Reputation relies on trust

January 25, 2013

The announcement that traces of DCD have been found in milk is concerning but the way it has been handled is exemplary.

There is no food safety risk but the two fertiliser companies which use products with DCD have immediately suspended sales.

This media release from Ravensdown explains the issue:

Ravensdown announces today that, with immediate effect, it is suspending the sales and application of its eco-n product which contains DCD.

“The reputation of New Zealand as a quality food producer is as important to us as it is to our farmer owners. So it is reassuring that both the MPI’s and our own peer-reviewed research shows there are no food safety issues with DCD or eco-n,” comments Greg Campbell Ravensdown Chief Executive. “What’s changed is that last year, organisations like the US Food and Drug Administration added DCD to a list of substances to test for. This, combined with increasingly sophisticated scanning technology now presents a possible trade risk. Given the risk to NZ’s dairy export reputation, Ravensdown has taken the initiative and is suspending the single product which uses DCD for this calendar year.”

“As DCD has been used safely around the world for 30 years, there has never been a set of international standards around maximum residue level in food products. Because no standard exists for DCD, no detectable presence is acceptable. And because zero detection of DCD cannot be guaranteed, Ravensdown has taken the responsible, voluntary step to suspend its use while the trade issues are resolved,” added Greg.

In December last year, the Ministry for Primary Industries initiated a working party to assess the use of dicyandiamide (DCD) on farm land. The working group comprises representatives from MPI, Fonterra, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and fertiliser companies Ravensdown and Ballance.

The working group was set up after testing on whole milk powder detected the occasional presence of low levels of DCD coinciding with the times of the year that the product is applied.

DCD, which is applied to pasture in autumn, winter and spring, has been used to reduce nitrate leaching and greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand for nearly a decade.

“Though this news is disappointing for the 500 customers who use eco-n, the potential risk demanded decisive and pre-emptive action ahead of the autumn application season,” said Ravensdown’s Greg Campbell.

Even without eco-n, Ravensdown continues to help farmers lift their production and lower their environmental footprint. The farmer-owned co-operative does this through whole-farm testing, nutrient management planning and advice plus precise fertiliser application.

“We continue to help farmers produce top quality food and do all we can to support New Zealand’s export story in a complex world of international trading partners and regulations. We’ll be foregoing sales of eco-n, which makes up about 1% of Ravensdown’s annual revenues, but we are a 100% farmer-owned co-operative concerned with the long-term future of the rural sector,” added Greg Campbell.

“In the long-term, mitigating nitrate leaching is vital for sustainable New Zealand farming. The effectiveness of nitrification inhibitors like DCD is well proven and helps farmers in the face of stricter requirements being imposed on them. So we’ll be looking to the Ministry for Primary Industries through the working party to initiate the potentially-lengthy process of seeking a new international standard to recognise DCD. This would then specify a level or maximum residue which New Zealand dairy exporters and producers could work below,” concluded Greg.

Ballance’s media release says more research is the key:

More research is the key to developing nitrification inhibitors which help farmers reduce environmental impacts while meeting potential international trade requirements, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Research and Development Manager Warwick Catto said today.

His comments follow the voluntary suspension of sales and application of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) on farmland in response to the detection of the occasional presence of low levels of DCD in dairy products. Both major fertiliser co-operatives have announced the suspension until further notice.

“We still have every confidence in the potential for nitrification inhibitors to play an important role in helping New Zealand farmers to operate within nutrient loss limits.

“While our nitrification inhibitor product DCn has been a small part of our portfolio we remain confident that continued research will result in the development of a nitrification inhibitor solution which delivers environmental benefits, meets international requirements and is supported by robust science.”

Mr Catto said Ballance had not sold DCn since July 2012 and had not promoted its use on pastures since late 2010. This means that only a handful of Ballance customers have recently used the product. As a precautionary measure Ballance will not reintroduce any DCD-based products to the market until the potential international trade issue of milk residues is mitigated.

Ballance ceased sales of DCn in early spring 2012 to review the product and its applications, and incorporated it into its $32 million research and development programme aimed at reducing nutrient and greenhouse gas losses through more efficient fertilisers and next generation nitrification inhibitors.

“This is in line with our science-based approach and emphasis on continual evolution of our product and service offerings to meet the needs of New Zealand farmers.

“Our research is partially funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries through their Primary Growth Partnership and our work on nitrification inhibitor developments will take into account potential international trade concerns regarding residues in milk products,” says Mr Catto.

Mr Catto says that Ballance strongly supports all moves to protect New Zealand’s reputation for quality food and believes that all products used in food production must be backed by sound science and ongoing research.

Fonterra backs the suspension:

“We have been assured by New Zealand’s regulatory authority – the Ministry for Primary Industries – that there is no food safety risk.  However, DCD residues in agricultural products may present a future trade issue,” said Managing Director Co-operative Affairs Todd Muller.

“Although DCD was a promising option for reducing nitrate leaching, it is critical that New Zealand’s trade reputation is preserved.  The voluntary suspension is the responsible approach in the absence of any internationally agreed standards for DCD residues in food,” said Mr Muller.

Fonterra will participate in a working group set up by the Ministry for Primary Industries to examine what the suspension means in terms of the future use of DCD in farming, including the impact on water quality requirements.

Not all countries have the strict regulatory and testing standards for food safety that New Zealand does.

Some countries that do test food might hide results that didn’t suit them.

The companies have acted correctly in promptly suspending sales of products with DCD.

It’s about trust.

New Zealand relies on our reputation for high standards of food safety and that reputation relies on trusting that everything possible is done to keep food safe and taking a precautionary approach, even as in this case, there is no risk to consumers.

Products with DCD, a nitrification inhibitor, have been applied with fetiliser to pasture and forage crops to target urine, dung and fertiliser emissions. They can improve water quality, reduce production of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and increase pasture growth.


Rural round-up

January 14, 2013

Collaboration vital for sector – new CEO - Sally Rae:

A government focus on primary sector growth, alongside increasing concerns about the environment, poses challenges for the future of the agricultural sector, Ravensdown’s new chief executive, Greg Campbell, says.

It was important all sections of the industry worked together to achieve desired outcomes, Mr Campbell, who started work this month, said.

The sector was the ”pillar of New Zealand’s economic prosperity” and it was important soil, water and air was managed in a sustainable manner. . .

Brotherly ‘rivalry’ in studs - Sally Rae:

When Duncan Elliot was a young boy, all he wanted was a shearing hand-piece.

Forget the PlayStation games and other electronic gizmos that his contemporaries desired, he was firmly focused on farming.

Now 16, Duncan, from Lammermoor Station, Paerau, in the south of the Maniototo, started crutching when he was 10 and began shearing his own sheep last year. He, his elder brother Lachlan (20) and sister Brooke (22) have inherited a family passion for the land, and for purebred sheep. . . 

Hooked on dog trialling for life – Diane Bishop:

He’s nearly 80, but Murray Lott has no intention of hanging up his dog whistle.

The successful dog trialist will mark his milestone birthday on January 24 just a few weeks before the new dog trial season starts.

Murray, who lives at Manapouri Downs, near The Key, has competed with both huntaways and heading dogs, but these days prefers heading dogs because they don’t require as much work as their boisterous friends. . .

‘Big guys’ not only target – Diane Bishop:

Strong wool growers frustrated with low returns are backing the farmer-led Wools of New Zealand model.

Chairman Mark Shadbolt said more than $4.1 million had been raised from 552 growers representing about 12 million kilograms of wool production since the offer opened in late October and he was confident of achieving the minimum subscription of $5 million.

But, the company wasn’t about to rest on its laurels. . .

Getting serious about safety – Rebecca Harper:

Quad bikes are a familiar sight on many farms, the reliable workhorse and an essential tool for getting the job done.

Most farmers are sensible and safe when it comes to the use of quad bikes, but they are a dangerous machine and if you end up beneath one, chances are you won’t come out better off.

Talk about quad bike safety is nothing new, but mainstream media has latched on to the topic in recent weeks after a spate of quad-related accidents this summer, several fatal, including a farmer. . .

Macaulay appointed NZIPIM chief executive:

The New Zealand Institute Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM) has appointed Stephen Macaulay to its newly created chief executive role.

NZIPIM is a membership-based association for rural professionals who provide professional services for the primary sector.

Macaulay comes to the role with a wealth of experience within the agricultural industry.

He has previously worked as general manager of the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT), the Retail Meat Industry Training Organisation and Retail Meat New Zealand. . .

Curious woolly things: food from Campaign For Wool:

Breakfast: Start the day as you mean to go on with a feast of donuts. This pic comes from Just Crafty Enough.

donuts

Kat at Just Crafty Enough made these donuts.

Lunch: After a hearty breakfast of donuts, you’ll probably only want something light for your lunch. Go for a nice egg salad.

salad

Egg Salad from DominoCat

Snack: Popcorn! NYC artist Ed Bing Lee has made a variety of different woolly foods using the macramé method, from burgers to hot dogs to key lime pies. But our favourite is this all-American popcorn.

popcorn

Macrame Popcorn from Ed Bing Lee

Maybe go for the healthier option and just have some fruit?

fruit

Fruit box from La Gran Tricotada Campaign for Wool event in Madrid

Or some pickles

pickles

Nicole Gastonguay’s Pickles

Dinner: A few dinner options here. If you’re a meat eater why not try the…

Pork Pie

Poor little piggies…

Pork Pie! Some amazing woolly food work from Kate Jenkins here, part of the 2010 exhibition “Come Dine With Kate”. You can see all the work that was on display at the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery website.

Clemence Joly is another great artist who has produced some woolly meat at his Wool Butchery.

Wool butchery

Wool Butchery

Don’t forget the two veg! Those clever people at the Creative Moments craft group in Perry Common have been knitting these vegetables for the Gardeners World Live event.

Two Veg

Really looks good enough to eat…

Alternatively you could go for the cheeseburger

Cheeseburger

The Not-so-Mad Hatter made this fine cheeseburger crochet hat. Looks a little bit mad though.

Dessert: I don’t know how you could possibly fit anything else in after all that food, but I guess you can’t go wrong with cake for afters. Have a cupcake.

cupcake

This cupcake is actually a pincushion…

Or if you prefer something savoury, you could always go for the cheese board.

cheeseboard

Another of Kate Jenkins’ finest. Wouldn’t recommend eating the mice though.


Rural round-up

July 29, 2012

New dairy chairman wants unity – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra chairman-elect John Wilson says ensuring there is the smoothest of board leadership transitions and uniting the farmer-owned co-operative after the rigours of the internal TAF debate are his priorities. 

    The Waikato farmer-elected director will take the reins of New Zealand’s biggest company in December from Sir Henry van der Heyden, who steps down after 10 years in the job. 

    Wilson, 47, will take his seat at the top of the table just after Fonterra is scheduled to have introduced share trading among farmers, or TAF, as it has come to be better known after more than two years of debate. . .

Biofuels and energy production dominate Europe’s landscape - Allan Barber:

After a week in England and a month touring central Europe by road, rail and river, I have gained a superficial impression of the predominant types of agricultural activity in the region. I am talking about Austria, Bavaria, Rhineland and some of the old Communist countries – East Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

While these observations cannot claim to be comprehensive or even accurate in the matter of detail, they will provide a fairly accurate point of contrast with New Zealand’s agricultural landscape.

In particular they indicate a totally different set of political, economic and environmental priorities in Europe. . .

Farming bears – Bruce Wills:

In 12-months you could say we have gone from farming forward to farming bears, such was the sentiment in Federated Farmers new season Farm Confidence survey.

While agriculture will generate $21.7 billion in revenue over 2012, more than half, $11.9 billion, will go on the goods and services farmers consume.

Much of this intermediate consumption is spent locally on everything from number eight wire to builders and injects billions into the provincial economy’s heart.

Being intermediate consumption, it does not include the wage bill for 151,000 primary workers, interest or taxes either. . .

Time to break free of “No 8 wire” mentality – Jon Morgan:

Our pride in our heritage of being useful, practical people who can turn our hands to anything is holding us back, says Claire Massey. 

“That No 8 fencing wire mentality is now at a point where it’s hampering us,” the newly appointed Massey University director of agri-food business says. 

“We say ‘We can do anything’ when we can’t. We’ve got to break free of that. It was useful, but now we need to find the experts.” 

The irony is that it is not only an image we have of ourselves but that others have of us, she says. . .

Ngai Tahu Holdings CEO leaves -

Christchurch’s Ngai Tahu Holdings Corporation chief executive Greg Campbell is leaving the job to take up the reins at big fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown. 

    Ravensdown, 100 per cent owned by 30,000 farmer shareholders, announced today the appointment of Campbell as its new chief executive to replace Rodney Green when he retires on December 31, 2012. 

    Campbell has been chief executive at Ngai Tahu for three years. . .

Lincoln farm in drive to be more efficient – Gerald Piddock:

The Lincoln University Dairy farm finished the 2011-12 season well ahead of its production budget. But it will now seek ways to become even more efficient. 

    The farm produced 297,740kg milk solids at 471kg per cow, well ahead of its budget of 281,600. This was achieved with 5 per cent fewer cows. 

    “We ended up with 12.5 per cent more production per hectare than last season and 15 per cent more profit,” farm manager Peter Hancox said at a field day at Lincoln. . .

Quest for lower nitrate leaching - Gerald Piddock:

Work is underway at Lincoln University to determine ways of reducing the environmental footprint of the wintering systems on dairy farms. 

    Lysimeters are being used to simulate the nitrogen levels within trial plots of three different wintering systems. These plots are early and late sown kale crops and a fodderbeet crop planted at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm’s wintering site, Ashley Dene Farm. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2012

Kiwi a Transtasman winner:

Tim van de Molen, the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand (RAS) Rural Youth Ambassador, was announced as the Australasian Rural Youth Ambassador in the finals at the Darwin Royal Showgrounds.

This is a historic win for New Zealand, taking top honours in only the second year the competition has been extended transtasman.

Van de Molen, a 29-year-old agribusiness manager for ANZ and based in Waikato, is overwhelmed by the win. . .

Rapid lamb gains now in the past - Hugh Stringleman:

The drivers of sheep farm productivity increases are forecast to be throttled back over the coming decade, compared with the rapid pace of improvement over the past 20 years.

Total lamb weight produced per breeding ewe, lambing percentage and lamb carcase weight will ease off compared with past productivity increases which have been the envy of the national economy.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief economist Rob Davison told the Red Meat Sector Conference in Queenstown that an industry-wide discussion is needed on the right mix of lamb carcase weights for the future – whether farmers should push on above 18kg. . .

Ballance shareholders benefit from strong result

Another strong result by Ballance Agri-Nutrients has its 18,200 shareholders sharing in a $47 million rebate and dividend distribution.

Shareholders will receive $43.6 million through a $40 rebate per tonne of fertiliser purchased plus a further $3.4 million through an imputed dividend of $0.10 per share.

This will result in an average return of $44.29 per tonne, a result which compares well with last year’s record distribution averaging $50.29 per tonne. . .

Ravensdown announces new CEO:

Ravensdown, the 100% farmer-owned co-operative, has appointed Greg Campbell as the new CEO to replace chief executive Rodney Green when he retires on the 31st December 2012.

 In announcing the appointment, Chairman of Ravensdown, Mr Bill McLeod, commented that “Rodney Green had given us plenty of notice of his intention to retire, which gave us the luxury of time to conduct a really thorough search for his replacement. We are grateful for that, as Rodney will leave a very different Ravensdown to the one he took over in 1998. We especially thank Rodney, and acknowledge the job he has done growing and strengthening the company over the years of his stewardship. This meant we needed to find a special replacement to take over the reins from him.” . . .

North Islander set to defend title:

 Last year’s winner of the Canterbury A&P Association Mint Lamb Competition, Bill Feetham of Hastings, is preparing his entries for 2012 with the opening of this year’s competition launched this month.

 Farmers from throughout New Zealand are invited to showcase their quality lamb and compete in the 2012 Mint Lamb Competition held in conjunction with the country’s largest Agricultural and Pastoral Show, the Canterbury A&P Show. . .

Government scheme increaeses recycling on farm:

More than 650 tonnes of plastic farm waste has been recycled nationwide during the past year thanks to a government-funded scheme, Environment Minister Amy Adams says.

Under the product stewardship scheme, Plasback supplies more than 1000 recycling bins to New Zealand farms, and collects agricultural plastics such as bale wrap, silage wrap and covers, agrichemical containers and crop bags.

The waste is recycled into plastic resin pellets and then reused in new plastic products.

“Many farmers have been frustrated by the lack of options for dealing with plastic farm waste and know that burning or burying waste is not a sustainable solution,” Ms Adams says. . .

Allied Farmers granted waiver for $1.2M loan for bobby calf business:

Allied Farmers, the company whose market value was all but wiped out when it acquired the financial assets of Hanover Finance, has been granted a waiver to borrow up to $1.2 million for the operations of its bobby calf venture.

The waiver, granted by NZX Markets Supervision, was required because the loan would exceed 10 percent of Allied’s average market capitalisation of about $2.5 million and would have needed approval of shareholders. . .

REINZ Introduces New Farm Price Index:

REINZ is pleased to announce today the introduction of the REINZ Farm Price Index, as a superior and more accurate guide to changes in farm sale prices.

The new measure has been developed in conjunction with the Reserve Bank and adjusts for property specific factors such as location, size and farm type in measuring changes in farm prices.

“The REINZ Farm Price Index is less influenced by the type of farms that happen to sell, providing an improved measure of underlying farm prices,” says REINZ Rural Market Spokesman Brian Peacocke. . .

Canterbury vegetable grower takes national Young Grower title:

Andrew Scott from Canterbury has been named Young Grower of the Year at the Horticulture New Zealand Conference 2012.

Andrew, 29, was presented with his award last night after the day-long Young Grower of the Year competition held at Ellerslie Events Centre, Auckland, as part of this year’s Horticulture New Zealand Conference. . . .


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