Rural round-up

March 7, 2015

NZ wool market mixed amid targeted buying – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand crossbred wool, which accounts for the majority of the country’s production, rose to a three-and-a-half month high this week on lower volumes.

The price for 35-micron clean wool, commonly used for carpets, advanced 3.9 percent to $5.35 per kilogram, the highest level since Nov. 20, according to AgriHQ. The wool type only sold in the South Island this week, with the lower supply bolstering the price as other strong wool types declined in auctions across both islands.

Some 21,228 bales were offered for sale at the combined auctions across the North and South islands, the second-largest volume this year, as New Zealand comes out of its main shearing season from December to early February, which accounts for about 60 percent of the annual crossbred wool clip. . .

Rural Canterbury should diversify land use:

A report suggests Canterbury’s land use and crops should be diversified to support the region’s economy.

The report, released by the Canterbury Development Corporation yesterday, said diversification would help when other sectors such as dairying were under pressure with a low milk payout and the drought.

The corporation’s chief executive Tom Hooper said branching out from the region’s traditional cropping and sheep and beef farming, was making sure the eggs were not all in one basket.

The research found milking sheep and production of honey, blackcurrants and pharmaceutical crops such as poppies were all viable options. . .

Veterinarians play key role in judicious use of antimicrobials following McDonald’s announcement on use of antibiotics in supply-chain:

Yesterday fast food restaurant McDonald’s announced that it will only source animals raised without antibiotics that are important to human health, highlighting the key role veterinarians play in judicious use of antimicrobials to combat the rise of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

New Zealand is a world leader in the prudent and highly regulated use of antimicrobials. Antibiotics used in animals are regulated by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and are registered for use for the treatment of animal disease. Antibiotics play a vital role in keeping animals healthy and protecting their welfare. In both pets and livestock, these products treat and control infections that threaten life and productivity, providing significant benefit to both the animals receiving treatment and the people looking after them. New Zealand is different to some overseas countries, in that antibiotics are not permitted to be used for the purpose of growth promotion here. . .

 

Call for 1080 to be used on organic properties:

In a bid to combat wild dogs in Australia, the organics industry there is considering allowing 1080 to be used as bait on certified properties.

While 1080 is derived from plants, it is produced synthetically and not approved for organic livestock farmers to use.

But Australia’s Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre is calling for that to change.

The Australian organic industry’s national standards sub-committee will meet early this month to discuss submissions calling for 1080 to be allowed on organic properties to control the wild dog population. . .

New release takes annual ryegrass to a new level:

A new tetraploid annual ryegrass proven to yield 1 tonne dry matter/ha more than old common varieties will help farmers enhance the productivity of their land this season.

That’s the word from Agriseeds, which bred the new cultivar Hogan to replace Archie, and says it will raise the bar for annual ryegrass performance on New Zealand farms.

Hogan’s significant yield advantage over old genetics is valued by the DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) at $380/ha extra profit.

Agriseeds pasture systems manager Graham Kerr says this stacks up to a 10 fold return on investment for the extra $35-$45/ha it costs to sow Hogan compared with Moata or Tama. .

“It amazes us how much Moata and Tama seed is still sold, because these cultivars were released well over 30 years ago. . .

 

*   *   *

 

The Fujita Scale measures the power of tornados but was regarded as too technical for lay people so meteorologists came up with the Moojita Scale:

M0 Tornado- Cows in an open field are spun around parallel to the wind flow and become mildly annoyed
M1 Tornado- Cows are tipped over and can’t get up
M2 Tornado- Cows begin rolling with the wind
M3 Tornado- Cows tumble and bounce
M4 Tornado- Cows are airborne.
M5 Tornado- Steak.


Higher wages, lower benefits, higher costs

June 11, 2014

The law of unexpected consequences struck when the minimum wage was increased in the USA city of SeaTac:

. . . Every debate over increasing the minimum wage comes with predictions that the law of unintended consequences will result in the opposite of what a higher wage is designed to accomplish—a better standard of living for low-wage workers.  Employers cannot pay a worker more than the value of their output.  In other words, if an employer must pay a worker $15 per hour, they must ensure the worker produces at least that amount, or they must figure out a way to reduce the cost of that labor.  So forcing employers to pay workers an artificially high wage creates perverse incentives for employers to find other ways to cut labor costs.

One way employers are cutting their labor costs in SeaTac, which recently mandated a $15 per hour minimum wage for certain workers, is by stripping away the benefits they used to offer. 

Northwest Asian Weekly reports that employees earning the new wage in SeaTac have lost benefits such as 401k, paid holidays and paid vacation, free food, free parking and overtime hours.  One hotel waitress said she is earning less because tips have decreased since the high wage has been in effect.  In many cases these benefits plus the lower state minimum wage added more value to workers’ earnings than the new $15 wage.

As one SeaTac worker put it, “It sounds good, but it’s not good.” . . .

But workers aren’t the only ones paying more, consumers are too:

Many SeaTac businesses have tacked on an additional fee to mitigate the increased cost of labor.  On the receipt below, a $6.93 “living wage surchage” was added to a $84.00 parking charge.  That is the equivalent of a 8.25% tax.

Contrary to what supporters claim, increasing the minimum wage does not create jobs and stimulate the economy.  The higher wages are not free money.  The increased cost must either be absorbed by the employer, which is impossible for many who already operate on shoe-string profit margins, or it must be passed on to workers, in the form of reduced hours and benefits, and consumers, in the form of higher prices.  Either way, someone pays.

Another consequence of higher wages is increased mechanisation to reduce the need for staff.

McDonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the U.S., adding 62,000 employees to its roster. The hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.

The move is designed to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. In an interview with the Financial Times, McDonald’s Europe President Steve Easterbrook notes that the new system will also open up a goldmine of data. McDonald’s could potentially track every Big Mac, McNugget, and large shake you order. A calorie account tally at the end of the year could be a real shocker. . .

Proponents of the so-called living wage here pay no heed to the fact that money for higher wages has to come from somewhere.

If the wage increases aren’t at least equalled by higher productivity and profits then costs have to be cut or prices increased and it’s the very people the policy is trying to help who will be hurt most by that.


Rural round-up

March 27, 2014

Guy prepared to help, but unwilling to interfere – Allan Barber:

Nathan Guy gave a very positive speech to Beef + Lamb NZ’s AGM on Saturday which covered three major points: what the government is doing for farmers, his vision for the red meat sector and thoughts on the discussions about industry structure.

Obviously, given MPI’s bullish view of agricultural exports, the Minister was extremely positive about economic performance. However he was at pains to point out the government’s role as an enabler, citing his focus on biosecurity resources, trade negotiations for market access, and investment in research.

He began by referring to his intention to strengthen resources at the border and to establish Government Industry Agreements (GIA) with various sectors which will ultimately involve the private sector in sharing the costs of biosecurity; different sectors are at various stages of negotiation on this issue. . . .

Project explores the potential of EID:

Warren Ayers farms 890ha of rolling country near Wyndham. The property runs 600 Perendale stud ewes and another 5,700 commercial ewes.

Lambing averages 135 per cent and lambs are finished to 17kg. Two-year-old replacement heifers are bought in annually for the 120-head Angus cow herd. Every year, all but the lightest 10 calves are sold at weaning. The policy is simple to manage and keeps the genetics of the herd diversified sufficiently that the same bull can be used for several years. For the past five years, the property has also wintered 650 dairy cows.

Warren has EID tagged his stud animals since 2006 and the commercial two-tooths have been tagged since 2009. . .

Fonterra begins construction on new IDR357 billion plant in Indonesia:

Fonterra today commenced construction on its first blending and packing plant in Indonesia, which will support the growth of its market leading consumer brands Anlene, Anmum and Anchor Boneeto.

Located in West Java, the plant is Fonterra’s first manufacturing facility in the country and its largest investment in a new manufacturing facility in ASEAN in the last 10 years.

Director General of Agro Industry at the Ministry of Industry, Panggah Susanto, joined Fonterra at an event in Jakarta to mark the official start of construction today.

Pascal De Petrini, Managing Director of Fonterra Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA), said that Fonterra Brands Manufacturing Indonesia Cikarang Plant will allow Fonterra to meet the ever-growing demand for dairy nutrition in Indonesia. . .

Dry conditions in Northland and Waikato remain a big concern:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says dry conditions in parts of Waikato and Northland remain a serious concern.

“Local authorities in Northland have announced the western parts of their region are in drought. This reflects the tough few months they’ve had as pasture has browned off.

“Cyclone Lusi has helped green tinges appear in some places, but the rainfall was erratic and insufficient. Western Northland and large parts of the Waikato remain very dry.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is keeping a close eye on conditions here and elsewhere. I’ve seen for myself how dry things are on two trips to the Waikato in the last two weeks. . .

West Coast Northland drought declaration a relief:

The adverse event declaration covering drought in Northland’s West Coast the declaration will not provide a lot of direct financial assistance but will provide huge psychological relief.

“New Zealanders will get an inkling of what the guys on Northland’s West Coast have been going through. Not just since November, but since 2012 and even before that,” says Roger Ludbrook, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.

“The big thing a declaration triggers is the Northland Rural Support Trust, so any farmer can approach the RST for free advice on farm management, or just someone to have a decent chinwag with.

“Beyond this, it doesn’t mean much financially unless the absolute worst happens. There is a safety net, but it is exactly the same as for any other New Zealander and carries the same eligibility rules.

“Then there is Inland Revenue and to be fair to them they aren’t unapproachable. . .

Drought-affected farmers encouraged to talk to their banks

Drought-affected farmers should talk to their banks said the New Zealand Bankers’ Association in response to increasingly dry conditions in parts of Northland and Waikato.

“We encourage any farmers facing hardship as a result of the lack of rain to contact their bank to discuss options for assistance and how they can work through these challenging conditions,” said New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Kirk Hope. . . .

Fonterra profit down but revenue on track to break $20 billion:

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s half year results means it could be back on track to break the $20 billion revenue barrier; corporate New Zealand’s ‘four minute mile.’

“I think the fall in operating profit will grab attention instead of where it ought to be focussed, on revenue,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“This is real money coming into the New Zealand economy.  I mean revenue for the half-year is up 21 percent to $11.3 billion.  While we’ve got close to the $20 billion barrier in the past, this time, we’ve got a real chance of breaking it.

“That said, the declared drought in Northland along with drought-like conditions in the upper North Island could act like a brake.  We’ve also seen GlobalDairyTrade retreat in recent trading events due in part to increased volume. . .

Pengxin picks up former Fonterra executive Romanos for NZ Milk role, report says:

(BusinessDesk) – Shanghai Pengxin has hired Gary Romano, who resigned from Fonterra Cooperative Group last year during the botulism scare, to oversee the Chinese company’s overseas operations including its New Zealand farms, the NZ Herald reports.

Romano’s Linked In profile says he is “currently on the beach before becoming active again in 2014.” He resigned as head of NZ Milk Products at Fonterra last August as the company embarked on a global recall of whey protein concentrate. The bacterium was eventually shown to be harmless.

He will become chief executive of NZ Milk Management and a director of Pengxin’s two farm groups in the North Island and South Island, according to the Herald. Terry Lee, managing director of Pengxin’s Milk New Zealand unit, didn’t immediately return calls. . .

Samoa sheep farming increasing:

Sheep farming in Samoa is growing through a programme funded by the World Bank.

Under the Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project, the World Bank is helping develop livestock, fruits and vegetable farming.

Sheep were introduced in Samoa in 2004, with the flock now grown to 700. . .

Macca’s hits milestone of three million kilos of Angus

AngusPure recognises programme as instrumental to success of Angus demand

McDonald’s New Zealand today announced it has sold a whopping three million kilograms of New Zealand Angus beef since 2009. With today’s launch of the promotional Angus the Great burger, the company expects to continue its contribution to the success of local Angus beef sales

This milestone is acknowledged by AngusPure’s chairman Tim Brittain, who says the ‘McAngus’ programme has been instrumental in helping grow the demand for Angus cattle, and that Kiwi farmers have been well rewarded since the original launch of the Angus burger range in 2009. . .


Lamb burgers at last – UPDATED

August 19, 2012

It’s taken around three decades but former Trade Minister Mike Moore’s dream of lamb burgers has been realised:

After two years of product development McDonald’s has added New Zealand lamb to its menu, an initiative which has been endorsed by Beef + Lamb NZ.

“After seeing the success of McDonald’s premium Angus beef range, with 2 million kilograms sold since launch, we are thrilled with this new partnership and the potential these products have to get Kiwis eating more New Zealand lamb,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO Rod Slater.

Federated Farmers is also excited by the development:

What McDonald’s is doing here is massive,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“This is about adding value to the lamb we produce because for the first time ever, lamb is to become a permanent menu item in a major family restaurant chain. While others have run ‘limited time’ offers, McDonald’s New Zealand believes it is onto a winner and we agree.

“As a sheep and beef farmer, I know the positive impact McDonald’s involvement with AngusPure has had. Since August 2009, McDonald’s has not only purchased some two million kilograms of AngusPure, it has greatly raised the profile of it as a premier product.

 “This is where things get truly exciting. If lamb works here it may find itself onto menus in other countries; the Middle East and Asia especially.

“New Zealand is already a major supplier of beef as part of McDonald’s global supply chain and it is not a dream to believe lamb could well follow. The prospects are mouth watering.

“The Serious Lamb Burger is a big meal in its own right but to me, it is no different from what’s available at up-market takeaways. This burger is being pitched as an upmarket offering and that is a great position for lamb to be in.

“For the health conscious, the lamb wrap ticks all the boxes and shows the flexibility of lamb as a fulsome meal or as a healthy snack.

“Frankly, we are excited because we can see only upsides from the farmer’s perspective.

“Importantly, to deliver the lamb McDonald’s needs, we are seeing close cooperation from the farm gate, Beef+Lamb as well as multiple processors. This is unity around a value added product and it is as heartening, as it is creative,” Mrs Maxwell concluded.

Mike Moore’s lamb burgers became a bit of a joke, but time has proved him right.

His dream was of lamb burgers in the USA and other overseas markets. The McDonald’s initiative is for a limited time in Australia but aims to be permanent here.

It’s a good start and if it proves popular here could lead to lamb burgers in export markets.

UPDATE:

Fed Farmers’  president Bruce Wills is enthusiastic about this too:

There is a hashtag of Twitter, which pretty much says it all  – #mikemoorevisionary.

Almost 30 years ago, this former Trade Minister, Prime Minister, Secretary-General of the WTO and now, our man in Washington, suggested lamb burgers would save the meat industry.

At the time, he suggested just a slither of the US hamburger market converted to lamb instead, would do the trick.

He was not half wrong because American’s consume some 150 million tonnes of hamburgers each year. Based on current lamb production here, even a quarter of one percent of that vast market, would see us fall some 100,000 tonnes short.

It is no exaggeration to say McDonald’s latest innovation is a big one for New Zealand’s sheep farmers. . .


Fast food frighteners

January 13, 2012

A rule of thumb for the nutritional value/healthiness of food is how good it will taste cold tomorrow.

Most fast food fails that test.

Another test is how long food will last without decomposing.

A story of a six-month old Happy Meal elicited responses from people who’d kept take-aways for up to 15 years without any visible sign of decomposition.

 . . . his mother-in-law has kept the food, and the Happy Meal box it came in, for 15 years. He writes:

The paper is actually deteriorating faster than the food. It’s been sitting in a dark closet all this time, no bugs, no mold, no nothings. Every now and then she pulls it out and we look in wonder at how nothing has changed, still looks like a happy meal.

There are questions about the validity of these claims.

Mcdonalds refutes them and the story links to an experiment which compares the longevity of fast food and a home-made burger.

But why let the facts get in the way of some really good fast food frighteners?


January 31 in history

January 31, 2010

On January 31:

1606  Guy Fawkes was executed for his plotting against Parliament.

1673 Louis de Montfort, French catholic priest and saint, was born.

1747 The first venereal diseases clinic opened at London Lock Hospital.

1797 Franz Schubert, Austrian composer, was born. 

1814 Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of Argentina.

1849 Corn Laws were abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).

1862 Alvan Graham Clark discovered the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an eighteen inch telescope at Northwestern University.

 

1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee became general-in-chief.

Robert E Lee Signature.svg

1865  Henri Desgrange, Founder of the Tour-de-France, was born.

1872 Zane Grey, American Western writer, was born.

1876 The United States ordered all Native Americans to move into reservations.

1881  Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina was born.

 

1884 Theodor Heuss, 1st President of Germany (Bundespräsident), was born.

1918 A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night led to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.

1919 The Battle of George Square took place in Glasgow.

 Mark I tanks and soldiers at the Glasgow Cattle Market in the Gallowgate

 1919  Jackie Robinson, American baseball player, and the first black player in Major League Baseball, was born.

Waist-up portrait of black batter in his mid-thirties, in Brooklyn Dodgers uniform number 42, at end of swing with bat over left shoulder, looking at where a hit ball would be

1921 New Zealand’s first regular air mail service began with a flight by the Canterbury Aviation Company from Christchurch to Ashburton and Timaru.

NZ’s first regular airmail service begins

1921 Carol Channing, American actress and singer, was born.

1921 Mario Lanza, American singer was born.

1923 Norman Mailer, American writer and journalist, was born.

 1929 The Soviet Union exiled Leon Trotsky.

1930 3M begins marketing Scotch Tape.

 

1938 – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was born.

1943 German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.

1945 US Army private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion, the first such execution of a US soldier since the Civil War.

1946 Terry Kath, American musician (Chicago), was born.

1946 Yugoslavia‘s new constitution, modelling the Soviet Union, established six constituent republics (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).

1950 President Harry S. Truman announced a programme to develop the hydrogen bomb.

 

1951 Harry Wayne Casey, American singer and musician (KC and the Sunshine Band), was born.

1953 A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.

 

1956 John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, English singer (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.), was born.

1958  Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.

Explorer1.jpg
 

1958  James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

1961 Mercury-Redstone 2Ham the Chimp travelled into outer space.

 

1966 The Soviet Union launched the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna programme.

Luna 9

1968 – Nauru became independence from Australia.

Flag Coat of arms

1971 Apollo 14 Mission – Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lifted off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.

The first Saturn V, AS-501, before the launch of Apollo 4

1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organised by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicise war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, began in Detroit.

1990 The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opened in Moscow.

McDonald's Golden Arches.svg

1995 President Bill Clinton authorised a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.

1996 An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.

2000 Alaska Airlines flight 261 MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 persons aboard.

2001 In the Netherlands a Scottish court convicts a Libyan and acquits another for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which crashed into Lockerbie in 1988.

2003 The Waterfall rail accident occured near Waterfall, New South Wales.

Waterfallrailcrash.jpg

2009 At least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, Kenya.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


Spot the flaw in logic

September 24, 2009

Staff at a McDonalds drive-through refused to serve a motorcyclist on health and safety grounds.

Mr Martin, who has been riding for more than 30 years, has blasted the policy at the Otford fast food restaurant.

“It’s just nanny state gone mad,” said Mr Martin, who works in health and safety himself.

“They’re afraid I’ll go driving up the road clutching a bag of McDonald’s. I’ve got this huge boot under the seat the food goes in.

“In my more than 30 years of riding a motorcycle I can’t imagine anyone trying to eat food on the handlebars. You couldn’t get it past your visor for a start.”

Will they now stop serving people in cars in case they sip their coffee or eat their burgers while driving?

Do they check people wash their hands before they eat?

How soon before staff at fast food outlets start checking blood pressure and giving lectures on diet before they serve their customers?

Hat Tip: Adam Smith Institute.


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