Rural round-up

June 9, 2020

Book puts farming at centre of NZ’s story :

Brian Easton says his new book could not ignore farming’s contribution to the history of NZ.

William Soltau Davidson is not usually considered one of New Zealand’s great 19th century heroes. He came to New Zealand in 1865 as a 19-year-old farm cadet at the Levels in South Canterbury. By the age of 32 he was general manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, which held some 3,000,000 acres in the South Island, in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, some of which Davidson sold off to small holders.

In 1882 he supervised the loading of the first exports of frozen meat at Port Chalmers and welcomed the Dunedin when it reached London. That Davidson does not appear more prominently in our general histories reflects their neglect of the central role of farming.

It is a strange omission, probably the result of the urban base of the writers, the tendency to imitate foreign histories with their focus on industrialisation and their lack of interest in the economy. . . 

Farmer is game for a challenge – Colin Williscroft:

Two-time women’s Rugby World Cup winner Bex Mahoney is these days putting her energy into running a Tararua farming business with her husband Luke but she’s also breaking new ground on the rugby field. There are synergies between the two, as Colin Williscroft reports.

Bex Mahoney likes to challenge herself to have a go at different things because that gives her an edge.

Is a simple philosophy but one that has paid off for the Pahiatua farmer. 

Only the fourth New Zealander to have played 50 first class games of rugby and gone on to referee 50 first class games, both men’s and women’s, the mother of two young girls spends much of her time getting her hands dirty on-farm while also exploring new farming opportunities online and on the phone.  . . 

Farmstrong hits 5th birthday:

Rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong is celebrating its fifth birthday.

More than 18,000 Kiwi farmers and growers have engaged in the last year alone. 

Farmstrong helps farmers and their families cope with the ups and downs of farming by sharing things farmers can do to look after themselves and the people in their business.

It offers practical tools and resources through its website, workshops and community events, inviting farmers to find out what works for them and lock it in. Farmers using good techniques to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy are regularly featured in stories in Farmers Weekly.  . . 

Queens Birthday honours: cattle breeder Bruce McKenzie:

Bruce McKenzie is proud of his Queen’s Birthday Honour, even though rumour has it, he thought it was a joke at first.

The Wairarapa beef breeder was awarded Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the cattle industry.

“It’s a great honour to receive this. I think agriculture is going to be a part of the future in New Zealand and I feel very proud to have this honour” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . .

Research finds sheep eyes are the window to their stressed out souls :

Kiwi researchers have found the temperature of a sheep’s eye is linked to the animal’s level of stress.

Thermal imaging technology is being used by AgResearch scientists to gain greater insights into how livestock experience stress, and how that knowledge can help enhance animal welfare.

Research in which the technology is focused on sheep has been published today in the PLOS ONE scientific journal, entitled “Evaluation of infrared thermography as a non-invasive method of measuring the autonomic nervous response in sheep“. . . 

Partners in agritech innovation – Niall Casey:

While it may sound like a cliché to say that Ireland and New Zealand both punch above their weights, it’s clear from the figures that it’s true.

Ireland, a country of less than 5 million people produces enough food to feed over 50 million people, while NZ’s agri-food is known across the world for its food – with its dairy farming passing $15b in export earnings annually.

Both countries are united by their shared commitment to quality, traceability and the highest standards in production and safety.


Safe better than essential

April 1, 2020

The government is deciding what is an essential business or service, Act says it would be better to determine what is safe:

 . .. If the objective is to stop the spread of COVID-19, then the test should be whether something can be done safely, not whether it is essential. Moving to a test of safety rather than necessity would be a much better way of fighting the virus while salvaging businesses.

‘Essential’ Compromises ‘Safety’

The Government rightly says it is essential to have food available. Once food is available in an area, no other activity is permissible. But making people travel further to visit a smaller number of bigger and busier stores undermines our goal of reducing the spread of the virus. Supermarkets have remained open because they are essential but they have only undertaken safety mechanisms more recently. Under a safety approach, only food stores with safe processes would be allowed to open, but all stores with such processes would equally be able to open. . .

It would be just as safe for butchers and greengrocers to be open, following best practice of allowing one customer in, one out and keeping everyone two metres apart, as it is for supermarkets, perhaps even safer if it meant fewer people in supermarkets.

Couplands announced yesterday it will close its South Island plant because it mostly supplies its own shops in the south and these aren’t deemed essential.

The bakery supplies about a third of the South’s bread. The plant closure will cause shortages and panic buying. Again, providing the stores have practices which keep their staff and customers safe, they should be able to stay open and lower the pressure on supermarkets.

Instead of the objective test ‘can this be done in a way that is safe’ we are facing a subjective test ‘does the Government think you need this.’ This level of government power is not sustainable.

Breakdown Of The Rule of Law

Subjectivity leads to absurdities and a breakdown of the rule of law. The Government has decided that eating halal meat is a goal important enough to justify opening some butcheries. Driving to the beach for a walk or a picnic is not. Which one is safer? . . .

Halal meat can be bought from supermarkets and a halal butchery isn’t any more or less safe than any other butcheries. It’s the safety practices they follow to protect staff and customers safe that matter, not religious practices.

If the decision to close butcheries isn’t reversed millions of dollars of meat will have to be dumped. That would be an unconscionable waste.

The closure of butchers is also risking animal welfare:

The Government’s decision to exclude independent butchers from the essential business list during the COVID-19 lockdown will cause an animal welfare crisis in the New Zealand pork sector, says an industry group.

All independent butchers across the country have been classified as non-essential businesses and been forced to close as part of the Alert Level 4 lock-down for COVID-19.

However NZ Pork said the decision would likely result in the sector having no place to house up to 5,000 surplus pigs on farms every week.

“By not being able to sell fresh carcass pigs to the independent butchers and other segments, we will be faced with a significant animal welfare issue,” said chief executive of NZ Pork David Baines . . 

Back to Act:

Trust The People

Underpinning the ‘essential’ approach is a belief that people can’t be trusted to judge what is safe. (Can I do this without coming within two metres of others?, without touching things other may have touched?).

Safety Approach: Essential For The Recovery

We are going to have to recover as an economy. Free Press is approached daily by businesspeople in a state of despair. Their working capital may or may not last the first four weeks, it certainly won’t last further. Being able to operate under a safety approach is, to borrow a term, essential. Essential to what? Essential to people protecting their livelihoods in the coming months. . . 

The more businesses that continue operating, the more people who are able to keep working, the less the economic and social damage the lockdown will inflict and the faster the recovery will be.

What Would A Safety Approach Look Like?

A safety approach would involve a basic set of rules that people must follow. A two metre rule (Free Press regrets this would exclude televised dance competitions). Can you do this whilst remaining two metres from others? Yes or no? A ‘touched object’ rule. Can you do this without touching objects others outside your household have touched? Yes or no? A regular testing approach. Can we guarantee regular testing and contact tracing is possible? Yes or no? Obviously there is more to do, but we need to start developing a safety approach rather than an essential approach, pronto.

The only justification for the lockdown is to keep us all safe.

Whether or not a business can operate safely should be the only criteria for allowing it to do so through the lockdown.

That won’t compromise personal health and will help economic and social health.


Rural round-up

February 25, 2020

The only way forward for farming is to do it together as a country – Daniel Eb:

Dad and I had an argument recently.

We’re fencing off a stream on the farm soon and I want to include a patch of bush in the job. 

We traded reasons for and against. “It’s good for biodiversity, there’s no feed in there anyway”.

“The stock need the shelter, we’re already losing grazing around the stream.” . .

 

Elle Perriam and Harriet Bremner join forces to empower Canterbury farmers :

Two young rural women who have a friendship with a difference will make their first public appearance together in a bid to change the way those in the rural sector think.

Elle Perriam, founder of Will To Live, and Harriet Bremner, children’s author and safety campaigner have both lived through tremendous grief, suffering the loss of both of their partners.

With a bond shared through their deep grief, love of dogs, horses, farming and passion for people – the duo are pairing up for the first time to tell their stories, hosting an event at the Rolleston School Auditorium on March 2. . . 

How China became NZ’s number one trading partner – Jamie Gray:

China’s coronavirus outbreak has delivered a fast, sharp shock to the New Zealand economy.

From tourism to the meat trade, the disease has highlighted just how reliant New Zealand has become on China.

In less than a decade, the People’s Republic has come to dominate nearly all New Zealand’s major merchandise exports.

Already, some economists are saying the virus – officially named Covid-19 – and a local drought could tip New Zealand into recession this year. . . 

Bovis eradication still realistic – Annette Scott:

Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is proving realistic, M Bovis Programme communications manager Joe Stockman says.

But it is highly unlikely how it got here will ever be known.

Addressing a large gathering of farmers, rural professionals and community leaders in Oamaru on Wednesday Stockman said there’s confidence in a successful eradication.

M bovis is not right across New Zealand, making eradication feasible.

“The current spread is very limited to the movement of infected animals. . . 

New face for meat body :

Meat Industry Association trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva is the organisation’s new chief executive.

She succeeds Tim Ritchie, who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Before joining the association in 2015 Karapeeva held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles at the Ministries for Primary Industries, of Business, Innovation, and Employment and Economic Development. 

She said the red meat sector is operating in an increasingly complex environment and faces a number of challenges domestically and internationally. . . 

NZ’s ‘largest one-day show’ is coming:

The Mackenzie A&P Highland Show will be held on Easter Monday.

Described by organisers as the largest one-day show in New Zealand, the event at Mackenzie A&P Showgrounds is expected to draw up to 15,000 people.

Organising secretary, Jodi Payne is promising visitors there will be “plenty to see”. . . 

Northern NSW beef producers show faith in future wool industry – Lucy Kinbacher:

A growing number of cattle producers looking for a quick turnover and restocking option after recent rain are entering the wool game and building their own Merino flock.

The new players to the Merino game are doing battle with established wool growers who are also ditching their sideline cattle herds to reestablish their traditional sheep carrying capacity.

Narrabri-based couple Jon and Claire Welsh may be fifth generation cattle producers but their newly acquired the 930 hectare (2300 acre) Guyra property, Oban View, is being stocked with a Merino flock. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 27, 2020

Land values slide – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy land values will slide over the next five years as farming is put under increased economic and environmental pressure, Rabobank says.

Tighter credit, reduced foreign capital and pending environmental change will all lead to softer dairy land prices in the short to medium term,  Rabobank’s Afloat But Drifting Backwards – A Look at Dairy Land Values Over the Next Five Years report says.

And an erosion of farmgate milk prices could put more stress on dairy land prices, author and dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

The bank forecasts an average farmgate milk price of $6.25/kg milksolids for the five years – above the 10-year average but below recent prices. . . 

Federated Farmers backs call to slice agricultural subsidies:

Cutting agricultural subsidies that distort trade and production is a vital step in tackling world hunger and climate change challenges, Federated Farmers says.

“We’re right behind the messages on further reform of WTO rules on subsidies that the Cairns Group of major exporting countries put to world leaders in Davos this week,” Feds President Katie Milne said 

“New Zealand farmers are positive proof that reducing domestic subsidies drives innovation and food production efficiency, and ultimately delivers for the consumer in terms of quality, choice and prices, as well as for the environment.  Our meat and milk have one of the lowest carbon footprints per kilogram of product in the world.” . . 

Renewed call for easier trade in agriculture welcomed in NZ – Eric Frykberg:

A veteran trade lobby group emerged from hibernation in Switzerland last week to renew the call for easier trade in agriculture.

The 19-nation Cairns Group made its plea after ministers met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

The 33-year-old Cairns Group helped establish the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the 1990s.

But it went off the radar, after a later effort, the so-called Doha Round of trade talks, faltered. . . 

Total ban on livestock exports could threaten NZ’s trad – Fed Farmers – MAja Burry:

Federated Farmers is warning a ban on live exports would cut off an income stream to thousands of New Zealand farmers.

The government launched a review into the practice of exporting livestock in June last year, after New Zealand and Australian cattle died when being shipped to Sri Lanka last year.

The review is focused on cattle, deer, goat and sheep exports. A consolation document prepared by the Ministry for Primary Industries puts forward four options, which range from improving current systems to a total ban on the practice.

Public consultation on the review closed this week, with more than 3500 submissions being lodged with the ministry. . . 

Obstacles remain to a free trade deal with the EU – Sam Sachdeva :

Bold talk of an FTA between New Zealand and the European Union by the end of 2019 proved misplaced – and wrapping up talks in 2020 may also be a stretch unless major hurdles are overcome

By the end of 2019, Jacinda Ardern’s so-called “year of delivery” was as much about what her Government had failed to deliver as what it had, and near the top of the ‘not achieved’ list was a free trade deal with the European Union.

In fairness, Ardern was not alone in hoping a deal with the EU could be wrapped up swiftly. . . 

Maranoa Kangaroo Co-op offers graziers payment for roos- Sally Cripps:

A bold move in the kangaroo harvesting industry has been unveiled by the Maranoa Kangaroo Harvesters and Growers Cooperative.

The group based at Mitchell has resolved to introduce a 10c/kg payment to graziers for kangaroos harvested on their property from February 1, subject to conditions.

Among them are that both the grazier and the harvester must be members of the cooperative, a one-off $50 fee, and that the grazier must not apply for or use a Damage Mitigation Permit. . . 

 


We don’t need another pest

January 13, 2020

A petition calling for  calling for koala bears to be introduced to New Zealand eucalyptus plantations has gathered more than 4000 signatures.

. . .The Koala Relocation Society started the petition a week ago saying “koalas are functionally extinct in Australia, and could thrive in New Zealand, as many other Australasian species do”.

It’s estimated hundreds of thousands, even millions of animals have perished in the fires ravaging parts of Australia.

“New Zealand has 28,575 hectares planted in eucalypts, most is located in the Central North Island, and are similar to much older forests from Australia, as they grow fast here,” the petition read. . . 

Which other species that functionally thrive in New Zealand would the petitioners be talking about?

The  possums that carry TB and threaten trees and birds? The wallabies that eat native trees and farm pasture?

The toll the bushfires have taken on Australian wildlife is devastating but there are much better ways for New Zealand to help than trying to establish populations of koalas here.

We don’t need another pest.


Meat with integrity

August 25, 2019

Meat with Integrity aims to raise public awareness of the Scottish red meat industry’s animal welfare and sustainability credentials.

. . The campaign will also highlight the industry’s world-renowned quality assurance schemes which cover the entire production process, including farms, hauliers, feed companies, auction markets and processors.

Farmers Hazel McNee from Tealing, Joyce Campbell from Sutherland, Fraser Shaw from Lockerbie and Bruce McConachie who farms in the Cairngorms, were recently announced as the four farming “faces” of the campaign. . .


Global pig fever alert

July 26, 2019

African Swine Fever has been declared a global pandemic by the World Organisation for Animal Health:

That is an international major event putting New Zealand’s $750 million commercial pork industry at risk, NZ Pork general manager David Baines said.

“It’s concerning. It isn’t going away. In fact, it’s got bigger,” Baines said.

NZ Pork, the Ministry for Primary Industries and AsureQuality have embarked on a nationwide education campaign to warn people keeping domestic pigs or coming into contact with feral pigs of the risks of the disease.

“The industry is taking the threat of the disease extremely seriously.

“Watching the disease spread through Europe and Asia demonstrates how devastating it could be if it reached NZ,” Baines said.

Though the disease has no effect on human health the only response is to cull infected herds. . .

While there have been no detections of the it in NZ, about 60% of pork consumed in NZ is imported from more than 25 countries including China, Poland and Belgium that are identified as having the fever.

The virus is exceptionally hardy and can survive almost indefinitely in frozen meat. 

It can also be carried on clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles. . .

It’s estimated pigs are kept on at least 5500 properties outside the commercial industry with an unknown number of animals.

“One of the things we’re really emphasising is the importance of not feeding untreated meat scraps to pigs,” Baines said.

“The major risk to our industry is that African swine fever gets into the lifestyle or para-commercial pig population through the feeding of untreated food scraps and from there into our commercial herd.”

In NZ it is illegal to feed meat to pigs unless it has been cooked at 100 degrees, essentially boiled, for one hour.

“This is a key biosecurity measure as African swine fever is a very hardy virus and can survive in pork products that might not have been cooked thoroughly as well as various types of processed pork products. 

“It can infect the pigs that eat them.” . . 

The pork industry has been calling for an end to imports of pork for years.

Until now that’s looked like a non-tariff barrier to protect the local industry from overseas competitors.

The risk of ASF provides a much stronger case for restricting imports on biosecurity grounds.


Human cost of M bovis

June 8, 2019

A friend got a phone call telling him that a herd from which he’d bought a couple of calves several years years ago had Mycoplasma bovis .

He told the caller that the calves and any of their paddock mates were dead and eaten.

That should have been the end of it but it wasn’t.

He wasn’t able to move any of his stock, including the bulls he’d just sold, and all his cattle had to undergo testing.

The test came back negative.

That should have been the end of it but it wasn’t.

He still wasn’t permitted to move any stock and all the cattle had to be tested again.

The going and froing  went on for months, made worse by communication issues, until his herd was finally declared clear of infection.

It was very frustrating but this farmer was well used to dealing with bureaucracy, there were significant costs but his livelihood wasn’t at stake and he didn’t have to cull his herd.

The  M. bovis saga has been far harder on a lot of other people.

A Newshub Nation investigation has uncovered multiple serious issues.  

We’ve found the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) made mistakes when deciding which animals to kill, there have been long delays in tracing high-risk animals, and there are growing concerns about the wellbeing of affected farmers.  

As the Government pushes for eradication, animals are being rounded up for slaughter – more than 90,000 culled so far.

The disease can cause various illnesses in cattle including arthritis, mastitis and pneumonia, and until recently New Zealand was one of only two nations in the world without it.

MPI has $886 million to eradicate the disease – but what about the human cost? . . .

The video that accompanies this story tells a very sad story.

It’s possible to add up the number of animals culled, jobs and income lost.

It’s impossible to quantify the human cost.


Rural round-up

April 12, 2019

Job offers roll in for Trainee of the Year – Yvonne O’Hara:

When Caycee Cormack left school she had intended to study physical education at Otago University, as she played a lot of sport.

At that stage she had not even considered working in the dairy industry as a career option.

Now she is the Southland/Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year and has a dozen job offers to consider.

This was the second time Ms Cormack had entered the competition – she placed third last year.

The win was even more remarkable because when she went through the final judging, she had only been out of hospital for two days after having her appendix removed.

Ms Cormack said she enjoyed the challenge of the competition. . . 

Landcorp will stick to its guns – Neal Wallace:

There are few roles in agriculture that have eluded Warren Parker’s career – except full-time farming, though he does live on a lifestyle block near Rotorua. Neal Wallace spoke to the new Landcorp chairman.

Now, more than ever, New Zealand agriculture needs a trailblazer, an entity with size and scope to test new systems and ventures,  new Landcorp chairman Warren Parker says.

He is happy for the state-owned enterprise, also known as Pamu, to be that entity given the breadth of challenges, from integrated farming systems to water and nutrient management and reducing its environmental footprint, farming faces. . . 

On a mission to lasso youth – Yvonne O’Hara:

Brooke Flett is keen to encourage young people to get involved in the agriculture sector.

After all, her passion for stock and for dairying led her to her career and to winning the 2018 Southern District Harcourts Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) Rural Ambassador Award.

She also won last year’s Young Farmers national stock-judging competition and the 2017 RAS Young Judge of the Year – Dairy.

Ms Flett attended the Royal Agricultural Society’s 2019 junior judging competition at Waikaka two weeks ago, which fitted in with her desire to encourage more young people to learn about stock management, enter shows and view agriculture as a career. . . 

Chipping in on the West Coast:

Our Emergency Response Team is lending a hand to get farms back up and running in the aftermath of recent storm.

You’ll find them following floods, in the sweep of storms and helping after hurricanes.

When natural disaster strikes members of Fonterra’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) can be quick to the scene to help farmers and New Zealand communties deal with often overwhelming recovery situations, such as the 2017 Edgecumbe flood

Right now a group of our ERT is working on the West Coast to help other kiwi farmers fix the storm damage and get farms functioning following the recent bout of bad weather.

National ERT Response Director Kevin Lockley says their current focus is fixing ruined fences and the crew of five working at Hokitika were selected because they have the best skills for the job. . . 

WHO pulls support from initiative promoting global move to plant based foods:

The World Health Organization pulled out of sponsoring a global initiative promoting healthier and sustainable diets across the world after pressure from an Italian official who raised concerns about the impact of the diet on people’s health and livelihoods.

The event—the launch of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health in Geneva, Switzerland on 28 March—still went ahead, sponsored by the government of Norway.

WHO dropped its planned sponsorship after Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s ambassador and permanent representative of Italy to the international organizations in Geneva, questioned the scientific basis for the diet which is focused on promoting predominantly plant based foods, and excluding foods deemed unhealthy, including meat and other animal based foods. . . 

Welfare the nub of mobile processing – Alastair Dowie:

Animal welfare and reduced stress is the core belief behind the development of a new mobile livestock processing system by Victorian-based company Provenir.

Provenir chief executive and co-founder Chris Balazs said the system introduced a unique, on-farm processing solution that provided the highest animal welfare by eliminating the need for live animal transport prior to processing.

Mr Balazs, a farmer, said the mobile processing unit (MPU) system was created to improve animal welfare and advance sustainable farming practices. . . 

 


Fonterra recognising high performing farms

April 6, 2019

Fonterra has announced details of its new approach to sustainability on farm:

. . .The Co-operative Difference will make it easier for farmers to know what is expected today and in the future, as well as recognise those farmers who are taking steps to produce high quality milk in a more sustainable way.

The farmer-owned Co-operative has signalled its new strategy will put sustainability at the heart of everything it does, empower the Co-op to maximise its New Zealand heritage and uniqueness, and help it to remain a globally competitive New Zealand co-operative.

Co-operative Affairs Managing Director Mike Cronin says, “Sustainability for our Co-op is about more than the environment. It’s about looking after our people, caring for animals, adapting to changing customer and consumer expectations, and respecting the communities and land where we live and work.

“We are proud of the global reputation Fonterra farmers have for producing high quality milk. Farmers have made tremendous progress on farm to date and The Co-operative Difference will help us take that good work to the next level so we can continue to create goodness for generations to come.”

The Co-operative Difference will support the Co-op’s emerging strategy direction by:

• recognising farmers who go beyond the minimum requirements to supply high-quality milk, care for their animals, protect the environment, support their people and community, and engage in their Co-operative;

• helping other farmers follow suit by making existing on-farm requirements easier to understand and by providing tailored, industry-leading support services to those who want to improve;

• providing more information and advance notice to farmers about our future aspirations so they can plan and progress towards our shared ambitions;

• streamlining reporting and auditing to save farmers’ time and energy, and help the Co-op protect its market position, strengthen its sustainability claims, and drive demand for products that customers and consumers value most; and,

• supporting farms wanting to improve, while taking a firmer line with those that persistently fail to meet minimum standards, and exercising our rights to suspend collection.

“Consumers and customers increasingly want to know that their food choices support a sustainable future. How we farm and make our products needs to reflect these aspirations so we can remain a globally competitive New Zealand co-operative.

“Our Co-operative’s strong dairy heritage and pasture-based system separates us from the pack but we must continue to earn our customers’ and consumers’ trust and loyalty. The Co-operative Difference will help us share the good work happening on farm through our Trusted Goodness™ commitment,” says Mr Cronin.

The Co-operative Difference was developed in consultation with farmers who wanted their Co-op to simplify and reduce complexity of requirements, provide direction on priority on-farm improvements, and increase pride in the Co-op by recognising high performing farms in a way that aligns with the Co-op’s values.

Recognising those doing well, helping those who want to do better and a firmer line with those who persistently fail to measure up – which will include suspending milk collection – is a good combination of carrot and stick.

This is a good initiative for the company, its suppliers, their staff, the environment and ultimately consumers.

 


Rural round-up

February 18, 2019

New foot and mouth threat to New Zealand – Annette Scott:

An emergency all-agriculture meeting to discuss tighter border controls is being considered after Australian authorities seized imported meat containing foot and mouth disease and African swine fever.

“There’s some pretty sinister things coming in (to Australia) and with New Zealand tourism following similar patterns this is a real wake up call for the industry and needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness by our own border agencies,” NZ Pork chairman Eric Roy said.

“The discovery of FMD in the latest samples of products found in Australia should be of particular concern for anyone in the livestock sector. . .

Houses, trees swallow up land – Neal Wallace:

The area of land devoted to agricultural production fell by almost a million hectares or 7% in the decade to 2012 and will fall further as new Government policies encourage forest planting.

According to the Ministry for the Environment report, Our Land – Land Use Statistics 2018, most of that decline was caused by tenure review of South Island pastoral leases, subdivision and lifestyle blocks.

But between 1996 and 2012 the main shift in land cover was from exotic grassland and shrubland to exotic forest followed by a 10% increase in New Zealand’s urban area, which reached 230,000ha.

Driven by the population growing from 3.7 million to 4.4m, urban areas in Auckland grew by 4200ha, Waikato 4000ha and Canterbury 3800ha. . .

Life story: Veteran Canterbury stockman John O’Carroll a community hero– Tom Kitchin:

 John O’Carroll​ worked on his farm until his early 90s, and even then he’d never say he had retired.

O’Carroll​ was not only one of the best known stockmen in North Canterbury, he was one of the last surviving World War II veterans in the district and put in years of community volunteer work.

He died on January 15, aged 98. . . 

Molesworth Station: What’s next for our biggest farm? – Pat Deavoll:

The view from the top of Ward Pass is sublime. To the north lie the rolling downs surrounding the Molesworth Station homestead, backed by the drama of the Inland Kaikoura Range. This culminates in the summit of 2885-metre Mount Tapuaenuku.

To the south, the Acheron River stretches into the distance hemmed by arid scree-capped peaks and golden tussock flats. The Acheron Road winds its way across the flats, and far away, the slow crawling dot of a 4WD moves up the gravel road, dwarfed by the landscape that surrounds it.

This landscape belongs to 180,000 hectare Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s largest farm, leased and farmed by Landcorp and managed by the Department of Conservation on behalf of the Crown. It belongs to all New Zealanders and its fate is up for grabs.  . .

Possum cull planned after cattle catch TB near Dunedin :

Possum control will be carried out near Dunedin next month, after two cattle herds in the Flagstaff area tested positive for Bovine tuberculosis.

Bovine TB can cause weight loss and death in cattle and deer herds.

Possums are the main way the disease is spread, and humans can be at risk if they drink raw milk from an infected cow. . .

No need to panic over Brexit – Alan Barber:

In spite of the fast approaching deadline of 29th March, when the UK is due to leave the EU, not to mention the latest shipment date able to meet that deadline, there may be no need to get too concerned. There is a huge amount of media-inspired speculation about the potentially dire consequences of Prime Minister May’s inability to achieve an improvement of the exit terms leading to a No Deal Brexit, but word from Britain suggests this is highly unlikely. After all, both the EU and the British Parliament have specifically ruled out leaving without a deal.

The most likely short term outcome will be an extension of current membership terms under Article 50 which would give time for legislation to be passed either in the improbable event May succeeds in obtaining a new deal acceptable to her own parliament or further negotiation is required to reach a final agreement. . . 


Some animals more equal

January 9, 2019

Forest and Bird  says the SPCA’s call for a ban on 1080 is naive:

Forest & Bird says the SPCA’s statement calling for 1080 to be banned shows a naïve failure to understand how nature works in the wild, and they will be seeking a meeting with the organisation to discuss its position.

Forest & Bird CE Kevin Hague says “The SPCA’s statement on the use of 1080 is seriously misinformed, and contains errors of both fact and logic.

Their position reflects their history of caring for domesticated animals such as cats and dogs, without understanding the needs of New Zealand’s native animals and ecosystems.

The SPCA is generally respected for its care of domestic and farm animals.  Extending its concern to pests which carry disease, and torture and kill native birds puts its reputation at risk.

It’s not hard to get public support for an organisation that promotes the wellbeing of cats, dogs, sheep and cattle. It would be very easy to lose support by giving rats, stoats and possums equal status with native birds.

“While the idea of stoats and rats peacefully coexisting with native birds sounds great, the reality is that an estimated 25 million native birds, eggs, and chicks are cruelly eaten alive by introduced predators every year in New Zealand.

“This is the terrible death that countless native animals across New Zealand suffer every night.

“The SPCA’s position on 1080 is a blow to their credibility. It’s sad to see them promoting flawed logic whose outcome is the extinction through being eaten alive of treasured animals like our kiwi, kereru, and kokako.

“Without scientific, ethical, and precision pest control, of which 1080 is a key tool, there is no way to protect our native animals from the overwhelming numbers of introduced predators. Giving up 1080 would lead to an ecocide of huge proportions in New Zealand, and the SPCA need to understand this is the outcome of their pest control position.”

The SPCA might think all animals are equal but when it comes to conservation, some are more equal than others.

Rats, stoats and possums are introduced species which carry diseases that can infect people, farm and domestic animals, and they are not endangered. They prey on native species which are.

No-one says 1080 is perfect but experts including the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the Environmental Protection Authority and the Department of Conservation say it is the best option available to protect  native species when trapping and shooting aren’t possible.

Attempting to put pests on equal footing with endangered natives is not only denting the SPAC’s credibility, it’s costing it support.


Ignorance kills

September 17, 2018

Animal rights activists in Germany killed four cows and left 40 more critically ill:

Idiot  animal rights activists KILLED four cows and left 40 others critically ill after releasing them into a feeding pen where the beasts “ate themselves to death”.

Suspects are believed to have trespassed onto an organic farm in Germany on Saturday night and released dozens of dairy cows and calves.

The cows then headed straight to the feeding pen where they ate up to 10kg of concentrated feed with catastrophic results.

They are normally fed a maximum of 2kg a day.

Anja Schiemann, the farm’s managing director, told the Berliner Zeitung: “Too much concentrate feed causes the digestive system in the rumen to be severely disturbed.

“The damage to the liver is just too much.” . . .

Ignorance kills.

A similar accusation could be made against anti 1080 activists. Without it native plants, birds and insects will die.

The ODT opines:

The case for 1080 use in New Zealand’s forests is overwhelming, no matter the fervent protests of the past two weeks.

Each independent investigation into its use has come to that conclusion. 

Yet, the Department of Conservation and its staff have had to put up with abuse and worse. Tampering with the wheel nuts on vehicles, as has been reported, is downright criminal and dangerous.

Blatant “fake news” and completely misleading photographs have been spread around the internet, news stories hijacked by activists, and 1080 drops disrupted.

There is, indeed,  no doubting the genuine feelings of the anti-1080 brigade, including the majority who act responsibly in their opposition. But they, like the irresponsible, are sadly and badly misguided.

Some of the fervour is understandable.  Dog owners are fearful of the awful death their charges might suffer should they eat carcasses of mammals killed by the poison.  Others are concerned about the deer by-kill, meaning fewer animals to hunt.

Much worse than these concerns, though, is the massacre by possums, stoats and rats. They lay waste forests of birds and chicks, turning them into silent graveyards and disrupting the ecosystem.

Trap instead of poison, say the 1080 opponents. Given the vastness, and ruggedness of New Zealand’s topography, this is totally  and absolutely impractical.

The 1080 kills birds instead of saving them, the opponents add. While it is true 1080 has killed birds as well as pests, birds and reptiles seem to have some tolerance. Doc’s threatened species ambassador Nicola Toki quotes a study where 600 kiwi were monitored by radio transmitters for a long time after 1080 was spread.  Not one died. Meanwhile, 19 of 20 kiwi eggs were eaten by predators in areas without pest control.

The 1080 kills so many pests it allows bird numbers to recover. . .

The strongest advocates of 1080 accept it’s not the perfect answer but it is better than any alternatives that are currently available.

Until there is something better, it is 1080 or death to a lot of native flora and fauna.


Vegan fundalmentalists target feedlots

August 22, 2018

The vegan fundamentalists have a new target – feedlots:

. . . Yesterday SAFE called for the government to block feedlots saying it showed overcrowded cattle after the footage aired on Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint.

However, Federated Farmers said SAFE did not really care about animal welfare and said their goal was to end all animal farming.

“SAFE’s agenda is to get rid of farmed animals. Animal welfare is a secondary concern for them,” Miles Anderson, Federated Farmers meat and wool chairman, told RNZ.

“They are vegan fundamentalists. I take most of what they say with a grain of salt. It would do them a world of good to have a nice leg of lamb.” . . .

If there are genuine environmental or animal welfare concerns they should be reported to the relevant authorities – the  regional council or MPI.

But SAFE tends to be more interested in making headlines based on their agenda than presenting fact-based evidence.

One of SAFE’s complaints was that the animals don’t have shade. I’ve been to feedlots in Australia and Argentina in the middle of summer where the cattle could have been in the shade and they were choosing to stay in the sun.

I’ve been to the feedlot in question twice, both times on hot days in late summer, and saw nothing to give me any concern about animal welfarre.

The people in SAFE won’t credit farmers with concern for animal welfare for its own sake but they can’t ignore the monetary reward.

Only happy, healthy animals produce well which gives a very real financial incentive for looking after them.

Growing grass is New Zealand’s natural advantage and a very good marketing tool for our produce.

But there are niche markets for the fat-marbled steak which comes from grain-fed stock and providing they are managed well there should be no animal welfare concerns.

It’s not the way most New Zealand farmers choose to raise stock, but there’s nothing wrong with doing it that way when it’s done well.

SAFE’s campaign is yet another that is long on emotion and very, very short on facts.


Fonterra forced pick-ups environmentally and economically costly

August 15, 2018

Fonterra chair John Monaghan says the regulation forcing the company to pick up all milk, anywhere is no longer needed :

We will push to get rid of the open-entry and open-exit provisions of DIRA; it’s well past the use-by-date.” 

Fonterra believes open-entry provision is no longer needed because the industry has become competitive.

Monaghan points out that main purpose of DIRA was to promote competition and to give farmers and Kiwis choices: today New Zealand farmers can choose from roughly 10 independent processors, only five of which are New Zealand-owned.

Farmers have more than enough options when they are looking for a company to take their milk.

They no longer need the safe-guard that forcing Fonterra to pick up milk from any farm, anywhere provided.

“Competition is a good thing for Fonterra and we believe competition is here to stay; Fonterra’s milk share has dropped from 91% to 82% because of competition.”

Monaghan says if the open-entry provision is left in place it will “wipe out the progress that’s been made.’

“Because once you have a few processors who’ve made inefficient investment decisions that only stack up with open entry, it has the potential to lead to significant excess manufacturing capacity in the industry.

“This creates a risk of a downward spiral of low-margin competition that will hold back moves up the value chain and ultimately result in business failures.”

Fonterra, and its shareholders, are forced to subsidise competitors and to prop up the inefficient ones.

Fonterra also points out that it can’t refuse a farmer joining the co-op based on environmental or animal welfare issues.  . .

A dairy company must have the ability to refuse to take milk from any farm which doesn’t meet its environmental and animal welfare standards.

Forcing Fonterra to pick up milk from anywhere has led to dairy conversions in places where it isn’t environmentally sustainable.

It also adds costs which have to be borne by all shareholders.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) under which Fonterra was established is up for review now.

Changing it so the co-op is no longer forced to take milk from any and every farm that applies to supply it will bring environmental and economic gains.

It will also enable Fonterra to sanction suppliers who breach its standards.

 


What was the health and safety plan?

August 9, 2018

The cow and calf which were involved in an attack on a jogger and her rescuer in an Auckland park have been culled.

. . .The council said it was natural instinct for a mother cow to protect its calf and advised anyone on council property with stock to be “extra careful” during calving season.

But it had the cow and calf culled in response to the incident, saying the cow had acted in an overly protective way against the walkers which came near it. . . 

Anyone familiar with cattle knows the danger of getting between cows and their offspring.

However, the cattle in question weren’t on a farm where people would be expected to know to be wary. They were in an urban park, open to the public, and advice from the council after the attack to be extra careful seems more than a little inadequate for health and safety requirements.

Any farmers conscious of their responsibilities would not usually allow visitors in the same paddock as cows with calves.

Unrestricted access to a paddock with stock poses animal health and welfare, biosecurity and human safety risks at any time. The risks to stock and people increase when cows have calves.

This is one of the reasons farmers are so adamantly opposed to giving up property rights and allowing any right to roam.

Where, and what, was the council’s health and safety plan and how, in this often over-protective age, has the council got away with not separating the cattle from the jogging and biking track with at least a hot wire?


Rural round-up

July 1, 2018

Farmers stop cow abuser from working with animals unsupervised – Gerard Hutching:

The Northland contract milker caught hitting cows by hidden cameras has been banned from working unsupervised around animals.

Owners of the dairy farm said “as lifelong and committed dairy farmers we are shocked and deeply saddened” by the reports of the ill treatment of some stock on their farm.

“As of today the contract milker concerned has been removed from all duties requiring unsupervised contact with stock pending the outcome of due process with regard to our contractual obligations,” they said in a statement.

The man had earlier been described as a sharemilker, but the owners clarified that he is a contract milker. Sharemilkers own their own cows, whereas contract milkers work with a farm owner’s livestock. . . 

Reigning Young Farmer grand final winner ready for 50th anniversary – Mary-Jo Tohill:

If he had not won the FMG Young Farmer of the Year last year, Lovells Flat sheep and beef farmer Nigel Woodhead would be in Invercargill giving it another go next week.

The 50th anniversary event kicks off in Invercargill on Thursday and runs until Saturday.

“I would be studying my backside off right now to have another go,” the 29-year-old said.

It is now up to another past grand finalist and this year’s Otago-Southland regional winner Logan Wallace, who farms at Waipahi, to have a shot at the Southland-based grand final. . .

Youngsters get say on future :

Farmstrong has developed a new online survey to better understand the pressures facing younger farmers and farm workers and ask them what works to improve their wellbeing.

The nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative provides tools and resources for farmers, growers and farm workers to help them better cope with the ups and downs of farming.

It will help provide a clearer picture of the things that might work to improve the wellbeing of younger farmers and farm workers.  . . 

Why there’s no rural-urban divide when it comes to caring for the environment – Melissa Clark-Reynolds:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says farmers care just as much about the environment as everyone else, and with its new Environment Strategy and Implementation plan, it plans to help sheep and beef farmers promote reduced carbon emissions, cleaner water, thriving biodiversity, and healthy productive soils. 

I recently spoke at a farmer’s event in Christchurch with a few hundred sheep and beef farmers from the northern part of the South Island. At the end of my talk, an older farmer came up to me and asked why I hadn’t talked about organics. On my way home, someone tweeted me that they’d “always said we should have declared all of New Zealand organic and GMO-free. The price premium could have been whatever we asked for.”

At the Beef + Lamb AGM recently, a group of farmers (mixed ages, from their 20s through to their 60s) asked me why I hadn’t talked more about Regenerative Agriculture – farming that heals the land, the lifeforms that dwell there, and the communities of people too. The fact that I keep being surprised by this stuff says more about me as an urban Kiwi than it does about farmers. . .

Nutrient management valuable tool if handled correctly says Allen:

The National Party’s announcement of bipartisan support for the Climate Change Commission last week made it clear that environmental conservation is currently at the forefront of political and social concern in this country.

Part of that concern is the issue of national water quality, breached by David Parker several weeks ago with his announcement of plans to introduce nationwide farm nutrient limits.

A particular point of contention was the suggestion that destocking would have to take place in certain areas to meet the new limits. However, Federated Farmers national board member Chris Allen says if all else fails, it’s just something some farmers may have to accept: . .

What makes a good farmer – Blue North:

What are the attributes of a really good farmer? Would they include a penchant for order and neatness? A single-minded focus on efficiency and yield maximization? A bullet-proof resolve in the face of risk? What about drive for expansion and scale or technical proficiency? While some or all of these may currently inform our rating of farmers, I want to propose some alternative attributes in response to this question. But before getting there, some context is needed.

One of the formative ideas, probably the most important one, that shaped our thinking when we started Blue North in 2011, and which fundamentally shapes what we do to this day, is understanding farmers as the key role-players in determining the sustainability of food supply-chains, and, by extrapolation, the sustainability of mankind as a whole. . .

What are the challenges facing farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .


Cruelty always wrong

June 29, 2018

Dairy NZ’s strategy leader Jenny Jago says the well-being of animals is at the heart of every dairy farm.

It is not okay to treat any animal poorly – ever – and the vast majority of farmers care deeply about their animals. This footage is disturbing and it has been reported that a complaint has been laid. This type of appalling behaviour is absolutely not representative of the thousands of farmers that work with cows every day and are passionate about animal welfare.

Cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the dairy sector as part of dairy farming. If a farmer treats their cows badly, they shouldn’t be working in the dairy sector. It’s as simple as that.

She was responding to a video which showed a sharemilker abusing cows:

A Northland sharemilker caught on hidden cameras hitting dairy cows with a steel pipe in his milking shed had previously been the subject of a complaint to the Ministry for Primary Industries about other claims of animal abuse.

That inquiry was dropped due to a lack of evidence but the new video from the milking shed cameras has been given to the Ministry by farm animal advocacy group Farmwatch as part of a new complaint.

A month’s footage from the hidden cameras supplied to Newsroom by Farmwatch shows the sharemilker repeatedly hitting cows during milking. At times the cows were hit on the head, at other times their legs were struck with a steel pipe.  . .

What makes this case worse is that a farm worker complained to MPI whose investigation found nothing amiss the first time and said they could do nothing the second.

The former worker contacted MPI again by phone to tell them about the steel pipe. They said MPI told them the case was closed and nothing more could be done without proof. 

“We went through the right channels. We went to the owner first, nothing was done. We went to MPI, nothing was done. We didn’t want to leave it,” said the former worker who made the complaint. 

At this point, worried for the welfare of the herd and with nowhere else to turn, the former worker contacted farm animal advocacy group, Farmwatch. 

Farmwatch installed hidden cameras in the milking shed to gather proof.

Farmwatch volunteer investigator, John Darroch, said he has spent time in milking sheds in the past and knew good farming practice. He was shocked at what was caught on camera. 

“I was stunned and sickened by what I saw. The level of anger towards the cows was quite disturbing to see.”  

This footage has now been supplied to MPI in the hope something can be done.  

“We’re willing to co-operate with MPI so that they can prosecute people based off our hidden camera footage. This includes a willingness to give formal statements to MPI and to appear in court as witnesses,” Darroch said. . . 

Treating cows like this is inhumane and also stupid – cows need quiet and calm to produce milk. The sharemilker wasn’t only being cruel to the stock, his actions would have reduced milk production which would have reduced his income.

There is no excuse for cruelty to animals and MPI must learn from this case so that any complaints made in future are investigated more thoroughly.

The abuse was bad enough, that it continued after complaints were made makes it worse.



Rebuilding trust

May 29, 2018

The government’s decisions to attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is an expensive one, but not eradicating it would be even more costly:

The Government says it has reached an agreement with farming sector leaders to attempt to eradicate the disease from New Zealand.

The cull, of around 126,000 in addition to the 26,000 already underway, will take place over one to two years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said to not act would cost even more than what would be spent on trying to eradicate it – $886 million.

$1.3b over 10 years was the estimated cost of not acting.

“Today’s decision to eradicate is driven by the Government’s desire to protect the national herd from the disease and to protect the base of economy – the farming sector,” Ardern said.

“This is a tough call – no one ever wants to see mass culls. But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd,” she said.

“I personally do not want to look back on this time … and say I wish we had tried harder.

“We have this one shot to eradicate, and we are taking it together.

“We want New Zealand to be free of it,” Ardern said.

The Government will meet 68% of the cost and Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand will meet 32%. . . 

Farmers have mixed views on the wisdom of this decision but it’s backed by DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb, Federated Farmers and the National Party.

Culling all the cattle will be devastating for farmers and sharemilkers but at least the government has committed to much faster action on compensation claims:

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said:

. . “I’ve also asked MPI to revisit the compensation process and they’ve developed a new streamlined approach for those whose animals are culled to enable a substantial payment within a matter of days.

“Farmer welfare is crucial and I’d like to thank the Rural Support Trusts for the work they’re doing. With this decision we know more help is needed and the Government and industry groups are committed to helping farmers through this stressful time. . . 

No-one thinks eradicating the disease will be easy and as David Williams writes, another  difficult task will be rebuilding trust in MPI:

. . When the dust settles, and the debate about eradication – or not – is over, MPI needs to start listening. Listening to farmers, to vets, to business people. Because I think MPI’s biggest job is not getting rid of M. bovis, it’s regaining trust. . . 

(MPI admits compensation payments have been too slow. Biosecurity response director Geoff Gwyn told Newshub: “I lose sleep over the fact there are people out there suffering as a result of the actions we’re putting on, and I know it’s cold comfort for them, but they are taking a hit for the national herd.”)

It doesn’t stop there, however. Criticism of MPI is also happening in the supermarket aisles, over the bar in rural pubs and over farm fences. Most importantly, it’s happening at the dining table, shaping the attitudes of the next generation of farmers. Many are probably saying the same things as the infected farmers – but some are undoubtedly going further.

In South Canterbury, there’s talk that there have been signs of disease in some herds for years. Given what’s happened, some are asking why authorities were told at all.

Trouble ahead

That’s the biggest problem. A few people tell me the way MPI has handled this outbreak means, they think, some farmers won’t be inclined to report problems in the future. They don’t think MPI has their back. This is not to defend such behaviour, but to give the authorities a heads-up. If that attitude spreads like M. bovis has, there’s trouble ahead.

As with TB, farmers must be confident that if they report a problem it will be taken seriously, they will be treated fairly and compensated quickly.

Without that confidence, some farmers will be tempted to quietly shoot and bury infected stock.

Of course, in Roger Smith’s perfect world, everyone would do the right thing. But human nature – as proved by the failure of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) system – tells us that doesn’t always happen.

MPI can’t possibly put field officers in every farm, so it has to rely on farmers to report problems. But this mood of mistrust, born of M. bovis, creates a climate of fear and self-reliance rather than faith in the system. The country needs faith, however, and it’s up to MPI to restore it.

What we’ve seen in recent months, however, is farmers turning on farmers, as the secrecy over which farms are infected leads to suspicion and accusation, not just about who knew what but when they knew it. The slowness or non-existence of compensation payments is an added stress. Businesses are failing, people are struggling and MPI is coming across as detached and cold-hearted.

At a national level, Federated Farmers says its members have to lift their game, particularly when it comes to animal identification and tracing. (Northland’s branch is calling for a full, independent inquiry about MPI’s approach to biosecurity.) Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has instructed officials to take a tougher approach to compliance with the tracing system, NAIT. These conversations should have been had years ago.

Problems with NAIT – both the system itself and compliance – must be addressed and addressed quickly.

The tougher conversations are to be had face-to-face with farmers. Yes, there needs to be a better job of selling the benefits of NAIT – that’ll help uptake. But the crucial conversations will be farmers telling MPI what they need, how best to help them and how, when the next outbreak hits – because it will – the ministry can improve its response.

Of course, just because the farmers are talking, doesn’t mean that MPI will listen.

MPI has lost the confidence of farmers.

They didn’t appear to realise the human and financial cost to farmers whose businesses have been threatened and the importance of clear communication and speedy settling of compensation.

Eradicating M. bovis must be its primary focus but it must take seriously the criticisms aimed at it and ensure that its systems and staff training improve so it and they regain farmers’ trust and are ready and able to respond faster and better to the next biosecurity incursion.

MPI’s media release gives some hope that it has already learned from its mistakes.

We understand this will be painful for farmers who are affected, and we are committed to looking after those who have Mycoplasma bovis on their farms.

If you are a farmer and need support, help is available through your industry group representative, individual response case manager, or the Rural Support Trust.

• Rural Support Trust: 0800 78 72 54

• MPI: 0800 00 83 33

Industry representatives:

• Dairy NZ: 0800 43 24 79 69

• Beef + Lamb NZ: 0800 23 33 52

• Federated Farmers: 0800 32 76 46

We’re calling on rural communities to support each other, especially affected farmers and those that appear to be finding it hard. If you have any concerns about someone you know, contact the Rural Support Trust or other community support services.

Download the Looking after yourself fact sheet [PDF, 813 KB]

Compensation

Compensation is available for anyone who has verifiable losses as a result of directions they are given by MPI under the Biosecurity Act to manage Mycoplasma bovis.

Farmers that are directed to have animals culled or their farm operations restricted under movement controls will be eligible for compensation. In particular, farmers whose animals are being culled will receive an initial payment for the value of culled stock within 2 weeks of a completed claim being lodged.

Learn more about Biosecurity Act compensation

Mycoplasma bovis compensation claim form user guide [PDF, 446 KB]

MPI must now ensure its actions match its words, and to date, this from Keith Woodford, shows they haven’t:

There are going to be huge challenges for MPI. To date, they have not covered themselves in glory. All members of their response team will have been working hard within imposed limits, but the MPI system has let them down with too many layers of management and an inability to make timely operational decisions for each farm.

The most urgent issue right now relates to all of the NOD (suspect) farms in the South Island that have their cows and their feed in different locations. As just one example of many, there is a Mid Canterbury farmer I know of who is caught in the constipated bureaucracy and as of today still cannot get approval to shift his stock less than two kilometres to another farm he owns (and which he agrees will then also become a NOD farm).

These cows need to be moved and should have been progressively moved over recent weeks as they were dried-off, if they are to have feed to eat. This farm is not one of the infected properties, rather it is just one of the 300 NOD suspect properties.

We don’t know how many farms are in this situation of cows isolated from their winter feed, but almost certainly well over 100. This is not the ‘gypsy day’ situation but something quite different. And it is a big animal and human welfare issue.

There should be no hold-up over permission to move stock from one block to another owned by the same farmer who agrees to it becoming a NOD farm.

The Government appears to be underestimating the complexity of the compensation claims. The challenge is that claims have to be ‘verified’, but loss of income claims are always debatable. Claim settlements require agreements on what would have happened and by definition that is impossible to verify objectively.

An MPI source advises that any claim over $75,000 requires five separate signatures across various ministries from within the Wellington bureaucracy after the technical assessors have reached agreement. Given the future tsunami of claims, from both infected and suspect properties, and the reality that almost no claims have yet to be settled except in partial amounts, there will be a need for a separate and preferably independent Claims Assessment Commission. . . 

 

This map shows the extent of the known spread of the disease. It looks bad and it is.

But so far all cases can be traced back to a single source, all infections are the same strain and nothing has been traced back further than 2015. It is a lot of farms and a lot of cows and devastating personally and financially for those affected.

Eradication will require a huge effort by the farmers affected and MPI and big changes within the dairy industry and those who support and service it.

 


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