Rural round-up

Common sense and willingness to compromise would help meat industry – Allan Barber:

All the predictions of imminent doom for the red meat sector suggest it is a basket case with little hope of redemption. Dairy gets all the favourable headlines and this is fully deserved in the light of its performance since the early years of this century. But it ignores the meat industry’s $8 billion contribution to exports and the substantial farm profitability improvement over the same period, especially taking Beef + Lamb’s improved prediction for this season.

It is not entirely a perception problem, caused by the industry’s competitive nature in contrast to dairy’s co-operative model, because the facts indicate quite a bit of truth in the relative success of this country’s two largest productive sectors. But constant talk of procurement wars, weak selling, declining livestock volumes and over capacity paints a far worse picture than is justified. . . .

Worksafe NZ fine for helmet use:

Federated Farmers believes that penalties of $15,000, imposed on a herd manager under the Health and Safety in Employment 1992 Act, indicates Worksafe NZ is prepared to use its regulatory stick, but the size of the fine is unprecedented.

“Worksafe NZ is sending a clear message to all quad bike users that it has the regulatory muscle and is now prepared to deploy it,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Whatever you may think about a helmet the law is the law. If you flout it you risk significant penalties as this case shows.

“Yet the size of the penalty has come as a shock, given the fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $150 and drivers are responsible for those under 15 years of age. It is why Worksafe NZ needs to fully explain why the penalty in this case is 100 times greater than that for seatbelts. . .

Eggs prices rise as cage farmers embark on $200m upgrade to meet welfare code – Suze Metherell:

The cost of battery farmed eggs in New Zealand is on the rise as farmers begin converting to new welfare code compliant cages, a change estimated to cost the industry as much as $200 million.

Egg prices have risen 5.5 percent in the past year, according to Statistics New Zealand, an increase that the Egg Producers Federation (EPF) says is in part driven by changes made under the 2012 Animal Welfare (Layer Hens) Act, which requires hens to be housed in larger, ‘colony’ cages. The government has estimated the changes will drive up egg prices by 10 percent to 14 percent and the EPF says it will cost its members $150 million to $200 million.

“It’s a sizeable sum of money across a relatively limited number of players and our understanding is the majority of current cage farmers will move to colony,” Michael Brooks, executive director of EPF told BusinessDesk. . .

Halal row puts NZ in spotlight:

Debate about the welfare of animals slaughtered using halal methods is taking place in England and some of the focus has been on New Zealand lamb – most of which is slaughtered using halal methods – which are required by the Muslim faith.

British politicians rejected a proposal that would have meant supermarkets and other food outlets would have to clearly label halal or kosher slaughtered meat.

Some groups said consumers had a right to know how the meat they’re eating was killed.

New Zealand’s Meat Industry Association was quick to point out that halal-slaughtered animals here, unlike in the United Kingdom, were stunned before their throats are slit. . . .

Farmers no longer face charges – Bill Redekop:

Pam Cavers was waiting for her day in court.

“I was not about to say I was guilty of anything,” said Cavers, interviewed on the livestock farm she owns with husband Clint near Pilot Mound, 175 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

RCMP and provincial food inspectors raided the Cavers’ meat-curing shop at Harborside Farms last August. They seized $8,000 worth of cured meat, called charcuterie. Provincial inspectors charged the Cavers with selling meat “unfit for human consumption,” and fined them $600 each.

The case sent shock waves across rural Canada. The Cavers are trailblazers in on-farm food production and have mentored other farmers, speaking at agricultural seminars and workshops. Plus, they had just won the Great Manitoba Food Fight and $10,000 for their prosciutto, a cured meat aged and dried for up to a year,.

So when the province raided their farm, it was like Ben Johnson being caught with steroids. The Cavers’ livelihood depends on their reputation as ethical food producers. Their business concept is small, transparent food production, versus factory farms and multinational corporations. The $600 fines hardly mattered — their reputation did. . . .

Hat Tip – Offsetting Behaviour who has the background to the story.


7 Responses to Rural round-up

  1. Mr E says:

    I too agree. What a rediculous fine.
    Actually not the fine, the scale of it.
    I keep saying that word wondering if I have spelt it right. Autocorrect says no.


  2. TraceyS says:

    The comparison above is helmet vs seatbelt fines. And that seems logical. But how about another comparison with both examples being highly relevant to the farm business, that of HSE vs RMA fines:

    RMA: A farmer can be fined $30k for letting some effluent accumulate where it MIGHT be able to enter water, but doesn’t. An environmental “near hit” so to speak. But as luck would have it, there was no environmental damage or loss of water values.

    HSE: How much could a farmer be fined for a “near hit” at work – say a tractor slides down a gully and nearly rolls over, but doesn’t? A worker MIGHT have died in the event. But as luck would have it, there was no injury or loss of life.

    Which is more unacceptable – some shit enters a watercourse or a worker fails to return home?

    I know what I think. The families would agree.

    Which should have the bigger fine (generally)?

    Now if the tractor turned over in a creek and spilled its diesel there could be a big RMA fine. And would there be a HSE prosecution too? Doubt it. Because through our legislation we put the little fishes lives ahead of our men and women.

    Could this be part of why we’ve got health and safety concerns in land based workplaces in New Zealand? We are, via our disjointed bits of legislation, setting wacky priorities.

    As long as environmental fines are out of line with health and safety ones we will have the wrong set of imperatives.

    Lives come before the environment.

    And in writing this, my case against a Labour/Green coalition is also made.


  3. Mr E says:

    Farms are a risk environment. Some risks can be controlled but not all. And in the process of controlling them, we rob so many farmers of freedoms they enjoyed growing up.
    So many farmers know from their generations of experience that, you simply don’t stick you hand near those chains, or that blade or you don’t ride on that slope. But the law says they need guards, helmets, signs, removal and overall cost.

    The law now requires mico management of farms and many have more experience than can be described. And it is ok to expect change, but a 15k fine…. Crickey. It is out of wack with other punishments.
    Unfair in my view.

    To me it is an example of robbing the golden egg. And this behavior contrasts that of the Greens, who have an interest in the egg, but appear to want to deliver the golden goose an organic wheat grass surpository, so it simply delivers some green slobber that barely resembles any productive sense of agriculture. Well that’s what I think.


  4. TraceyS says:

    “But the law says they need guards, helmets, signs, removal and overall cost.”

    This is a prosecution under the Health and Safety in Employment Act. That law doesn’t say you have to wear helmets, it says you have to “take all practicable steps” to ensure safety. This guy was fined for not taking all practicable steps, even though there was no actual harm. In my view, this is a move in the right direction to prevent accidents. It will make farmers think about whether to stick with quad bikes or use something else. We’ve moved away from ours.

    If an employer provides PPE then his employees should wear it – and understand that under s19 of the HSE Act they have real obligations. It’s not all just the employer’s liability. Employees also have to take action. We haven’t emphasised that in NZ nearly enough. And that is reflected in other high-profile industries and their statistics.

    “A lot of it is just cosmetic, they put their helmets on because they are being spied on from the road and then they get over the back and take it off again.”

    I can’t believe any business owner would openly say that these days! As an employer it makes me hopping mad to hear that someone hasn’t been using the safety devices available to them. Attitudes like that have been driven from many industries long ago. You know, the old earplugs loosely in for show but not actually doing any good, hi-vis at home (don’t like the color). Complete indifference to PPE. That is dangerous.

    The thing about taking all practicable steps is that it is endless. A new technology comes out and there’s no law, regulation, or Code of Practice, that says you have to use it. But we evaluate the cost and decide from there. Sometimes you just do it because the CoP will catch up and if it recommends it then you have to have an alternative which is at least as good anyway. So might as well get on-board early.


  5. RBG says:

    Never let a chance go by to have a dig at the Greens do you TraceyS or Mr E.
    The worker was seen doing it 5 times, and even after the employer was officially warned, he still took his kid on the quadbike and still didn’t use a helmet..
    The fine does seem huge when compared to the seat belt example, might be news to you guys ,but that is not actually the Greens fault.
    Maybe a $150 instant fine the first time might have changed the workers behaviour. Perhaps the worker is a slow learner,so maybe you would say that is the NZEI’s fault too. Maybe the employer was busy and stressed out complying with nitrate run off regulations etc and didn’t have time to tell the worker about the official warning, so that would make it the environmentalists fault too.


  6. RBG says:

    “As long as environmental fines are out of line with health and safety ones we will have the wrong set of imperatives.”
    You should be pleased with the size of the fine TraceyS, because it goes some way towards what you say you want- making people’s safety a higher priority.
    I don’t think I’ll ever understand rightwingers- I’m going for a coffee.


  7. TraceyS says:

    Like it or not, RBG, there are competing imperatives placed on businesses. Not just farms, but all businesses. This is especially difficult for small businesses. Unfortunately it is true that while you’re concentrating over here, something might not be getting your attention over there. Time and other resources have limits and these limits can be reached fairly quickly. And people aren’t perfect. Especially in land-based businesses it is hard to be everywhere all at once.

    There never should be any question over whether the immediate safety of lives, or environmental protection, should come first. The Government should be sending that message loud and clear – eg. if you have a few extra bucks throw it at safety measures before that riparian strip. Replace the quad bike, get all staff First-Aid training, put up guards on machinery and so on. But as long as environmental fines exceed health and safety fines we will encourage the wrong order of priorities.

    I’m not arguing that the $15k fine is appropriate. I too think it is excessive. The environmental fines for ‘near hits’ are also too high. Fair enough for actual environmental damage, when it occurs.

    You can’t see the conflict between Labour and Green fundamentals? I’m really surprised about that.

    The prime example often pointed out to me is Pike River coal mine. If it had been open-cast it would have been safer for people. But no…why wasn’t it?


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