Rural round-up

20/09/2015

Shifting the Kiwi ‘can-do attitude’ to ‘can-do safely’:

Dairy Women’s Network is shifting its members’ Kiwi can-do attitude to a ‘can-do safely’ attitude with its new Dairy Modules titled ‘Step up to Safety’ being offered from late October.

The Step up to Safety workshops are run by DWN members who are experienced in the field of Health and Safety and are supported by expert organisations Worksafe NZ and Hazardco.

“The most important thing participants will get out of these free workshops is a 90-day Health and Safety action plan. They will leave having made a start with their Health and Safety system or some actions identified to progress to next steps,” said project manager and Farmer Wellness specialist Lynda Clark.

She said the challenge is that some farmers may have fallen into complacency and think they have been let off the hook following the Government’s recent Health and Safety legislation announcements. . . 

Remote-controlled tree-felling reduces hazards – Annabelle Tukia:

New Zealand’s first remote-control forest-harvesting machine is being put to work in Nelson.

It’s hoped the technology will reduce the safety hazards associated with the forestry industry.

Tony Irvine is still getting to grips with his new machine. He’s normally in the cab of a 40-tonne self-leveller cutting down trees on the steep slope, but this week he’s started trialling a remote-control operation.

“It’s a lot better in this machine,” says Mr Irvine. “You feel a lot safer.” . . 

Mya leads city kids to animals

While the girl has been taken out of the country, at least for part of the day, the country remains firmly with Mya Taft because she brings a piece of it to her city classmates.

The schoolgirl from Ngakuru near Rotorua was well into her first school year at St Mary’s Catholic School in Rotorua as a year 6 student when she realised how much she would miss Ag Day, such a big part of the calendar at her previous school, Ngakuru Primary.

Mad keen on animals, a devoted calf-rearer and future vet, Mya decided to take matters into her own hands and arrange an Ag Day for her city classmates. . . 

Fonterra director John Monaghan pans dairy doomsayers, defends cooperative’s debt level – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group director John Monaghan said critics who claim dairy is doomed, and the economy with it, show a lack of understanding of the market and the structure of the dairy company.

Monaghan told the New Zealand Shareholders Association conference at the weekend that the news was full of gloomy predictions with falling global dairy prices that not only was it the end of the golden weather for dairy farmers, but also the end of the industry.

“Farmers are worried, anyone would be when their incomes are halved in the course of a year,” he said. “The US, Europe and Australia will have to consolidate and learn to live without subsidies but we’ve already done the hard yards and the cooperative is in the best position to weather the storm and come out the other side. Dairy is not doomed or dead.” . . 

Early days but PGP trial farm excited by potential:

The opportunity to precisely manage a fertiliser analysis and application programme, on highly variable hill country, has East Otago farmer Rob Lawson excited.

The trial is a part of Ravensdown’s Pioneering to Precision Primary Growth Partnership programme in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries and supported by Massey University and AgResearch.

Rob, who farms with his brother Willie, father Jim and their families on their steep-to-rolling hill country, is also looking forward to the reduced workload that the programme is expected to make possible. They run about 10,000 stock units on a ratio of about 70% sheep and the remainder cattle on their 2,330 ha property just south of Waikouaiti.

The programme aims to improve the use, and application, of fertiliser, and Rob has welcomed the opportunity for his farm to be a part of it. . . 

Sprout looks for help to grow:

National agritech business accelerator Sprout is looking for a startup with the potential to be New Zealand’s next global agritech superstar.

Sprout is searching the country for eight budding entrepreneurs with new agritech businesses for a new development programme.

Sprout Programme Manager James Bell-Booth said the chosen eight would receive a cash injection of $20,000 and be mentored by world-class business and technical experts.

“One of the things we are looking to equip is the next generation of agri-entrepreneurs,” he said. . . 

Unmanned Helicopters to Revolutionise Agricultural Industry:

Yamaha Sky Division New Zealand represents the future of the agricultural industry. The introduction of the Yamaha RMAX unmanned helicopters will enable property owners, licenced operators and contractors to maintain the land and crops remotely, from the air, and without the hassles that come with more traditional farming methods.

Weighing in at 99kg and at a total length of 3.63m and a height of 1.08m, each helicopter has a load capacity of 28kgs and runs on a 2 stroke, horizontally opposed 2-cylinder engine. The newest member of the Yamaha Sky Division is the ultimate piece of farm machinery for the 21st century.

The versatility of this new technology means that operators can spray weeds, crops, or spread seed in a more cost effective and accurate manner. . . 

Corrections recognises the support of Wairarapa REAP:

Wairarapa REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme) was this week recognised for its partnership with Corrections in helping community-based offenders increase their literacy levels and employment and education prospects.

Corrections Deputy Chief Executive Christine Stevenson presented Wairarapa REAP Director Peter McNeur with a community work partnership award at Masterton Community Corrections on Tuesday.

Corrections Service Manager Mel Morris said the award recognises the contribution Wairarapa REAP has made to community-based offenders’ lives.

“Corrections values the commitment of our community work partners like Wairarapa REAP that allows offenders to learn new skills and behaviours, and provide role models that make a positive difference to others.

“Wairarapa REAP has done a tremendous job in providing offenders with the tools that could turn their lives around,” she said. . . 

Why Getting Nepal the Right Seeds After the Earthquakes Matters – Kelsey Nowakowski:

When two major earthquakes hit Nepal this past spring, it devastated the country’s agricultural sector. Cultivated terraces were washed away by landslides and covered in rubble. But farmers lost more than just their crops, cattle, and homes (see Nepal Earthquake Strikes One of Earth’s Most Quake-Prone Areas). Gone, too, were the seeds they had uniquely adapted to their land over the course of decades.

Farming communities in central Nepal’s mountainous region were some of the hardest hit areas in the country. Seeds, tools, food stocks, and buildings were destroyed. In the six most-affected districts, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that about 60 percent of food and seed stocks were destroyed in farming households. . . 

 


Right to fresh air and safety

04/07/2013

The government’s ban on smoking in prisons has been ruled unlawful.

Someone with a better understanding of the law than I have might be able to explain why.

I’d have thought the right for other prisoners and staff to breathe fresh air trumped that of smokers’. The danger to prisoners and staff from fire would be another justification for the ban.

The legal ruling appears to be academic anyway.

Corrections chief Ray Smith says prisons will remain smoke-free.

Law changes that came into force in March make it clear that tobacco products are unauthorised items and therefore it is against the law to bring them into a prison. They also make it an offence to smoke tobacco or any other substance inside a prison.

These amendments also address the issue of prisoners challenging penalties handed out to them for possessing tobacco products ruling out compensation for them.

Implementing smokefree prisons was always going to be a serious challenge and it has gone incredibly well and without major incident. We are the first national prison service to achieve this.

Since the introduction of smokefree prisons on 1 July 2011 our prison staff report a better and healthier work environment for both themselves and prisoners. Independent research has confirmed that air quality in our prisons has improved, and there has been a significant drop in fires.

For many sentenced and remand prisoners giving up smoking has led to a positive improvement in their lives, with better health and savings in money spent on tobacco products.

The ban was preceded by an extensive 12 month campaign led by Corrections and supported by the Ministry of Health and the Quit Group to encourage smoking cessation for prisoners and staff. This gave prisoners and staff the opportunity, support and motivation to attempt to stop or reduce their smoking prior to 1 July 2011. Many took up this opportunity and gave up smoking early.

Since July 2011 prisoners have been able to spend more money on phone cards and increase their contact with family and friends. They have also been engaging more with staff and available activities.

We have been able to provide a healthier, safer environment for staff and prisoners.

Better work environment, improved air quality, fewer fires, more money to spend on phone cards and a healthier, safer environment are all very good reasons for the ban to continue.


No fires without smokes

18/08/2011

Opposition MPs and unions predicted dire consequences when the ban on smoking in prisons was instituted.

What’s actually happened?  Corrections Minister Judith Collins reported there’s been almost no fires since the smokes were banned:

The ban has been in place since 1 July. It followed 12 months of careful planning and preparation by Corrections staff, supported by the Ministry of Health and Quitline.

“I would like to congratulate the Corrections Department for the successful implementation of this policy,” Ms Collins said.

“There has been a noticeable improvement in air quality within our prisons since the ban came into effect.

“Since 1 July there has also been a significant reduction in the number of fire and arson-related incidents. There were only four such incidents in July and one so far in August compared to 18 incidents in the month prior to the ban.

“The result is that our prisons are much safer and healthier places for Corrections staff.”

Labour copped a lot of flack for banning smoking in bars because of the way they did it. Instead of promoting it as an OSH issue for staff – with which it would have been very difficult to argue – they took the nanny-state we-know-what’s-good-for-you approach.

By contrast, the smoking ban in prisons was instituted as a workplace health and safety measure, a by-product of that will be better health for prisoners.


Is smoking a right?

29/06/2010

When Labour was trying to sell legislation making bars smoke-free it made the mistake of promoting it as a measure to reduce smoking.

I agreed it would and had no argument with the policy. But it would have been much easier to sell, and been less likely to be criticised as a nanny-state measure if it had been promoted as protecting the health of staff.

That’s what Corrections Minister Judith Collins has done with the plan to ban smoking by prisoners.

While tobacco is legal, people have the right to smoke it but that right is trumped by other people’s right to breathe smoke-free air.

I’ve never been tempted to try smoking and can’t understand why anyone would, but I do understand that once you have and are addicted it is very difficult to stop.

But anyone addicted to alcohol or illegal drugs has to go cold-turkey if they go to prison. Would it be any harder for smokers than it is for other addicts?

There’s a wide range of opinions on the merits of this policy. At one end of the spectrum it’s been described as an abuse of human rights, at the other people are saying prison isn’t supposed to be fun and if a smoking ban makes it harder that’s a good thing.

Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon wasn’t opposed to the idea although he did raise concerns about safety if prisoners got angry.

The biggest selling point for me is that it might reduce the rate of imprisonment:

A smoking ban at a prison on Britain’s Isle of Man had become a deterrent for reforming criminals who couldn’t face prison terms without smoking, Mr Semenoff said.

The drop in crime has been reported by British media, including the Telegraph, which said the crime rate on the island had fallen by 14 per cent and burglary by 35 per cent.

“It’s a standing joke now that when we nick someone we remind them that if they get sent down they’ll have to come off the cigarettes – their faces are a picture,” a police source told the newspaper in December.

“It’s like they are more scared about giving up smoking than a criminal record and some time in the nick.”

If not being able to smoke in prison deterred people from committing crimes which would send them there  it’s worth a try because nothing else seems to be working.


You’ve gotta know when to hold up . . .

19/02/2009

. . . know when to fold up, know when to walk away . . .

dairy-1

Garrick Tremain’s cartoon, printed several days ago, shows that then Otago District Health Board chair Richard Thomson didn’t heed the words of the Gambler.

He didn’t accept the invitation to walk so Health Minister Tony Ryall relieved him of his chairmanship.

The ODT doesn’t agree  with that decision:

While Mr Ryall’s demands for accountability are understandable, he picked the wrong scapegoat.

. . . It was other executives and senior staff who, surely, carried far more responsibility, particularly because warnings about Swann were not passed on.

But the Minister of Health has no control over any of these people so is it possible he’s using  one of few weapons in his armoury – the right to appoint, and disappoint, the chair – to encourage the board to take further action which he can’t?

The Minister of Corrections Judith Collins is similarly constrained over the continuing employment of Barry Matthews in spite of a damning report from the auditor general about the department he heads. He is answerable to her but she is not his employer so it is up to the State Services Commission to sack him, or not.

The Prime Minister supports his minister  :

“The New Zealand public is entitled to expect accountability, and quite frankly, that report made such damning reading they can have no confidence at this point that the department is following an approved set of procedures that they promised they would follow.”

The operative word is accountability.

It’s not blame or responsibility, and anyone with the ability to chair a board or lead a government department ought to understand that, and to know that it is better to fold up and walk with dignity than to wait to have your cards taken from you.


%d bloggers like this: