Confessions of a fair weather fan

July 11, 2019

Confession time: I have  been paying only cursory attention to Cricket World Cup matches.

In fact most of my information had come from Cactus Kate who is following the Blackcaps.

Until last night

Then, having tuned in when the Blackcaps had taken three very quick wickets I was hooked.

What a match.

 

 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2015

China’s illegal meat trade hugs – Alan Williams:

As much as 80% of China’s meat imports could be taken in through the so-called Grey Market, dwarfing the level of New Zealand shipments sent in through highly-regulated official channels.

Most of the grey trade is beef and about half of it is from India, shipped in via Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia, international reports indicate.

The illegal trading has come to light again after about US$1 billion of food, including meat, was seized by Chinese authorities and 100 people were arrested.  . .

Kumera are transgenic – Grant Jacobs:

Kumara have a long history in New Zealand, being brought here by early Polynesian settlers and are well-known to Kiwis.[1]

They’re a crop that has been cultivated in South America for about 8,000 years that have been spread to other parts of the world.[1]

Research just published show that they are transgenic plants, plants with genes from other species in them. . .

Farm Prices Steady but Sales Volumes Falling in March Quarter:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 47 fewer farm sales (-10%) for the three months ended March 2015 than for the three months ended March 2014. Overall, there were 425 farm sales in the three months to end of March 2015, compared to 464 farm sales for the three months ended February 2015 (-8.4%) and 472 farm sales for the three months to the end of March 2014. 1,802 farms were sold in the year to February 2015, 2.2% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2014. . .

Mint bull to go down in history on hall of fame:

An elite artificial breeding bull that has delivered a significant contribution to dairy farms nationwide will forever be recognised as one of the very best after being inducted into LIC’s prestigious Hall of Fame last week.

Fairmont Mint-Edition, a Holstein-Friesian sire bred by Barry and Linda Old of Morrinsville, is the 53rd animal to be recognised on the Hall of Fame in more than 50 years of artificial breeding in New Zealand. . .

 

Dairy Awards Finals Judges Clock up the Km’s:

Final judging in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is underway, with judges set to travel thousands of kilometres and the length and breadth of the country to select the winners.

“There’s a lot at stake for the finalists as success in any one of the competitions can open up considerable opportunities and be career and life-changing,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“It’s also a time when both the finalists and judges gain from participating in the awards – through learning about their farm business, defining goals and identifying opportunities to make improvements.” . . .

New general manager appointed at DairyNZ:

DairyNZ has appointed Andrew Reid as its new general manager of extension, the role that leads the industry body’s regional consulting officer teams.

Andrew will start in the position on 4 May.

Andrew was previously general manager of sales with Ballance Agri-Nutrients, leading a field team of 120. . .

 

 

Last Grand Finalist Confirmed in ANZ Young Farmer Contest:

Douglas McGregor is the seventh Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old dairy farmer took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Dargaville on Saturday 18 April after a very tense and closely scored competition.

Mr McGregor went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
This was Douglas’s second attempt at Regional Final level of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest. Douglas is a very active member of the Bay of Island Young Farmers Club and is the Northern Region Vice-Chairman. Douglas was competing against 26 year old Anna Simpson, who doubles as the winner’s partner. . .

 

Food safety reaches new heights as AsureQuality moves its IT to the cloud

Global food safety and biosecurity services company AsureQuality has completed a successful move to the TechnologyOne Cloud, reducing IT risk and positioning itself for future growth.

New Zealand-based AsureQuality is owned by the New Zealand Government and was already using TechnologyOne’s enterprise software in an on-premise environment.

TechnologyOne Executive Chairman Adrian Di Marco said TechnologyOne’s Software as a Service (SaaS) solution had empowered AsureQuality to prepare for a cloud-first, mobile-first world. AsureQuality is also using TechnologyOne’s new Ci Anywhere platform, which allows the firm’s employees to access their information anywhere, anytime using smart mobile devices. . .

 


It’s a draw!

January 25, 2014

Who said cricket was boring?

10.15pm – India draw to keep series alive

Ravindra Jadeja hits a single on the last ball to draw level with the Black Caps and keep the series alive with two matches left to play.

New Zealand had some bad luck in the final overs but India refused to lie down and fought back to achieve what seemed impossible.

Thrilling finish to a fantastic game. . .

Just wondering if any New Zealander thought it might have been cricket to bowl the last ball underarm?


Will the good prices last?

August 22, 2011

Last season was the best in a generation for farmers, but there is reasonable confidence that bust won’t follow the boom.

Prices aren’t likely to stay at this year’s highs but Alliance Group expects protein markets to stay strong:

Speaking in Oamaru during the company’s annual series of shareholder/supplier meetings, chief executive Grant Cuff said it was expected 2012 prices to shareholders would remain high for lamb, sheep, cattle and deer.

Indicative pricing was that lamb would remain at $100 plus and sheep at $85 plus, with cattle prices down slightly.

Sheep and beef numbers were stable worldwide, consumption of meat was increasing and there were growing sales in the East.

Uncertainty in Britain, Europe and the USA is concerning but our two most important trading partners, Australia and China, are more stronger.

A free trade deal with India would provide more opportunities.

One of the benefits of new markets in Asia is that they are interested in the cheaper cuts which aren’t popular in our traditional markets.


They’re not drinking our milk there

July 30, 2010

We like to think our milk is welcome anywhere.

Sadly it’s not:

Protests in India organised by Hindu nationalist political party Shiv Sena against imports of New Zealand dairy products have turned ugly with party workers draining thousands of litres of milk at Pune, 100km south of Mumbai.

The attack on a local milk tanker – and on five other tankers earlier in the week – followed threats to burn a ship carrying imports of milk from New Zealand.

Protesting the National Dairy Development Board’s (NDDB) decision to import 30,000 tonnes of milk powder and 15,000 tonne of ghee from New Zealand, the party members – known as “Shiv Sainiks” yesterday stopped a local milk tanker and drained the milk, NDTV reported. . .

Farmers have asked government officials to scrap the imports and have threatened to set on fire a ship due to arrive in Mumbai on August 18 with the New Zealand dairy products.

A Shiv Sena official in Satara, Viraj Kharade, toldNDTV: “We will spill more milk, we will stone milk tankers and further intensify our agitation as we want the government to focus their attention on this issue.”

We have begun looking to Asia for new markets for our products.

There are large populations with an increasing number of people earning more who are wanting to buy protein.

But this story shows that there may be large hurdles between our protein and the people who want to buy it.


July 8 in history

July 8, 2009

On July 8:

1497 Vasco de Gama set sail on the first European direct voyage to India. 1889

 

1889 The first issue of the Wall Street Journal was published.

1933 English comedian and actor Marty Feldman was born.


June 26 in history

June 26, 2009

On June 26:

1284 the Pied Piper led 130 children from Hamelin.

The oldest picture of Pied Piper (watercolour) copied from the glass window of Marktkirche in Hamelin by Freiherr Augustin von Moersperg.

1892 US author Pearl S Buck, who won the Nobel Prize for literature,  was born.

1945 The United Nations Charter was signed.

1975 Indira Gandhi established emergency rule in India.

Indira Gandhi


Fonterra #1 world processor

June 25, 2009

The International Farm Comparison Network has judged Fonterra the number one milk processor in the world.

IFCN benchmarked 600 milk processors in more than 70 countries and found that the top 21 processors represent just 21% of world production.

Fonterra, at number 1, processes 2.7% of world production. It was followed by Dairy Farmers of America, Nestlé, Dean Foods and FrieslandCampina.

India produces 114.4 million tonnes of milk making it the top producer by volume. New Zealand is ninth with 17.3 million tonnes.

The report says the dairy crisis is global, affecting 150 million dairy farming families.

The world price for milk reached $US20 (15 Euro) for 100 kilos in 2008 but IFCN found only 10% of the world’s milk can be produced at that price.

It said that price isn’t sustainable unless the market is distorted by policy and that dairy policy will be the main driver for the future milk price level.

I’m not sure what they mean by policy but I suspect it means political interference resulting in subsidies and/or quota.

The NBR has Fonterra’s reaction to the report.


BBC World Food Price Index

June 2, 2009

The BBC World Service has been tracking food prices in seven major cities to create a World Food Price Index.

Reporters started making a weekly record of five basic food items in July last year. The basket of goods was normalised to 100 and subsequent changes in prices are measured against that to show rises and falls.

Bread, milk, potatoes, eggs and beef were the products chosen in Brussels, Buenos Aires, Moscow and Washington DC; onions, rice, ground flour, lentils and milk were priced in Delhi; in Jakarta it was eggs, rice, sugar, flour and cooking oil; and in Nairobi it was green maize, milk, maize flour, bread and tomatoes.

Some interesting points in the analysis:

In Brussels prices were fairly flat. The price of milk fell because of a price war between supermarkets but the change wasn’t as great as the fall in price paid to dairy farmers.

In Argentina the price of potatoes, bread and beef were steady but the latter was due to export taxes which resulted in farmers reducing production of beef in favour of better paying produce and the country may have to import meat.

Inflation has hit food prices in India where the price of wheat, rice and other grains has risen by 12%,  fruit and vegetables gained 8.5% and the price of milk rose 6.4% and the price of sugar nearly tripled.

Religious factors influence food prices in Jakarta with a rise in the price of chicken and meat at the end of the Muslim month of fasting. The price of rice has fallen and the government it delaying exports because of this.

Russian food prices increased nearly 10 times more than prices in the European Union.

The biggest rises in the four-month period were seen in prices for fruit – which spiked 17% in Russia while rising only 1.9% in Europe – and sugar, jam, honey, chocolate and confectionery goods, which jumped by 12.7% and only 1.5% in Europe.

Prices for vegetables rose by 11.6%, while fish and seafood prices were up by 9.4%.

 Russia imports nearly a third of its food and the low value of its currency is one of the reasons prices have increased.

Food shortages because of drought and political violence contributed to food shortages in Kenya.

In the USA food prices went up by 5.5% last year but falls in the price of meat and diary products are expected to result in a smaller increase this year.

World Service Average 18/05/09

Perspective

April 30, 2009

Drought or disease, which is worse?

The World health Organisation has increased its swine flu pandemic alert level to status five which is the second highest level.

Up to 159 people have died in Mexico and about 1300 more are being tested. In the United States, a boy, aged 22 months, has died in Texas while on a visit from Mexico.

Comparing disease with drought is comparing apples with bananas but to put the seriousness of  the swine flu outbreak so far into perspective, in India more than 1500 farmers have committed suicide after being driven into debt by crop failure.


Once is a mistake

March 31, 2009

In the days when rugby was just a game, All Black coach Charlie Saxton encouraged players to think for themselves and said he didn’t mind them making mistakes if they learned from them.

But he said while doing something wrong once was a mistake, failing to learn and repeating it was a cock-up and while he accepted mistakes, he hated cock-ups.

John Key is taking a similar line with his ministers:

Mr Key made it clear when he named his ministers that he wanted “outcomes, results and accountability”. Yesterday, he said if anyone in government “needed a bollocking” it would come from him.

And, unlike the previous Prime Minister who showed unusual tolerance when Winston Peters breached the Cabinet Manual, Key has warned his patience is limited.

It doesn’t matter that Richard Worth was paying for his trip to India himself, acting in a private capactiy and made no personal gain, there was a perceived conflict of interest because he’s a minister and he ought to have realised that.

However, it was a mistake rather than a cock-up and I’m pleased it’s been accepted as that by the Prime Minsiter because Worth has brought a long over due and welcome improvement to the relationship between LINZ and farmers as Minister of Lands.

The previous incumbent had neither understanding of nor sympathy for high country farmers. Worth has done more good in his four months as minister by working to heal the rift in the high country  than the former minister did in the whole of his term.


FTA with India hopeful

February 23, 2009

Opening of negotiations on a free trade agreement between India and New Zealand  is good news for primary producers and the wider economy.

Trade Minister Tim Groser  said we have yet to realise the full potential in our trade and economic relationship with India.

“We export coal, timber, wool, hides and skins to India, but relatively few of New Zealand’s traditional food exporters have been able to access the Indian market. 

“As well as working to improve the terms of access for our traditional agricultural sector, it is critical that we focus on emerging niche sectors in which New Zealand and Indian companies can collaborate. 

“India is a growing market for a range of New Zealand services and technology. Over 23,000 Indian tourists and 5,000 students came to New Zealand last year. India is also a major potential source of investment capital. 

Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson welcomed the announcement:

 “With $60 million of wool exported each year India represents a ‘green fields’ market for sheep meat.  Sheep meat is widely consumed and unaffected by religious dietary requirements where meat is consumed.

“Aside from being the second most populous nation on earth, English is the principal language of business and India shares a common legal as well as social bond with New Zealand.  They know New Zealand and a multilayered approach to exports, from high to low value goods, is within our grasp.

“Last year, the Wall Street Journal estimated there were some 100,000 millionaires in India with a massively expanding middle class estimated to be 300 million strong.  The prospect of an FTA means the sky really is the limit,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

Opening negotiaions is just a start and reaching agreement could take a couple of years  but improved access to a market where people are already familiar with lamb and mutton when the global sheep population would be very good news for farmers.


Religious minority victims of violence

October 18, 2008

TV3 reports  that people from a religious minority have been victims of violence in India.

Indian church leaders have said that Christians killed in recent clashes were “sacrificial lambs” targeted by hard-line Hindus seeking an advantage in upcoming national elections.

The All India Christian Council said the toll after nearly two months of sporadic violence has reached 59 dead and 50,000 displaced. Officials in the eastern state of Orissa, site of the worst violence, say 34 people have been killed.

The recent violence began after Hindu activists blamed Christians for the slaying of a Hindu leader killed in Orissa on August 23. Retaliatory attacks left scores dead, dozens of churches destroyed and thousands of people homeless, despite the government’s claim that Maoists killed the Hindu leader.

I’d have thought a religion which holds cows sacred might have a similar regard for people. But then, is there any greater hypocrisy than that which prompts people to use a creed that promotes the sanctity of life as an excuse for violence?


Standards more important than price

September 18, 2008

Medsafe is considering banning a commonly used antibiotic.

The United States Food and Drug Administration yesterday banned imports of two formulations of amoxicillin syrup and several other drugs made at two plants in India, owned by the company Ranbaxy, because of unresolved concerns from an audit in March. It has not banned sales of existing stocks in the US.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health’s chief adviser on public health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said this afternoon that it had begun the process to ban imports of the drugs. But it would not make a decision on whether to proceed with a ban until considering further information, such as the results of any more recent audits done by other countries’ medicines regulators.

There was no evidence that the drugs had caused any harm or were ineffective.

Would you wait for evidence before you opted not to use it? Given what’s been happening with the poisoned milk in China I wouldn’t.

And there is a bigger issue here – how safe is other food or medicine from these places?

There are huge opportunities in these rapidly developing and populous countries which include the ability to manufacture at a much lower cost than is possible here.

But that’s false economy if quality and safety can’t be guaranteed; and any health risk is too high a price to pay for cheaper food or medicine.

Update: The New Zealand Food Safety Authority  says small amounts of Chinese milk products have been imported recently but the risk of poisoning is miniscule.


Emotion beats facts with food

September 16, 2008

When Aim toothpaste moved its production to India I stopped buying it.

When I read in a newspaper that most of the garlic in our supermarkets came from China I detoured to an organic shop to get my supplies, on the assumption they’d be locally grown.

While chatting to the woman serving me I mentioned why I was there. She replied, “This probably comes from China too.”

Seeing the look on my face she sought to reassure me by saying it would be organic. The reassurance didn’t work because I don’t have strong feelings about the benefits of organic over whatever food that isn’t organic is called (because it can’t be inorganic).

But I do have very strong feelings about food safety and I’m not confident enough about standards in places like India and China to put their produce in my mouth if there’s an alternative.

I say feelings because this is primarily an emotional response not a rational one. I don’t have any facts about the companies which make the toothpaste and grow the garlic to back up my reservations, and I’ve never been to either country.

But it’s not facts that matter here it’s feelings and that should be worrying Fonterra because as Philippa Stephenson points out over at Dig ‘n’ Stir the news of the contaminated infant milk formula has hit the world headlines.

Fonterra said it did everything it could once it found out about the contamination. That will be cold comfort for the families whose babies died or are ill and it won’t wash with consumers who regardless of the facts might feel happier choosing another brand next time.


Grain Price Rises Pushes Food Prices Up

July 12, 2008

Good news for producers is bad news for consumers because rising international prices for grain will push domestic food prices up again.

Bread prices are predicted to rise 10c a loaf and pork and bacon prices $2 to $3 a kg.

Food producers face new grain contracts – $100 a tonne, or 30%, higher than last year.

Farmers say contracts for next season’s harvest, which are about to be signed, reflected those higher prices.

Pig and poultry producers say price rises are inevitable to cover higher feed costs.

Foodstuffs (South Island) chief executive Steve Anderson agrees, and warns costs will continue to increase across the board.

He could not quantify the size of any increase, saying that was up to suppliers, but he doubted there would be any price correction in the immediate future.

“We’re not planning on seeing a reduction in commodity prices in general.”

The price for meat and wool is also driven by the price of grain and that in turn is driven by the price of energy. The combined shortage of food and high fuel prices will push the price of all food up.

Grain prices were so volatile, milling wheat growers were not signing contracts at $500 a tonne, claiming the price was still $100 a tonne below the international price and higher-yielding feed wheat.

“It is a rising market. On a falling market, everyone would be signing,” Federated Farmers grains council chairman Ian Morten said.

Demand from dairy farmers had also driven up cereal prices. Growers have been encouraged to plant higher-yielding feed varieties instead of milling wheat, which gave them leverage against the mills.

Grain growers had this year resumed exporting to take advantage of higher international spot prices, something they had not done for many years, which reduced the availability of domestically-grown cereals.

On top of this is the competition for land from the misguided policy which changes land use from producing food for people to the production of fuel for vehicles.

Farmers and food producers also blamed Solid Energy for higher prices, as it has contracted 5000ha of predominantly cropping land to grow oilseed rape for biodiesel production this year.

Solid Energy plans to increase that production to between 20,000ha and 25,000ha within three years.

Mainland Poultry chief executive Michael Guthrie said international issues had driven grain prices up 80% for his egg business in the past 18 months.

Drought in Australia had decimated world grain production; there had been floods and biofuel production in the United States; growing demand for grain from China and India; low world grain stocks; and dairying had taken over cropping land in New Zealand.

Mr Guthrie said egg prices had been stable for the past two years. He expected prices to rise, but could not say by how much.

Pork Industry Board chairman Chris Trengrove said New Zealand was six months behind the rest of the world on feeling the impact of higher grain prices.

Pork and bacon prices would need to increase about $1 a kg to the farmer to cover rising costs, which translated to between $2 to $3 a kg to the consumer.

Production and transport costs are also rising for fruit and vegetables and that too will impact on retail prices.

Repeated competition from rabbits persuaded me to abandon my vegetable garden but now it has been securely fenced this seems like a good time to get it ready for spring planting.


Trainwreck Back To The Future

July 4, 2008

The best advice I had from a racing driver was to look where you’re going because you’ll go where you’re looking.  Jim Hopkins  proves the lesson doesn’t just apply to the road:

We like looking back. We love the rear-vision mirror. It’s our true compass.

That’s why we’ve just bought all those trains, lock, stock and funnel – for $640 million or a billion, depending on who you believe.

And, apparently, all us good old, rear-vision Kiwis are positively chuffed we’ve got the trains back. We think it’s great that Michael Cullen’s the new Thin Controller.

No matter that we didn’t need to buy 100 per cent of Toll when 51 per cent would’ve been perfectly fine.

No matter that we’re now obliged to spend $300,000,000 on new kit. No matter that any increase in rail traffic will, paradoxically, increase the demand for better roads – to truck goods from the hinterland to the track.

Because we’re back where we were. And yesterday is such a cosy place.

Meanwhile, Kupe and Cook are in India, talking to the Tata motor company, which is busily developing a French-invented compressed-air engine that will replace the gas-guzzlers we’ve got in our cars and trucks.

And that’s just one of the innovations under way in places where people look forward.

Mark my words. Within a decade, the world’s roads will be teeming with vehicles running on air, hydrogen, fuel cells, electricity and, who knows, maybe even that weird stuff you find in your belly button when you’ve forgotten to wash it for a while.

The combination of a ubiquitous infrastructure and a propulsive revolution will make trains even quainter than they are now. And no amount of sticking up RUCs to screw the transport scrum on the very day you become Brutish Rail will change that.

If you haven’t read this yet, it’s probably because your paper’s late and that’s probably because the roads are jammed with angry truckers who’ve probably decided they’ve had enough because they probably think our great leap backwards has gone off the rails.

And we’ll all be casualties of the train wreck that results from this reckless ride back to the future on 19th century technology, fuelled by 20th century ideology and funded by 21st century tax payers.


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