16th APRIL 2020 - Page 45

JANUARY 23 2020
China’s rst female tractor driver dies
HE woman credited
with being China’s
rst female tractor
driver has passed
away at the age of 90
Liang Jun became a
national icon – appearing on
a Chinese backnote – after
taking up the job when she
joined a training class for
tractor drivers in 1948.
Interviewed years later, she
said: “No-one could drive as
well as me. I have no regrets
in this life.”
Born in 1930 to a poor
family in China’s remote
Heilongjiang province, Liang
LEFT: Liang
Jun became
a national
icon as she
appeared on
a Chinese
Jun worked at a farm as a
girl. When a course was
established to train new
tractor drivers, the then
18-year-old was the only
woman to put her name
forward – along with about
70 men.
On completing her training
she became China’s rst
female tractor driver
which made her a true
hero in the communist
People’s Republic of China
established by Chairman
Mao the following year.
Seen as a model worker,
Liang Jun was lauded as a
hard-worker who was toiling
to build the new socialist
China – with an image of
her smiling face as she went
about her work appearing on
the one-yuan banknote.
Going on to become an
engineer and later in life a
politician, Liang Jun was
also hailed as a role model
for Chinese women.
Her story was even
included in the textbooks
issued to schools in the
hope it would inspire girls
to follow her example by
joining the labour force.
Liang Jun retired from her
post as chief engineer at
the Agricultural Machinery
Research Institute in
Heilongjiang province in
“She was always happiest
when people talked about
her as China’s rst female
tractor driver,” her son
Wang Yanbing told reporters
following her death.
ABOVE: Lian Jun, China’s first
female tractor driver, has died
at the age of 90.
US and China agree trade deal Concern over
Farming group slams
sharp rise in
climate change teaching T
farm deaths
RIGHT: Andrew
Hoggard is
challenging the
suggestion that
eating red meat
is wrong and
HILDREN in New Zealand
are being taught a view
of climate change that is
“counter-productive,” according
to a farming organisation.
The Federated Farmers
claims a new climate change
teaching resource issued
to schools presents an
unbalanced view.
The new teachers’ aid,
meant for use for seven to
11-year-olds, was issued by
the NZ Ministry of Education
and puts the blame for the
greenhouse effect at the foot
of man, includes lessons on
the activities of teenage green
activist Greta Thunberg and
how to treat advice on eating
less meat.
Introducing children to the
science behind climate change
is positive and worthwhile,
said the Federated Farmers,
but argued that it had to be a
balanced view.
The group’s climate change
spokesperson Andrew
Hoggard said: “Teachers will
need to present and explain
the pros and cons of various
courses of action in response
to global warming, and in
particular guard against the
lessons fostering feelings of
panic or hopelessness.”
He went on: “For example,
there’s a section that urges
people to buy local food and
products as they haven’t had
to travel so far in a vehicle
which uses fossil fuels.”
Such views went again NZ
farming’s low environmental
footprint, he said.
“Per kilogram of protein,
produce from New Zealand
farmers can reach consumers
in most parts of the world
with a lower greenhouse gas/
environmental footprint than
is achieved by many local
Mr Hoggard also took issue
with the suggestion within the
resource paper that eating
red meat was wrong and
environmentally damaging.
“Again, that’s a misleading
generalisation here unless
other factors are explained,
including nutritional needs,
that New Zealand doesn’t
have the industrial livestock
feedlots common in some
other parts of the world, and
that we have a role in another
pressing challenge facing
humankind – hunger in a
growing world population.”
He urged schools to
invite farmers to come into
classrooms to talk about the
issues or have students visit
farms to see for themselves
what happens there.
New Zealand’s Minister for
Climate Change, James Shaw,
speaking to radio station
Magic Talk, said the resource
material had the backing of
a range of environmental
“We’re getting a lot of
demand from teachers so the
fact that there were some
resources that had been
developed, once it was piloted
and some changes were made,
it seemed appropriate to be
rolling out,” he said.
According to the Ministry for
the Environment, nearly half
of New Zealand’s greenhouse
gas emissions came from
agriculture with threequarters of that made up of
methane belched from animals
and the rest coming from
nitrogen added to soils and
manure management.
HE US and China have moved
a little closer to solving their
long-running trade dispute –
with farming products lying at the
heart of the limited ‘phase one’ deal.
Under the arrangement, China is
committed to making an additional
purchase of $200 billion in American
goods, with the emphasis on farming
equipment and products.
In return, the States will ease
some of the tariffs it has imposed in
recent months and hold back from
introducing others. Most of the
punitive measures it has already
applied, however, on $360 billions
worth of Chinese goods entering the
US will remain until, and unless, a
second agreement is reached.
The cooling of the trade war, which
has been running for close to two
years, has been welcomed by both
Washington and Beijing.
The limited concessions, however,
will do little to ease tensions between
the two super powers.
Ali Wyne, a policy analyst at the
Washington-based think tank Rand
Corporation, told the Financial
Times: “Washington regards
Beijing’s economic ascendance
as a threat to its national security
and that of its allies and partners;
Beijing, meanwhile, considers the
ABOVE: Leaders sign the new deal.
acceleration of indigenous innovation
and the cultivation of alternative
export markets to be existential
US President Donald Trump, who
is seeking re-election later this year,
has claimed the phase one deal as a
political victory.
He has also indicated that any
second phase agreement is likely to
be delayed until after the November
According to William Evanina,
head of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center,
China has been active, and very
effective, at stealing American trade
secrets and particularly targeting
“There’s a signicant handful,
probably close to double digits of
cases in the last ve years,” he said.
Italian police smash agri scam
MAFIA scam
said to have
the European Union
agriculture funds of
millions of euros has
been smashed by
Italian police.
Close to 100 people
were arrested in a
series of pre-dawn raids
on the homes of people
believed to be involved
in the fraud by two
Maa clans in eastern
Police believe at least
5.5 million euros, about
£4.7 million, has been
syphoned from EU farm
The gangs are
accused of
claiming monies
for land they did
not own, with the
scam going on
from 2010 to 2017.
In addition to the
heads of the two clans
suspected of being
behind the fraud,
prosecutors also
detained a number of
public ofcials whose
job it was to help
farmers apply for EU
aid, and the mayor of a
local town.
About 150 companies
are also under
investigation for
possible involvement.
Judge Sergio
Mastroeni, who wrote
out the arrest warrants,
said: “The Maa has
such power that they
took control of 15
hectares of land
through a simple
phone call. No threats
were necessary.
“With the Maa,
you only have to say
your name, if necessary
mentioning the fact
that you just got out of
The judge said it
had also taken the
involvement of public
ofcials to help the
Maa illegally secure
the European funding.
Italian Agriculture
Minister Teresa
Bellanova (pictured)
said: “The gravity of
what has emerged is
enormous. It is also
clear how damaging
it is to take signicant
European resources
away from good
agriculture and quality
businesses, which
make up the majority
in eastern Sicily, and
direct them towards
Maa gangs.”
EW Zealand’s farm death toll
has caused concern after six
people died in farm accidents
in as many days since the start of
the year.
One person was killed in a quad
bike crash on a Wharepuhunga
farm, south of Cambridge; a
67-year-old man died when the
tractor he was driving overtuned
and rolled down an embankment
near Cromwell; while farm vehicles
were also involved in their other
New Zealand’s health and safety
body WorkSafe said all the deaths
had been preventable.
WorkSafe head of general
inspectorate Jo Pugh said: “It’s
been an absolute tragic start for us
in New Zealand this year. The sad
thing is this is the time of year when
we are meant to be enjoying the
Ms Pugh said the farming
community in New Zealand
had been very slow to realise
the necessity of making risk
assessments on farm: “We don’t
really think about the risks and
don’t think they will happen to us,”
she said.
Farmers in the country viewed
safety regulations as a “compliance
issue or a payment issue”.
She went on: “We need to move
away from that. Health and safety is
actually about caring about people
and thinking wisely about the
risks you might be facing and then
putting steps in place to manage
“Make sure you use the right
vehicle for the task. Instal crush
protection devices on quad bikes,
make sure you wear your seatbelt
and if you’re on a quad or motorbike
– wear a helmet – and never let
children be
in charge
of an adult


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