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.


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