Rural round-up

February 10, 2014

Staff vital part of dairy farm –  Sally Rae:

At Willowview Pastures in North Otago, staff are considered an integral part of the business.

Owners Geoff and Katrina Taylor run the dairy farm on the lower Waitaki Plains near Waitaki Bridge.

Employees were given responsibility for particular on-farm tasks, described by Mr Taylor as their on-farm ”niche”, but still kept up with what was happening farm-wide. . .

Homeopathy and farming; let’s do better, media – Grant Jacobs:

Today Fairfax NZ News published at Stuff.co.nz an article titled, Homeopathy key for dairy farming couple. Unsurprisingly this has been spread to other sites, including pro-homeopathy sites.

Unlike many (most?) articles at Stuff, no means of commenting on this article are available.

Let’s quickly look at key problems in this story.

We might use as inspiration the TED slogan, “ideas worth sharing”, altering it to fit our purposes “information worth sharing”, considering ‘information’ and ‘news’ to be synonymous.

It carries with it a catch: if the information isn’t sound, it’s not worth sharing – not worthy of a place in a newspaper or news website. . .

Welsh shearers learn by competing in NZ – Helena de Reus:

Competing in New Zealand is a chance for Welsh shearers to learn from the best.

Welsh shearing team manager John Davies is touring the country with shearers Gareth Daniel and Richard Jones to contest the four-test Elders Primary Wool series between New Zealand and Wales. The series reached Balclutha at the weekend.

”New Zealand have the best sheep shearers in the world, so it’s good to learn from them and compete against the best.” . . .

Wool titles go far and wide:

Young shearers and woolhandlers fought for three titles at the Otago Shearing and New Zealand Woolhandling Championships in Balclutha yesterday.

The three winners of yesterday’s competition once again hailed from outside Otago, with Erica Reti (Gore) winning the New Zealand junior woolhandler title, Carlton Aranui (Raupunga, Hawkes Bay) winning the Otago junior shearing, and Dylan McGruddy (Masterton) taking the intermediate shearing title.

Two South Island woolhandling circuit titles were also awarded, with Liv Gardner (Southland) winning the junior section and Juliette Lyon (Alexandra) taking the senior. . .

Hort NZ to lobby on labelling:

The national horticulture body says it will continue to keep a close watch on moves by Australian supermarkets to remove New Zealand food products from their shelves, even though nothing has come from political talks on the issue.

The two big supermarket chains in Australia, Coles and Woolworths, are backing the Buy Australian campaign and as part of that, say they’ll stop stocking New Zealand products in their house brands.

Prime Minister John Key raised the issue at a meeting with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott last week, but was told it was a commercial decision for the supermarkets and did not breach the Closer Economic Relations (CER) free trade agreement between the two countries. . .

Drought roadshow starts:

Farmers in Hawke’s Bay, East Coast and Bay of Plenty – areas still recovering from last year’s drought – will attend a roadshow this week to find out how they can drought-proof their farms.

They’ll hear from Marlborough farmer Doug Avery, who’s been inspiring farmers around the country with the story of how he and his family rescued their farm from collapse after a series of droughts in the 1990s. . .

 


Buy local here but not there

February 7, 2014

The chief executive of one of Australia’s big supermarket chains told an agribusiness dinner in Melbourne about its strategy to buy local produce.

It was, he said, a response to customer demand for Australian goods.

The supermarket was also going to go direct to producers, eschewing buyers in between.

It would, he said, be good for customers and producers.

The New Zealanders in the audience saw the danger in this and even the Australians weren’t entirely convinced of the scheme’s merits.

They liked the idea that they wouldn’t be competing with overseas producers but they’d seen how hard dairy farmers had been squeezed by milk wars.

Many of them were exporters and they recognised the risk, and hypocrisy, in supporting buy local at home when they would be wanting customers in other markets to do the opposite.

The Australian-made strategy is now hitting New Zealand producers as supermarkets stop buying are fresh and processed food.

New Zealand products are being stripped off supermarket shelves across the Tasman because of the aggressive Buy Australia campaign, says an organisation promoting local goods.

Buy NZ Made executive Scott Wilson says big Australian supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths are “systematically removing New Zealand-produced goods from their house brand labels simply for being non-Australian”.

Mr Wilson says frozen foods, cheese and fresh vegetables are among products affected.

“We have no intention of taking a protectionist stance by suggesting people avoid products that aren’t New Zealand made,” he said.

New Zealand supermarkets aren’t copying the Australian strategy – and given one is Australian-owned, it’s unlikely to. But there’s a very fine line between saying buy Kiwi-made and don’t buy imported goods.

. . . Prime Minister John Key addressed the issue today, which he says is against the spirit of trade relations with New Zealand.

“Even if it’s legally not [a breach of CER], it’s arguably a breach of the spirit of CER, and we’re going to be raising that with Tony Abbott,” says Mr Key.

“The whole spirit of CER is an integrated Australasian market, and we feel that the big companies in Australia should actually observe that. We can always retaliate but their market’s five or six times bigger than ours, so that doesn’t help us much.” . . .

Labour is huffing and puffing about the issue, but what would they do if Tony Abbott tried to tell supermarkets here what to do?

It is a contravention of the spirit of CER which has created a free market between Australia and New Zealand.

But removing tariffs is a government decision, it doesn’t impose requirements on businesses to buy imported goods or stop them only buying local produce.

New Zealand producers could organise a boycott of Australian-owned supermarkets here but there’s little else they can do.

The Aussie supermarkets are trying to sell the scheme as being better for customers and producers but it won’t be in the long run.

Australian customers will have less choice when they shop and that could eventually lead to having to pay higher prices.

They will  also less certainty of supply when, for example droughts or floods, affect production. When supply drops, prices rise.

Producers will find themselves locked into contracts as the weaker partner which will eventually lead to them having to accept lower prices.

There are good things to be said for buying local, and I do it when I can if there’s little difference in price and quality.

But that’s my choice and the Aussie supermarkets are taking that choice away from their customers.

There are also many good things to be said for free trade, for customers and producers who will be the losers if the supermarkets continue to swim against that tide for their own ends.

There is a lesson in this for the Buy NZ Made campaign too – it’s arrant hypocrisy to say buy local here but not there.


30 years of CER

February 10, 2013

CER, the Closer Economic Relationship between Australia and New Zealand is 30 years old and both countries are better for it.

Prime Minister John Key says Australia and New Zealand are two of the most integrated economies in the world and this weekend’s talks with Prime Minister Gillard have only strengthened that bond.

The two Prime Ministers are in Queenstown for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ meeting.

Prime Minister Key and Prime Minister Gillard acknowledged the 30th Anniversary of the Australia/New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Agreement (CER). 

CER is widely acknowledged as the vehicle which has seen successive governments on both sides of the Tasman progressively remove barriers to trade in goods, services and investment between the two countries. . .

CER in effect gives us a domestic market of 20 million extra people instead of just our own 4 million.

The population advantage isn’t so great for Australians but the open borders make travel easier and give businesses on both sides of the Tasman more opportunities. Consumers benefit from more choice and often lower prices and/or higher quality.

The relationship has had the odd strain. An example of this was the non-trade barriers Australia tried to impose on New Zealand apples.

However, the World Trade Organisation ruled in our favour – and Ms Gillard had to swallow that when she lost a bet with our Prime Minister:

Ms Gillard made a bet with New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key on the outcome of the 2010 Rugby World Cup – a deal that would see the leader of whichever country lost eat an apple from the winning country.

Luckily for Mr Key, the All Blacks reigned supreme.

The bet was symbolic of the end of Australia’s 90-year ban on New Zealand apples, following a World Trade Organisation ruling that it must allow imports.

Ms Gillard finally honoured the bet during dinner with Mr Key, his wife Bronagh, and Ms Gillard’s partner Tim Mathieson in Queenstown, New Zealand, on Friday night.

“I’d have to say, of course, Australian apples are better,” Ms Gillard said.

She added that Mr Key had tried to serve her New Zealand apples on multiple occasions. . .

She would say that about the apples, but I don’t think all the consumers in her country would agree with her.


Unions oppose freer trade

October 31, 2012

Unions on both sides of the Tasman are opposing freer trade between Australia and New Zealand.

. . . Approaching the 30th anniversary of Closer Economic Relations (CER), the CTU has teamed up with its counterpart the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to fight some of the key recommendations made by productivity commissions of both countries.

The unions have written to the productivity commissions rejecting a proposal to reduce all remaining tariffs to five per cent, unless there is a public inquiry into the impact on jobs. . .

This is a blinkered approach which would hold back both countries.

Tariffs are a subsidy for businesses paid for by consumers.

They are anti-competitive, protect inefficient businesses and workers, restrict choice for customers and inflate prices.

Australia is our biggest trading partner. We have far more to gain from access to a market about five times bigger than ours than we have to lose.

But the gains aren’t all one-way.

The freer trade is across the Tasman the better it is for both countries.

 


March 28 in history

March 28, 2010

On March 28:

37  Roman Emperor Caligula accepted the titles of the Principate, entitled to him by the Senate.

 

193 – Roman Emperor Pertinax was assassinated by Praetorian Guards, who then soldthe throne in an auction to Didius Julianus.

Pertinax.jpgDidiusJulianus.jpg

364 Roman Emperor Valentinian I appointed his brother Flavius Valens co-emperor.

 

845 Paris was sacked by Viking raiders, probably under Ragnar Lodbrok, who collected a huge ransom in exchange for leaving.

 

1472 Fra Bartolommeo, Italian artist, was born.

1515 Saint Teresa of Avila, Spanish Carmelite nun, was born.
1750 Francisco de Miranda, Venezuelan revolutionary, was born.
Francisco de Miranda by Tovar y Tovar.jpg
1760 Thomas Clarkson, British abolitionist, was born.

1795 Partitions of Poland: The Duchy of Courland, a northern fief of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, ceased to exist and became part of Imperial Russia.

1802 Heinrich Wilhelm Matthäus Olbers discovered 2 Pallas, the second asteroid known to man.

PallasHST2007.jpg 

1809 Peninsular War: France defeated Spain in the Battle of Medelin.

1834 The United States Senate censuresd President Andrew Jackson for his actions in de-funding the Second Bank of the United States.

1860 First Taranaki War: The Battle of Waireka started.

 

1862 Battle of Glorieta Pass – Union forces stopped the Confederate invasion of New Mexico territory.

The-Battle-of-Glorieta-Pass.jpg

1871 The Paris Commune was formally establised.

 

1889 The Yngsjö murder  took place in Sweden – Anna Månsdotter and her son were arrested.

1910 Henri Fabre was the first person to fly a seaplane, the Fabre Hydravion, after taking off from a water runway near Martigues, France.

1920 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak in the Great Lakes region and Deep South states.

1921 Dirk Bogarde, English actor, was born.

1930 Constantinople and Angora changed their names to Istanbul and Ankara.

1935 Michael Parkinson, English broadcaster, was born.

Parkinson (ITV) title card.jpg

1936 Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian author and politician, was born.

1939 Spanish Civil War: Generalissimo Francisco Franco conquered Madrid.

1941 Battle of Cape Matapan –  British Admiral Andrew Browne Cunningham led the Royal Navy in the destruction of three major Italian heavy cruisers and two destroyers.

 

1942 Neil Kinnock, British politician, was born.

 

1946 The United States State Department released the Acheson-Lilienthal Report, outlining a plan for the international control of nuclear power.

1946 Alejandro Toledo, former President of Peru, was born,

 1948 John Evan, British musician (Jethro Tull), was born.

1948 – Milan Williams, American musician (The Commodores) was born.

1948 – Matthew Corbett, English retired actor, was born.

1955  New Zealand cricket experienced its darkest day, when its 11 batsman could muster only 26 runs against England at Eden Park.

NZ cricketers skittled for 26

1968 Brazilian high school student Edson Luís de Lima Souto was shot by the police in a protest for cheaper meals at a restaurant for low-income students.

1969 Greek poet and Nobel Prize laureate Giorgos Seferis made a statement on the BBC World Service opposing the junta in Greece.

1969 – The McGill français movement protest –  the second largest protest in Montreal’s history with 10,000 trade unionists, leftist activists, CEGEP some McGill students at McGill’s Roddick Gates.

1978 The US Supreme Court handed down a 5-3 decision in Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, a controversial case involving involuntary sterilization and judicial immunity.

1979 Operators failed to recognise that a relief valve was stuck open in the primary coolant system of Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 nuclear reactor following an unexpected shutdown. As a result, enough coolant drained out of the system to allow the core to overheat and partially melt down.

The Three Mile Island NPP on Three Mile Island, circa 1979

1979 – The British House of Commons passed a vote of no confidence against James Callaghan’s government, precipitating a general election.

 

1983 The Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA), better known as CER, was signed. It was New Zealand’s first comprehensive bilateral trade agreement – and one of the first agreements of this kind in the world.

Signing of CER strengthens Tasman trade ties

 1990 President George H. W. Bush posthumously awarded Jesse Owens the Congressional Gold Medal.

Jesse Owens1.jpg

1994  Zulus and African National Congress supporters battled in central Johannesburg, resulting in 18 deaths.

1994  12-year-old schoolgirl Nikki Conroy was stabbed to death at Hall Garth School in Middlesbrough after a man walked into her maths classroom and attacked pupils with a knife.

2000 A Murray County, Georgia, school bus was hit by a CSX freight train which killed three children.

2003  In a “friendly fire” incident, two A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft from the Idaho Air National Guard’s 190th Fighter Squadron attacked British tanks participating in the  invasion of Iraq, killing British soldier Matty Hull.

MattyHull.jpg

2005  The 2005 Sumatran earthquake rocked Indonesia, and at magnitude 8.7 was the second strongest earthquake since 1965.

2006 At least 1 million union members, students and unemployed took to the streets in France in protest at the government’s proposed First Employment Contract law.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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