zealand weighs on expectations for Fonterra Cooperative Group’s milk production.

The NZX whole milk powder futures contracts for December last traded at US$2,840 a tonne, 3.7 per cent ahead of the equivalent contract at the last GlobalDairyTrade auction on November 21, signalling traders expect the price to rise at the next GDT auction overnight on December 5.

Longer-dated whole milk powder futures contracts are also signalling an increase, as are futures contracts for skim milk powder, while futures for butter and anhydrous milk fat point to declines. . .

Auckland’s future: vertical farming? – Adriana Weber:

Farming in high-rise buildings, warehouses or shipping containers could benefit a rapidly expanding Auckland, an expert in sustainability says.

Some farmers and industry groups, including Horticulture New Zealand, are worried productive land is increasingly being swallowed up by growing towns and cities.

The problem is especially evident in Auckland, the country’s fastest growing region, and in its southern vegetable growing towns like Pukekohe.

New York-based sustainability strategist Henry Gordon-Smith said Auckland should look into merging city and farm. . . 


Let PHA find alternative funding

November 8, 2017

The Public Health Association thinks it’s being misrepresented over its opposition to Ronald McDonald Houses near hospitals:

“The Public Health Association strongly supports facilities for families of children in hospital with serious conditions receiving publicly funded health care. Our criticism is of the undesirable marketing of the fast food industry arising from the naming rights held by the McDonald’s brand”, says Warren Lindberg, Chief Executive of the Public Health Association.

“Funds to maintain the services provided to families come from community fundraising efforts and Ministry of Health subsidies as well as from the fast food industry. Yet by holding the naming rights, there is a powerful perception that the service is dependent on the generosity of McDonald’s. People are unaware of the funding sources and of the power of branding,” Lindberg says.

“It is time powerful figures in the food industry are willing to join us in changing the environments that promote ‘junk food’. If McDonald’s Restaurants (New Zealand) Limited and its corporate partners have any sense of social responsibility, they will continue to contribute to the delivery of such a valuable health service and give up the naming rights.”

Our sons had several long and repeated stays in Dunedin hospital when they were babies.

Because they were so young I was able to stay in the parents’ room and we had friends in the city who had space for my farmer and our daughter.

More recently I had to spend time in Christchurch supporting someone in hospital there. As I paid for accommodation and food I was very grateful I could do so knowing it didn’t mean I couldn’t afford groceries or other necessities as well.

Parents of older children aren’t usually able to stay in the hospital; not everyone has family or friends who can accommodate them, and many don’t have money to spare for board and keep.

Ronald McDonald Houses offer not just accommodation and meals. They provide pastoral care and emotional support to families dealing with the challenges of seriously ill or injured children.

The meals provided are nutritious and the irony is that without them many of the families would probably be living on fast food because it’s fast and relatively cheap.

McDonalds will pay a lot of money for the naming rights for the houses. It will do so for a variety of reasons, one of which will be an association between its philanthropy and its business but does that association lead people to eat more of its products and to become obese?

I don’t know if that association leads people to eat more of its products than they would have otherwise.

But the causes of obesity are complex and eating fast food occasionally isn’t one of them.

In more irony the PHA is generating support for McDonalds through its campaign.

If it wants to get rid of the branding it would be better putting its effort into finding another very generous sponsor to name the houses than acting like the food police bullying a business whose philanthropy has helped so many people.


Politically appointed, politically disappointed

November 6, 2017

New Health Minister David Clark is considering asking District Health Board chairs for resignation letters.

David Clark says resignations may be accepted if DHB chairs aren’t “on the same wave-length” as the new government.

Dr Clark said he was “very seriously considering” asking for resignation letters and would make a decision shortly.

“I want to be sure that the district health board chairs … are in agreement with the current government’s agenda and direction. I need them to be on board with where we’re heading.” . . 

New ministers will, sooner or later, look at appointments made by their predecessors.

They have the right, and the power, to let them continue in their roles, or to terminate their appointments.

Clark should consider whether or not he wants DHB chairs to continue but he’s made a mistake by musing about it in public.

He should be doing his considering in private and once he’s done it he should act by either confirming chairs will stay or asking them to go.

By musing publicly Clark looks like he’s pussy-footing.

He also risks chairs calling his bluff by not writing resignation letters which would then force him to sack them.

Everyone who accepts such appointments know that when they’re politically appointed they can be politically disappointed.

Public musing merely looks like ministerial vacillation.


%d bloggers like this: