Rural round-up

April 18, 2014

A sense of proportion about risk, and be grateful for farmer success - Stephen Franks:

I look forward to playing with my latest farm toy. The family call it a ‘golf cart’. It is a UTV ( said by a Jim Mora Panel listener to mean ‘Utility Task Vehicle’) but more commonly referred to as a “side by side”.  As dairy farmers upgrade their gear in the dairy bonanza, the rest of rural New Zealand benefits from their second hand off-road wheels.

The farm bike then quad bike largely replaced the horse several decades ago. Now they in turn will be replaced by UTVs.

The safety over-lords expolit the injury rates on ATVs to get ordinary people to cower apologetically before them. Ignoring the drive of many of us to use our machines to the limit for the same kind of satisfaction as we get from mountain climbing, or playing rugby, or skiing fast, or even perhaps binge drinking, they force industry leaders into snivelling apologies for accidents that are inevitable if people are to continue to be free to choose their preferred levels of risk. . .    

Govt to establish Food Safety Science & Research Centre:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that expressions of interest have been released for a Food Safety Science and Research Centre.

Establishing a New Zealand centre of food safety science and research is one of the 29 recommendations from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

“The centre will ensure delivery of excellent food safety science and research while also minimising the risks of foodborne illness and maximising economic growth opportunities,” Mr Joyce says. . .

Dairy Women’s Network appoints Atiamuri dairy farmer to North Island convenor role:

Atiamuri dairy farmer Karen Forlong has been appointed North Island convenor coordinator for the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN).

In the 20-hours per week role, Forlong is charged with supporting 18 regional volunteers who run the Network’s regional groups from the top to the bottom of the North Island.

DWN chief executive Zelda de Villiers said the Network was delighted with Karen’s appointment.

“Karen brings a wealth of farming and leadership experience to the Network. Alongside her farming responsibilities she is on the board of Rotorua District Vets and is about to complete the Agri-Women Development Trust’s Escalator Programme. . .

 

Spreading the word on alternative tree species:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has announced that a project which aims to provide information for growers on alternative tree species has been approved for a Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) grant.

“The project will focus specifically on cypresses and eucalypts. Both species groups have been successfully grown here on a wide range of site types for many years, but on a limited scale,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“When grown well, both cypresses and eucalypts produce high-value timber with a wide range of possible uses. They have a valuable role in soil conservation, improving water quality, providing shade and shelter, and increasing biodiversity.” . . .

$9.9m in funding for new sustainable farming projects:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the latest round of projects receiving funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), covering a range of issues from water quality to climate change.

“There are 31 approved projects in this round, with $9.9m in funding over three years coming from the Government and $8.7m from the project’s co-funders.

“The one common factor is they will deliver real economic and environmental benefits to New Zealand’s primary industries. They are driven from the grassroots and will make a real difference to regional communities.

“For example a project addressing water quality issues in the Opihi catchment aims to increase profitability and productivity while reducing the environmental impacts on catchment farms.   . .

Delegat’s founder Jim Delegat to step back from daily operations - Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Jim Delegat, founder of Delegat’s Group, is stepping down from running the winemaker’s daily operations to focus on the company’s strategic direction.

From next month Delegat will take on the role executive chairman, where he will provide strategic direction and monitor performance, the company said in a statement. Graeme Lord will take over as managing director and will be responsible for developing growth plans, building a high performing organisation and executing business plans. Lord has been the general manager of global sales and market for the past six years. Current Delegat’s chairman Robert Wilton will remain on as a director. . . .

 

 


Electorate boundaries finalised

April 17, 2014

Electorate boundaries have been finalised with changes to 46 seats.

The Electoral Act 1993 imposes strict electoral population limits binding on the Commission.  These provide an overall constraint to ensure that there are approximately equal numbers of people in each electorate so that they have equality of representation in Parliament.  All electorates must contain electoral populations varying not more than ±5% from the following quotas which are calculated in accordance with the Act:

  Quota ±5% Allowance
North Island General Electorates 59,731 ±2,986
South Island General Electorates 59,679 ±2,983
Māori Electorates  60,141 ±3,007

There’s an interactive map of old and new boundaries here.

Jadis, guest blogging at Kiwiblog has winners and losers:

Winners:

, Auckland Central – Having won and held Auckland Central by less than a thousand votes in 08 and 11 Nikki will be overjoyed to see ALL of Grey Lynn move into Mount Albert. . . .

, Christchurch Central – I am really pleased for Nicky as she was gutted when the provisional boundaries came out as they made it a strong red seat. . .

, Hamilton West – Hamilton is unique as it is the only urban centre held by the Nats .  Similar boundaries to the provisionals means that by crossing the river MacIndoe has gained some strong blue areas in a high growth zone.  . .

, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country. . .

Losers:

Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Dyson is the biggest loser in this boundary review.  Her majority has been reversed with the Nats stronghold of Halswell moving into the seat, and Anderton’s old stomping ground of Sydenham moving into Christchurch Central. . .

, Hutt South – This is the surprise of the final boundaries.  Mallard has gained all of the  Western Hills (good Nat territory) and lost super red areas of Naenae and Rimutaka. Labour should have been able to stop this occurring but appear to have put up no fight.  Mallard should be furious with his party for failing to keep Hutt South a real red seat. . . .

, Maungakiekie – Labour were grumpy in 2008 when Sam took one of ‘their’ red seats in Maungakiekie, so they will no doubt be pleased that the blue booths have almost all been taken out of Maungakiekie.  Beaumont would be silly to think her win is a foregone conclusion as Sam will throw everything into his beloved electorate and is able to cross party divides for electorate support.  This seat is too close to call.  Another true marginal.

It looks like National has gained more and lost less than Labour which could well end up with fewer electorates than it has now.

Does this mean Labour, having failed to get its dead wood to go voluntarily is prepared to lose seats in the hope of renewal in three year’s time?

Or is it just another sign the party can’t get its act together?

 


Rural round-up

March 17, 2014

Wild bee loss bad for breed:

Beekeepers are being warned to check the genetic diversity of their stock following the first stage of a nationwide survey that shows significant in-breeding.

The Sustainable Farming Fund project, administered by University of Otago associate professor Peter Dearden, has studied bees from all over New Zealand.

The early results show New Zealand’s bee population was much more diverse than previously thought but that many beekeepers have serious issues with inbreeding. . .

Farm manager shares love of ‘wicked’ industry -

The 2014 Southland Otago Farm Manager of the Year, Jared Crawford, says he was ”shocked” when he heard his name announced during the New Zealand Dairy Industry awards regional final at the MLT Event Centre in Gore on Saturday.

He and wife Sara stood on the podium with the region’s Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year winners Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale, of Winton, and Dairy Trainee of the Year winner Josh Lavender, also of Winton. . .

Triallist just wants to get better – Sally Rae:

When Cody Pickles goes to the dog trials, he takes his Gin with him.

The young Otago shepherd also takes Dusty, another member of his eight-strong working dog team. Both dogs are heading dogs.

Mr Pickles (23), who is in his second season of ”having a go” at dog trialling, works at Waipori Station, a 12,000ha Landcorp Farming-owned property on the shores of Lake Mahinerangi. . . .

NZ supports Philippines farmers’ recovery from Typhoon:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that New Zealand will provide $2.5 million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to help farmers in the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan.

“Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most devastating storms in recent history and it is estimated that almost 6 million workers’ livelihoods were destroyed, lost or disrupted,” Ms Kaye says.

“In the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan New Zealand made around $5 million available to support the emergency response and relief effort and the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully indicated that we would consider further support aimed at helping the Philippines recover.

“New Zealand’s contribution will help to restore the livelihoods of 128,000 vulnerable households in rural areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan. . .

Wind-up for the Woolless Wiltshires of Winchmore:

The final act of a 13 year-long AgResearch sheep breeding project designing low-maintenance sheep will take place at the Tinwald General Saleyards on Wednesday 12 March.

​The research project led by AgResearch scientist Dr David Scobie into easy-care and shedding sheep has finished.  As the two flocks, totalling approximately 300 sheep, are now surplus to requirements on the Winchmore Research Farm, AgResearch is holding a dispersal sale.

In 1997, AgResearch predicted that the cost of growing wool would exceed the value of the wool grown in what was then a foreseeable future. 

“We had two challenges,” says Dr Scobie.

“To develop a wool-less sheep and also to develop a low maintenance sheep.”

The Wiltshire flock were selected for decreased fleece weight for a period of 11 years.  . .

Farmer-friendly sheep don’t need sheering –  Annabelle Tukia:

It is the end of an era for AgResearch, who have put their 300 scientifically-bred sheep under the hammer.

For the past 13 years scientists have been experimentally breeding two different types of sheep with some very unique features.

A small but enthusiastic crowd flocked to the Tinwald sale yards. On sale were no stock-standard ewes. For the past 13 years AgResearch has been breeding a line that would appeal to farmers and lifestylers for their low maintenance.

The first is a breed that sheds its own wool and requires no shearing and the second a composite breed that does not need its tail docked and has far less wool in areas that would normally create dags. . . .

Taranaki Dairy Awards Winners Back on National Stage:

Experience counts and for two of the major winners in the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards they have that in spades.

Both 2014 Taranaki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Charlie and Johanna McCaig, and 2014 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year, Michael Shearer, have won regional dairy industry awards titles previously.

In 2011 the McCaigs placed second in the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition, after winning the Taranaki regional title while in 2012 Mr Shearer placed third in the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition after winning the West Coast Top of the South regional title. . .


Dr Lance O’Sullivan NZer of Year

February 27, 2014

Northland GP Dr Lance O’Sullivan is New Zealander of the Year.

Prime Minister John Key presented O’Sullivan with the award at a ceremony in Auckland this evening.

The Kaitaia-based doctor was honoured for his leadership, vision and advocacy in healthcare.

Accepting the award, O’Sullivan said: “We don’t do what we do for recognition, but when nights like this happen it helps us go forward for another day, another week, another month, another year.”

O’Sullivan and his wife, Tracy, established low-cost health clinic Te Kohanga Whakaora (The Nest of Wellness) to make basic healthcare more accessible for people in the Far North.

He also set up Northland’s first fulltime, school-based health clinic, which provides medical care to 2000 children across the region.

His Kainga Ora (Well Home) initiative fixes rundown homes in the community and promotes the idea wellness begins in safe, warm homes. . .

Choreographer and dancer Parris Goebel has won Kiwibank Young New Zealander of the Year.

She and her Palace Dance Company have showcased New Zealand dance on the international stage. 

Presented by the Minister of Youth Affairs, Nikki Kaye, Goebel dedicated the award to her parents.  . .

Tauranga businesswoman Frances Denz took away this year’s Senior New Zealander award.  

As a business educator, she has helped thousands of people and people with disabilities to start businesses and find employment.  

“People from all sorts of backgrounds can achieve wonders. We are a wonderful place, I want us all to work to achieve magic,” she said. 

Chief scientific officer and co-founder of the pioneering sustainable fuel company, Lanzatech, Dr Sean Simpson, was the winner of the inaugural Sanitarium Innovator of the Year.  . .

Cecilia Sullivan-Grant, who inspired young people in Dunedin to take up apprenticeships when the trades had gone out of fashion, was the Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year. 

“To me I am not a hero, it is the people I work with.  I am a farm girl from South Canterbury, and I dearly love my country,” she said. 

The Mitre 10 Community of the Year award was given to the New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups, for their support for victims of crime and trauma, including homicide, suicide,  and serious and grievous assaults. . .

I like the way these awards celebrate ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

You can read about past recipients here.

 

 


Rural round-up

February 19, 2014

Working group set to improve dairy traceability:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced a working group set up to improve dairy traceability.

“The independent Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident highlighted the importance of effective systems for dairy traceability,” Mr Guy says.

“The Inquiry recommended lifting the dairy sector’s ability to trace products and ingredients through a working group focusing on regulatory and worldwide best practices.”

“Improving the traceability of dairy products will further protect the public in the event of a suspected food safety issue,” Ms Kaye says. . .

Bob Ingham delivers golden egg in final year of NZ poultry production – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Bob Ingham, former owner of Australia’s biggest poultry producer Inghams Enterprises, achieved a record profit from his New Zealand operations in 2013, the final year before private equity firm TPG acquired the Australasian business.

Inghams Enterprises (NZ) lifted net profit by 19 percent to $27.2 million in the 12 months ended June 30, according to the annual report filed with the Companies Office. Revenue rose 5 percent to $336 million.

The Australian parent company was family owned for 94 years when sole shareholder Bob Ingham, grandson of the original founder, sold to TPG for A$880 million in June last year. The Ingham family retained bloodstock assets and some properties including the family farm. . .

Esquires may source milk from NZ:

Cooks Global Food is looking to start sourcing its supply of milk from New Zealand for its Esquire coffee houses around the world.

Cooks, which is listed on the NZX’s alternative market, has signed a master franchisee agreement in Oman and Qatar which will mean at least 16 new Esquires Coffee Houses opening.

The new deal means it has commitments for more than 80 coffee stores in the Middle East. . .

Defending champion returns:

Defending Tasman champion, Reuben Carter, is the first Grand Finalist to be named for the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old agronomist took first place at the Tasman Regional Final in Murchison at the A&P Show over the weekend, Saturday 15 February.

Mr Carter had a dominant performance leading for most of the day and took out both the Silver Fern Farms Agri-Sports and Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenges giving him solid platform going into the evening show. . .

Young Farmers heading south:

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest heads south for the second Regional Final in Otago/Southland, Saturday 22 February in Alexandra.

It will be a full on day with practical events at Pioneer Park where competitors will be tested on a variety of hands-on, physical and theoretical challenges – all with an agricultural and farming focus.

The day’s events will be followed by the entertaining evening show and quiz round at the Alexandra Community Centre where a cool head and quick wits are vital. Tickets for the evening show can be purchased at ANZ Tarbert Street, Alexandra. . .

Biogas generation systems for rural Samoa:

The Samoan government says it is developing bio-gas generation systems which will use green waste to provide power in rural areas around the country.

It has received 300,000 US dollars from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, or SPREP, to do so.

The assistant CEO for energy at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Sala Sagato Tuifiso, says biogas generation systems are more cost effective than other renewable energy sources. . .


Put down the sherry

January 19, 2014

Andrea Vance calls time on the silly season:

Everyone, please, put down the sherry and get a hold of yourselves. A dose of reality is necessary as the political year really kicks off this week. In the vacuum of the summer season, some fantasies about the outcome of this year’s election have taken seed.

Smacking is not going to be a defining election issue just because Conservative Party leader Craig says it is. He is the leader of a minor party, outside of Parliament.

Once the election campaign proper starts, and the mainstream party machines kick into gear, Craig will find he has to do more than put on a tinfoil hat to get media attention.

Speaking of crackpot strategies, was it the electoral roll of a parallel universe that was going to return Martyn Bradbury ahead of cabinet minister Nikki Kaye or Labour high-flier Jacinda Ardern in Auckland Central?

And since when did left-wing activists like Bradbury start whoring themselves out to businessmen who want to use their vast wealth to exert influence over the political and justice system? . . .

But perhaps we could wait until his policies and candidates are unveiled before prophesising his likely effect on the polls? . . .

Thankfully other commentators have failed to swallow whatever it is that blinds some to Dotcom’s faults.

Duncan Garner also recognises the silly-season affect:

There’s a reason why Kim Dotcom, Brendan Horan and Colin Craig are getting so many headlines right now: All the other politicians are on holiday, and simply don’t give a stuff.

They’re either at their beach houses or overseas, and politics is the last thing on their mind. . . .

So, right now those three are taking their chances with the media, but they will soon have to compete with the big boys and girls for space. It will get that much harder. . .

An internet party got seven percent in Germany, so his Internet Party can’t be written off. But it’s had a woeful start with a hopelessly organised failed launch. Still, it kept him on the front page, I suppose.

The Internet Party will be a place to put your protest vote against John Key, the spies, the establishment and the ruling elite. It could well be a party for those that feel disconnected to the mainstream, disconnected to politics and disenfranchised overall. That makes it a potential threat. But what will it ever achieve? Who will lead it? If Bomber Bradbury is its main advisor – where the hell is it heading? . . .

Sean Plunket says the internet party is amateur and vain:

The imminent but aborted birth of the country’s newest political party this week has been one of the most bizarre non-events in recent political history.

From the first tweet-fuelled rumblings of the human headline that is Kim Dotcom to the ignominious cancellation of the launch party, it has been a study in the politics of naivety and a glowing example of the gullibility of certain sections of the New Zealand news media and public. . .

What shortens the odds however is an uncritical celebrity-obsessed media full of self-appointed pundits and commentators who seem more than happy to entertain the idea that Kim Dotcom and his cronies might actually represent some meaningful and significant change in New Zealand’s political landscape.

Whilst it might rob the tabloid headline writers and breathless young television reporters of meaningless fodder for their daily dross, the cruel truth is as it stands the Internet Party is little more than an amateurish exercise in vanity politics perpetrated by a publicity-seeking convicted criminal. . .

Colin Espiner also says vanity is driving him:

. . . behind the ice creams and the fireworks, the offers to fund our next America’s Cup challenge or a new submarine fibre-optic internet cable, the extravagant parties to which we’re all invited and promises of free wi-fi for all, lies a narcissist desperate for popularity, relevance, and above all, respect.

It’s my opinion that Dotcom’s constant quest for omnipotence stems from his desire to make us – and the rest of the world – understand the value of his achievements (and they are many) while forgetting his criminal past as a computer hacker and convicted fraudster. . .

Fortunately for him, there was a ready audience, thanks to worldwide alarm at the antics of the US over its multi-national bulk spying via mass data collector PRISM and its subsequent exposure by whistle-blower Edward Snowden – and other spying scandals uncovered by WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange.

Dotcom has been quick to associate himself with both.  . .

Dotcom likes the parallels: all are fugitives from justice; campaigners for freedom of information; anti-state and pro-privacy.

The difference, however, between Dotcom and Assange and Snowden is that they released top-secret information held by governments and corporations because they believed it was in the public interest. They did it for free and they did it knowing they were likely to be arrested for it.

Dotcom presided over the world’s largest pirate website, which was shut down for repeated copyright violations he claimed to know nothing about. He made a fortune from it, and he has claimed that while he suspected Hollywood would come after him in the civil courts he never anticipated criminal prosecution.

Many seem to have missed the distinction. Dotcom to them is a hero, a wronged man, a champion of cheap internet and free speech. Money has helped him get the media onside. He cooperated with Herald journalist David Fisher for a largely favourable book about him, thus also ensuring ongoing coverage from the country’s biggest newspaper.

He’s courted other journalists, too . . . 

But assuming it does eventually arrive, will Dotcom’s Internet Party wreak havoc on the election result? Actually, I don’t think so.

Dotcom’s political publicity vehicle is likely to appeal to internet-savvy young people alienated from mainstream politics who haven’t voted before. Therefore it’s unlikely to pull support off the existing major and minor parties. So unless it reaches the 5 per cent threshold – a huge hurdle – or wins an electorate seat, that first-time vote will simply end up wasted.

Because Dotcom himself can’t stand, the chances of any other candidate put up by him winning a seat in their own right are extremely slim.

But that won’t bother Dotcom. His endgame is not a career in politics. . . 

Matt McCarten picks up on the vanity too:

Cynicism suggests Dotcom’s motivation is more about ego and self-interest. . .

By naming his party the Internet Party Dotcom ghettoises himself around a narrow set of issues. . .

Until now, Dotcom has had a dream run from the media. He has become a folk hero. But now he is in the political arena, he’ll get a rude shock. He’ll be treated like every other politician.

The perception Dotcom will have to overcome is that the Internet Party isn’t some plaything of a rich egotist who made mega-millions exploiting other people’s talent and creativity without paying for their work. . .

Dotcom hopefully knows voters want their political parties to serve the people, not platforms for rich men seeking self-aggrandisement. New Zealanders are old-fashioned like that.

Dotcom wouldn’t be the only would-be politician to be driven by vanity but those who make it have a lot stronger foundation on which to build their campaigns than that.

Now the silly season is about to close he’ll find the media have a few more serious contenders and issues on which to focus too.


Food safety good but can be better

December 12, 2013

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye say the government has accepted in principle all the 29 recommendations in the report on the first stage of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident.

“This part of the inquiry focused on our dairy food safety system and we are pleased to confirm it found the whey protein concentrate (WPC) incident in August this year (2013) was not the result of any failure in the regulatory system,” Mr Guy says.

“The inquiry report finds New Zealand’s food safety regulatory model is consistent with international principles and is among the best in the world,” Ms Kaye says.

“This is a finding of fundamental importance to reassure our off-shore markets,” Mr Guy says.

“The report was peer reviewed by an international expert in the structure and management of food safety systems, Professor Alan Reilly who heads the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. He confirmed he was satisfied with the quality and integrity of the inquiry’s report,” Ms Kaye says.

“The report makes a number of recommendations, most of which are about further strengthening the New Zealand food safety system for the challenges that lie ahead.”

“Exports to China have trebled since 2007. On top of that, food safety requirements and systems are continuing to evolve,” Mr Guy says.

“New Zealand’s export performance depends heavily on the success of the dairy sector and we are committed to ensuring its underpinning food safety system remains world-leading.”

The Government will allocate between $8-12 million per year for the following key recommendations:

  • Strengthening capability in emerging export markets, particularly China. Additional personnel are needed to support growing China trade. The Government has committed to an additional four people in China and six people in other international markets. The specific location of personnel will be agreed between the Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Food Safety, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Trade. The Government has committed an additional $4.430 million in 2014/15 rising to $8.295 million in 2017/18 and out-years to increase the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) presence overseas.
  • Establishing a centre of food safety science and research. This will bring together New Zealand government agencies and research organisations allowing for collaboration, including with overseas science centres. (At least an additional $5 million per year made up of contributions from Government and industry.)
  • Increasing dairy processing and regulatory capability. A working group will be set up to develop a strategic plan and this will see a further $1 million per year invested in dairy capability.
  • Establishing a food safety and assurance advisory council to provide high level independent advice and risk analysis. ($250,000 per year.)
  • Fast-tracking work to consolidate and simplify legislation and regulations. ($250,000 for 2014/15.)

“The inquiry report also recommends we fast-track the revision of New Zealand regulatory requirements for the manufacture of infant formula and work is already underway on this,” Ms Kaye says.

“This is a special work programme due to the vulnerability of babies and young children.

“Legislative change is required to meet some of the recommendations and we will be delivering some of that through the Food Bill, which we hope to pass as soon as possible next year. We are looking at aligning other food legislation with an omnibus bill in 2014,” Ms Kaye says.

“The inquiry findings and recommendations should renew confidence in New Zealand’s dairy food safety system,” Mr Guy says.

“We would like to thank the inquiry team, led by Miriam Dean CNZM QC, for completing this report within three months.”

This report released today is on Parts B and C of the Government’s inquiry and is separate to the compliance investigation being undertaken by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Part A of the Government’s inquiry will look at the question of what happened and the regulator’s response.

In August, MPI indicated the compliance investigation would take three to six months to complete. Part A of the Government’s inquiry cannot be completed until that compliance investigation is completed.

Federated Farmers says the report says our food safety system ‘isn’t broke but needs a tune-up‘.

“Whilst the report puts some minds at ease, confirming the regulatory system is not to blame, it also highlights the need for a stronger food safety system and a stronger understanding of the markets we deal with,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“If our dairy industry is to continue to go from strength to strength, we need to invest more into the framework of how we operate here and overseas. As we diversify into foreign markets, we need people that understand them.

“Before we get there we need to get things right at home. I am thrilled at the recommendations to simplify the regulatory processes and invest in more science and research. Food safety is paramount for the dairy industry and it has long been overdue that we put our money where our mouth is.

“This substantial investment of $8-12 million will go a long way to rebuilding our reputation overseas,” concluded Mr Leferink.

Our reputation for safe food is our biggest marketing advantage and people’s health depends on the reality matching the reputation.

We need the best system of regulating and enforcing food safety possible and these recommendations ought to ensure we have it.

A copy of the report can be found here.

A table of the recommendations and the government’s response is here.

 


Rural round-up

November 12, 2013

Plant not closing – Simon Hartley:

Silver Fern Farms’ Silverstream lamb-processing plant near Mosgiel will not open for the start of its season as usual in December – but it is not being closed.

While the plant’s 12-strong management team are in consultation over potential redundancy, Silver Fern and the New Zealand Meat Workers Union are confident the Finegand plant near Balclutha could take the up to 180 boning staff should they choose to transfer there.

With no staff meeting or statements sent to individual staff, there is confusion over the plant’s future and it was ”inadequate for workers to be left dangling”, Otago-Southland Meat Workers’ Union branch president Daryl Carran said. ”Because Silverstream is for overflow processing, to bone lamb at the peak of the season, it’s more open to volatility.”

Coronial report on quad bike deaths – industry forum to be convened:

 Whangarei Coroner Brandt Shortland has today released findings into five workplace quad bike deaths:

As part of his concurrent inquests in April this year into the five deaths, Coroner Shortland invited submissions on quad bike issues from a series of experts and involved parties, and his findings include his conclusions and recommendations (see summary below).

“These findings and recommendations give weight, in the Ministry’s view, to the need to continue focusing on reducing the death and injury toll associated with quad bike use in agricultural settings,” General Manager Health and Safety Operation Ona de Rooy said. . . .

Federated Farmers welcomes coronial recommendations:

Federated Farmers is welcoming recommendations contained in Coroner Shortland’s written findings released today on quad bike related deaths in 2010 and 2011.

“Can we express our heartfelt commiserations to the family and loved ones of those people subject to the Coroner’s findings,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Health & Safety spokesperson.

“The one thing we welcome in Coroner Shortland’s findings is that it recognises the practical realities of using quad bikes in a farm setting. Indeed, many of the recommendations are current industry practice and that is a good thing.

“There are far more quad bikes in New Zealand than registered road-going motorcycles. Many farmers will spend hundreds of hours a year operating a quad bike because they have become the farmer’s Swiss Army knife. . .

High input costs in China’s milk benefit NZ:

A dairy industry analyst says it’s a good thing for New Zealand farmers that it costs substantially more to produce milk in China than it does to produce the same volume in this country.

The International Farm Comparison Network 2013 Dairy Report shows that producing 100kg of milk in New Zealand costs $US35. In the United States it costs $US44 to produce the same amount and in China it’s 50% higher again.

NZX Agrifax’s dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says that reinforces China’s ongoing dependence on importing dairy products from countries such as New Zealand.

She says it’s importing feed that makes producing milk so expensive in China. . .

Star rating system for food could benefit primary industry sector:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says food labelling using a star rating system could benefit the primary industry sector in New Zealand.

The star system effectively rates the nutritional value of a product.

The minister announced last week a voluntary star rating system would be the focus of research as to how effective it could be and what consumers think about it.

Ms Kaye says it’s important consumers have the best possible information about making healthier eating choices which is why the New Zealand Front of Pack Labelling Advisory Group decided the system should be looked into.

She says the system could have flow-through benefits for the primary sector.   . .

Giesen, Johanneshof and Villa Maria dominate 2013 Marlborough Wine Show awards:

Family companies dominated the awards at the 2013 Marlborough Wine Show celebration dinner held in Blenheim on Saturday night with Giesen, Johanneshof Cellars and Villa Maria winning nine of the 14 awards presented.

In addition to 12 class trophies, there were two new awards – The Marlborough Wine Show Award for Vineyard Excellence which was presented jointly to Ara Wines and Villa Maria for their Seddon Vineyard and the Marlborough Museum Legacy Award which was presented to Johanneshof Cellars for their Gewurztraminer, vintages 2006, 2010 and 2012. . .


NZ-China food safety agreement signed

November 3, 2013

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye welcomed a food safety agreement signed today between New Zealand and China to strengthen cooperation in food safety and food quality.

The Food Safety Cooperation Arrangement between the Ministry for Primary Industries(MPI) and the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) was signed today in Wellington by the Chinese Vice Minister, Liu Peizhi and MPI Deputy Director General Carol Barnao.

“This is an important agreement that will be beneficial to both countries,” Ms Kaye says. “It will encourage cooperation and the sharing of knowledge in the fields of food safety, risk management, food standards and regulations.

“The agreement shows commitment and a willingness between New Zealand and China to work together on food safety programmes.

“It will allow MPI and the CFDA to work together to enhance food safety, continually improve our regulatory regimes and enhance the bilateral relationship.”

The agreement will see a Joint Food Safety Commission (JFSC) established to enhance food safety regulatory cooperation.

“The JFSC will allow MPI and the CFDA to meet on an annual basis to help build a better understanding of how our respective food safety systems work. We can identify areas of shared interest and potential new areas of cooperation,” Ms Kaye says.  

“The agreement also allows us to formalise our joint interests and is an important step in the evolution of China and New Zealand cooperation in food safety. 

“It will further build on the strong relationship that our two countries share, particularly in the agricultural and food sectors.”

This should be good for exporters and consumers.

Food safety is very important in #gigatownoamaru.


Rural round-up

October 1, 2013

Dairy farm effluent to electricity plan – Tim Cronshaw:

A new effluent processing system could be working on a Canterbury farm as early as next year as a result of a Nuffield scholarship tour to 21 countries by Meridian Energy agribusiness manager Natasha King.

King is the first person from the energy sector to win a Nuffield scholarship and used the five-month trip she returned from five weeks ago to research whether farmers should use effluent to generate electricity.

She said a possible solution had been found, but this was being kept under wraps until a cow shed trial was operating.

The effluent processing trial would be carried out on a 1000-cow dairy farm to see if dairy effluent could be turned into a fuel source, she said. . .

Ministers welcome new MPI Director General:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye are welcoming Martyn Dunne CNZM as the new Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Mr Dunne has an outstanding record of service in the military, the public service and as a diplomat,” says Mr Guy.

“His appointment signals a fresh start for MPI. I look forward to working with him on important issues like biosecurity and doubling our exports by 2025.”

Mr Dunne is currently New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Australia, and is a previous Chief Executive of the New Zealand Customs Service. He also has a distinguished record of 27 years’ service in the military, where he attained the rank of Major General and was the commander of New Zealand forces in East Timor. . .

Candidates For Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election Confirmed:

Candidates for the Fonterra Directors’ Election were announced by the Returning Officer today, following the completion of the Candidate Assessment Panel (CAP) process.

This year there are five candidates standing for the Board of Directors.  They are Eric Ray, Donna Smit, Michael Spaans, Malcolm Bailey and Ian Farrelly.

As in previous years, the CAP process was available to assess the capabilities, experience and qualifications of Director candidates and provide Fonterra shareholders with more information to help in making an informed vote.  While the CAP process is open to all Director candidates, it is not compulsory.  This year four of the five candidates went through CAP. . .

14 October closing date for Whey Inquiry submissions:

People who want to make submissions to stage one of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident have until 14 October to do so.

Stage one of the Inquiry will review the regulatory framework governing food safety in the dairy industry, and the recognised practices that apply in New Zealand, including a comparison with other comparable jurisdictions.

Stage two will investigate the incident that originated at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant in 2012 and developed in 2013. This part of the Inquiry is suspended until after completion of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ compliance investigation.

Chair of the Inquiry, Miriam Dean, says the Inquiry is largely inquisitorial in nature. . .

Sir Maarten Wevers joins PGP panel:

Primary Industries Nathan Guy has announced Sir Maarten Wevers as the sixth and newest member of the Primary Growth Partnership’s Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

“This appointment reflects the growing profile and importance of the Primary Growth Partnership,” Mr Guy says.

Members of the IAP are responsible for providing advice on the investment decisions of PGP funds, and to help ensure that PGP investments achieve the aims of economic growth.

“Sir Maarten brings a wealth of experience to this role, having held a number of senior public sector and commercial roles spanning 35 years. . .

Tatua delivers a stunner:

Despite the high kiwi dollar, the Waikato based dairy cooperative, Tatua, has delivered an excellent result for its shareholding farmers with a cash payout after retentions of $7.40 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS).

“Tatua has always been a high performer and this is more than impressive. It is stunning,” says David Fish, a Federated Farmers member and Tatua shareholder.

“An after retention payout of $7.40 kg/MS leaves every other dairy processor trailing in our wake.  Fonterra, after all, announced last week a combined milk and dividend payout of $6.16 kg/MS. . .

Stubble fires seen as part of crop rotation:

A review of stubble burning on Canterbury grain farms has defended the practice as an essential part of crop rotation:

But it has also reminded farmers of the need to operate within the rules when they burn the residue after harvesting.

Canterbury Regional Council commissioned the Foundation for Arable Research to do a report on stubble burning as part of a council review of its air plan.

FAR research director, Nick Poole says Canterbury, as the main grain growing region, produces about 700,000 tonnes of crop residue per year, . . .

No.1 Family Estate’s Cuvee Adele 2009 takes Trophy for Champion New Zealand Sparkling Wine:

The New Zealand International Wine Show, New Zealand’s largest wine competition, has awarded Cuvee Adele 2009 the trophy for Champion New Zealand Sparkling Wine.

Made by winemaker Daniel Le Brun at his company No.1 Family Estate in Marlborough, the Cuvee Adele 2009 was launched in late 2012 as a proud tribute to his wife, Adele on her 60th birthday.

Daniel comments, “I can think of nothing better than an endorsement of this nature regarding this unique wine. It’s very special and I am truly delighted.” . . .


Rural round-up

September 13, 2013

Minister announces manuka honey consultation:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced consultation has begun to define manuka honey to enable truth in labelling.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be asking the honey industry, scientists and other interested stakeholders for their say through this consultation process,” Ms Kaye says.

“The New Zealand honey industry has been working for many years to come up with an accurate way to label, market and brand manuka honey and unfortunately has been unable to reach consensus. There is no international standard for a definition of manuka honey.

“Recently, the authenticity of some New Zealand manuka honey has been queried in overseas markets. This puts the integrity of our country’s export reputation at risk and so steps need to be taken to ensure consumer confidence. . .

Warning to all dairy farmers:

All dairy farmers are being warned by DairyNZ to look for signs of Theileria infection and anaemia in cattle with severe cases recently reported in the North Island.

Theileria infection is caused by Theileria orientalis, a parasite transmitted by ticks when they feed on the animal’s blood.

There is a heightened risk of Theileria infection, especially in the North Island, as the tick population is likely to have increased thanks to a dry summer and a mild winter. . .

Concern over sulfite levels in raw meat:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is concerned about a potential increase in the use of sulfites in raw meat and is awaiting test results after taking samples from butchers and supermarkets in Auckland.

Sulfites, such as sulfur dioxide, are used as a preservative in some foods, including meat products like sausages, luncheon meat and manufactured ham.

However, foods containing sulfites can cause serious reactions in those people who are intolerant to them.

As such, the use of sulfites is strictly controlled by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and they are permitted only in certain meat products and maximum permitted levels are specified. . .

Stock switch a step up –  Jana Flynn:

An allergy to dairy cows and a determination to upskill are just two of the reasons Juan-Paul Theron is excelling in the sheep and beef industry.

The 30-year-old New Zealand resident, originally from Cape Town in South Africa, had zig-zagged through various farming options early in his career, but he’s found his niche with a move to dry stock and a National Diploma in Agribusiness Management under his belt.

“I’m currently in Rotorua and have been here five years. It’s the second dry-stock job I’ve taken on and I’ve been farm manager for 12 months,” says Theron. . .

From the Beehive – Eric Roy:

Our sheep-meat exports to China expanded in the last twelve months from under $250 million to over $550 million. Already China has moved from our fourth market to overtaking Europe as our largest market and it has taken one year to do it. There is nothing in our trading history like that.

It took our predecessors decades to build our old supply chains into the Anglo-Saxon dominated trading world of the second half of the 20th Century. We have a goal to increase the ratio of exports to GDP by around ten percentage points to 40% of GDP by 2025.

On the basis of projections of GDP growth, it requires us to grow our exports of goods and services between around 6.5 to 7.5% on average per annum for the next 12 years. . .

Real Journeys upgrading Walter Peak offering:

Key tourism player Real Journeys is significantly upgrading its Walter Peak offering with the intention of making it a destination that “locals and tourists alike want to visit”, says Chief Executive Richard Lauder.

The upgrade will include a new gourmet BBQ menu, with localised matching wine list, and refurbishments across the facilities. Renowned restaurateurs Fleur Caulton and Josh Emett have consulted on the overall concept of the project.

Lauder says Real Journeys are focused on making Walter Peak a quality New Zealand dining experience and have hired a new executive chef, Justin Koen – previously of Queenstown’s Wai Waterfront Restaurant – to champion this. . .

Recycling more popular – Carmen Hall:

Bay of Plenty farmers have thrown their support behind voluntary rural recycling and diverted thousands of kilograms of rubbish away from the landfill.

Waste that was recycled in the region included 12,599kg of plastic containers and 36,278kg of silage wrap.

Agrecovery sales and marketing manager Duncan Scotland says the scheme has received a positive response. . .


Caught in Fonterra fallout

August 20, 2013

Fonterra and the companies which used its contaminated whey protein concentrate featured in the news.

But other companies were caught in the fallout.

At a meeting in Wellington last week two owners of small businesses said they’d lost custom because of it.

One supplied something to a company which had had orders for its food product cancelled by China.

The other supplied a service to a company which no longer needed the service because its product was selling itself as customers switched to it from one of those which had used the whey protein.

There will be many other businesses directly or indirectly caught up in the fallout and the dent to our reputation for the highest standards of food quality.

This is why a government investigation into the whey protein concentrate contamination incident, the terms of which were announced by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye yesterday, is necessary.

“The Government has agreed in principle to establish a joint Ministerial-led Government Inquiry which will be divided into two parts,” says Mr Guy.

“Part A will look at how the potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate entered the New Zealand and international market, and how this was subsequently addressed.

“Parts B and C will look at regulatory and best practice requirements against the background of this incident in relation to the dairy industry, including the response of regulators. The inquiry will then report back on any recommended legal, regulatory or operational changes. 

“This will provide the answers needed to the questions that have been raised about this incident, both domestically and internationally. It is also an important step in reassuring our trading partners that we take these issues seriously,” says Mr Guy

The Ministers have invited Miriam Dean QC to chair the inquiry. Ms Dean is the past president of the Bar Association, a former partner at Russell McVeagh, and has held a range of board appointments.

Two other members will also be appointed shortly, one of whom will be an international food safety expert.

The details of the Ministerial inquiry, including the appointment process, are ‘in principle’ because it’s proposed that the inquiry will be carried out using powers in the Inquiries Bill currently before the House.

“I think it is important in terms of independence that we have an international expert on food safety and systems as part of the inquiry,” Ms Kaye says.

“Parts B and C of the inquiry have an interim report back time of three months after the inquiry panel has been formally established.

“This report back will feed into the work plan I already have underway to look at areas where we can strengthen our food systems, which includes infant formula assurance work.

“I have also written to the chair of the Primary Production Select Committee to ask that consideration of the Food Bill be put on hold pending this part of the inquiry into regulatory and best practice requirements,” Ms Kaye says.

The inquiry is in addition to those already announced by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Fonterra.

The draft terms of reference for the inquiry are here.


Fit for the job

August 17, 2013

What do you do when you’re the Minister of Civil Defence, on you way to the airport and traffic congestion makes returning to Civil Defence HQ difficult?

A Facebook post from the Minister, Nikki Kaye explains:

Big day, was heading to the airport to go to Auckland when 6.6 earthquake hit. Headed back to Wellington, due to traffic jogged back to beehive and bunker.
It’s not every Minister who would be able to jog to where she was needed but this one did complete the Coast to Coast earlier in the year.
She’s fit for the job, in every sense of the word.

Rural round-up

August 14, 2013

Ravensdown returns ‘unacceptable’ result – Tim Cronshaw:

Fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown is offloading loss-making Australian businesses to ensure there is no repeat of a pre-tax profit of $6 million made in the 2012-13 year ending May.

The ”unacceptable” result is down 88 per cent from $52m the previous year and the co-operative will be unable to pay farmer shareholders a rebate for the first time in 35 years.

Poor performing Australian investments and slower fertiliser sales during the drought contributed to the small profit alongside high urea prices and a consistently high dollar going against the co-operative’s policy of hedging long term. . .

Lab meat ‘no threat yet’ to NZ – Al Williams:

Laboratory-grown meat is the “stuff of science fiction” and a long way off from posing any threat, those involved in meat production in New Zealand say.

Industry reaction follows a taste test last week of hamburger grown in a laboratory.

Scientists at Maastricht University in the Netherlands developed the burger over five years, with hopes that lab-grown meat could eventually help feed the world and fight climate change.

The project had high-profile funding from Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, who gave €250,000 (NZ$450,000) towards the project, saying he was motivated by a concern for animal welfare. . .

Farming til the cows come home – Peter Watson:

You won’t hear Ted and Clare Ford complaining about getting up early in the morning to milk the cows and feed the calves.

They have been doing it for more than 40 years, still enjoy it and have no plans to stop.

“What else would I do,” says Mr Ford, a fit-looking 66-year-old who, with his wife, has been at the forefront of promoting dairying in the Nelson region.

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” . .

Sellers warned to identify irradiated tomatoes:

New Zealand businesses selling Australian irradiated tomatoes are being reminded they are obliged to label them as such.

The tomatoes are expected to be on sale in the country shortly, after Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye changed the import rules to allow in irradiated tomatoes from Australia earlier this year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has issued an advisory telling food businesses they must let consumers know the food they are purchasing is irradiated.

The ministry says the mandatory labelling statement must be on the food or close to the food at all points of sale. . .

Students help with animal progeny programme:

A new generation of budding famers is learning first-hand about genetic selection and animal performance.

Students at the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre at Koromiko farm in Wairarapa are helping with the sheep industry’s central progeny trial programme.

The programme aims to develop sheep selection tools to help farmers working on a variety of land types.

Koromiko farm manager Shayne Rankin said the students at the training centre are helping to monitor the performance of rams on hard hill country. . .

More on the trial at Koromiko here.

How bike bashing Rambro went feral then viral – Michael Daly:

A confrontation between a Nelson trail-bike rider and a belligerent ram is raising laughs around the world.

Nelson man Marty Todd posted video of the face-off, which the ram appears to win, on YouTube.

After being picked up on CNN and by Britain’s Mail Online, the YouTube posting has been viewed about 350,000 times.

It shows Mr Todd stopping when confronted by the animal, known to locals as ‘Rambro’, on a track through his rural property.

After a standoff lasting a few seconds the ram charges the bike. Mr Todd gets off and heads several metres up a side track, then returns to the bike, all the while being watched by the glowering ram. . .


Rural round-up

July 13, 2013

Rule Change Great News For Pastoral Farmers:

New Zealand farmers will gain faster access to innovative new pastures thanks to new clearance procedures announced this week by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Plant breeders have welcomed the move, which they say will make it much easier to tap into the country’s biggest collection of pasture genetics, the Margot Forde Germplasm Centre at Palmerston North.

Comprising tens of thousands of seed samples, the centre holds more than 2000 different species of forage grasses, herbs and legumes from throughout the world. . .

Move planned to end China meat hold-ups – Alan Williams:

Clear protocols will be put in place and communication improved to try to stop a repeat of two regulatory incidents that have held up New Zealand meat on Chinese wharves, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says.

The Government was putting systems in place to make sure this country could react nimbly and quickly to problems holding up food exports into complex markets, she said.

NZ was exporting large and increasing amounts of food into markets that operated differently to ours and there would never be a system where things couldn’t go wrong, she said. . . .

Game-changing company ready for kiwi blood – Stephen Bell:

American blood serum processing giant Proliant Health and Biologicals’ $24 million Feilding plant will attract a procession of the world’s top firms to New Zealand and will have access to some of the world’s biggest markets that won’t accept products from the United States.

Proliant president and chief executive Stephen Welch and chief operating officer Randal Fitzgerald told a public meeting at the Feilding Rotary Club the firm had bought 4ha in the town to allow for expansion.

It already had Government permission to import bovine blood from Australia to meet expected growth in demand, though NZ could supply more than enough blood for double the initial 6000 m2 plant it was opening, they said. . . .

New Zealand’s horticulture industry set to grow:

One of New Zealand’s horticultural heavyweights has set its long-term sights on growing the industry into a multibillion-dollar business.

United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated is celebrating 22 years in the industry. It is now the country’s only pan-produce organisation – with 84 members from across the fresh produce value chain.

United Fresh president, David Smith, says horticulture, which is currently a $3.5 billion industry, is an important export earner for the country. And turning it into a $10 billion industry by 2020 needs vision, co-operation and collaboration.” . . .

Latest honey bee research – Raymond Huber:

  • Beebuzz: Flowers have small electric fields that bees can detect and use to distinguish the flowers with the best nectar.
  • Beespresso: Several types of flower have traces of caffeine in their nectar which bees are more attracted to than flowers without. . . 

Stonecroft Purchases Vineyard in Prime Hawke’s Bay Location:

Boutique winery Stonecroft has purchased a new vineyard in the renowned Gimblet Gravels Growing District in Hawke’s Bay.

The acquisition of this vineyard compliments Stonecroft’s existing holdings in the region. It is conveniently located between Stonecroft’s other two vineyards, on the corner of Mere Road and State Highway 50. The vineyard was previously owned by the Mills Reef Trust. . .


Nerw rules for meat exports to China

July 8, 2013

New rules for meat exports to China start today.

Ministers of Primary Industry and Food Safety, Nathan Guy and Nikki Kaye found out about the changes last week and officials negotiated their implementation.

“I am currently in China and we have a warm and professional relationship which has enabled us to quickly resolve this,” Mr Guy says.

“We have a very successful trading relationship underpinned by the free trade agreement. No other country is ahead of us in terms of meat access into China.”

“The new rules mean that veterinarians must be directly linked to the last site the meat was at before export,” Ms Kaye says.

The new requirements became clear when industry advised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that one shipment of meat was being delayed at the northern China port of Dalian.

Since then New Zealand government officials both in New Zealand and China have been working to clarify the new requirements and negotiate rules to enable a smooth transition.

After a positive meeting last night in China, we have agreed to a new process of certification that addresses consignments en-route to China and new overseas market access requirements (OMAR).

“I am working with officials over the weekend to make sure quick and effective implementation of the documentation for the current consignments. We have worked on a pragmatic solution to enable current consignments to be cleared and trade to continue,” Ms Kaye says.

Chinese meat officials will be in New Zealand next week to progress the comprehensive new meat access arrangements for the future.

The Government has been speaking to the meat industry and from Monday there will be new processes in place that meet the new Chinese requirements.

MPI  will be able to process the new documentation for the 1323 consignments by Wednesday and it will take at least a couple of days for China to distribute that information to ports.

The practical effect of this will be minimal.

It might seem ironic that New Zealand which has such high standards of animal welfare and food safety is having new rules imposed by a country which doesn’t enjoy such a positive reputation.

But there’s nothing new in that.

My farmer visited Smithfield meat market in London in 1982 when strict hygiene rules had been imposed on our exports by Britain.

He was appalled to see how little regard was placed on hygiene in the market, including birds flying round and staff smoking while handling carcases.


Rural round-up

July 5, 2013

US farming group misdirects money to export support:

News reports that the United States’ Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) is to increase export subsidy support to US$60 million, is a misdirection of voluntary farmer levies in the eyes of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

“We need to clear this has nothing to do with the United States Government,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Cooperatives Working Together is a voluntary producer-funded national program developed by America’s National Milk Producers Federation. While designed to assist family farms, New Zealand’s farmers know from bitter experience that programmes like this actually hurt family farms. . .

Protecting the integrity of the NZ food system – Nikki Kaye:

It is a pleasure to join you today at this conference.

I would like to acknowledge all of you for the contribution you are making to science and our economic development.

As you know our country is a proud, food exporting nation. Our strong reputation for producing safe, high-quality food is fundamental to our success. We have achieved this success through the work of generations of scientists and trust in the integrity of our food production.

Many New Zealanders are proud of our quality food and beverage production. And many Kiwi families in both rural and urban New Zealand are connected to our food businesses. That is why we must continue to invest in innovation and in our reputation as good food producers.

Our economy relies heavily on the production of food for export, more so than any other developed country. . .

Fonterra contacted by Chinese regulator over milk probe - Paul McBeth:

 Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, has been contacted by the China National Development and Reform Commission as part of an investigation into milk powder prices in the world’s most populous nation.

The Auckland-based company is cooperating fully with the Chinese regulator, which is reviewing a wide range of consumer businesses in the Chinese dairy industry, Fonterra said in a statement. . .

Meat companies look for industry solutions:

New Zealand’s four biggest meat companies are meeting on Thursday under an independent chair to see if they can come up a better way to run the meat industry.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen told Federated Farmers national conference in Ashburton that the companies will be seeing if they can come up with a proposal to run the meat industry in a more collaborative way. . .

Shareholder commitment will assist with planning for CPW scheme:

Central Plains Water Ltd shareholders have been asked to give an indicative commitment to the scheme by July 12.

Although non binding, the letter of commitment will give CPWL an overview of the number of shareholders who want to be part of the scheme and their geographic location. The indicative commitment is also a precondition set down by CPWL’s funders.

Derek Crombie, CEO of CPWL, said that while the design for Stage 1 was well advanced, information gathered now would help designers with the overall scheme design. . .

Sam Knowles joins Board of Synlait Milk:

Former Kiwibank Chief Executive Sam Knowles has been appointed a Director of Synlait Milk Limited and will become an Independent Director on the planned listing of the Company later this month.

Mr Knowles completes the requirement of the Company’s constitution for there to be three Independent Directors on the Board upon listing.

Welcoming the appointment, Synlait Milk Chairman Graeme Milne says Mr Knowles experience in establishing and growing Kiwibank into a significant New Zealand-owned and operated bank will be valuable to the Company as it implements growth initiatives expected to cost around $183 million. . .

Helping Bring Clever Idea to Life for Young Inventor:

Catching up on a week’s worth of school work because she was away at Fieldays was worth it for Ayla Hutchinson to launch her household innovation, the Kindling Cracker, to more than 100,000 people who might want to buy one, help her manufacture it or sell them in New Zealand and around the world.

14-year-old Ayla was the winner of the James and Wells Intellectual Property Award at the event in June, which gives her $3000 worth of IP strategy advice from the experts on how to own, protect her idea and commercialise it. Ayla went on to win the prestigious Young Inventor of the Year Award. . .


Rural round-up

June 28, 2013

EPA announces new controls for insecticides:

A group of highly toxic insecticides has been extensively reassessed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and some will no longer be allowed to be used for plant pest control in New Zealand, the EPA announced today.

The EPA’s General Manager Applications and Assessment, Sarah Gardner, says that while the controlled use of some insecticides would continue to benefit New Zealand’s primary production industries, others were too damaging to people and the environment.

“The EPA’s role is to ensure that New Zealand’s environment, society and economy are protected from the risks posed by such substances.” . .

Mike Barton-Beef Farming Under a N Cap. This Video Will Scare The Crap Out Of Dairy Farmers – Milking on the Moove:

Mike Barton gave this talk to the Beef & Lamb NZ Farmer Roadshow in June 2013. 

It is a real eye opener & Mike explains in detail what farmers in the lake Taupo catchment have had to change in order to meet the Nitrogen cap put in place by their regional authorities.

Thanks to Beef & Lamb New Zealand for making it publicly available.

 

INC welcomes NZ infant formula audit:

The Infant Nutrition Council welcomes the audit of New Zealand’s regulatory regime concerning infant formula exports, which was announced today by Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye, CEO Jan Carey said.

“The council welcomes any steps by the Government that help give consumers confidence in the safety and quality of infant formula manufactured in New Zealand.

“The Minister’s insistence that the audit includes work on verification, compliance, and testing regimes is excellent news. . .

Four new awards for South Island Farming Competition:

The challenges, skills and resources required for high performance farming have been recognised by the inclusion of four new awards in the 2013 prize package offered by the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition.

Each award carries a cash prize of $5000 while the overall prize has been upped to $20,000. This is awarded in the form of a grant to facilitate travel to visit and study overseas farming enterprises and learn about new opportunities, processes and technology.

Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter says the South Island Farmer of the Year competition is about recognising innovation, leadership and excellence in farming and, more importantly, creating a process where others in the industry can learn from the experiences of the finalists and eventual winner. . .

Greenshell New Zealand wins NZ Food and Beverage Exporter of the Year:

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson has congratulated Greenshell New Zealand on being named New Zealand Food and Beverage Exporter of the Year at the Export NZ Awards.

The prestigious award recognised Greenshell New Zealand’s excellence in building extraordinary and sustainable export growth in the Food and Beverage sector.

Judges said the company had shown the ability to think differently with a variety of well thought out strategies shaping their growth and future potential. . .

Fresh investment adding value to Sealord products:

Increasing Sealord’s fresh fish offer from negligible to up to 10% of catch by 2018 is the next step in the company’s growth strategy and the business is putting its resources and investment where its mouth is.

An investment of around $1.5 million in an entirely new line, focusing on fresh chilled fish and thermoform packaging of both fresh and frozen products, has just come online at the Vickerman Street premises.

According to General Manager of Sealord Fish, Doug Paulin, the company’s expertise in quality frozen fish and position as New Zealand’s best known seafood brand are good stepping stones to add value to products by selling more fresh fish. . .


Safeguarding infant formula

June 27, 2013

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye has announced work plan to further protect and strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s food assurance systems to match rapid growth in infant formula exports.

“As Food Safety Minister I have asked the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to undertake the following work programme:

  • An audit on New Zealand’s existing regulatory regime to identify any areas for improvement. This includes work on verification, compliance and testing regimes. MPI is already prioritising Codex (international food standards body) and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) work to review end product standards for infant formula.
  • A check that New Zealand’s Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs) keep pace with changes being introduced in China’s regulations for infant formula. Recently MPI introduced a brand register for infant formula manufactured in New Zealand to enhance consumer confidence and ensure the integrity of New Zealand branded products in China, but there are possibly other improvements that can be made.
  • Investigate mechanisms to better collaborate and communicate with markets in Asia, particularly China, in areas such as science and labelling. It is my intention to visit China in the near future to discuss future initiatives.

“New Zealand’s infant formula exports are estimated at about $600 million a year, with approximately $170 million of that going to China.

“China and New Zealand have a strong reputation of working together to ensure the integrity of traded products.

“Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity.

“This work plan is very much a proactive approach to ensure we are staying current and responding to consumer needs and expectations. It is my intention to work closely with industry on this.

“New Zealand’s reputation around the world as a leading producer of safe and trusted food is extremely important to our competitive advantage as exporters. As the food sector accounts for 54 per cent of our total export value, we take this very seriously and this work will be on going.”

It used to be simple.

New Zealand food was produced and processed here by New Zealanders.

Now New Zealand companies produce and process food in other countries and foreign companies produce and/or process food here.

Any food product associated with New Zealand trades on our reputation for the safety and quality of our production and processing.

That reputation must be safeguarded for the sake of consumers and our economy.

This plan, and the fact that work will be on-going, is a very wise move.


Two wins for common sense

June 12, 2013

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye has today announced changes to the Food Bill that ensure communities will be able to continue fundraising that involves the sale of food.

“The changes ensure better balance in the legislation so that high-risk food operators have the appropriate controls, while unnecessary burdens are not placed on communities,” Ms Kaye says.

“They are designed to clarify aspects of the law where people have raised uncertainty.

“Since the Food Bill had its first reading, people have expressed concerns that it could have placed unnecessary regulation and compliance on community and fundraising groups.

“We have listened to those concerns and the relevant changes to the Bill will go back to Select Committee for consideration.

“The changes relate to community activities, including swapping food in non-commercial exchanges and engaging in fundraising and ‘Kiwiana’ activities such as sausage sizzles and school fairs.

“There will also be greater transparency of fees charged by local authorities and the addition of a ‘good Samaritan’ clause to better protect businesses that donate food in good faith.

“The changes to this legislation are to provide a flexible, risk-based food safety system that will accommodate around 85,000 food premises, which account for more than 250,000 jobs.

“Some of the definitions will be important to get right and that’s why I am sending the Bill back to select committee for consideration.

“The Food Bill is comprehensive and replaces the current legislation and regulations plus at least 34 separate sets of food safety bylaws around New Zealand.

“It is challenging to draw the line in the appropriate place on how much regulation will ensure safe and suitable food for consumers when dealing with the differences in scale from a community sausage sizzle through to a multi-national food producer.

“The Bill has significant support from industry and businesses and more than 6000 businesses have adopted transitional risk based programmes in anticipation of this new Food Bill.

“I believe this legislation is critical to protect the health of New Zealand consumers, improve the integrity of our food systems and support export-led economic growth.”

Food & Grocery Chief Executive Katherine Rich says the changes are sensible and timely.

“As a country so dependent on food production, New Zealand needs a modern food law, and this will achieve that.

“It’s not before time. The existing piece of legislation is more than 30 years old and has regulations that are nearly 40 years old. A lot has happened in food technology, science, attitudes, and thinking in that time. On that basis, with food laws that are very much out of date and overdue for a revamp, it is important New Zealand moves forward in this area.

“The changes proposed by the Minister are sensible and pragmatic, and improve the clarity of the law so there is less room for ambiguity.

“Many members of the Food & Grocery Council have risk-based systems in place, and the Food Bill will provide a clearer underpinning of those systems.

“The food industry will welcome the proposed changes.”

And in other news:

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says feedback from event organisers and members of the public shows overwhelming support for changes to the rules around spot prize draws which will remove unnecessary red tape.

Currently when spot prizes are used at events, such as fishing competitions and fun runs, they can be classed as gambling under the Gambling Act – which means organisers have to comply with a raft of rules.

“Public consultation on our discussion document showed the rules are too restrictive and the paperwork required onerous. Gambling is not the primary purpose of these events, so all these regulations are not required,” says Mr Tremain.

“However I don’t want a blanket exemption as this would potentially allow for events to be set up for prize draws where there is no community benefit.

“So the proposal is to exempt events from the Gambling Act events if they meet certain criteria such as the prize draw being secondary to the main event, the draw being only available to people participating in the event and the event having a community benefit.

“That will mean organisers will be able to offer spot prizes, regardless of the value of the prize, without needing to apply for a licence.

“The new rules will be in place in time for summer events this year.”

That’s two wins for common sense.


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