Fonterra has a heart

May 8, 2019

The world’s biggest dairy exporter shows  it has a big heart:

Fonterra’s milk tankers are Andrew Oliver’s favourite thing in the world and local tanker drivers have long known that Andrew won’t go to bed until they’ve been on the farm.

But when it became unmanageable for his 65-year-old parents, the world’s biggest dairy exporter stepped in to help.

They changed their milk tanker schedule in the entire district so that Andrew would go to bed on time.

Andrew Oliver is one of about eight people in the world living with Fryns-Aftimos syndrome – he’s the oldest known to have it and the only one in New Zealand with the condition.

The extremely rare syndrome is the result of a mutation in one of his chromosomes which means that, at 35 years old, he has the mental age of a 6-year-old and suffers many other symptoms.

For the past 15 years he’s had a special relationship with Fonterra tanker drivers.

Ken Oliver, his father, said Andy discovered the tanker when the farm went onto the night shift for milk pick up.

“[He] learned what it was, came out to see it occasionally and once in awhile would talk to a driver. But then with Andy, the normal thing is with something like this – it would become a habit. And so he had to be out to see the tanker. That became part of his nightly routine.”

Andy’s nightly routine consists of a list of things he has to tick off.

Every night he draws a picture to give to the tanker driver, he has to watch the weather report on the 6pm news, then he has dinner and a bath.

But the last thing to tick off – is the tanker.

Ken said that if the tanker hadn’t come, Andy wouldn’t go to bed. For him, waking up at 5am to tend the farm, it became a struggle.

“We simply didn’t know when the tanker was coming. You might get 2am in the morning or something like that and he wouldn’t go to bed until the tanker had come.”

For over a decade, Andrew’s parents managed his tanker visits until one day Ken says he came to a breaking point.

“Deirdre had just been diagnosed with having had a minor stroke, I was absolutely out on my feet trying to keep the farm going. Surviving on three or four hours sleep and I’d just run out. I’d hit the wall and so I phoned the call centre and actually started crying on the phone, I was just so shot.

“I just said look, my life has just become impossible and just explained what was going on. I need sleep and I can’t get sleep until this boy’s in bed.”

The person at the call centre decided to help. . .

The company changed its tanker schedule for the whole Te Rapa district so that Andy could go to bed on time.

Tanker drivers have also given Andrew a hi-vis Fonterra jacket and raised money to buy him a bike.

I’m delighted to be a shareholder in a company with employees who care.

UPDATE: TIm Fulton wrote about this in NZ Farmers Weekly several years ago.


Rural round-up

December 23, 2013

Positive steps to help mental health – Terry Tacon:

Like the mountain that dominates the skyline in Taranaki, the province’s farming industry has a dark side – the effect problems can have on farmers’ mental health.

Recognition of the issue prompted the region’s Rural Support Trust, with the assistance of Like Minds Taranaki, to get behind a publication called Feeling Down on the Farm – Mental Health in Rural Taranaki.

It’s a bid to give farmers somewhere to turn when they have problems and follows a similar publication in southern New Zealand in 2010. . .

Riding high on kindness – Tim Fulton:

A dairy family in Waikato has been part of a daisy chain of generosity that started with tanker drivers upgrading a young man’s trike.

Andrew Oliver, from Puketaha, had been rattling around on his trusty metal steed for a couple of decades.

So Fonterra’s tanker drivers rallied to give him something more modern, complete with a number plate proclaiming Andrew No.1 Fonterra Fan.

Andrew, who is almost 30, has a rare form of impaired brain development known as Fryns-Aftimos Syndrome.

He’s the only New Zealander with the condition and one of just 15 worldwide. He also has five types of epilepsy. . .

Andrew has spell-binding impact

Andrew Oliver inspired Andrew Lusty from the start.

As a Fonterra tanker driver, Andrew Lusty found quickly he would hear the other Andrew wheeling along on his trike before he could see him.

Drivers receive a message on their cab screens saying there is a disabled person on the Olivers’ farm to watch out for but Andrew usually races to the dairy shed like a whirlwind.

One night on the job driver Andrew gave his mate a new Fonterra hat. As he drove to the next property he did some thinking, then suggested to a colleague it would be a good idea to get Andrew a new trike. . .

Food security: an urban issue – Caspar van Vark:

According to the United Nations human settlements programme, UN Habitat, Africa is the fastest urbanising continent in the world. By 2050, 60% of all Africans will be living in cities.

But urbanisation in Africa is not going hand-in-hand with widespread economic growth: many cities are in fact seeing a proliferation of urban poverty. Food insecurity and undernutrition is therefore also increasingly an urban issue, and with urban people more dependent than rural populations on whatever food they can afford to buy, it’s tied closely to livelihoods.

A new project by the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC) is trying to address this by pulling together the issues of urban growth, migration, livelihoods and undernutrition, and drawing specific attention to the role of peri-urban ‘corridors’ of production outside cities. . .

Christmas wishes on-farm – Bruce Wills:

. . . Like farming the media isn’t immune from having its share of critics as it performs an invaluable role.  The term ‘fourth estate’ was coined for the media in the 17th Century to emphasise its importance but independence from Government.  While the traditional print media faces its challenges I agree with the journalist Rob Hosking; this is evolutionary pain as opposed to being an extinction event.  I believe that media quality will deliver readership quantity.

The shame perhaps being that quality can be somewhat uneven.  In the past couple of weeks there have been some major developments on the trade front but you wouldn’t know it from the scant attention it received from the broadcast media.  I was told one media person was scoffing over the newsworthiness of a tariff agreement with China-Taipei, which is worth $40 million to ‘NZ Inc’ in year one and over $70 million by year four.  Forget that.  They wanted to talk up the prospects of drought instead. . .

Fresh produce industry welcomes New Zealand Government’s recommendation to establish food safety centre:

The Produce Marketing Association Australia and New Zealand (PMA A-NZ), the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the fresh fruit, vegetable, and floral supply chain, has welcomed an in-principle acceptance by the New Zealand Government of a recommendation to establish a centre of food safety science and research in New Zealand.

The establishment of a food safety centre was one of 29 recommendations released on Wednesday in the Dairy Food Safety Regulatory System report commissioned on the back of investigations into the Fonterra food safety scare, which resulted in New Zealand dairy products being blocked from entering foreign countries.

“A food safety centre in New Zealand will draw attention to the important issue of food safety and traceability preparedness,” CEO of PMA Australia-New Zealand Michael Worthington said today. . .


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