Rural round-up

July 28, 2017

Bug hunt stepped up with new test – Richard Rennie:

Antibiotic resistance of bacteria in the human population has been touted as one of the biggest risks to health in coming years, with the planet facing what the World Health Organisation describes as a “race against time” to develop new antibiotics. However, resistance in New Zealand’s farm production animal population remains low, and a new initiative will help paint a clear picture on where resistance risks really lie, and how to manage them. Richard Rennie reports.

The Dairy Antibiogram test is the result of a joint venture between Bayer and Morrinsville-based production animal research company, Cognosco. . . 

Town Talk: hello we need to connect  – Amy Williams:

Sometimes, when I’m serving dinner, I remind my children where their meat comes from.

My seven-year-old acts horrified, my five-year-old looks twice at her dinner and my three-year-old just doesn’t believe it.

The reality of living in the city means most of us don’t really have to think about where our food comes from.

There’s no arguing the rural-urban divide exists and researchers around the world have been pointing at this gulf between country producers and city consumers for years, often with a sense of dismay. . . 

Waikato Inc approach urged to tackle water issues  – Sudesh Kissun:

New Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven is pushing for a united front to tackle water issues confronting the region.

The Te Aroha dairy farmer says Feds aims to get the best outcome for the rural sector under the Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora proposed plan change 1. The council aims to improve water quality in the Waikato and Waipa river catchments.

Waikato Feds has at least 2000 members in dairy, sheep and beef, horticulture and forestry.

McGiven says he wants a “Waikato Inc” approach so that small rural towns reliant on agriculture also get to have their say.  . .

Every lamb counts on intensive Ida Valley farm  – Rob Tipa:

On a small Otago farm, every blade of grass counts, every stock unit has to produce a return and every lamb that survives is a bonus. Rob Tipa meets the winners of a special award for flock performance in the NZ Ewe Hogget competition.

The Ida Valley is famous for its weather extremes, from hoar frosts and sub-zero temperatures in winter to intense heat and parched landscapes in summer.

On a relatively small holding of just 182ha, the Evans family runs a surprisingly intensive operation for this region.

They winter 671 mixed-age coopworth ewes and 234 ewe hoggets and are finishing 219 rising one-year-old friesian-hereford and friesian-murray grey cross calves they buy in at four days old. Last season their cattle all sold at 18 months at an average carcassweight of 245kg. . .

What’s your future in dairying aged 20-0dd – Brent Love:

Brent Love, director farm enterprise at KPMG, explains how to make it in dairy for 20-somethings.

So you’ve got yourself here. Well done. With a bit of luck you’ve worked hard at secondary school, and may even have advanced to tertiary study or got started on some Primary ITO development.

You may have found out, through early mornings and time in a cowshed, that dairy farming is your future. Congratulations, you will do well. Many have been before you, but to be fair to you they haven’t actually been where you stand today. . .

Preventing burn-out during calving – Dana Carver:

Calving is one of the busiest times of year on farm, but it’s one of my favourites. The calves are the future of our herd and it’s exciting to see them arrive, grow and thrive.

We spend a lot of time and money to have a healthy herd, and every year they’re a bit healthier, the herd a bit closer to what we’re trying to achieve and that’s exciting.

But it’s also full-on. Hopefully you and your team managed to take a break at the end of the last season so you were able to start the new season recharged.

However, that break can quickly seem like a distant memory as the thick of calving sets in. Sustaining energy levels over the calving season is essential and there are some simple things you can do to achieve this. . .


Bigger bureaucracy won’t cure cancer

July 24, 2017

Labour is pledging the same access to cancer treatment for everyone:

Labour is promising all New Zealanders will have access to the same level of cancer care no matter where they live.

It says it will set up a National Cancer Agency, initially costing $20 million, which will develop a national cancer plan, if it becomes the government in September. . . 

The headline sounds good but without details it’s difficult to know exactly what this will mean.

By choosing to live in the country I know I can’t expect the same level of health care close to home as someone who lives in a city. Labour can’t change that.

Spending $20 million on a bureaucracy won’t cure cancer, nor will it treat it.

That money would be better spent on research and healthcare.


Food from seed to plate

July 18, 2017

Horticulture NZ is doing its bit to show people where food comes from:

A video showing the story of New Zealand’s fresh fruit and vegetables, from the seed through to food on a plate, was launched by Horticulture New Zealand today.

“New Zealand horticulture has a great story to tell,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says. “New Zealand’s fresh fruit and vegetables story is one of successful, inter-generational family businesses providing good, healthy food for everybody, every day. They use sustainable, environmentally sound production practices that look after the land for the future.

“Horticulture has been the unsung hero of the primary industries and we thought it was time people knew our story, particularly as we are going through significant growth. There are a number of trends that have prompted us to make this video.

“The population make-up of New Zealand is changing and city dwellers no longer have connections with rural communities that they once might have had. So there is not the understanding of what goes into getting fresh food onto their plate.

“Trends indicate a strong desire by consumers to both buy food grown locally, and to understand what has gone into producing their food. They want to know sustainable and environmentally friendly practices have been used and that the people working for the food producing companies are treated properly and paid appropriately.

“Globally, consumers want fresh fruit and vegetables from New Zealand because we have a well-earned reputation for providing safe, healthy food that meets consumer expectations around sustainability and the environment.

“And increasingly, people are looking to a healthy diet to improve their overall health. While some shoppers will always be driven by price, there are people who want to factor other things into decisions about what they buy.

“So we have given people a chance to see some of the innovative work our growers are doing, particularly on environmental aspects of their business, to bring them the freshest and healthiest food.”


What does a heart attack look like?

July 10, 2017

Would you recognise a heart attack?

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is welcoming the return of a campaign which tells people how to identify the signs of a possible heart attack.

The Heart Foundation campaign includes an award-winning TV commercial which shows people acting out what people often expect a heart attack to look like, while another person is quietly experiencing actual symptoms.

“Heart disease is New Zealand’s biggest killer, it’s responsible for more than 6,000 deaths a year or around 16 deaths a day,” says Dr Coleman.

“A recent survey from the Heart Foundation found our awareness around heart attack symptoms is fairly low, with almost 80 per cent unable to identify all the major signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

“The survey also found that over 40 per cent of us would hesitate to call 111 if we were suffering the symptoms of a heart attack.

“The return of this successful awareness campaign should help further educate people about both the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and the need to act quickly.”

Symptoms of a heart attack include prolonged discomfort or pain, frequently in the chest, but occasionally in the jaw, neck or arms. Associated symptoms may include nausea, breathlessness and excessive sweating.

The Heart Foundation’s Heart Attack Awareness campaign will run from today until the end of the month, with support from the Ministry of Health and the Milestone Foundation.

 

Warning signs include:

Are you experiencing… In any of these areas? You may also experience:
  • heaviness
  • tightness
  • pressure
  • discomfort/pain
  • chest
  • shoulder
  • jaw
  • arm
  • neck
  • back
  • sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • dizziness


$50m children’s hospital gift

July 10, 2017

Wellington benefactor Mark Dunajtschik will build and gift a new $50 million children’s hospital for the region.

A media release from Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says:

The announcement was made this morning at Wellington Hospital where a heads of agreement was signed between Mr Dunajtschik and Capital and Coast DHB.

“Mr Dunajtschik is a very successful businessman with a very big heart and his offer to build a new children’s hospital for Wellington is extraordinarily generous,” says Dr Coleman.

“While gestures on this scale are not unheard of, they are extremely rare.

“Mr Dunajtschik has said his philosophy is that people blessed with a sound mind and body can look after themselves, but those born with or suffering illness and disability need our support.

“Although he has been a substantial benefactor in the areas of health, sport and education for forty years, this latest act of ‘giving back’ is unparalleled.”

This development will benefit the 4,000 children and their families admitted to child health services at Wellington Regional Hospital each year, as well as over 5,000 children who attend nearly 38,000 outpatient appointments.

While many details are still to be confirmed, the new hospital is expected to be around 7,000m², and is likely to be three floors. It is expected to include 50 inpatient hospital beds, as well as space for families to be together.

Existing child hospital and outpatient services will move into the new hospital. The services and staffing levels are expected to remain the same.

Mr Duanjtschik and his team will now work alongside DHB clinical teams to design a fit for purpose, family centred hospital for the region’s children.

The new hospital will be situated in the Wellington Region Hospital campus, and is expected to begin construction early next year and will take around 18 months.

When we were in Houston a couple of months ago a local told us the city doesn’t really do much for tourists. With the space programme and health precinct it doesn’t need to.

The health precinct covered several blocks and included the The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center . It was established by the University of Texas which funded half the cost, the other half came from the MD Anderson Foundation.

New Zealand health has benefitted from the generosity of  philanthropic people before, for example the T.D. Scott Chair of Urology at Otago University was established when a $1m donation from Trevor Scott was matched by the same amount from the Government’s Partnerships for Excellence Programme.

The $50m donation for the children’s hospital is a very generous one and it comes from a man of whom most of us have never heard.

 


Rural round-up

June 27, 2017

Colostrum vital part of successful calf rearing system – Sally Rae:

When it comes to rearing calves, Nicola Neal knows the challenges involved.

Mrs Neal and her husband Grant are sharemilking on the lower Waitaki Plains in North Otago and she also works part-time as a vet.

Her particular interest in rearing young stock has led the mother of two to launch a new venture this year.

The Aspiring Calf Company offers an advisory service to farming clients for setting up and managing robust, fail-safe systems for rearing great calves.

It was while she was studying veterinary science at Massey University that Mrs Neal met her husband, who was working for an animal health company. . . 

Rural folk with MS sort for study – Alexia Johnston:

Medical researchers are turning their attention to the rural sector to benefit people who have multiple sclerosis.

People living in rural South Canterbury, Otago and Southland who have the auto-immune condition multiple sclerosis (MS) are needed for the University of Otago School of Physiotherapy study.

The 24-week study combines two interventions for people with MS living in rural areas – web-based physio and Blue Prescription. . . 

Jan Wright an emblem of our nation’s maturity – Jon Morgan:

Jan Wright will be a hard act to follow. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s term is up shortly and we will miss her.

She and her staff have produced a series of landmark reports on important issues over the past 10 years, rigorous reports firmly centred on science that have cleared up misunderstandings and set out clearly what is at stake.

Farmers have a lot to thank her for. In her reports she has exposed a lot of the lies and half-truths around arguments on clean rivers and how to manage water quality, the use of 1080, agriculture’s contribution to climate change and the Emissions Trading Scheme and high country tenure. . . 

Sale of Angus bull raises $4500 for rescue helicopter – Sally Brooker:

A North Otago Angus stud has raised $4500 for the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Fossil Creek, run by Neil and Rose Sanderson and Blair and Jane Smith, held its annual on-farm bull sale at Ngapara last week. One lot in its catalogue was sold to help the rescue chopper that has been a life-saver in the district several times in the past four years.

Thanks to strong bidding and awareness of the charitable cause, the bull sold for $4500 to the Cameron family of Wainui Station, on the northern side of the Waitaki River. . . 

Annual tackles food sustainability – Hugh Stringleman:

Massey University’s second Land and Food Annual asks Can New Zealand Feed the World Sustainably?

Its editor Professor Claire Massey and some contributors say we can’t, for a variety of reasons based on perceived lack of sustainability in farming practices, especially water quality.

However, by the end of the book there are enough wise words to re-address the proposition and answer yes instead of no. . . 

What Next? Futurists can take their cricket meat – I’m milking cows until I’m 130 – Lyn Webster:

I watched the ‘What Next’ TV programme with Nigel Latta, John Campbell and a team of ‘futurists’. They were making calls on how life in New Zealand will look in 2037.

I have never felt so happy that I will be dead or close to it by then.

They foresaw a world where jobs as we know them will be taken over by robots. We will all be whizzing around skyping each other from driverless cars and off to a ‘cricket’ (insect) restaurant to eat our daily protein.

Currently, I am driving around in a 1993 Honda Ascot which failed its warrant because of the horn. Now I can’t register it because it’s so old that getting the horn fixed has turned into a big drama. . . 

Planning, returns and looming stresses make feeding 9 billion people a challenge – Ryan O’Sullivan:

 I was fortunate to be part of a relatively small group of eight Nuffield scholars, of diverse farming backgrounds, who visited countries on the Brazil Global Focus Program (GFP).

Countries visited were well developed or mostly developed in terms of their economies and agricultural industries and included Brazil, Mexico, United States, Ireland, France and New Zealand.

One of the key benefits I believe the GFP offers is the context it gives of the global agri-food business and therefore the perspective around New Zealand as a producer and marketer.  As one large scale US milk producer put it “New Zealand is small and cute” – which is pretty hard to argue with.  . . 

It’s time to rethink debate around water quality and weed out the emotion – Alan Wills:

Anyone with an opinion or agenda about water quality has received plenty of media play of late.

We regularly hear about “dirty dairying”, “industrial dairy farming” and just the other day I heard someone on breakfast television talking about “rivers of milk.”

There are no rivers of milk.

Some of the debate is constructive but much of it is narrowly focused, emotional and politically driven. There seems to be no appreciation of the bigger picture. . . 


Puckering up is life preserving

May 15, 2017

From Barking Up the Wrong Tree:

. . . A ten-year psychology study undertaken in Germany during the 1980s found that men who kissed their wives before leaving for work lived, on average, five years longer, earning 20 to 30 percent more than peers who left without a peck good-bye. The researchers also reported that not kissing one’s wife before leaving in the morning increased the possibility of a car accident by 50 percent. Psychologists do not believe it’s the kiss itself that accounts for the difference but rather that kissers were likely to begin the day with a positive attitude, leading to a healthier lifestyle. . . 

There you have it: permission granted to pucker up each morning, it might extend or even save your life.


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