Rural round-up

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. . .

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