Rural round-up

30/07/2021

NZ dairy industry’s biggest challenge is meeting methane gas emission targets – Point of Order:

New Zealand dairy farmers are some of the most efficient producers of dairy milk in the world, and while the past year has been tough for many industries, the overall picture for dairy has been overwhelmingly positive.  Returns to farmers have been at record levels,. along with the economic contribution to NZ.

Dairy  export receipts are  nudging $20bn  a  year, up  from $4.58m  in 2000.

But  now  the  industry  is  facing  its biggest  challenge.

Dairy  cattle are  responsible  for  22% of  NZ’s emissions. Can  NZ  meets  its methane  emission  targets  without  slashing  the   size of the  national  dairy  herd? . . 

Cow methane vaccine could be emissions game-changer :

Mitigating New Zealand’s agricultural emissions is an ongoing process, but the development of a methane vaccine for cows and other livestock could be a game changer.

A homegrown group is on the cusp of a revolutionary result with it.

The vaccine works by triggering the cow’s immune system to create antibodies that stop methane-producing microbes from working, reducing a cow’s gas production and its contributions of greenhouse gases.

Jeremy Hill, chairman of The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, told Seven Sharp the vaccine works the same as most vaccines. . .

Bremworth refuses to back down from its support of New Zealand wool:

A global synthetic flooring manufacturer is threatening legal action against iconic New Zealand wool company, Bremworth, as consumers increasingly opt for wool carpets amidst growing awareness of the link between synthetic carpets and plastic.

As sales of its wool carpets escalate, Bremworth has been targeted with a letter from lawyers acting for Godfrey Hirst, owned by US-based Mohawk Industries which also owns Feltex. Amongst other things, Godfrey Hirst is demanding Bremworth withdraw a number of key claims in its marketing campaign that promotes New Zealand wool, including as a natural, more sustainable alternative to synthetic carpet fibres made from plastic.

The new CEO of Bremworth, Greg Smith, said: “We see this legal threat as a distraction and an attempt to stifle legitimate competition and consumer choice. We won’t shy away from promoting the virtues of wool and countering misconceptions in the market to enable customers to make well informed flooring choices – and we firmly stand by our decision to focus on wool and natural fibres.” . .

Project explores wool innovation :

A New Zealand research project has unveiled a suite of innovative wool products with global export potential.

The Wool Research Organisation of NZ (WRONZ) showcased the products at an event to celebrate the achievements from its New Uses for Strong Wool programme, supported by research, industry and funding partners.

The unique wool particles, powders and pigments developed have global export potential for applications as diverse as cosmetics, printing, luxury goods and personal care.

A commercial development company, Wool Source, has been formed to develop the new products and assess market demand for the strong wool innovation. . .

Primary products push exports to a new high :

New Zealand exports reached a new high in June 2021, off the back of record export values for logs and beef, Stats NZ said today.

In June 2021, the value of all goods exports rose $871 million (17 percent) from June 2020 to $6.0 billion. The previous high for exports was in May 2021 ($5.9 billion).

Exports of logs and wood reached a new high, up $105 million (23 percent) from June 2020 to $561 million in June 2021. This increase was driven by logs. Logs’ export value rose $87 million to reach record levels, driven by an increase in unit values (up 26 percent). . . 

A good year for wine lovers – latest and greatest on show at the New World Wine Awards:

Wine drinkers have lots to look forward to as wine show season gets underway and wines from some of New Zealand’s latest and greatest vintages are put to the taste test.

The New World Wine Awards judging starts today in Marlborough, with an independent panel of experts spending three full days pouring over more than 1,100 wine entries. After swirling, sniffing, sipping and spitting, their scores will whittle the field down to the best of the best: the Top 50 wines that will be available for $25 or less in New World supermarkets nationwide.

The majority of the entries will be wines that were harvested and made in 2019, 2020 and 2021 – each a year hailed for its unique combination of ideal growing conditions and grape quality. . .


Rural round-up

23/07/2021

Urban dwellers lack of knowledge of the work farmers do for the environment distressing – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A rat race is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. The term was coined in the early 1930s, but in Alice Through the Looking Glass, published in the early 1870s, Lewis Carroll had the Red Queen tell Alice that “here it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast as that”.

That is the point of the “howl of a protest” that was made by the convoy of tractors, utes and dogs last week.

Farmers were expressing frustration at the deluge of regulations and paperwork.

The work they do for the environment is being overlooked. . . 

Full of pride for mother in ute with dogs – Anna Campbell:

Climate change is a global problem, a problem shared and a problem far bigger than New Zealand politics.

Climate change is a problem that the majority of farmers recognise, one in which many are adapting to daily in dealing with the increasing numbers of droughts and floods. Farmers are improving their environments by changing their farming practices, whether that be fencing waterways, developing Land and Environmental Plans, planting trees or altering winter grazing practices. Change on-farm is happening at a significant scale across the country.

On Friday morning, I was worried about the Groundswell farmer protest, I was worried that it would look like farmers were trying to shirk their responsibility and avoid change, despite what they are already doing and despite their plans for doing more. I was worried farmers would look like rednecks and I was worried about the ever-increasing rural-urban chasm. Let’s not call this a divide any more.

On Friday, I apprehensively left my centrally heated office to stand in the Octagon and lend my support to the protest — who knew Otago had so many farmers? . . 

This might have been our first successful farmer protest – Craig Hickman:

I’ve never made a secret of the fact I’m no fan of farmer protests; there had never been a successful one in my living memory and there has been a tendency recently for them to backfire and paint farmers in a bad light, usually as ignorant racist misogynists.

People fondly recall Shane Ardern driving his tractor up the steps of Parliament in 2003 to defeat the proposed “Fart Tax”. They point to this as an example of a resounding success.

I don’t know how you measure success, and sure the Government of the day appeared to back down, but there’s the small issue that the protest didn’t actually work. While farmers weren’t asked to pay for emissions research via taxation, our industry bodies agreed to pay for it via levies instead, with the Government reserving the right to reconsider the tax should payments ever stop.

Not only is it difficult to measure whether a protest has been successful, they can be harmful too. . .

Grimes’ grouches with the effects of govt policies on Kiwis’ wellbeing may sting more than the Groundswell protest – Point of Order:

The  Ardern  government may  have been  stirred,  but  it  wasn’t  shaken,    by  the  nationwide protest  by  farmers  last  Friday.  And no matter how  far  the protest may have  turned   heads   in  the  rest  of  the  population,   it  leaves  farmers  no  further   advanced  in  persuading  ministers  to  modify  or  revise  the  policies  which  their  action targeted.

So  if  ministers  won’t  back  down  on their  environmental reforms or their climate change  policies,  where   can  the  farmers  go?  Parade  through  Wellington  to  Parliament?   Mount a 24-hour  vigil  in  Parliament  Grounds?

So  far  there has  been   silence  from the  originators   of  the   Groundswell  and if  there  is  a  new  sense of  unity  in  the  rural regions,   it   has yet  to  be  channelled into the  kind  of  pressure that   automatically  achieves  change. . . 

The little-known world of sheep and beef by-products and co-products:

There’s more to beef and lamb than steaks and Sunday Roasts

When you think about meat processing it would be no surprise that the first output you thought about, was food. But what happens to the rest of the carcass? The parts that are not suitable or desired for consumption? That is where byproducts and co-products come in.

Referred to in the industry as the ‘fifth quarter’ co-products (materials intended for human consumption) and byproducts (materials that can be edible and non-edible) are valuable and account for over half of a carcass. These co-products extract maximum value and minimise waste.

With new technology and innovation, the use and application of co-products are constantly developing across a range of industries. Where once tallow was used for soap and candle making, now it is being converted to create a biofuel that burns cleaner and reduces emissions. . . 

Talk of the Town: How country mums are using social media to shift from the good paddock – Samantha Townsend:

Mum, I don’t want to be mean but I reckon that (weight loss program) will really benefit you. You are like really beautiful but you have a big bottom”.

That’s what my eight-year-old daughter told me at the start of this year while watching television one night.

Now I’ve certainly been in a good paddock and I can’t blame my kids anymore, it’s been six years since nappies.

But it made me think about the power of advertising and social media, and how it influences our lives these days. . .


Rural round-up

21/07/2021

Good protest farmers – now let’s make progress – Daniel Eb:

Well done farmers. Friday’s protest was well-organised and dignified. We got the message. You are under pressure and feel side-lined. You are being told how to farm by Wellington bureaucrats trying to legislate the way to a greener future.

It’s a future you want too – clean rivers, vibrant communities, thriving biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaption. For many of you, this journey started years ago. From the 4,700 native bush blocks quietly regenerating under covenant, to catchment groups taking responsibility for their waterways and the sector emissions reduction plan He Waka Eke Noa – farmer-led progress is happening.

It is also true that farming must carry a hefty weight when it comes to our green transition. But this is a call-to-action for all of us, so when will townies feel the pinch too? . . .

Farmers assessing devastating floods, resilience alarms raised :

Farmers across the upper South Island are on clean-up duty and counting up the costs as damaging floodwaters recede, and the agriculture minister has reminded farmers to take a thorough look at resilience in the face of climate change.

The weekend’s storm forced hundreds to evacuate, caused widespread damage to infrastructure including roads and bridges, and devastated farms in Buller, West Coast, Nelson, Tasman, and Marlborough – as well as causing more sporadic damage in surrounding regions.

The downpours brought Marlborough’s largest floods on record.

Federated Farmers Marlborough president Scott Adams said more than 300mm had fallen on his sheep farm near the Wairau River in 48 hours, and parts were devastated. . . 

Farmer forced to carry sheep through flood waters to safety

A Marlborough farmer who had to swim sheep to safety on Saturday says the flood waters were far worse than a record-breaking event 40 years ago.

Matt Forlong’s family vineyard is just west of Wairau Valley township and during winter they run sheep under the vines.

Simply getting to the property meant chainsawing fallen trees off the road so he arrived later than hoped, he said.

Water was already a metre deep and rising to shoulder depth so 200 sheep were stranded on quickly shrinking islands. . .

Farmer feedback set to shape revised capital structure proposal :

With the first phase of Fonterra’s capital structure consultation now complete, the Co-op is drawing up a revised proposal that aims to reflect farmers’ views.

A number of changes are being considered to the preferred option initially put forward in the Consultation Booklet in May – including adjusting the proposed minimum shareholding requirement for farmers and enabling sharemilkers and contract milkers to own shares.

“It’s a good time for the Board to step back and reflect on the feedback as most farmers will now be busy with calving. Once they’ve come through this particularly busy time of the season, we’ll be ready to consult on the updated proposal,” says Chairman Peter McBride.

Consultation has been extensive to date, starting with the initial communication on 6 May and the Consultation Booklet being sent to every farmer owner. Since then:  . .

McBride puts his stamp on Fonterra’s capital restructuring proposals:

The big  dairy  co-op  Fonterra  has  moved to make  its  capital  restructuring  proposals  more  palatable  to  its  10,000  farmer-shareholders as  it  seeks to  slash  the  drastic entry  cost  to  become a  new  supplier.

Faced  with  a  future where  total milk production  is  flattening, Fonterra  needs    more  flexibility in    its  capital rules, the  most  burdensome of which has been the compulsory requirement to invest huge sums of capital just to supply.

The  revisions now   being  put  forward bear   the  stamp   of  chairman Peter  McBride, who  in an earlier role  successfully carried  the  kiwifruit  growers in   Zespri through   a  similar  capital  restructure.

McBride, after  taking  the chair at  Fonterra,  soon realised  the need for  change in the one-size-fits-all compulsory capital structure  requiring all shareholders to hold shares on a 1:1 basis. It  has become a  key factor in farmers deciding to leave. . .

10,000 cattle culled every year due to bTB, NFU Cymru warns :

Welsh farmers have called for more action as 10,000 cattle in the prime of their productive lives continue to be culled every year due to bovine TB.

Farmers are playing their part in combatting the disease through cattle-based measures, however wildlife reservoirs of disease are still going unaddressed, farmers say.

It comes as the BBC recently published a news article which highlighted the emotional strain that bovine TB is causing producers in the country.

In the article, Vale of Glamorgan farmer Abi Reader explained that her farm had been locked down with TB for three years. . . 


Rural round-up

07/07/2021

Farmers contribute much to NZ’s balance of payments and our standard of living – but some ministers don’t grasp this reality – Point of Order:

Global  prices for New Zealand products  from the  agricultural sector, as measured on the ANZ Commodity Price Index,  have risen for eight consecutive months to hit a  new  record in May.  Prices on the world index  are  up 18% this  year, or 17% in  local currency terms.

Some  economists are predicting more  rises  are  in  store  this  year.

The  gains  have  gone  some way in the  balance of  payments to offset big losses on  the  foreign  currency  front  from the overseas tourism and   international education sectors.

Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny says being a food producer has been positive during Covid-19 as people still need to eat in times of crisis. . . 

EU biofuel goals likely behind major deforestation in last decade, report says

European Union targets to boost biofuel use are likely to have led to the deforestation of an area roughly the size of the Netherlands over the last decade to expand soy, palm and other oil crops, a report says.

About 4 million hectares of forests mainly in Southeast Asia and South America have been cleared since 2011 – including about 10 percent of remaining orangutan habitat, according to estimates by campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E).

That suggests efforts to replace polluting fuels such as diesel with biofuels are paradoxically increasing planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, said Laura Buffet, T&E’s energy director.

“A policy that was supposed to save the planet is actually wrecking it,” she said. “We cannot afford another decade of this.” . . 

Primary industry heroes honoured by peers:

A collaboration that will reduce emissions and accelerate green hydrogen infrastructure, a company that has taken our honey to the world and an initiative to boost farmer mental wellbeing by taking them surfing have been recognised by their primary industry peers.

Food and fibre sector achievers were recognised at the 2021 Primary Industries New Zealand Awards dinner at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch last night, with seven winners named from 65 nominations.

A favourite with many of the more than 500 farmers, growers, foresters and fishers present was the winner of the Team Award, sponsored by BASF. Steven Thompson from Bayley’s Rural Real Estate started helping farmers get out on the ocean waves as a way to leave the stress of their busy roles behind them for a few hours. Surfing for Farmers now boasts a team of 50 volunteers and has spread to 16 regions, with nearly 3000 farmers taking part.

“For most farmers it is their first time on a surf-board. Steven says when farmers come out of the water, it’s like a reset for them,” judges noted…

Retaining farming’s voice – Paul Crick:

As farmers, we are skilled at managing what happens inside the farm gate; it is the externalities, the factors we cannot control, that can cause the greatest amount of stress.

There has been a paradigm shift in our sector. So, it is pleasing to see Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s renewed strategy reflecting this change.

Two of the organisation’s three priorities are “outside of the farm-gate”, namely championing the sector and increasing market returns. The third priority, supporting farming excellence, means they will continue to deliver extension and support farmers to run sustainable and profitable farming systems.

This strategy shows that the organisation will do the advocacy and market development work on farmers’ behalf.

Who’s eating New Zealand? – Farah Hancock:

If you imagine New Zealand’s sheep meat as a plate of 10 meatballs, Kiwis would get to eat half of a meatball. So where’s the rest going? In the first story in a new series, Farah Hancock crunches more than 30 years of data to find out who’s eating New Zealand.

New Zealand produces enough food to feed about 40 million people but given our population is just 5 million, who are these people we’re feeding and what are they eating?

And in the land of milk and honey, how much is left behind for Kiwis?

RNZ has looked at some of our biggest merchandise export earners and some of our highest profile products to see who has been eating and drinking New Zealand over the past 30 years. . . 

Cannasouth to buy out cultivation and manufacturing joint venture partners:

Leading medicinal cannabis company, Cannasouth Limited has today entered into two conditional agreements to acquire the balance of the stakes that it does not already own in its cultivation and manufacturing joint venture businesses.

Acquisition of outstanding interest in Cannasouth Cultivation Limited

Cannasouth has entered into a conditional agreement with Aaron Craig and his family interests (Craig Family Interests) to acquire the remaining 50% stake in Joint Venture business Cannasouth Cultivation Limited that Cannasouth does not already own.

Cannasouth Cultivation has built a state-of-the-art growing and processing facility that will produce medicinal cannabis flower biomass at highly competitive production cost. It is energy efficient and more environmentally sustainable than indoor cultivation operations. . . 

Large rural land holding teed up to sell:

A substantial rural land holding in one of Mangawhai’s high growth areas has been placed on the market for sale.

The 50.14 hectare farm, is located near the internationally renowned Tara Iti Golf Course, and within a short drive to the Mangawhai Central development and the area’s famous surf beach.

The property at 213 Black Swamp Road is being marketed for sale via a tender process (unless sold prior) on 21 July, by Bayleys Country property specialist John Barnett. . . 


Rural round-up

03/06/2021

The climate-change dilemma facing dairy farmers – milk more cows or cull the herd – is politically challenging, too – Point of Order:

From one Wellington  platform  Reserve  Bank governor Adrian  Orr is  telling  the  country   strong global demand for NZ primary products is ensuring the economy remains resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic and is helping offset tourism losses. He  says  Fonterra’s  forecast  of a  record opening milk price is “very good news” and is included in the bank’s projections.

From another platform, Climate Change Commissioner Rod Carr told hundreds of people – including farmers – at an agricultural climate change conference that for the agricultural sector there would be no way to wriggle out of slashing emissions.

Carr said agriculture made up about half of NZ’s emissions, and this needed to be reduced to meet climate obligations.International customers would go elsewhere, costing the economy billions of dollars in the coming years.

So  here’s  the  problem: . . 

Time for industry to be heard, leader says – Sally Rae:

“Maybe enough is enough.”

Otago Merino Association chairwoman Jayne Reed, from Cloudy Peak Station, near Tarras, was referring to the never-before-seen pressures the agricultural sector was facing, in her address to the annual merino awards.

“Not the usual seasonal weather worries, commodity price fluctuations and the odd flustering visit from the bank manager, which our fathers dealt with, but an increasingly scary onslaught of bureaucratic intervention … written in some cases by young idealistic policy makers who have never stepped on a farm.

“Our urban neighbours are telling us how to manage our outcomes without any real understanding of what 99% of us are working towards and this is the really disappointing part. . . 

Rural leaders plead to NZTA for second Ashburton bridge plans – Adam Burns:

Damaging floods in Ashburton have sparked calls for urgency around a second bridge by the district’s rural leaders, with the town’s sole overpass at risk.

The Ashburton River Bridge had to be closed for most of yesterday after reports of slumping. It has reopened to light vehicles only, but further testing for heavy vehicles is expected later.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not be drawn on questions around the second bridge issue when she fronted media in Ashburton yesterday.

“The priority right now is connecting people with Ashburton,” Ardern said. . . 

Perriam’s vision for breed recognised with family award – Sally Rae:

John Perriam is a man of vision, risk and “you can do it” approach.

Through his love for merino sheep and his home, Bendigo Station, he had “given it his all” and made a significant difference to the New Zealand merino industry.

That was his daughter Christina Grant reflecting on the pivotal role her father has played in the industry, during the Otago Merino Association’s awards evening.

She was presenting him with the Heather Perriam Memorial Trophy, named in memory of his late wife and her mother, and presented for outstanding service to the merino industry. . . 

Synlait braces for heavy loss – Sudesh Kissun:

Listed Canterbury milk processor Synlait is heading towards its first financial loss ever, but is telling its farmer suppliers not to worry.

The company revealed last week that it now expects to make a net loss of between $20 million and $30 million for the financial year ending this July. Last year, Synlait recorded a net profit of $75 million.

The milk processor has had a challenging 18 months. Key stakeholder, and one of its major customers, the a2 Milk company downgraded its forecasts because of disrupted markets and problems with its key Chinese market – leaving Synlait with large inventories of base powder and infant formula.

Synlait co-founder John Penno has returned to his former role of chief executive and is leading a reset of the business. . .

Are we running out of New Zealand wine? :

New Zealand winegrowers are becoming increasingly concerned about running out of wine after a smaller harvest than usual this year. The famous wine-growing region of Marlborough was especially hard hit by this issue. As an area famous for its excellent quality wine – particularly sauvignon blanc – that gets supplied across the country as well as internationally, this lack of grapes could potentially be disastrous for the wine industry as a whole.

Last year, spring was cooler than usual, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

Additionally, the New Zealand wine industry usually relies on the influx of seasonal workers on working holidays who are ready and willing to help with the harvest. With Covid closing the borders, these people have not been able to enter the country in the past year. Attracting New Zealanders into these roles has proved far trickier for many growers, especially those in more rural areas. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/06/2021

‘You’ve just gotta tough it out’: Heavy rain, flooding challenges high country farmers – Lee Kenny:

Parts of Mid-Canterbury remain completely cut off, but the job of managing huge rural stations continues. LEE KENNY reports.

Graham Jones has worked at Arrowsmith Station for 11 years and says he’s never seen conditions as bad as this.

“I’ve seen big snows, a lot of water up here. It’s very hard farming up here, but you’ve just gotta tough it out.”

“This wet weather’s just made it harder.” . . 

Crop farmer counts high cost of rain – Matthew Littlewood:

Timaru farmer Graham Talbot fears many of his recently sown crops have been “drowned out” by the recent heavy rain.

“There’s just so much rain in the system that the farm is completely waterlogged,” Talbot said.

The Claremont farmer, estimated about 30 hectares of his 600ha farm would have been “completely submerged”.

“That’s probably going to cost us a good $70,000 for that alone when it comes to resowing and repair costs. . . 

Flood-affected farmers urged to seek support:

DairyNZ is encouraging Canterbury farmers to look out for each other and access support agencies for assistance amid flooding in the region.

“We have seen farmers working well together and supporting their neighbours through this weather event – it’s always encouraging to see farmers and rural communities working together in times of need,” said DairyNZ head of the South Island, Tony Finch.

“Good advance warning did enable many farmers to be prepared but we are working closely to monitor the situation and encourage farmers to keep farm teams and neighbours safe.”

With Moving Day currently also underway, many Canterbury farmers are attempting to shift properties and livestock.

Funding boost for flood-stricken farmers and growers :

A state of emergency has been declared for the flood-stricken Canterbury region, as farmers begin the clean-up after devastating heavy rain.

From Friday to Monday morning, a massive 545mm of rain was recorded at Mt Somers in the Canterbury high country, MetService said, while the main centres of Christchurch (110mm), Ashburton (155mm), and Timaru (105mm) – were inundated over the same period.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today declared an adverse event for the Canterbury region, unlocking government support for farmers and growers.

“My decision to classify this as a medium-scale adverse event ensures funding of $500,000 for flood recovery measures,” Mr O’Connor said during his visit to Canterbury with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers today. . .

Whatever it takes – Tony Benny:

An immigrant from Argentina never expected dairy farming would be a mind-blowing yet rewarding career.

Sitting at home in Argentina, Maria Alvarez hit the refresh button on her computer several times before she reached the most important screen of all – payment. At that moment she knew had made it through the process, and would soon be winging her way across the ocean to New Zealand.

Maria grew up on a beef farm in Argentina and graduated from university with a Bachelor of Agricultural Engineering. She worked for a large crop farming company before coming to NZ on a working holiday, having been lucky to secure one of the 1000 working holiday visas granted to Argentinians each year.

“At 7am NZ time on a certain date, they open the visa application and everybody’s sitting at home in front of their computer. You have to refresh and refresh because the system sort of collapses with so many people trying and then if you make it through to the payment, you make it,” Maria says. . .

Zespri lifts profit to $290.5m after selling $3.5bn of kiwifruit but is running into headwinds – Point of Order:

Like  the  dairy  industry’s  Fonterra, the  kiwifruit  industry’s  giant  Zespri  has  had  a  golden  year.  It  has  reported  record returns  for 2020-21, with  a  net  profit  of  $290.5m (up $90m  from the  previous  year)   after  achieving total fruit  sales revenue  of  $3.5bn  (up 14%).

It  further highlights the strength of NZ’s rural  economy during  a  period  when the  Covid-19 pandemic  underlined the  fragility of  global  trade.

Zespri’s  global sale volumes were up 10% on last season to 181.5m trays.

The company said increased sales, the ongoing expansion of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit production and great quality fruit lay behind the strong returns. . . 

Stud properties a valuable part of farm landscape:

The business of cattle breeding in New Zealand is one rich with history and talent, and while remaining highly competitive, the stud breeding sector is also playing a vital role in helping New Zealand beef also remain competitive and sustainable on a world stage.

Collectively the breed societies that stud breeders belong to have also done much to recognise advances in science, taking the process of selecting animals to a deeper level than simply past dam performance and “gut feel.”

Advances in science mean breeders can now call on genomics to identify some of the preferred traits that determine productivity before sire stock even reach maturity.

The passion and commitment breeders bring to their respective animal breeds has meant New Zealand farmers have been blessed with genetics that often reflect the farming environment of a particular region, or even district. . . 


Rural round-up

28/05/2021

Trade with China – May 2021 – Elbow Deep:

As a dairy farmer, whenever I am asked what I think is the greatest risk to farming in the foreseeable future I invariably and only half-jokingly reply that it is politicians. I wasn’t laughing recently, however, when Brook van Velden, the ACT party’s foreign affairs spokesperson, submitted a motion to Parliament asking MPs to declare China’s treatment of the Uyghur people a genocide. She had the full backing of her leader, David Seymour, who boldly exclaimed “We shouldn’t care about trade and declare a genocide in China”.

This somewhat idealistic proposition came hard on the heels of the Labour Government being criticized by their Five Eyes partners for being too cosy with China. Five Eyes, an intelligence gathering and sharing arrangement between the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, has in recent times tried to expand its remit into other areas of policy. These policy statements are invariably some kind of criticism of China, but New Zealand has annoyed its Five Eyes partners by charting their own course and not signing on to these statements.  . . .

Budget pumps $1.3bn into railways but almost forgets farmers while Fonterra delivers the economy-boosting goods – Point of Order:

Farmers    who  believed   Labour  when it  said  it wanted  to  double  agricultural  exports may have experienced  a  sense  of  disillusion as  they  absorbed the  messages  of  Budget 2021.  While  the  government  is  allocating $1.3bn to modernise rail infrastructure and  build locos  and  wagons in Dunedin,  it  could find  only  $62m  for  agriculture.

Someone  has  calculated  that  the country’s 40,000 farm businesses, if they shared the $62m, would each receive $1550 or $29 a week (less than the ongoing minimum benefit increase).

This  comparatively meagre  sum   is  to be  applied as  follows: . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers win deer environmental award :

The winners of the 2021 Elworthy Award, an environmental accolade for deer farmers, are Grant and Sally Charteris of Forest Road Farm in the Central Hawke’s Bay.

The award was presented at the Deer Industry Conference in Invercargill earlier this month.

Lead judge, Janet Gregory, says the eight entrants in the deer environmental awards had many things in common: active farm environment and business plans, and involvement in the deer industry’s productivity and environmental activities.

“All are leaders in the industry, show great passion and stewardship of the land, and are supporting their local communities. Many of them have calculated their greenhouse gas emissions or are planning to do so,” Gregory says. . . 

How good are New Zealand Farmers?:

“The latest Fonterra announcement of a heightened 2021/2022 farm gate milk price is a big thumbs up for rural New Zealand performance,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“Cheers to our dairy farmers for all their hard work. What this means to New Zealand economic recovery in these crazy COVID times, is greater economic certainty.

“After last week’s la la budget which spent billions of dollars, this boost is exactly what the country needs.

“The new pay-out will mean hundreds of millions of additional dollars that flood into the national economy. A fiscal kick up the backside of a struggling economy. It’s great news to help spirit on our recovery and pay for our ballooning debt. . . 

Confidence constrained by climate:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 220 more farm sales (+89.4%) for the three months ended April 2021 than for the three months ended April 2020. Overall, there were 466 farm sales in the three months ended April 2021, compared to 432 farm sales for the three months ended March 2021 (+7.9%), and 246 farm sales for the three months ended April 2020.

1,677 farms were sold in the year to April 2021, 45.1% more than were sold in the year to April 2020, with 120.0% more Dairy farms, 84.1% more Dairy Support, 20.8% more Grazing farms, 54.4% more Finishing farms and 11.8% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to April 2021 was $29,746 compared to $22,435 recorded for three months ended April 2020 (+32.6%). The median price per hectare increased 14.8% compared to March 2021. . . 

FAO sets the record straight–86% of livestock feed is inedible by humans :

As the media frenzy caused by a ‘planetary health diet’ proposed in a new report from an EAT-Lancet commission this month continues, it is perhaps timely to recall that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has set the record straight regarding not just the level of greenhouse gases that livestock emit (see yesterday’s posting on this blog) but also incorrect information about how much food (crops eatable by humans) is consumed by livestock. It’s not a lot.

The EAT-Lancet report summarizes scientific evidence for a global food system transition towards healthy diets from sustainable agriculture. The report concludes that a global shift towards a diet made up of high quantities of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein and low quantities of animal protein could catalyze the achievement of both the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

Anne Mottet, an FAO livestock development officer specializing in natural resource use efficiency and climate change, usefully informs us of incorrect, if widespread, information and understanding about the so-called ‘food-feed competition’. . . 


Rural round-up

20/05/2021

Farmers may not get much from the Budget but prospects are looking good in export markets – Point of Order:

The agriculture sector may not get the recognition it deserves in this year’s budget, nor much assistance along  the  road  to  reducing  methane emissions — but  at  least farmers  can take  satisfaction (as New Zealand  emerges into  the  post-Covid  era)  that  returns   for the  bulk of the  sector’s output  have  been  strong.  The prospects are that high prices for  most products will be  sustained  next season.

The latest  Global  Dairy Trade  auction this week saw prices  easing  slightly—but  for  the product  that bears  the  greatest influence  on Fonterra’s  farmgate milk price, whole milk powder, it is still 54%  higher  than  at this time  in the  previous season.

Analysts are confident it will stay around that  level next season.

The other encouraging sign for primary producers  is  that  prices  in the  meat  sector  are  buoyant.  This  week  Westpac lifted its farmgate lamb forecast to at least $8/kg, and sees it possibly rising to over $9. . . 

2021 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award winners demonstrate perfect progression pathway:

The 2021 Share Farmers of the Year are driven, professional and high-achieving siblings who benchmark excellence within the industry.

Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj from Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa were named the 2021 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Waikato’s Christopher Vila became the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Ruth Connolly from Waikato was announced the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $210,000.

Share Farmer head judge, Jacqui Groves from Westpac, says Manoj and Sumit impressed the judges with glowing reports from current and past employers and employees.

“They have amazing relationships with two sets of owners, who really believe in them and are following the boys’ dream.” . . 

The occupation – Bill Morris:

Wallabies may have evolved in Australia, but they’re so well suited to life in New Zealand that they have reached plague numbers for the second time in a century, eating their way through the landscapes of Canterbury and the Bay of Plenty and escaping from the containment zones created to hold them back.

FOUR-WHEEL DRIVES MODIFIED with custom-built shooting cages and heavy bull bars rumble off State Highway 1, lining up at a roadside reserve near the South Canterbury town of St Andrews. Gorse-scarred men and women drag a cargo of carnage from the vehicles.

Severed wallaby heads are dumped by the sack-load onto the ground to be counted, then turfed into a trailer for disposal. Wallaby carcasses are disembowelled with an axe before being weighed. The sickly reek of death drifts across the reserve, intensified by the late-summer heat. The flames of a stubble fire crackle in a nearby paddock, casting a thick pall of smoke and an orange hue across the scene. . . 

Fonterra’s restructure proposal risks the co-operative – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s decision on 6 May to present an alternative capital structure has opened a can of worms.  The shares have dropped around 15 percent and investor units are down 13 percent. There are no immediate cash implications, but Fonterra’s capital value has declined by more than $1 billion. This transfers through to farmer balance-sheets.  Given that this is just a proposal, the market response is remarkable.

There is close to zero chance that the proposals will be implemented in their present form. But the worms cannot be simply put back in the can. Fonterra has made it explicit that its current structure is no longer fit for purpose.  Those are not the exact words that Fonterra is using publicly, but they are the exact words coming in on the breeze.

Prior to the proposals being announced, there was no immediate need for action. Fonterra could have kicked the can down the road for several years and left it for another governance team, but they decided to front-foot it.  To that extent, their actions are laudable. But shooting themselves in both feet was not needed. . . 

Rating title dilemma for Waitomo farming blocks – Andy Campbell:

Rating changes introduced by the Waitomo District Council six years ago are to be reversed because of demand for rural land.

Councillors were told at last week’s audit, risk and finance committee meeting that the Office of the Valuer General (OVG) would be taking a special interest in farming properties on the outskirts of townships that had smaller titles.

Because of demand for residential land, the OVG said the smaller titles should constitute separate rating units – which may reverse some property amalgamations the OVG required as part of the 2015 revaluation.

In 2015, smaller titles used as part of a single farming unit were amalgamated to reflect the one farming unit. . .

Luxury treehouse – a dairy farm-stay with a difference:

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or in the case of this Hakataramea Valley farm, if it ain’t broke – think bigger and think differently.

South Canterbury farmers Liz and Andy Hayes are the sixth generation to farm their beautiful part of the country, and it’s gone through several evolutions over the years (including a conversion from beef and sheep to dairy in 2013) and the latest one was their way of holding on to their farming past, but expanding into different, more adventurous territory.

That’s come in the form of a luxury treehouse accommodation which has just started taking bookings.

It was partly driven by a love for storybook fantastical fun, partly from a desire for diversification and partly them just extending a rural welcome – it was the Hayes’ way of opening their farm for others to enjoy. . . 

Supply and demand report reveals the bulls and bears – Nick Robertson:

As we get close to the end of May, vast tracts of Australia’s cropping area are enjoying favourable conditions.

Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales growers have been the recipients of some very good rain throughout autumn, and are well positioned as they finalise their winter sowing programs.

But it is a different story for Victoria and South Australia, where big parts of those regions are yet to get an autumn break.

It is not too late, but time is running out and crop yields may start to be cut from analysts’ production estimates. . . 


Rural round-up

08/05/2021

Sheep and beef farms are getting squeezed – Keith Woodford:

The sheep and beef industry is getting squeezed from all sides, yet export returns exceed $7 billion.

I decided recently that it was time to take a closer look at what is happening on sheep and beef farms. The underlying motive is that I have been giving thought as to what the sheep and beef industry, which contributes around $7 billion of export income each year, might look like in another ten or twenty years. But before getting too immersed in that future, I needed to make sure I understood the present and how we got to where we are now.

When I left school a very long time ago, I had in mind that I wanted to be a sheep farmer myself. As a school boy, I used to peruse the advertisements each weekend in Saturday’s newspaper and figure out what a farm for 1000 ewes plus young stock and a few beef cows would cost. The land cost was around 20,000 New Zealand pounds, with this converting subsequently in 1967 to around $40,000. The figure now is about 30 times that, perhaps more, before taking into account that 1000 ewes would no longer be anywhere near enough for a living. . . 

Two big announcements awaited from Fonterra – one deals with dairy payout, the other with the co-op’s capital structure – Point of Order:

So what  are  the  chances Fonterra’s  payout  to its farmer-suppliers  could  top  $8kg/MS the  soon-to-end  current  season?

That would give a  timely  boost  to  the  rural economy  and give  farmers  the kind  of  surge  in incomes  which  would encourage them  to  step up the  pace  of  adapting their dairy farming practices as  the  country  moves  to meet its  climate  change goals.

In March, Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for this season to between $7.30 and $7.90kg/MS with a mid-point of $7.60. That was up from $7.14 last season.

But now, after several  good  results  from the fortnightly GDT auctions, and indications from futures contract prices, the  speculation  is that the payout  could go  higher. . . 

Farms hidden economic vulnerability revealed – Jonathan Milne:

A new stress test reveals just how exposed our farmers are to labour shortages, drought or a downturn in commodity prices.

Milk prices are high and times seem good for dairy farmers – but the Reserve Bank warns half of dairy farms face debt restructuring if milk solid prices drop back below $5.50/kg.

Dairy is just one of the primary production sectors where pockets of high debt create real economic exposure – for farming families, provincial communities and the economy.

While still relatively small, banks’ lending to horticulture producers has maintained a solid growth rate, increasing 11 percent in the year to March. Banks should continue to monitor associated risks, including the sector’s vulnerability to labour shortages and severe weather events, the Reserve Bank says in its first Financial Stability Report this year. . . 

Should rabbits be on the LIM report – Jill Herron:

It’s a dream lifestyle in a dream location, but owning property in Central Otago often comes with an expanding family of unwanted guests. Should real estate agents be telling prospective buyers about the rabbit problem?

World famous for its breathtaking landscape, skifields, wineries and pristine lakes, Central Otago is also fast becoming notorious for its pest population.

And those buying into the lifestyle dream need to be aware of what they are taking on, according to long-time real estate agent, Edwin Lewis.

The fact the costly, destructive and incredibly persistent pests accompany most purchases is proving a rude shock to many newcomers throughout the region. . . 

Minaret Station PLUS an amazing West Coast wilderness experienceJane Jeffries :

Arriving at the Alpine Helicopters hanger in Queenstown, I was full of anticipation for our three days at Minaret Station. I’d read about this property and have always had an inkling to go. Now three nights for the price of two, thanks to Covid, we are on our way. This much talked about Minaret luxury lodge, set in a glacial valley in the Southern Alps, is seriously remote. We had to chopper over some of New Zealand’s most inaccessible, jagged terrain to get there.

The well-known Wallis family are at the heart of this working farm. They are acknowledged in the Central Otago community for their contribution to aviation, farming, deer exporting and tourism. Sir Tim Wallis was one of the great deer farming pioneers. As a young man, his love of the land, aviation and adventure lured him into the helicopter business. He pioneered live deer capture from helicopters which lead to a significant industry in New Zealand. His nick-name, ‘Hurricane Tim,’ was well-earned for his daring flying and would not be approved by OSHA today!

As the helicopter fleet grew to support the commercial and agriculture arm of the family business, they decided to diversify into tourism. They started offering scenic flights and heli-skiing in the South Island in the 1980s. Then, in 2010 they opening the doors to the Minaret Alpine Lodge. The family wanted to share the beauty of the 50,000-acre working farm, home to some 12,000 deer, 1,300 cattle, and 1,000 sheep. . . 

Ravensdown appoints national agronomy manager:

Ravensdown has appointed Will Waddell as its new National Agronomy Manager. Will’s responsibility will be enhancing the co-operative’s service in seeds, agrichemicals and agronomic advice.

The new role leads a nationwide team of nine specialist agronomists supported by a product management team of four and benefits from Ravensdown’s partnership with Cropmark Seeds.

“I look forward to supporting and leading our talented team of agronomists to bring practical and innovative farm systems solutions to our shareholders as we respond to environmental and social needs,” says Waddell.

General Manager Customer Relationships Bryan Inch congratulated Will Waddell on his appointment to the newly created position. . . 


Rural round-up

30/04/2021

Yes, there will be a cull – it will be aimed at cutting group that launched the “dirty dairying” campaign down to size – Point of Order:

Players in the country’s biggest exporter earner, the dairy and meat industries, would have shown more than a passing interest in two statements from the Beehive yesterday.

Agriculture Minister announced the roll-out of extra monitoring and a range of practical support to help farmers achieve immediate improvements in intensive winter grazing practices.

Acting Conservation Minister Ayesha Verrall  released a report outlining recommendations to strengthen the governance and good management practices within NZ Fish & Game, the outfit charged with managing sport fishing and game bird hunting across NZ that persistently harries farmers on environmental issues. . . 

New Zealand’s first farm to have carbon footprint certified is carbon positive:

Lake Hawea Station has been named as the first farm in New Zealand to have a carbon footprint certified by leading environmental certifications provider Toitū Envirocare, proving that farming can be a pathway to healing the planet.

Lake Hawea Station is owned by Geoff and Justine Ross and is pursuing a farming strategy that is both beneficial to the planet and the bottom line. Geoff Ross says “the process with Toitū highlights that farming need not be a problem in climate change. Rather farming can be a solution”.

The certification process Toitū has undertaken on Lake Hawea Station is planned to be the first of many New Zealand farms as New Zealand moves to lower its overall carbon footprint and consumers world-wide demand carbon positive food and fibre.

Becky Lloyd, Toitū Envirocare Chief Executive says Toitū carbonzero farm certification is important as it demonstrates to farmers, their customers, and regulators that pastoral farms can be carbon neutral and at the same time be commercially viable. . .

New National health service should be fit for rural:

We are not averse to having a national health service, however, we are looking forward to seeing the detail says Rural Women New Zealand.

“The Minister of Health, Andrew Little in his announcement of sweeping changes to abolish District Health Boards to have one health entity, said that “the kind of treatment people get will no longer be determined by where they live” – we want to see that in practice,” says National President Gill Naylor.

“RWNZ expects to see a rural health and wellbeing strategy which is fully resourced and funded to ensure rural postcodes aren’t in the losing lottery.

“It is our expectation that the detail will also include a solid mechanism for including the voice of rural women, children, and communities in decision-making by the new national health service. . . 

New Zealand cheesemakers concerned by Eu’s move to monopolise halloumi cheese:

New moves by the European Commission to grant exclusive use of the term ‘halloumi’ to cheesemakers from Cyprus are raising concerns among the New Zealand cheesemaking community.

“Halloumi is a popular cheese for New Zealand consumers, with a thriving and innovative community of New Zealand cheesemakers delivering this delicious product to New Zealand tables” says Neil Willman, President of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association.

“We are concerned at Europe’s continuing campaign to restrict the use of common names in international cheesemaking, at the expense of producers outside of Europe.”

New Zealand’s cheesemaking community is concerned that the European Union is continuing to protect cheese terms that are generic and in common use around the world. . . 

400 delegates to meat in Taupō for national Rural Health Conference 2021 :

This week approximately 400 rural health professionals and administrators will come together at Wairakei Resort in Taupō for this year’s National Rural Health Conference.

This conference is the first ‘in person’ health professionals conference in 2021 and the biggest event for rural health professionals for close to two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Health Hon. Andrew Little will open Conference on Friday 30 April.

Among the many other excellent speakers to present over the two days are Associate Minister of Health Hon. Peeni Henare and Martin Hefford from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Transition Unit. . . 

Five Riverina artists launch Regenerative Visions exhibition at Fitzroy gallery  – Jodie O’Sullivan:

In many ways the work of a farmer and an artist are not so dissimilar, insists Courtney Young.

“You try to look at the landscape with fresh eyes and see beyond what you can actually see,” explained the emerging artist from Savernake.

“There are correlations with farming where you have to think outside the box and look for nuance in the world around you.”

Young is one of five women from the Riverina who have created a collection of paintings for an exhibition exploring the similarities between art and farming. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/04/2021

The world is keen on our dairy products, which is great for our economy – but what happens when we start culling the cows? – Point of Order:

Although  global  trading patterns  are still recovering from the  Covid  pandemic, the  positive  outcome   for  New Zealand   is  that  it  has  strengthened  demand for  the  kind of foodstuffs we produce.

In particular  the   dairy  trade is booming  and  though  the current  production season is beginning to tail off, Fonterra’s latest global dairy auction showed  demand, far  from  falling off, is  still  very  strong,  with  prices  for  whole  milk  powder   51%  higher  than at the  level they were at  this time  last  season.

Dairy products are the country’s largest commodity export and Fonterra estimates milk payments to its 10,000 farmer suppliers for this season would contribute about $11.5 billion to the economy.

The  encouraging  factor   for those  producers  is  that  there  is  every sign  the   high prices  being  earned  at  present  will  be  sustained  into  the  next  season. . . 

Desperate hort sector demands government action – David Anderson:

Horticultural exporters, growers, food companies and industry leaders are pleading for the Government to make a plan to allow Pacific Island seasonal workers to return later this year.

At a media conference held in Hawke’s Bay last week, sector representatives called on the Government and Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi to develop a plan that would allow more Pacific Island workers into the country in the year ahead.

They want to avoid the devastating impact that is happening to the current season’s crop as the labour shortage hits crisis point with fruit with harvesting is at its peak.

Due to the labour shortage, thousands of tonnes of fruit has been left on trees and the apple industry alone is already predicting losses upwards of $600 million, with the national crop forecasts down 14% on 2020. . . 

Possum fur paying out more than wool for one farmer – Susan Murray:

A King Country sheep farmer has earned more money from possum fur than wool this summer, as the wool strong industry continues to deliver below break-even prices. 

Ben Stubbs farms 650 hectares in the Waitomo area and said self-setting auto-kill possum traps on his QEII native block had nailed more than 800 possums this year.

It was a sad state of affairs to find the wool returns from his 2000 sheep could not compete with the fur from those possums, he said.

“We sold the first lot just recently and made $4000 which equated to more than my wool cheque. . . 

Fencers share knowledge, skills – Shawn McAvinue:

No-one was sitting on the fence — everyone agreed the sharing of techniques, product knowledge and safety tips benefits the fencing industry.

Fencing Contractors Association New Zealand’s longest-serving board member Stephen Mee, of Winton, said the association’s best practice days were a great opportunity to learn new skills, see the latest fencing gear and meet like-minded fencing contractors.

About 50 people, mostly fencing contractors and their staff, attended a day in Palmerston last week.

The theme was fencing on a contour and included topics such as setting strainers and hanging gates on an incline. . . 

Taramoa future proofed for sustainability coupled with income diversity:

A coveted award-winning Hawke’s Bay property manages to meet the needs of both pasture and plate, thanks to a history of smart management and value-added product returns. Taramoa Station located 65km north-west of Napier is on the market for sale by tender and showcases the leading edge of modern, sustainable hill country operations, and the opportunity to leverage that management into premium farm earnings.

Bayleys agent Tony Rasmussen says the property exemplifies the best of what a combined breeding-finishing operation in Hawke’s Bay can offer, both in the conventional pastoral sense, and for how it validates high environmental and product expectations.

“Taramoa claimed four awards in last year’s East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards, including for soil management, livestock and innovation. The current farming operation also has GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) accreditation and is proving its regenerative farming methods can provide both sustainability and profitability.” . . 

Solid performance underpins Pukenui appeal with several purchase options:

The desirable central Hawke’s Bay location of Pukenui Station offers future owners several farming and lifestyle options rarely found on properties of its scale, with potential to capitalise even further on the property’s finishing potential.

The 1,270ha property in the Ashley Clinton district generally enjoys safe summers, with rainfall exceeding 1,500mm a year a benefit from the property’s proximity to the Ruahine ranges. A 164-hectare title with hunting hut and woolshed or the 157ha Makaretu finishing block could be purchased separately.

With its medium- steep hill country contour spread between 400m to 600m, Pukenui also offers some highly cultivable 200ha of easy country providing ideal conditions for cropping and finishing youngstock bred on the steeper country. . . 


Rural round-up

18/04/2021

New report warns that we’re building over our food basket – Alex Braae:

The 2021 Our Land report has raised serious warnings about our most productive food-growing land being turned over to housing. Alex Braae explains.

What’s all this then?

The environment ministry and Stats NZ have produced a new report called Our Land, which outlines exactly what New Zealand’s land is being used for, or how it is being left alone. Over and above the stats, it also shows the connections between land use, the economy, environmental outcomes, and even human wellbeing. 

What’s the big takeaway from the report?

A major fear that gets outlined in detail is about the spread of cities and residential areas into highly productive land – the sort that is vital for the growing of food. One point the report opens with is that our cities were mostly founded near this sort of top quality land, because that allowed enough food to be grown to sustain them.  . . 

O’Connor opts for a ban on exports of live beasts (rather than tighter regulations) to demonstrate our high animal-welfare standards – Point of Order:

Commodities are leading the global economic recovery. International demand for grains, dairy and forestry products is extremely strong – driven primarily by increased demand from China, ANZ Bank  economists say in their latest NZ Agri Focus.

Dairy markets shot up in March, driven by strong buying from China, among challenging conditions to deliver product to market. Since then prices have stabilised near current levels, encouragingly, despite more product being added to the GlobalDairyTrade sales channel.

The recent strength in global markets, combined with a slight softening in the NZ dollar. has been supportive of farmgate milk prices. . . 

Heriot saleyards closure sad but inevitable– Shawn McAvinue:

The Heriot saleyards closing after being a community meeting point for more than a century is sad but the writing was on the wall, a West Otago farmer says.

Farmer Graham Walker owns a 394ha sheep and beef farm in Park Hill and was the second generation of his family to sell stock at the saleyards, about 50km west of Lawrence.

The saleyards were a social place, which brought the community together.

However, the closure was inevitable, as fewer sales were being held as years passed, and as health and safety regulations had tightened. . . 

From dairy giant to tiny player: Miraka CEO Grant Watson – Laurilee McMichael:

It’s eight weeks in and Miraka’s new chief executive Grant Watson says that so far, it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Information overload,” he jokes. “Lots to learn, lots to soak up. It’s a big industry, that’s for sure, lots of moving parts.”

Happily though, dairy is not a new industry to Watson, who took up the Miraka role on February 3, replacing departing chief executive Richard Wyeth, who had been with the company for 11 years and who had taken it from being a plan with a greenfields building site to a respected player in the New Zealand dairy industry. Wyeth is now chief executive of Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products. . . 

Rural postie makes last run – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is the end of the road for a South Otago postie — but in a good way.

After 18 years, David Fenton (67) has parked his rural post truck. He delivered his last parcel before Easter, and the new owners, Jane and Richard Whitmore took over the run early in April.

In almost two decades, Mr Fenton has covered about 846,000km. And while somewhat miffed not to have hit the million km mark — he would have got close had he kept going for a few more years — he was pleased with the decision to call time.

“I’ve been getting super for two years, so I’ve been double-dipping. Colleen [his wife] is retiring soon, and we’ve got to get out there and see more of New Zealand. There’s a whole lot more we want to see and go back to see, while we have the health to do it. . . 

Blue Peter drops anti-meat message after farmer’s beef with BBC – Ben Webster:

The BBC has dropped an anti-meat message to children from its Blue Peter green badge initiative after it drew a furious response from farmers.

The children’s programme offered the green badges, similar to the traditional blue ones, for youngsters who demonstrated they were “climate heroes” by making a pledge to “go meat-free”, switch off lights or stop using plastic bottles.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a father of three who runs a 2,000-acre farm in north Wales, last week condemned what he described as a “sweeping statement” that overlooked the lower environmental impact of grass-fed British beef and lamb. . . 


Rural round-up

12/03/2021

Taking stock: Govt should pump more into science to lift farm production as animal numbers are reduced – Point of Order:

Here’s  a  conundrum for  New  Zealand: pastoral farming last year produced more  than 40% of  the country’s export income, but  the Climate Change Commission is calling   for  a  15%  fall in the  national headcount of    sheep and  dairy and beef cattle by 2030  and  another 5% by 2035.

Even if the  productivity  of  the animals  can  be  improved, the  commission appears to be  saying that  NZ  will have to adjust  to a  flattening out  of  its export income  from farming, and  therefore to a  slower  rate of  what already is a slow rise in living standards.

So  what is  going to fill  the gap  when the  headcount of dairy  cows  falls?

Or  (a better question, surely) is  there  a  better  way of  meeting  NZ’s  emission reduction  targets  than the  methods  the  commission  recommends?. . 

Hawke’s Bay apple growers face picking crisis :

Severe labour shortages on Hawke’s Bay apple orchards are forcing some smaller growers to only pick their fruit once a week during peak season.

Orchard owners have been fearing labour shortages for months as the peak picking season approaches.

Mr Yummy apples grower and owner Paul Paynter said he was leaving fruit on large trees that were difficult to pick and some trees would only get picked once rather than two or three times.

Paynter said it was even worse for owner-operator orchards. . .

Taking time to thrive :

Southland dairy farmer Loshni Manikam is on a mission to help farming women get more out of life. Her new free ebook 12 Tips to Help You Thrive shares practical advice on how women can take time for their own needs, while juggling multiple responsibilities.

In 2018, a Farmstrong survey of nearly 800 women in farming found 90% felt negatively impacted by fatigue, workload, lack of sleep and stress. A third wanted more time off the farm and a quarter wanted more time to themselves.

Manikam says the study also highlighted another issue. 

“It’s very hard to get women who are caring and nurturing and prioritising everyone else’s needs above their own – the household, the kids, the farm, the farming team, the stock – to suddenly put themselves at the top of the list,” she said. . . 

 

Homes sought for 200 Kaimanawa horses to avoid mass cull :

Nearly 200 Kaimanawa horses could be culled this year and people capable of helping these animals transition from the wild into their care are being sought.

Those interested in taking one of the horses are being urged to act swiftly, in the hopes of averting a mass cull.

Last year’s muster to remove the wild horses from the Kaimanawa ranges was cancelled last year due to Covid restrictions, leaving the herd well over the allowed level. There are currently 500.

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society’s Marilyn Jenks told Morning Report they were seeking those experienced with horses, able to be sensitive to their trauma as they begin adapting to life away from their close family environments on the ranges. . . 

Forestry futures strengthened through training and jobs:

The forestry sector continues to provide career opportunities for New Zealanders, with Te Uru Rākau delivering $1.5 million into training and employment projects to help the sector meet labour and skills gaps.

Acting deputy director general Henry Weston says the Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Action Plan, developed in partnership with the sector, identified up to 5,000 more forestry and wood processing workers would be required by 2025.

“The food and fibre sectors are a key driver for the New Zealand economy and it’s a priority for the Ministry of Primary Industries to invest in projects that attract people to the sector.

“As New Zealand continues to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19, we need people taking up careers in this important sector. The forestry and wood processing sectors already bring in between $6 and $7 billion each year, employ 35,000 people, and we want to keep helping New Zealanders find exciting and rewarding training and career opportunities. . . 

Keep dogs on leads to save ground-nesting birds farmers say  – Philip Case:

Dog walkers are being asked to keep their pets on leads at all times in the countryside to help protect young animals and ground-nesting birds.

Farmers and land managers are working hard to try to reverse a decline in ground-nesting bird species through practical measures in agri-environment schemes, such as fallow plots, grass margins and supplementary winter feeding.

Spring and early summer are critical times for breeding birds, and theirs nests need to be undisturbed so they can lay plenty of eggs and raise as many chicks as possible.

However, farmers believe their good work could be undone if roaming dogs are allowed to disturb wildlife during the nesting season. This is in addition to ongoing problems of livestock attacks caused by loose dogs, especially during the lambing and calving season. . .

 


Rural round-up

06/03/2021

Fonterra milk price forecasts give a fillip to farmers and the regions – the co-op has become an NZX favourite, too – Point of Order:

Fonterra has  confirmed  what  most analysts  had  been predicting and lifted its 2020/21 forecast farmgate milk price range to  $7.30 – $7.90 kg/MS, up from  $6.90 – $7.50. This should  send a  further surge of  confidence  across  NZ’s  rural regions, hopefully in  a  wave  strong enough to encourage  farmers  to plan to  increase production  next  season.

As  a  result  of  the  higher  payout, the co-op  will be  pumping $11.5bn  into the  rural economy, well ahead of the $10bn predicted  last year. Although  farmer-suppliers  to Fonterra  are paid off   the mid-point  $7.60  of the new range, most analysts  believe the final payout will reach $7.90.

That  should  ensure a  handsome  return  for most  suppliers,  whose  cost  of  production averages  around $5.80-$6 kg/MS—and for the  highly  efficient, at below $4, an even   better one. . . 

Lessons from M. Bovis outbreak – Peter Burke:

The chair of a new committee set up to review the handling of Mycoplasma bovis outbreak says it isn’t a witch-hunt.

Massey University academic Nicola Shadbolt says the review is about learning from the past and helping us to be stronger for the future. She says it’s about finding out what happened and seeing what might need to be put in place if there a biosecurity outbreak of this nature in the future.

Shadbolt, a professor of farm and agribusiness, served as a Fonterra director for nine years and is currently chair of Plant and Food Research. . .

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier at risk of losing key community members – locals – Tess Brunton:

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier communities have been told that the government can’t save every business that’s struggling during the pandemic.

A week ago the two communities sent Tourism Minister Stuart Nash a $35 million wishlist of what they need to survive.

Yesterday he visited Franz Josef with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor but didn’t make any promises.

Across Country Quad Bikes used to run four fully booked tours a day, closing for a few months over winter after a hectic summer. . .

Bees get a fighting chance – Neal Wallace:

University of Otago Researchers have made a discovery that may just give honeybees a fighting chance against the varroa mite. Neal Wallace reports.

Scientists have identified naturally occurring compounds which induces a cleaning response among some worker bees, killing juvenile varroa mites.

The University of Otago researchers are now looking at how to replicate the six relevant compounds they have discovered, and a way to deliver them to hives from which beekeepers can selectively breed bees that have this trait.

Emeritus Professor Alison Mercer of the university’s Department of Zoology says varroa mites reproduce in brood cells, but researchers have identified some worker bees can sense where the mites are using these compounds, then open those cells and pull out the contents, including the mite, killing it. . . 

Why aren’t farmers using more agritech on farm? – Phil Edmonds:

While internet connectivity may be viewed as a barrier to farmers adopting more agritech solutions, Phil Edmonds discovers there are many reasons for New Zealand’s low adoption rate, including technology not being developed with their needs in mind.

A fresh look is under way into understanding why agritech adoption in New Zealand has not escalated to the same extent that our primary sector exports have. A cursory glance at the unflattering data on uptake suggests farmers are content using tried and tested methods despite the increasing availability of ‘go faster’ solutions. However, ‘tried and tested’ will inevitably start to hold the industry back. The initial thinking on where to get the ball rolling faster is for agritech developers to focus on time-saving rather than insight solutions, and stop assuming farmers are inherent technophobes.

An analysis of the impact of agritech on the New Zealand economy published last year suggested that New Zealand is underperforming relative to its global peers. While food and fibre exports have grown substantially, the same can’t be said for agritech, which has netted a consistent (rather than accelerating) $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion over the past five years. . . 

Exclusion fence gives options for diversity at Bollon – Sally Gall:

A decision in the summer of 2017 to fully enclose their 36,420ha of country in the Bollon district has rewarded Scott and Alison Todd many times over.

The couple came to Brigalow Downs 90km south of Bollon in 2014, walking into one of the biggest droughts on record.

At that stage they were an all-cattle operation with rangeland goats running freely on the property, and with a good reserve of mulga and cattle selling very cheaply in the Barcaldine and Blackall districts, they began building cattle numbers.

As the drought went on, their mulga didn’t regenerate as well as expected, and with cattle agistment bills mounting, they decided to diversify. . .


Rural round-up

05/03/2021

Dairy price lift will give fillip to regional economies and fortify Fonterra’s confidence in pressing on with capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Our  dairy provinces  are  reverberating to  the  news that prices  soared  at the  latest Fonterra GDT auction. The prosperity  this  brings  to the regions  will  provide a  significant counterbalance  to the loss  of earning power  in the tourism sector because of the pandemic.

The average price at the auction climbed 15% to $US4,231 a tonne but,  more  importantly, the price for wholemilk  powder, which is  the  key to the payout  to farmers,rose an astonishing 21% to $US4,364 a tonne. Butter  was  up  sharply to $US5,826 a tonne, or 13.7%.

Overall, the increase compares with a 3% rise at the previous auction two weeks ago. . . 

Reducing cow numbers no silver bullet for emissions – Sudesh Kissun:

Reducing cow numbers isn’t the ‘silver bullet’ to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, says Northland farmer and entrepreneur Tom Pow.

With the Government facing calls to slash cow numbers as part of its climate change action plan, Pow, the founder of HerdHomes, says a knee-jerk reaction to reduce cow numbers would be naïve.

He suggests looking at other options including reducing the number of hours cows spend in paddocks. “Balanced feed can lead to less greenhouse gasses (GHG) or effectively a smaller herd mis-managed could produce even more GHG,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Exciting board role for up and coming farmer – Peter Burke:

A 50/50 sharemilker at an award-winning Maori farming enterprise has been selected as one of two associate directors at DairyNZ for the coming year.

Carlos Delos Santo works for the Onuku Maori Lands Trust which runs a number of dairy farms near Rotorua as well as a sheep milking operation and other businesses. The other new associate director is Cameron Henderson who farms in Canterbury with his partner Sarah.

Delos Santo says he’s really excited to be selected for this role, as it allows him the chance to gain knowledge on what occurs at DairyNZ board meetings and contribute to important sector discussions. . .

Following his calling, not many downsides to farming – Toni Williams:

Mike Carr has had a calling to be a farmer since he was 8 years old; old enough to drive a tractor and help out on farm.

By the age of 25 he’d travelled overseas and had a mechanic’s qualification under his belt before returning to the family farm to work alongside his parents, Ian and Sue.

Then he took over.

He loves farming — and being outdoors.

“You’re your own boss. It’s great — you don’t answer to anyone else,” he said. . .

Shed consent application process could be improved – Shawn McAvinue:

A frustrated West Taieri farmer is calling for the Otago Regional Council to do better so he can achieve his dream of building a shed to keep his cattle warm and dry.

The council says it will seek ways to improve its service.

Fred Doherty, of Outram, said he had expected the process to get the consents required to build a wintering shed in the middle of his 90ha sheep and beef farm to be “simple and basic” but it had been “frustrating” and made considerably more expensive by red tape.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be able to put my stock inside for winter and to know that whatever nature throws at them, they are safe, warm and dry and your farm is getting looked after.” . . 

Could the next Emirates Team New Zealand boat be made entirely of hemp?:

With The America’s Cup due to start in a few days’ time, innovators from a very different sphere have been wondering how long it could be before New Zealand could be competing in a boat entirely built from hemp, with the crew eating high-energy, nutritious hemp-infused foods and wearing high-performance hemp kit?

Industrial hemp (iHemp) is from the same family as cannabis, but from different cultivars and without the psychoactive effects. Having historically fallen out of favour, it’s rapidly finding its place in the world again, due primarily to its environmental and health benefits.

Hemp has a wide range of uses driven by its unique characteristics. Hemp textiles are naturally anti-fungerial, antic static, antibacterial and antimicrobial and can stop 95% of the UV light. Used in construction materials, it is fire resistant, breathable and strong; one sixth of the weight of concrete and continues to sequester carbon throughout its life. .  .


Quotes of the month

01/03/2021

In olden times, journalists were like children – seen but not heard. Now if the public had three wishes it would probably be for us to please shut up, shut up, shut up about ourselves. – Jane Bowron

Climate policy is incredibly complex. Yes, science sits at its core – but there are also economic, social and political implications to be considered,”  – Tim Mackle

Any new outbreak will have major health, economic and social costs. But there will also be another significant casualty. Until now, politicians and public health officials have been able to draw on their social capital, the trust they have earned. But that trust is conditional. If leaders are seen as failing to act and letting foreseeable failures happen, that has the potential to seriously weaken the collective support and compliance that is absolutely pivotal for current public health measures.The ConversationBernard Walker

It is not necessary for anyone actually to have been offended for an utterance to be considered offensive; on the other hand, if someone has taken offence at it, this too proves that it was offensive. That the person who took offence was a paranoiac whose  outrage was completely unreasonable, or expressed in the hope of compensation or some other advantage, is no defence, for one of the criteria of offensiveness is simply that someone says that he has taken offence, the other criterion being somewhat more Platonic, namely that someone might take offence.  – Theodore Dalrymple

But playing our part to best effect, doing the most good that New Zealand can do, means finding the most cost-effective ways of abating greenhouse gas emissions – regardless of where they are. It turned out that the best way of getting cars wasn’t by building them in Petone, but by growing them in other parts of the country. It could easily turn out that the best way for New Zealand to sequester carbon is not to plant trees here, but to fund replanting efforts elsewhere.

If we could achieve twice as much or more by helping to fund mitigation efforts abroad, the climate would not thank us for pursuing less effective measures here at home instead – Eric Crampton

Western civilisation is built on the sovereignty of the individual, sovereignty derived in large part from the Christian concept of man being created in the image of God and being equal in His sight, be we king or commoner, free or slave, white or black.  . . As sovereign individuals we have agency, but with agency comes personal responsibility.  By adopting a group approach, personal responsibility can be avoided and politically correct faux virtue-signalling used to cover the real aim – the pursuit of power. Thus when the principles of government are based on classifications or groups rather than individuals, the results are almost invariably bad.  Examples include Communism, Fascism, Nazism, apartheid, the Indian cast system and, more recently, gender identity and ‘woke’ prescriptions generally. In short, the currently fashionable emphasis on group rights rather than individual rights must be rejected. – Anthony Carr

Progress requires bad practices to be replaced by good, not justified as part of a culture frozen in aspic. – Anthony Carr

Our society’s success depends on people making themselves useful, taking education seriously, working hard and conducting themselves properly with respect to their families and society as a whole. If taking personal responsibility for one’s life is avoided, no amount of aid or intervention from any source will ever succeed. We are sovereign individuals and avoiding responsibility only ensures that one is neither granted nor actually deserves any genuine respect. – Anthony Carr

The backlash against wokeism will be made much more aggressive by the difficulties its opponents encounter in making their voices heard. The mainstream news media – and especially the state-owned media – have become increasingly intolerant of ideas and opinions which directly, or indirectly, challenge the wokeists’ view of the world. Stuff, the largest newspaper publisher in the country has embraced wokeism wholeheartedly and set its face resolutely against the errors of “racist” New Zealanders. Even more significantly, citizens determined to spread “unacceptable” ideas can no longer rely upon the major social media platforms for their dissemination. Increasingly, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are “de-platforming” individuals and groups (including a former President of the United States!) whose beliefs have been anathematised by the woke. – Chris Trotter

Imagine you are an idealistic young Labour MP. Let’s call you, say, Grant, or Chris, or Jacinda. You realise you’ve just overseen the greatest transfer of wealth from those who work to those who own in the history of our country. David Seymour

We have a country that’s practically uninhabited, but somehow it has a shortage of land you’re allowed to build on. Only governments can manufacture famine from plenty … they’re like a reverse Jesus – David Seymour

It goes without saying that the justice with which the iconoclasts and vandals are obsessed is always of a very peculiar sort (it continues to surprise me how little protest there is against the very expression racial justice, than which few expressions could be more racist); but at any rate they are always judging the past, as they judge the present, against an impossible standard of perfection—perfection, that is, according to their own conception of that the world ought to be.Theodore Dalrymple

The gap between people’s impression of Ardern and her actual performance as a leader has widened to a gulf. So long as enough modern Tacituses write gushing Ardern portraits, her superstar status will not change. – Oliver Hartwich

So, let’s make Waitangi not just about airing grievances. There is much to celebrate in the advances Māori have made. Surely it is time to drop the victimhood and inspire younger generations to build? –  Fran O’Sullivan

It’s quite a skill, really, making announcements about a policy without any sort of plan to achieve it, and then have the country believe that what you’ve just said is significant, transformative or, as we heard this week, foundational. National was criticised for this all the time and often quite fairly. Under this government, however, such expediency has almost become a form of art.  – Monique Poirier

The good thing about debt is it can mask a lot of stuff and buy you time. But it never stops being debt and it never stops needing to be paid back. And $100 billion and counting is a lot to pay back.Mike Hosking

Every culture must treat women as equal to men, and afford them the same rights in every aspect as they afford men. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The middle path needs to be actively promoted and defended. We need to shrug off the image of being spineless fence-sitters who get bullied into sell-out compromises by those at the extremes. Being a middle-pathster does not mean having no firm principles. We have our bottom lines too which we will not surrender to either the extreme left or the extreme right. The political spectrum is best represented not as a straight line but as a circle in which extreme left and extreme right meet. The middle path is diametrically opposed to both – and for much the same reason: their erosion of liberty. It is liberty that defines our bottom line. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

If the New Zealand news media persists in the folly of “cancelling” all those listeners, viewers and readers who fail to pass ideological muster, then we will see the emergence of our own version of Fox News – with all that entails for the health of our country and its democratic institutions. Who would lead it? Do we have a Hannity, or a Tucker Carlson, waiting out there in the wings? Where to start looking for a talented right-wing contrarian, boasting years of professional broadcasting experience, who is currently between jobs? – Chris Trotter

It’s just the same broken system with a new letterhead. Karen Chhour

I had people that helped me to believe in myself just enough that I could see my way out. – Karen Chhour

. . .ethnicity and culture should not be how we decide what is in the best interests of children. Oranga Tamariki should be colour-blind and open to whatever will ensure a child’s wellbeing and safety. – Karen Chhour

As someone who has experienced three elements of placement – non family who wanted me, family who didn’t and extended family who did – I can tell you, as a young person you’ll take love, compassion and stability wherever you can find it. – Karen Chhour

I think we spend far too much time on the (isms) in this country, racism, sexism, and classism. I firmly believe these can be used as a weapon to distract us from the important issues instead of focusing on what needs to be done in these areas. – Karen Chhour

The consequence of constantly putting labels on things seems to be that we have created an environment where expectations are lowered and personal responsibility is no longer a requirement. I want to focus on people being the best that they can be and celebrate their successes in these areas, instead of constantly focusing on the negatives that give these people the platform they desire. – Karen Chhour

We’re in urgency today on a local democracy bill making fundamental change. Am I the only one who sees the ridiculous irony of that? There’s an anti-democratic local democracy bill. That’s literally what we’ve got here, because the other side is putting this through—it’s ramming it through—in urgency.Simon Bridges

In relation to the wards themselves, personally, I find it hard when we come to special separate representation for Māori. As a Māori man, it says I’m not good enough, because of my whakapapa, because of the colour of my skin. . . This bill, to me, says that I’m not good enough to win a vote of a non-Māori. Well, I am good enough. I am good enough. – Simon Bridges

Central planning fails not just because we cannot predict the future but because the Climate Commission can never know enough to make better decisions about you, your family or your business than you can. The commission says its decisions will be based not just on science but “equity”. What the commission thinks is fair. As an example the commission says the rules for Māori should be different. “Māori collectives” should get “free allocation.” 

Politics will decide what is fair. It will be a lobbyist paradise. Some firms will get privileged allocations and get their competitors’ products banned. It will be like the days when some firms got import licenses and grew rich while others were refused. Bureaucrats will decide which businesses to reward and which to ruin. A central plan cannot even guarantee the result will be net zero emissions. – Richard Prebble

Attacks on freedom of expression are coming from multiple directions: from a government that proposes to place new limits (conveniently vague at this stage, so as not to cause too much alarm) around what people may say on subjects such as race and religion; from woke vigilantes in mainstream and social media who campaign for the defenestration of non-woke broadcasters; and from cowed media bosses and corporate advertisers who show no commitment or loyalty to the values of the free, capitalist society in which they operate, and for whom defence of democratic values is less important than winning brownie points on left-leaning social media platforms.   – Karl du Fresne

Companies operating in the field of news and current affairs have a responsibility not shared by purveyors of other commodities. As shapers of public opinion and providers of information of vital public interest, the news media perform a role central to the functioning of democracy.  This imposes obligations of fairness, accuracy and balance; but as long as we profess to be a free and open society, it also requires them to reflect the full spectrum of public opinion. Karl du Fresne

The people we have most to fear from are not shoot-from-the-lip provocateurs like Banks, but the authoritarian zealots who insist that they be silenced. The threat these censorious prigs pose to a democratic society is potentially far greater and more far-reaching than anything a bigoted talkback host might say to his limited band of followers. As the British columnist Bernard Levin once put it: “Any legally permissible view, however repugnant, is less dangerous promulgated than banned.” Karl du Fresne

Trust; that’s a crucial factor here. The Left has always had a problem with trust. Leftist apparatchiks fret that people who are left to make up their own minds will make the wrong choices, so seek to lead them by limiting the range of ideas and opinions they are exposed to – which is why freedom of expression is such a crucial battleground in the so-called culture wars. Karl du Fresne

Here’s another canard: the reason voters have rejected Maori wards whenever the issue has been put to a referendum is that voters are racist. But I don’t believe for a moment that people vote against Maori wards because they don’t want Maori councillors. They do it because they intuitively understand that democracy is supposed to be colour-blind, and that candidates should get elected on the basis of merit rather skin colour. Voters get that, even if the Year Zero cultists in the government don’t. Karl du Fresne

It’s unclear whether, following this flip-flop, Speaker Mallard will now acquire the nickname of ‘The Jandal’. – James Elliott

While an MP bridles against neckties, voters who oppose Maori wards are being told to get knotted – Point of Order

I made a great choice when I got married. You’re very lucky if you get that one right. –Sir Eion Edgar

We spent a lot of time bringing up our children, and they’ve turned out well because we put the time and effort into them. – Sir Eion Edgar

Plunket was hectoring, abrasive, shallow, belligerent and generally obnoxious. In other words exactly what you want in a populist talkback jock pandering to a certain market segment. He is a cultural warrior on the side of the deplorables.

Talkback is not a counselling session where every caller is taught to be reasonable and sensitive. It is not a barber shop or a hairdressing salon where the attendant listens politely and asks a few friendly questions. I imagine that most callers are ill-informed cranks who a talkback host must tolerate and perhaps egg on in the hope the next caller has a coherent view, but clearly a lot of people do enjoy it. –  Martin van Beynen

Like a lot of people, I’m struggling with the rapid change in the new moral and political climate. The silencing of Plunket suggests mainstream broadcasters are so concerned about toeing the politically correct line that someone who echoes a sceptical and possibly prejudiced public cannot be tolerated. This appears to be on the basis that if we get rid of everyone who disagrees with current trends, the audience will just go away and reform. – Martin van Beynen

Sometimes media organisations just have to tell advertisers to get lost in the interests of higher principles like the value of the fourth estate and free speech. – Martin van Beynen

We need to remember we are not a powder keg nation. An off remark will not set off riots in the streets and see shops burnt down. We can take it and should not expect all debate to be sensitive, respectful and totally reasonable. Surely we are not so fragile that a controversial talkback host who challenges the new orthodoxy, even if he is a reactionary, cannot be tolerated. – Martin van Beynen

The beautiful thing about Valentine’s Day is that unlike a lot of other more prescriptive annual celebrations, it’s incredibly flexible. While films and advertisers might have told us otherwise, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day for dramatic grand gestures featuring diamond bracelets and white tablecloth dinners. It’s a lot more enjoyable if you instead set it aside as a day for sweetness and tenderness. It’s about “e iti noa ana nā te aroha” – a small thing given with love.Charlotte Muru-Lanning

It certainly has its faults, but amid the routine of everyday life, Valentine’s Day is a much-needed reminder to celebrate the sweet things that make your heart flutter. Just like any relationship, it’s worth loving, in spite of its faults. – Charlotte Muru-Lanning

 It is entirely reasonable to aspire for personal responsibility while acknowledging that compassion will always be required – and that sometimes this has to take the form of government intervention.Monique Poirier

If we aspire to live in a society where reliance on the state is all but non-existent, we have to break the cycle of poverty. If parents are unable or unwilling to do this, it cannot be left up to the children to do it themselves. – Monique Poirier

The government is quite happy to throw $55m at the media, rush constitutional law changes through urgency, debate supplements, and snipe at the opposition. But child poverty? All we hear is some statistics on supposed measures improving, while conveniently forgetting to mention that the very one that matters – material deprivation – is not. – Monique Poirier

What is the answer? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is this shouldn’t be a partisan monopoly for the left. It is nothing short of reprehensible that New Zealand still has so many children living in poverty, and our politicians and leaders should be ashamed.  – Monique Poirier

Every serious moral philosophy, every decent legal system and every ethical organization cares deeply about intention.  It is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It is an aggravating or extenuating factor in judicial settings. It is a cardinal consideration in pardons (or at least it was until Donald Trump got in on the act). It’s an elementary aspect of parenting, friendship, courtship and marriage. A hallmark of injustice is indifference to intention. Most of what is cruel, intolerant, stupid and misjudged in life stems from that indifference.Bret Stephens

Should intent be the only thing that counts in judgment? Obviously not. Can people do painful, harmful, stupid or objectionable things regardless of intent? Obviously.  Do any of us want to live in a world, or work in a field, where intent is categorically ruled out as a mitigating factor? I hope not.

That ought to go in journalism as much as, if not more than, in any other profession. What is it that journalists do, except try to perceive intent, examine motive, furnish context, explore nuance, explain varying shades of meaning, forgive fallibility, make allowances for irony and humor, slow the rush to judgment (and therefore outrage), and preserve vital intellectual distinctions?

Journalism as a humanistic enterprise — as opposed to hack work or propaganda — does these things in order to teach both its practitioners and consumers to be thoughtful. There is an elementary difference between citing a word for the purpose of knowledge and understanding and using the same word for the purpose of insult and harm. Lose this distinction, and you also lose the ability to understand the things you are supposed to be educated to oppose. – Bret Stephens

A journalism that turns words into totems — and totems into fears — is an impediment to clear thinking and proper understanding. So too is a journalism that attempts to proscribe entire fields of expression. “Racist language” is not just about a single infamous word. It’s a broad, changing, contestable category.Bret Stephens

We are living in a period of competing moral certitudes, of people who are awfully sure they’re right and fully prepared to be awful about it. Hence the culture of cancellations, firings, public humiliations and increasingly unforgiving judgments. The role of good journalism should be to lead us out of this dark defile. Last week, we went deeper into it.Bret Stephens

Climate change is a real, manmade problem. But its impacts are much lower than breathless climate reporting would suggest. The UN Climate Panel finds that if we do nothing, the total impact of climate in the 2070s will be equivalent to reducing incomes by 0.2-2 percent. Given that by then, each person is expected to be 363 percent as rich as today, climate change means we will “only” be 356 percent as rich. Not the end of the world.

Climate policies could end up hurting much more by dramatically cutting growth. For rich countries, lower growth means higher risks of protests and political breakdown. This isn’t surprising. If you live in a burgeoning economy, you know that you and your children will be much better off in the coming years. Hence, you are more forgiving of the present. If growth is almost absent, the world turns to a zero-sum experience. Better conditions for others likely mean worse conditions for you, resulting in a loss of social cohesion and trust in a worthwhile future. – Bjorn Lomborg

 If all the rich countries in the world were to cut their carbon emissions to zero tomorrow and for the rest of the century, the effort would make an almost unnoticeable reduction in temperatures by 2100. – Bjorn Lomborg

The last 30 years of climate policy have delivered high costs and rising emissions. The only reliable ways to cut emissions have been recessions and the COVID-19 lockdowns, both of which are unpalatable. Expecting nations to stop using cheap energy won’t succeed. We need innovation. – Bjorn Lomborg

We should spend tens of billions to innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels. Spending trillions on enormous and premature emissions cuts is an unsustainable and ineffective First World approach. Bjorn Lomborg

Here, though, is the detail that haunts me. For every patient who dies from Covid-19 in hospital, from the moment they encounter that first masked paramedic, they will never see a human face again. Not one smile, nor pair of cheeks, nor lips, nor chin. Not a single human being without barricades of plastic. Sometimes, my stomach twists at the thought that to the patients whose faces I can never unsee – contorting and buckling with the effort of breathing – I am no more than a pair of eyes, a thin strip of flesh between mask and visor, a muffled voice that strains and cracks behind plastic.

Of all Covid’s cruelties, surely the greatest is this? That it cleaves us from each other at precisely those times when we need human contact the most. That it spreads through speech and touch – the very means through which we share our love, tenderness and basic humanity. That it transforms us unwittingly into vectors of fatality. And that those we love most – and with whom we are most intimate – are the ones we endanger above all others. –  Dr Rachel Clarke

 For however bleak the times, however grim our prospects seem, human kindness finds a shape and form: it will not be locked down. –  Dr Rachel Clarke

Any straight person who uses a pronoun is definitely tattooing themselves as one thing – a bit of a wanker. Any gay person using the same, yeah still. – Cactus Kate

Pigeon holing people into the LGBTQIA community for quirks in their behaviour or preferences that are not stereotypical to society, is something social engineers have been trying to do to swell the numbers in those minority communities.  Not only is it an insult to people who genuinely belong to those communities, it is in itself creating the sort of division and anxiety the engineers are claiming to now use six figure government department jobs to remove. Do not be a wanker. Refuse to become a pronoun.  – Cactus Kate

My working hypothesis has been that MoH is just a wall of “Computer Says No” because the whole system’s held together with bailer wire and they know they can’t trust themselves to try to adjust anything. But some moves reduce the riskiness of the whole shambles. Daily testing in MIQ makes the whole thing less risky. – Eric Crampton

We do not have to inhabit a fantastical dystopian universe to imagine that one day, not so far away, Amazon will be pressured by customers or staff to eradicate Rowling’s spawn for the greater good. We can only hope that these platforms eschew the snivelling self-abasement that we have seen recently and uphold individual autonomy, but an oxymoronic Union of Individualists may have to join forces with brave small independent distributors to defeat the moronic mob. – Juliet Moses

The whole point of our parliamentary democracy is that the actions of Government and the policies of government and the statements of government are scrutinised, and the reason they’re scrutinised is because without scrutiny, governments can do what they like. Chris Bishop

The UK is not New Zealand. So everybody says ‘ah, New Zealand, New Zealand, it’s all terrific’, but as I’ve pointed out before on the media, they’ve got quite a lot of sheep in New Zealand, and they are a million miles from anywhere and it’s a lot easier if you want to put up border controls for New Zealand than it is here. – Professor Sir John Bell 

Publishers must realise they rely on readership and advertising. Treat these two groups with respect by giving them news and a platform for their views and they will succeed.Nick Smith

However, given that Tauwhiro means to tend or care for as a verb in Māori, or social worker if it’s a noun, putting the fear of God into gangstas is probably not what this police initiative is about. Bloody hell. Give me a Strike Force Raptor any day over an Operation Tend and Nurture when it comes to the gangs. . . The Government will proclaim it a huge success and the Police Commissioner will praise his task force. And during that six months, the gangs will have survived and thrived and laughed all the way to the bank. You want to try being kind with the new breed of gang members? Let’s just see how that works out, shall we? – Kerre McIvor

More generally, RNZ’s “product” reflects the network’s reckless abandonment of the middle way. The sensible notion that, as a public broadcaster, RNZ should do its best to reflect the public, has been set aside, and in its place a regime of extreme cultural didacticism has arisen. National Radio is no longer a station where the broadest possible range of New Zealanders’ ideas and opinions is broadcast for their fellow citizens to hear and judge. The views of those who remain unconvinced by the new orthodoxies of identity politics have been rigorously filtered out, and those espousing them “de-platformed” with extreme prejudice.- Chris Trotter

Breathlessly inoffensive, punctiliously politically correct, “The Panel” has made the penitential journey from seditious to soporific – and kept on going. – Chris Trotter

Not every New Zealander born between 1966 and 1986 subscribes to the extreme “wokeism” that is currently masquerading as the default ideology of RNZ’s listeners. Most of them would, however, be glad to hear its contentious propositions debated.Chris Trotter

An RNZ which refuses to acknowledge the full diversity of belief and aspiration in New Zealand runs a terrible risk. When the mood of the nation inevitably shifts, the worst possible position in which the public broadcaster could find itself is so far out on an ideological limb that its enemies feel completely safe in sawing off the branch altogether. An RNZ so bereft of friends and allies that no effective defence is any longer possible. There is a very good reason why the public broadcaster should do everything within its power to be the citizens’ friend and comforter. It’s so those same citizens will always have a reason to be the friends and comforters of public broadcasting – when its enemies come a-calling. – Chris Trotter

The utterly disgraceful reality is that local governments have conspired to drive up housing costs to absurd levels – among the highest in the English-speaking world relative to incomes – by tightly constraining the availability of land (in a country among the least populated in the world) and by imposing long and expensive delays on the construction of houses. Damien Grant

Nobody should take Jacinda seriously when she says she is concerned about child poverty. Until she is willing to face the reality that child poverty is going to continue to get worse as long as house prices continue to rise faster than incomes, she’s crying crocodile tears. – Damien Grant

The costs of confusing public health messaging are suffered more by some groups than by others, but this can all too easily be forgotten by progressive elites in the rush to signal inclusiveness. . . The elaborate dance involved in avoiding using words such as “mother” and “breast” offers those at the cutting edge of political discourse the opportunity to demonstrate their status at no cost to themselves. That does not, however, mean there is no cost to be borne by anyone else. – Louise Perry

The public’s best interest lies in full transparency and two extra weeks to digest the commission’s work and make thoughtful submissions. The hurdles are only manufactured deadlines on the road to an objective some 30 years hence. – Kate MacNamara

The most offensive use of urgency is when it is done for political convenience.Nick Smith

How could anyone of his intelligence fail to realise that, though as ever there was much wrong with the world, attempts to put everything right at once by the implementation of petty intellectual schemes are fraught with danger, and have a history of mass slaughter behind them?- Theodore Dalrymple

No transgression of sensitivities is so trivial that it will not invite a moralizing rebuke on social media. No cultural tradition is so innocuous that it needn’t be protected from the slightest criticism, at least if the critic has the wrong ethnic pedigree. – Bret Stephens

But in the humorless world of Woke, the satire is never funny, the statute of limitations never expires. . . In the game of Woke, the goal posts can be moved at any moment, the penalties will apply retroactively and claims of fairness will always lose out to the perpetual right to claim offense.  Bret Stephens

Since the 1990s, there is now about 36% less land farmed for sheep and beef. Yet the sector is in a very strong position and remains one of the fundamental engines that drive our economy. – Rob Davison

Whoever controls the dissemination of information controls the culture. And whoever controls culture controls thought. This was true in Nazi Germany, it was true during my childhood in Catholic-nationalist Ireland, it was true in communist-controlled eastern Europe, and it’s true now in the public sphere dominated by the left-wing woke ideologues of Big Tech. The problem will get worse before it gets better. – Declan Mansfield

We live in a postmodern world where truth is conditional on holding the right opinions, which are, conveniently, the beliefs of the most educated generation in history – at least in relation to computers and social media – and the most uneducated in, literally, everything else. They know nothing except what they are feeling, and they’ve been told what to feel, which is that someone evil or something intangible is responsible for the ills of the world – or, in a new iteration of an old rhetorical fallacy, that their anxiety or the ache in their toe is the reason why free speech should be curtailed. It’s solipsism, narcissism and anti-reason manifesting on a global scale. And it’s all done with smiley emojis, conspicuous compassion, virtue signalling and socially sanctioned empathy.

The name of this intellectual disease is wokeness, or identity politics, and it is an assault on logic, common sense, kindness and decency. It’s also, most importantly, a philosophy with no notion of forgiveness. Once you have sinned against its ever-changing tenets, you will be cast out of society. Ritual displays of contrition, repentance and obsequiousness will have no effect on your humiliation. Redemption is absent from the woke catechism. And, after destroying someone’s life, the modern-day Jacobins who champion this ideology congratulate each other, paradoxically, on their morality.Declan Mansfield

Every local authority is the servant of the people. The powers given to Local Government are to increase the local authority’s ability to serve all the people and to increase its capacity for such service. It is not, nor should it ever be about named selective service. – Gerry Eckhoff

Here in New Zealand some 57 years later our Government legislates that people are indeed to be judged but only by the colour of their skin. Sometimes we really do need to protect our country from our Government. – Gerry Eckhoff

You do not defend free speech by demanding it for yourself but by demanding it for others, especially when you reprehend the use to which they put it or what they say. Freedom to agree with yourself is no freedom at all and inevitably ends in tyranny.

But increasingly a tyranny of self-proclaimed virtue seems to be the aim of university-trained intellectuals who, in the name of their own beneficence, seek to silence those whose opinions they find objectionable. It is the very class that one might have supposed had most to fear from censorship, both legal and extra-legal, that most strongly advocates it. – Theodore Dalrymple

What seems to me clear is that central governments and the managers of lesser or subordinate institutions, such as the police and universities, increasingly think of themselves in the way that Stalin thought, or said that he thought, of writers: namely as the engineers of souls.

This they deem to be necessary because, left to themselves, people are inclined to think the wrong thoughts, and wrong thoughts are very dangerous, especially to those who invariably have the right thoughts.

Indeed, so dangerous are wrong ideas that their expression should either be criminalized or those who express them socially marginalized, preferably ostracized; but since prevention is better than cure, children, adolescents and young adults should be immunised against them by indoctrination. – Theodore Dalrymple

The simple act of self-compassion can lift a whole lot of stress and pressure off your shoulders. And it makes it easier to find compassion for others: to recognise they stuff up, get it wrong or aren’t as helpful as they should be. – Dougal Sutherland

In a high-trust, low-enforcement environment, which we’ve been working under, people must comply or we have to change the way we do things. The “Be Kind” mantra needs to become a “Be Responsible or You’ll Suffer the Consequences” edict. – Kerre McIvor

An organisation confident in its recommendations should not fear transparency about its modelling. – Oliver Hartwich

While the gas BBQ is becoming a distant memory, I for one, miss them. It is still BBQ weather after all, probably because the rest of the world hasn’t bothered to cut its emissions. – Steen Videbeck

The roughly $1080 paid to a full-time worker in South Auckland forced to stay home for 14 days leaves barely $100 in the bank after rent. – Jo Moir

Getting the country to play ball for the next six days and once again nip Covid in the bud is the biggest test the country’s faced in quite some time. – Jo Moir


Rural round-up

12/02/2021

Plan for feeding New Zealanders fresh vegetables and fruit needed too :

Horticulture New Zealand is calling on the Government to hurry up protection for highly productive land. 

‘While it’s great that the Government is trying to do something to improve housing supply by making land more available through reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA), the New Zealanders who will live in those houses will also want fresh vegetables and fruit to eat at appropriate prices,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Reports that “Urban sprawl looks set to eat up to 31,270ha of Auckland’s most productive land over the next 35 years” (‘Stupid and inconsistent’: Urban sprawl set to swallow 31,000 hectares of prime land, NZHerald, 9 February 2021) make distressing and dispiriting reading. 

‘Part of New Zealand’s overall plan to house people and respond to climate change needs to be a plan to feed people fresh, healthy locally-grown vegetables and fruit, at appropriate prices.  . . 

Why our dairy farmers should take their own climate-change initiatives rather than wait for govt regulations – Point of Order:

Is the  Climate Change Commission’s draft proposals to meet  NZ’s emissions targets  as  radical  as right-wing commentator  Matthew Hooton contends, or entirely “doable”  as  leftie Simon Wilson  suggests?

The  draft budgets call on  the government to ensure  the  country emits on average 5.6% less than it did  in 2018 every year  between 2022 and 2025, 14.7% less for every year between 2026 and 2030  and 20.9% less  for every year between 2031 and 2035.  This is designed to get NZ to  zero net carbon emissions  by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Prime Minister  Jacinda  Ardern, who has said dealing with climate change  is her government’s “nuclear  free moment”,  says she will introduce new policies  and a  new international climate target to meet the shrinking carbon budgets set out by the CCC. . . 

Half a billion babies – Gerard Hutching:

Artificial Breeding (AB) technician Dirk van de Ven has an enviable lifestyle.

For about three months of the year the Winton, Southland, man works as an AB technician, earning enough to see him and wife Mieke through the year, albeit with odd jobs supplementing his main income.

“Then I do a little hoof trimming, gardening, walks, get firewood – it all keeps me fit. We work very hard for three months, then do a few little jobs,” Dirk says. . . 

A false start to success – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple tried to do it all from milking the sheep to making and selling their cheeses, but were working long hours so they changed tactics.

When Canterbury farmers Guy and Sue Trafford decided to start milking sheep to make ice cream for export, everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, but those early hopes were dashed and it’s been a long road learning how to make cheese and more importantly, how to market it profitably.

Their Charing Cross Sheep Dairy brand is now well established and after years of doing 90-hour weeks to milk sheep, make cheese, sell it at farmers’ markets and to some supermarkets, as well as both holding down jobs as lecturers at Lincoln University, they’ve now found a way to make it all work – and reduce their hours. . .

Social media could be boosting sales of exotic kiwano fruit from Te Puke – Karoline Tuckey:

Somewhere just outside Te Puke, fields of strange alien-like vines are unfurling their tendrils, and growing large egg-like mottled golden fruits, covered in sharp spikes – and US buyers can’t get enough.

The bizarre harvest is Enzed Exotics’ kiwano crop, which pickers began collecting from the vines last week.

Owner Renee Hutchings said kiwano are horned melons – a type of African cucumber.

She has about 11 hectares planted with 60,000 vines this season. They normally produce about 30,000 trays or 135 tonnes of fruit, mostly for export. . . 

Far North farmers desperate for rain :

Farmers in the Far North are nervously awaiting some rain as dry weather intensifies in the region.

NIWA reports parts of the district are in severe meteorological drought and the region’s farming leaders are meeting this week to discuss what could happen next.

Northland Rural Support Trust chair Chris Neill said the extremely dry conditions in some areas was partly a carryover from last year’s drought.

“We are collecting information from our contacts across the region so we get a much clearer localised view of it,” Neill said. . . 


Rural round-up

05/02/2021

Dairy prices and Fonterra’s re-establishment as a global leader should be celebrated far beyond the cowsheds – Point of Order:

The New Zealand economy, although battered  by the  Covid-19 pandemic, has  moved   into 2021  in  better  shape  than  anyone  might have predicted  just six months ago.

To  a degree  this has been due  to  the  continuing vibrant performance  in the export  sector  particularly  by the  primary industries. This  week  there  was a  fresh surge  of  confidence   within that sector  because of the signal from the big dairy co-op, Fonterra, in lifting its  milk payout  forecast.

Fonterra  now expects to pay farmers between $6.90-$7.50kg/MS. That is up 20c a kg from its previous forecast range of $6.70 -$7.30. . . 

Dairy markets have hit a sweet spot but big challenges remain – Keith Woodford:

Global dairy markets continue to grow despite negative sentiment in some quarters. The Climate Change Commission expects less cows to be balanced by more milk per cow. Man-made ‘udder factories’ are yet to emerge.

The combined effect of the three latest global dairy auctions has been that US-dollar prices for dairy have risen eleven percent since Christmas. A farmgate payment above $NZ7 for each kg of milksolids (MS) of fat plus protein for the dairy year ending in May 2021 now looks close to ‘baked in’.

This means that for a second year, farmgate prices will exceed $7. This will be the first time that prices have stayed above $7 per kgMS for two consecutive years.

It will also mean that five years have passed since the two bad years of 2015 and 2016. The bad years were largely driven by EU internal quota removals and a consequent surge in EU production. . . 

Feds survey shows farmer confidence has bounced back:

Farmer confidence has bounced back to where it was pre-Covid19 but attracting and retaining staff remains a headache, the latest Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Of the nearly 1,100 farmers who completed the Research First survey in the second week of January, a net 5.5% considered current economic conditions to be good. That’s a 34-point jump from the July 2020 survey when a net 28.6% considered them bad, marking the lowest level of farmer confidence in the 12 years the six-monthly survey had been conducted.

“Looking ahead, a net 43.8% expect general economic conditions to worsen over the next 12 months. That sound a bit grim, but just six months ago 58.7% of survey respondents expected a deteriorating economy,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“I think farmers, like other New Zealanders, are feeling buoyed by the way we’ve handled the pandemic despite the torpedo to international tourism. The agricultural sector is willing and able to maintain production so long as regulatory and other stumbling blocks don’t trip us up.” . . 

Positive attitude asset during lockdown:

A new study* has found a strong ‘can do’ attitude and cooperative spirit in the agricultural industries were significant factors in minimising losses and uncertainties during the COVID restrictions last year in New Zealand and Australia.

Co-authored by Lincoln University’s Dr Lei Cong, with contributors from a number of institutions including AgResearch, The University of Queensland, NZ Institute of Economic Research, and Plant and Food Research, it measures the immediate impacts of COVID-19 control measures to June 2020 on the agri-food systems of Australia and New Zealand and how resilient those systems were.

It found the effects on both countries were broadly similar, and there were relatively minor economic impacts across the surveyed industries.

It stated the high level of ingenuity in the rural communities, both in Australia and New Zealand, was likely a key element of their resilience and capacity to overcome movement restrictions and the disruption of value chains. . . 

Kiwi conservationists count wins in war on wallabies – Nita Blake-Persen:

Pest control experts say they are finally starting to make a dent in New Zealand’s exploding wallaby population, as a battle to stop them destroying native forests rages on.

Checkpoint cameraman Nick Monro and reporter Nita Blake-Persen headed out on a hunt to see how it’s all going.

The government last year allocated $27 million towards culling wallabies as part of its Job for Nature programme.

Among those to receive funding is Dr Tim Day, a pest control expert working in the Bay of Plenty.

Wallaby numbers have been growing in the area in recent times, and Day described them as a “little known villain”. . . 

Scientists have taught spinach to send emails and it could warn us about climate change – Marthe de Ferrer:

It may sound like something out of a futuristic science fiction film, but scientists have managed to engineer spinach plants which are capable of sending emails.

Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.

When the spinach roots detect the presence of nitroaromatics in groundwater, a compound often found in explosives like landmines, the carbon nanotubes within the plant leaves emit a signal. This signal is then read by an infrared camera, sending an email alert to the scientists. . . 

 


Quotes of the month

01/02/2021

How do we prevent child abuse? First, we have to stop racism. That message has lately invaded the child-welfare system. The triumph of today’s fashionable ideological nonsense in this particular field carries exceptionally high costs — and abused kids will pay them. – Naomi Schaefer Riley

Kindness is as kindness does. And the one thing kindness cannot do is force people to be kind. – Chris Trotter

Of course, to assume that her missive would be engaged with in the spirit in which it was intended, is to make the mistake of imagining that the identitarian left is broadly committed to secular, rational discourse. It is not. Its activist component has transmogrified into a religious movement, which brooks no opposition and no discussion. You must agree with every tenet or else you’re a racist, sexist, transphobic bigot, etc. Because its followers are fanatics, Rowling is being subjected to an extraordinary level of abuse. – Petra Bueskens

The norms of civil discourse are being eroded, as we increasingly inhabit individualised media ecosystems, designed to addict, distract, absorb, outrage, manipulate and incite us. These internecine culture wars damage us all. – Petra Bueskens

If you deal primarily in subjective experience and impulse-driven reaction, under the assumption that you occupy the undisputed moral high ground, and you’ve been incited by fake news and want to signal your allegiances to your social media friends, then you can’t engage in rational discussion with your opponent. Your stock in trade will be unsubstantiated accusations and social shaming. – Petra Bueskens

Trans women are women is not an engaged reply. It is a mere arrangement of words, which presupposes a faith that cannot be questioned. To question it, we are told, causes harm—an assertion that transforms discussion into a thought crime. If questioning this orthodoxy is tantamount to abuse, then feminists and other dissenters have been gaslit out of the discussion before they can even enter it. This is especially pernicious because feminists in the west have been fighting patriarchy for several hundred years and we do not intend our cause to be derailed at the eleventh hour by an infinitesimal number of natal males, who have decided that they are women. Now, we are told, trans women are women, but natal females are menstruators. I can’t imagine what the suffragists would have made of this patently absurd turn of events. – Petra Bueskens

COVID has shown us that voters will excuse an astronomical level of incompetence, excused by collective amnesia, and the subsequent human toll as long as they believe they’re being kept safe. Fear really is the opiate of the masses. – Gemma Tognini 

We want a simplistic story sometimes – big naughty chicken companies are ripping us off – but it’s more complicated than that. It’s biosecurity, it’s iconic birds, it’s minimum wage and animal rights, which are all things the public support – Tim Morris

It should not be controversial to centre victims in discussions about crime and justice. In fact, it isn’t. The real world doesn’t play out like a Twitter timeline. For most New Zealanders the abolition of prisons is utterly insane and our government would be wise to remember that. – Ani O’Brien

 In the desire for an easy prey, hunters and journalists are the same.Theodore Dalrymple

Ideology is what all this ‘ethics’ crap is about – it has nothing to do with ethics as I understand the term. ‘Ethics’ has become a smokescreen for ideological vetting of research proposals and keeping findings that may not square with PC doctrine out of the academic literature. – Barend Vlaardingerbroek

So far I have lived—stayed safe, if you like—through predicted global cooling, global warming, mass famine, nuclear winter, asteroidal collision, and viral and prion-disease epidemics. . . Just because no catastrophe has yet touched me, then, it does not mean that none in the future will ever do so. That is why anxiety springs eternal in the human breast.Theodore Dalrypmple

And far too few of those who make the laws and regulations governing our lives will get anywhere near a farm, let alone develop a deep understanding of how agriculture works. If they did understand, there’d be much less chance they’d make laws that didn’t account for something as fundamental and unalterable as the changing of seasons. – Stephen Barnard

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.) – Abigail Shrier

By all means, call people what they prefer. But language in the law, by definition, ushers words into action. Words grant rights or take them away. Words can enhance or diminish status, placing people and concepts beyond the bounds of legal protection. . . That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it? Erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues. The rights women struggled to win become undone, paradoxically, in the name of ­inclusion. – Abigail Shrier

The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’.

It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.Rowan Atkinson

Tarrases, on the other hand, are rare and getting rarer. Tarras with its tiny store and its tinier school. Tarras with its searing summers and its biting winters. Tarras with its bleached grasses, its merinos, its huge stations, its distilled New Zealandness. Leave it alone, you greedsters. Do you hear me? Leave it bloody well alone. – Joe Bennett

We all sense something is wrong. Our money is worth nothing to the banks. There is a rush to convert cash into assets. Houses selling as soon as they list. Those who cannot buy assets are just spending their cash. Every credit-fuelled recovery has ended in a recession. Richard Prebble

We are not allowing people to come into Scotland now without an essential purpose, which would apply to him, just as it applies to everybody else. Coming to play golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose. – Nicola Sturgeon

Rock-bottom mortgage rates, comparatively low unemployment, and our freedoms from Covid restrictions are there to be relished this summer, but perhaps not taken for granted. – Tom Pullar-Strecker

Of course, any tax is popular with the people who won’t have to pay it and who think the proceeds will be spent on, or at least trickle down to, them; but given human nature, the main attraction of the tax is probably more that of the certainty of inflicting pain on others than of the hope of benefiting oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

The purpose of the wealth tax is only tangentially to raise money at a particularly difficult time . . . The purpose behind it is thus social reform, not the meeting of an economic necessity. The crisis is an opportunity: to advance the centralization of power and the permanent boosting of government powers vis-à-vis the population.

There is, however, one small potential fly in the ointment of my argument, namely that I haven’t fully worked out an alternative. But whatever the problem, incipient totalitarianism isn’t the solution.Theodore Dalrymple

Until a few months ago, American elections were the model for the world: fair, transparent and the results implemented. That reputation was undermined tonight, when armed protestors targeted elected representatives and tried to stop the ‘sacred ritual’, as it was described by President-elect Joe Biden, of confirming the election result.

That we are witnessing such scenes speaks to the extent that President Trump has degraded his office – and our politics. And I write this as a lifelong Republican. His behaviour since the election has not been for the benefit of the American people, but for the ego of a man who cannot bear to lose. His narcissism and obsession with winning cost the GOP two Senate seats in Georgia last night, handing full control of Congress to the Democrats. Today, it cost all of us our deepest privilege of being citizens of a country where ballots cast do not result in bullets shot. – Kate Andrews

This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election. – President George W. Bush

Note that I say the politics of race rather than race relations, because relationships between people of different ethnicities in New Zealand – including Maori and Pakeha – remain overwhelmingly respectful and harmonious. But how long this will continue, when ideologically driven agitators are doing their best to create grievance and division, is a moot point. – Karl du Fresne

There are environmental impacts associated with the production of food, period. The dairy industry does have an environmental impact, but if you look at it in the context of the entire U.S. enterprise, it’s fairly minimal. Associated with that minimal impact is a very substantial provision of high quality, digestible, and well-balanced nutrients for human consumption. Robin White

I always advocate for higher wages but there is a Catch-22, when the minimum wage is increased we see workers’ hours cut, or they lose their jobs. – Chloe Ann-King

Whether you are individualistic or collectivist, liberal or conservative, politics is not a culture war, it is about electing governments to act on our behalf to better people’s lives. It’s not just about one person’s outsized ego, it is about voters and their aspirations. That is democracy’s strength — and why it will endure. – Steven Joyce

So not insubstantial sums from Pharmac’s budget are already being spent for training when they should be used for medines. For Maori and anybody else who needs them. – Lindsay Mitchell 

And while, despite my best sewing efforts, little bits of shame still peek through sometimes, I can comfortably say that that’s not my, or other disabled people’s shame to carry.

There is nothing wrong with having a body that looks or works differently.

Our bodies are beautiful, just as they are.

We are worthy of love, just as we are.Erin Gough

Thus literal-mindedness is the enemy of freedom of expression, and represents also a disturbing loss of mental sophistication. But in any case, attachment to freedom of expression as an ideal seems to have lost much of its salience in the western world, having been replaced as a desideratum by that of virtue, moreover virtue of a peculiar but easily achievable kind, not that of acting well, but that of thinking and expressing the right thoughts. The certifiably right thoughts, which can change in an instant, are those that are in conformity with the moral enthusiasms of the moment. –Theodore Dalrymple

Antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult are, of course, normal phenomena of human expression, and furthermore are often justified. Without them expressions of more favourable attitudes would probably not be possible either, for they would mean nothing without the possibility of expression of their opposites. Even to contemplate outlawing such normal human reactions displays an alarmingly totalitarian mindset, all the more so in combination with the Scottish government’s desire that people should report so-called hate crime to the police. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia seem to be its models. –  Theodore Dalrymple

Trying to eliminate antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult from the human heart and mind is a task to make that of Sisyphus seem like an afternoon stroll: precisely the type of task that authoritarian governments love, for it gives them the locus standi to interfere ever more intimately with the lives of their subjects. Hatred is hydra-headed, the task is never done, it grows with its very elimination, or rather the attempts by government at its elimination. Failure is the greatest success, since it requires ever more of the same, namely control over society. – Theodore Dalrymple

Nations rely on institutions: political institutions, the public service, universities, companies, churches, families. These all have different roles and duties that serve the societies that encompass them. And part of their purpose is to mould the individuals that pass through them, imbuing them with values that ensure they serve their institution and community instead of just themselves. Simon Bridges

The people who occupy our institutions increasingly understand those institutions not as moulds that ought to shape their behavior and character but as platforms that allow them greater individual exposure and enable them to hone their personal brands. – Yuval Levin

I emerged from what could have been an ordeal, with the knowledge instead, that goodness, kindness, courage, and laughter are as much part of our world as all the misery we read of in the media. I had been reminded that these are the things that keep the world turning, not politics and mayhem. Happy memories and gratitude and the knowledge of the goodness of life, are the lasting after- effects of another profound experience with which life has gifted me. In that alternative universe where goodness triumphs, all is well  and all manner of things are well, as Mother Julian reminded us.Valerie Davies

Coarse speech is as old as language. What has changed is that the decline in manners and the decline of religious observance – two phenomena that are probably connected – has obliterated the distinction between the vulgar and the polite. Language once considered unacceptable in public is now the norm, especially if it’s about sex or religion. Television has blazed a trail here. ‘Your’ ABC, for instance, never tires of having its ‘comedians’ or characters in its tedious attempts at drama refer to God or Christ in some expletive-tainted phrase. The ABC is scrupulous, when anything supposedly offensive to Aborigines is coming up, in interpolating an unctuously-voiced ‘warning,’, but never feels obliged to warn Christians when a torrent of blasphemy is on the way. – Christopher Akehurst

Statistics and everyday observation show that the future of Christianity in Australia is far from rosy. Christians are more liable to be mocked than respected. Semi-pagan beliefs about Gaia are filling the vacuum of faith. We can already see that, along with our belief in our religion, we have lost our belief and our pride in the uniqueness and, yes, superiority of our culture. That way lies extinction. Thanks for 2021? Not specially.Christopher Akehurst

What this all means is that bleeding heart versions of our history (Australia’s John Howard called it “black armband history”) need to be treated with great caution. Those who push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their ancestral lands, are telling selected and often misleading bits of our story.  In reality, Maori society was in a parlous state when colonists arrived in significant numbers in the 1840s and 1850s. Yes, governors, politicians and settlers wanted access to Maori land. Some cut corners acquiring it. But even the most scrupulous land purchasers found many parts of Maori society a minefield of ancient hostilities and were worn down by conflicting assertions about historical ownership. It needs to be remembered that while the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy, much damage had already been done to it by other Maori before the colonists arrived. –   Michael Bassett

Teaching a fair and accurate version of New Zealand history won’t be easy unless the Ministry of Education seizes control of the process and ensures that it doesn’t become the preserve of single-minded fanatics claiming to be historians but with axes to grind. They have the potential to stir unwarranted racial animosity in a country which, for much of its existence, tried to be fair to all people according to the norms of the day. – Michael Bassett

Believers in conspiracy, however, would rather be the victims of a plot than of chance because plots make the world seem pliable to human will, whereas chance by definition escapes human control. A world pliable to human will, even where malign, is more understandable, and therefore less ontologically frightening, than one in which things happen that no human ever intended to happen. – Theodore Dalrymple

ns, none of them pleasant. And we do not live in times of social resignation or passivity. We have already gone through the revolution of rising expectations and reached that of rising, or risen, entitlements. When something to which one believes oneself entitled is not forthcoming, one is more aggrieved than by living at a far lower level without such entitlements. –Theodore Dalrymple

In summary we may say that unfunded government and personal expenditure, which creates the illusion of wealth and social security, necessitates low interest rates, low interest rates favour asset inflation, asset inflation favours the already possessing classes, which in turn leads to social rigidity and frustration down below in the lower reaches of society. Social classes rigidify into castes, and many people become fatalistic without contentment. But fatalism without contentment can undergo a sudden change, the emotional equivalent of a gestalt-switch, and become insensate rage. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking full advantage of free education, being ambitious to enjoy a full life, making sacrifices for the long term pay-off; all obvious actions totally lacking in the no-hoper sector in our varyingly soft western societies. Thus, at the cost to the majority, governments insist on doing for these failures what they make no effort to do for themselves.Sir Bob Jones

Why did one have to switch energy providers and set a mobile phone alert for bin day, only to find out you can not set an alert because your phone storage is full, so you decide to pay for more storage (until you die), only to find you don’t know your password. By the time you retrieve your password you are sixty-five and howling into the abyss. – Susie Steiner

This cannot end well.  With the New Zealand economy shut in its bubble, Covid-19 ravaging all our international trading partners, local business suffering and unemployment rising, the market is propped up solely by the historically low interest rates upon which all profit projections are based.  But even a small change to those interest rates could prove devastating to many of my new clients.  There may be no greater fools left.  Because in 2021 all the shoe shine boys have become property developers … – Guest Poster at Kiwiblog

Simply put, the opening of the border does not depend on anything that happens in New Zealand but on the virus being brought under control globally. Like every other multilateral issue from climate change to free trade, that has little to do with what happens in Wellington and everything to do with decisions and operational competence in the likes of Washington, Beijing, Brussels, Brasilia and New Delhi. On the border, we are ultimately a policy taker, not a policy maker. – Matthew Hooton

But under the Ardern government, old-fashioned notions about property rights, due process and the rule of law are susceptible to being overturned when protesters can wave the Treaty of Waitangi and toss words like “colonialism” and “stolen” into their rhetoric. – Bob Edlin

I don’t think people realise the intergenerational commitment they’re making, in terms of totally removing choice over the land in the future, unless some other magic [CO2 sequestration] technology springs up. – Dave Frame

From the New Zealand perspective, there is not enough land to plant forests that would be equivalent to the amount of emissions that we’re emitting. – David Hall

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. – Joe Biden

Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured. – Joe Biden

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like — look like you or worship the way you do or don’t get their news from the same source as you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus — rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person’s shoes — as my mom would say — just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here’s the thing about life: there’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be. That’s what we do for one another. – Joe Biden

I used to think the PM so loved her position and the cheers of the adoring crowd that she would not do anything that risked losing or lessening her position at the pinnacle of admiration. I have now moved away from that to the much less charitable view that she doesn’t know what to do. She has no real vision of what she wants New Zealand to be like, beyond the usual clichés. – John Bishop

She is the Eva Peron of New Zealand politics: warm, compassionate, caring, kind, smiling, seemingly ever good-humoured, but her Government is piecemeal, fragmented, without an overall direction and seemingly without coherent analysis of issues and a strong strategy. – John Bishop

Her champions in the media, and there are many of them, are sycophants, excuse makers, processors of handouts evidencing uncritical laziness – and that’s without going into those who are openly biased in the left’s favour. John Bishop

What has happened to us? Why do we find noise a necessity? Why do we create soundtracks for our every move? Why does a lady walk past my house at 10.30pm every other night with her phone on speaker, tuned into the radio? Why, twice a week, does a guy wander past around midnight, shouting into his phone, his voice ringing out through the dark as he does circuits of the streets around my home? Why can’t we just be with the world, and listen to the music being made around us every day by the natural inhabitants of the earth? –  Michelle Langstone

The paradox, of course, is that to achieve “equity” you have to first take away equality for individuals who were born in the wrong identity group. Equity means treating individuals unequally so that groups are equal. – Andrew Sullivan

Take the trans question. Most decent people support laws that protect transgender people from discrimination — which, after the Bostock decision, is already the law of the land. But this is not enough for Biden. He takes the view that the law should go further and insist that trans women are absolutely indistinguishable from biological women — which erases any means of enforcing laws that defend biological women as a class. If your sex is merely what you say it is, without any reference to biological reality, then it is no longer sex at all. It’s gender, period. It’s socially constructed all the way down. – Andrew Sullivan

You don’t get to unite the country by dividing it along these deep and inflammatory issues of identity. And you don’t achieve equality of opportunity by enforcing its antithesis. – Andrew Sullivan

Even the very rich now feel a psychological or social pressure to do something for money, even without any economic imperative. I leave it to others to decide whether the disappearance of a leisure class is a good or a bad thing, though viscerally I feel that, overall, it is bad, inasmuch as a leisure class is able in theory to devote itself to the higher activities of a civilization. When the rich (of whom there are more than ever) involve themselves nowadays in conspicuous consumption, it is usually in bad taste. Good taste requires discipline and knowledge, which few are either able or prepared to exercise or acquire. – Theodore Dalrymple

 …the more that activities, particularly managerial, are professionalized, the more amateurs—that is to say, people who do things for their own sake, for the sheer enjoyment of them, or for the public good—are decried and, even more, feared. People whose career depends on doing nothing useful for high pay have much to fear from those who do something useful for nothing. – Theodore Dalrymple

Is this obstructionism a manifestation of stupidity or malice (of course, the two are not strictly incompatible, malice often lending a certain cunning to stupidity)? I have every respect for the stupidity of British—as of other—bureaucrats, but I think stupidity alone does not quite cover the case. The fact is that, at some level of consciousness, the bureaucracy realizes that a vast national campaign using volunteers is an existential threat to their careers. If much can be achieved for nothing, why is so little so often achieved for so much? Who knows where things might end if voluntarism were allowed to achieve something? Social solidarity might increase without the intermediary of the state to inhibit it, and that would be a terrible disaster that has at all costs to be headed off. – Theodore Dalrymple

Be that as it may, the fact is that even if an intelligent person in authority were to try to do something to put an end to the idiocy, he would soon be defeated by the unintelligent, for in any large bureaucracy it is unintelligence, at least in the absence of an end other than the very institutional survival that protects careers and guarantees pensions, that emerges triumphant. Stupidity multiplies unnecessary procedure, intelligence decreases it; therefore stupidity is the more functional from the bureaucratic point of view. One way of defeating intelligence and benevolent intention was long ago discovered and summarized by the Spanish colonial administrator who received his orders from Madrid: Obedezco, pero no cumplo. I obey, but I do not fulfill.Theodore Dalrymple

If you happened to be lucky enough to have a house 20 years ago, you’re living in clover. You didn’t? You’re screwed – absolutely screwed. The Government doesn’t even want to fix it. The biggest single issue facing the country is we’ve got an underclass [with] not a dog’s chance of moving into their own home, they cannot live comfortably on the current [average] income… it’s a serious problem. – Don Brash

In brutal terms, there are votes to be won in a broken housing market. And this week is the first week of the 2023 election campaign. – Jonathan Milne

It’s easy to laugh about the latest fads of the woke, and to cheer as smug Guardianistas disappear up their own purity spirals, but the assault on reality from transgender extremists is serious. The public have a right to know the truth about crime, and accurate sentencing and reporting is necessary for a cohesive and functioning democracy. One has to question why the feelings of trans offenders matter more than the rights of their victims. – Jo Bartosch

We can still have social media, just as we still have railways and energy companies. However, they must be equitable, accountable, competitive and pay their dues (be they taxes or fees to reuse material others have paid to create). In other words they must be safe vehicles we are happy to have on our roads.Gavin Ellis

This in turn brings us to the value that we place on human life. We live in an age, after all, in which we hope to wage war without losing a single soldier. In a sense, this must represent a moral advance over a time when generals could send thousands, even tens of thousands, of young men to their deaths for the sake of a military advance of not more than ten yards of muddy ground. And the fact the lives saved by strict sanitary measures that are destructive of everyday life will be mostly those of over eighty will not be allowed to enter into the public debate because to allow it to do so would be to devalue the lives of the old: even if, in our hearts and our daily life, we do not really value them. – Theodore Dalrymple

Too often, National has talked about its economic priorities as if these are the end goals in and of themselves – bigger economy, fewer regulations, smaller government, stronger businesses.  On their own, these things aren’t what is really important. They are only important because they are what ultimately drives prosperity, creates jobs and lifts incomes. Judith Collins

A strong economy means more opportunities for New Zealanders. A strong economy is what will ultimately help lift children out of poverty. A strong economy means more money to invest in our health system. A strong economy will help our kids into their first job and give them the chance to do things and be things we’ve never even dreamed of.  That’s what matters – the things that a strong economy allows us to do. That is why a strong economy matters. –Judith Collins

The old media had needed happy customers. The goal of post-journalism, according to Mir, is to “produce angry citizens.” – Martin Gurri

The intent of post-journalism was never to represent reality or inform the public but to arouse enough political fervor in readers that they wished to enter the paywall in support of the cause. This was ideology by the numbers—and the numbers were striking. – Martin Gurri

The history-reframing mission is now in the hands of a deeply self-righteous group that has trouble discerning the many human stopping places between true and false, good and evil, objective and subjective. Martin Gurri

To be sure, producing and burning coal and oil have significant environmental impacts. But what goes unmentioned are the extensive benefits of affordable, reliable energy provided by coal and oil to make cheap electricity, power cars and underpin a modern economy.

The ironic kicker is that economic wealth allows a nation to regulate and clean up the environment: its air, soil, water and emissions. Coal and oil are not green, but the wealth they create cleans up the environment. And, only wealthy nations such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany have been able to afford to begin to transition beyond coal for power generation.  –  Scott Tinker

So why not just switch from dirty coal and oil to clean and renewable solar and wind? Two reasons: They are not renewable and they are not clean. Sure, during non-cloudy days and windy times, the wind and the sun can be captured and turned into electricity. But because the amount of energy is not “dense,” it takes scads of land and collectors — solar panels and wind turbines — to capture it.  

It also takes oodles of batteries to back up intermittent solar and wind so that everything keeps running uninterrupted. There is also replacement. The panels, turbines and batteries wear out after 10 to 20 years, and the metals, chemicals and toxic materials required to make them must be constantly mined, manufactured and disposed of in landfills. Coupled with some carbon dioxide emissions associated with those processes, solar and wind are neither renewable nor clean.  – Scott Tinker

All Maori children have mixed ethnicity. But before they are Maori/Pakeha/Pacific/Asian/other they are tiny human beings. Tiny human beings whose best interest the grown-ups should be able to agree upon free from political agendas. – Lindsay Mitchell

But “racial equity” is emphatically not the same as treating every person as of equal value regardless of their ethnicity. It does not mean, in the words of Martin Luther King (who must surely be turning in his grave, not least by being given a shout-out in that Biden speech) judging someone by the content of their character rather than by the colour of their skin. It is the precise opposite. It is a doctrine which holds that white people are intrinsically racist; that the west is therefore intrinsically racist; and that therefore black people in the west should be privileged over white.Melanie Phillips

There is more than a modicum of truth in the old joke that the definition of a ‘racist’ is anyone who is winning an argument with a leftist.  When a woke leftist’s evidence and logic don’t stack up, a bit of name-calling (‘racist’, ‘bigot’, ‘deplorable’, etc.) will enable them to seize the presumed moral high ground and thereby claim victory, at least to their own satisfaction.  Moral one-upmanship is the woke leftist’s go-to position: ‘I’m good, you’re bad, so just shut-up’. If you’re of the Left, it’s the all-purpose, not-so-sotto-voce debate clincher.  – Phil Shannon

For those of us in the media, there’s a real challenge to confront: a wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation, to stifle debate, to ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential. This rigidly enforced conformity, aided and abetted by so-called social media, is a straitjacket on sensibility. Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy. – Rupert Murdoch

I firmly believe that government needs to be as responsible with your funds as you are, and it seems to me that Covid has been used as a cover for a plethora of other projects and spending initiatives that we are not able to cover through tax revenue. – Michael Woodhouse

The events of this week should lead to permanent improvements in MIQ and if nothing else, wipe away the smugness for a while. – Audrey Young

My child’s right to see the Wiggles doesn’t trump anyone’s right to say a final goodbye to a loved one. – Vera Alves

But nonetheless it is interesting to see how quickly the local NZ narrative might be shifting from congratulation at a job well done towards fear of being left behind. New Zealand’s political decision makers are surely aware that this is a race, with no prizes for mediocre performance. – Point of Order

Those people who won’t gave a vaccine or don’t believe Covid is real they so are dumb right?  Some of them will die because of their beliefs, some of them will infect others because of them. Science, ‘big pharma’, ‘jews,’ the government is lying to them. These people with little understanding of virology or epidemiology know better than those who have devoted their lives to studying these subjects..

But should any of us be surprised that when Covid is happening before our eyes, some people choose to close theirs ? Other kinds of anti-science arguments are now part of our culture and are now considered not only acceptable but “radical”. – Suzanne Moore

So if biological reality does not exist (biological essentialism), or indeed science which sees us as mammals (we are mammals not slugs or fish or is this now controversial to say so ?) then  we are to understand that sex is not binary and that we are not a sexually dimorphic species.  If women don’t exist really what is feminism for?  Apparently it’s for everyone . Except obviously woman like me.Suzanne Moore

 I’d be worried about the humanity of an individual who didn’t consider the ethics involved; so let me share my perspective. For a start, sanctions do not work. No tyrant has moderated his behaviour once they were imposed. Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and dozens of African kleptocrats provide a mountain of evidence for the thesis that tyrants are impervious to external economic forces. Governments that are subject to political and economic pressures at home can be bullied into behaving better domestically. South Africa is the most obvious example but there are others. Such niceties are utterly ineffective against true dictatorships such as Cuba, North Korea and China. – Damien Grant

If sanctions worked imposing a short-term economic harm on ourselves to help free an oppressed people would be the right thing to do. But they don’t. They impoverish the civilian population, sometimes resulting in their death, for no material advantage. – Damien Grant

Today, the super-power of human rights abuses is China and the outgoing American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, declared that China was committing a genocide against the Uyghur. Surely if we are ever to draw the line, it must be at genocide?  To understand why the answer is no, consider that we do not trade with a nation. We trade with firms, individuals, collectives or whatever enterprise has been established to undertake commerce.  To refuse to trade with the factories, farms and supermarkets in China because of the crimes committed by those running the Communist Party is to engage in collective responsibility and punishment. We are harming one person for the crimes of another and doing nothing to assist the victims while the perpetrators live in undiminished luxury. – Damien Grant

While threats of economic pain for their citizens do not deter dictatorships, those running these regimes have demonstrated a desire for respectability. China in particular appears highly sensitive to criticism. We may be economically impotent but our voice carries a heavy moral weight. We should use it.

If Beijing elects to retaliate that is beyond our control; but while I believe we should trade with China, we should not become a vassal state in the process.Damien Grant

In 2021 numbers in the underclass continue to accelerate. And they will keep on doing so do until parents are held to account for raising the children they bring into the world. But of course this solution doesn’t have a good political ring to it in 2021 any more than it did in 2008. Those children, however, are usually the ones who never get a good education, whose health is more often neglected, and who are more likely to end up at the bottom of the heap, and consequently unlikely to enjoy equal opportunities, let alone have any chance of an equal outcome from life. – Michael Bassett

Myths are welcome comforters, but have never been a sure guide for the future. The second Ardern government passed its 100 days this week. It seems to be propagating a new myth: that kindness is enough. But if you are a child at the bottom of the heap, kindness can be rare indeed. – Michael Bassett


Rural round-up

20/01/2021

Why veganism won’t save the planet – Jacqueline Rowarth:

In no case will a vegan diet be better for the planet than a moderate omnivorous diet, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

Veganism will not save the planet from climate change under current population growth scenarios.

The scientific facts are clear. A diet including a moderate amount of meat and dairy products, sourced from efficient (most product for fewest greenhouse gases (GHG)) farmers, delivers the required nutrients per person for least environmental impact.

This includes water use and nitrogen loss as well as the GHG. It also includes the impact of agricultural land use expansion and consequent impacts on biodiversity. . .

More seeking country life – Gerald Piddock:

The dynamics of country living are changing as more urban dwellers ditch the city for the provinces.

The shift to smaller towns and centres came as covid-19 changed people’s work habits, as well as soaring house prices and living costs in major cities.

This was highlighted in an Infometrics analysis released late last year, which showed 11 out of 67 districts including Horowhenua, Thames-Coromandel and Selwyn all had increases in population growth from internal migration.

Selwyn had the largest inflow of internal migration, with a net contribution of 2100 people. Tauranga City came in second with an inflow of 1900, followed by Waikato District (1200), Waimakariri (1100) and Whāngārei (920). . . 

Here’s the chance for Fonterra to show a leadership role and spur the others with its milk price – Point of Order:

Dairy prices increased by 3.9% across the board at the latest Fonterra global auction. The lift followed rises of 1.3% and 4.3% in the December auctions which took dairy prices to their highest level in 11 months, defying those analysts who believed Covid-19 had disrupted dairy markets.

In the latest auction WMP rose 3.1% to $US3,300 a tonne, its highest level in 12 months. Other significant movements included a 7.2% lift in the price for butter to $US4,452 a tonne.

ANZ agricultural economist Susan Kilsby said the auction results came as a great surprise and as a very positive start to the new year. She contends it strengthens the likelihood Fonterra’s milk price payout this season will be closer to the higher end of the range Fonterra is currently forecasting. . .

NZ in one picture: Rush hour in rural Hawke’s Bay as 3000 sheep moved over one-way bridge – Christian Fuller:

A one-lane bridge packed with 3000 sheep created a quintessentially Kiwi traffic jam in Central Hawke’s Bay on Monday afternoon.

In Patangata there’s few motorists in a hurry anyway, but speedy work meant there was no need for ewe-turns as the flock was shifted across Tukituki River bridge on Elsthorpe Rd.

Waipawa Butchery and Patangata Station owner Duncan Smith said the sheep were part of his flock and were being transported to the shearing part of the farm.

“We try to keep the movement of that many sheep to an absolute minimum,” he said. “But in total, it only took seven minutes to get the 3000 across.” . . .

$14m investment in PharmaZen nutraceuticals nets two new factories – Amanda Cropp:

A $14m injection from an international investor will help biotech company PharmaZen build two new factories at Rolleston south of Christchurch.

The Cibus Fund, a major agri technology investor, is taking a 13.8 per cent stake in PharmaZen, which will issue Cibus with 35 million new shares at 40 cents a share.

PharmaZen​ trades under the name Waitaki Biosciences, making nutraceuticals from black currants, kiwifruit, green shell mussels and animal by-products.

General manager Craig McIntosh​ said the expansion would create about 25 new jobs, with a doubling of output over the next 18 months. . .

NSW Local Land Services urges North West and Northern Tablelands farmers to be on high alert for locusts – Billy Jupp:

FARMERS in the state’s northern regions are being urged to be on high alert for Australian Plague Locusts after recent outbreaks.

North West and Northern Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) issued the warning after reports of banding locust nymphs in the Moree, Goondiwindi, North Star, Yetman and Warialda areas.

Recent weather conditions have proved to be the perfect breeding ground for the pests, allowing their nymphs to hatch and progress through their lifecycle. . .


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