Biosecurity month reminder of need for vigilence


An overseas visitor was amused about how concerned border control staff were about dirt on his shoes.

“I thought New Zealanders must have a very high standard of dress,” he said.

We explained that they weren’t concerend about his satorial standards but the risk of introducing pests or diseases which could endanger native flora and fauna and primary produce.

That message isn’t clear to all visitors, or locals, so  Biosecurity Month  provides a timely reminder of the need for eternal vigilence:

From an emperor penguin on Peka Peka beach to the kiwifruit vine disease Psa and the alga didymo which congests waterways, it’s always possible that a new plant, animal or microbe will arrive in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute has designated July as “Biosecurity month” to raise awareness of the work done by those involved in protecting New Zealand’s natural environment from pests and diseases.

Peter Thomson, MAF Acting Deputy Director-General says collaboration is key.

“New Zealand’s biosecurity system is designed to balance the careful management of risks, with protecting our ability to trade and travel internationally,” says Peter.

“MAF leads a biosecurity system that operates on three fronts: working overseas to stop travellers and importers from bringing pests here; working at the border to identify and eliminate pests that do arrive; and working in New Zealand to find, manage or eliminate pests that have established here.”

“Collaboration is the key to keeping our country safe from incursions, and MAF works in partnership with other organisations with an interest in biosecurity, such as the Department of Conservation, regional councils, affected industry and iwi.

“But all New Zealanders have a role to play.

“For example: farmers need to make sure they buy disease-free stock; boaties need to check, clean and dry their gear between waterways; and for anyone who finds something unusual, it means calling MAF to report it.”

There is more information at

Greenpeace still aiming at wrong target


Greenpeace protestors are still aiming at Fonterra.

This time they’re accusing the co-operative of climate crimes. 

Climate campaigner Simon Boxer says Fonterra knows its imported palm kernel comes at the expense of rainforests, orangutans, indigenous peoples and the climate.

I have doubts about the wisdom of importing palm kernel because of biosecurity risks. But I don’t understand why Greenpeace is targeting Fonterra when palm oil used in soap and food must be much more of a problem than the relatively small amount of pke used for animal food.

Federated Farmers thinks the group has lost its way in its anti-farming obsession:

“Greenpeace is only green in the first five letters of its name and is really an anti-business, anti-trade and anti-farming front,” says David Rose, Federated Farmers Southland-based spokesperson for law and order.

He said public relations stunts cause inconvenience and loss of revenue to people going about their lawful business and points out that the exports generated by farmers and Fonterra help pay for medicine, education and other services.

“At least farmers are aware of their impact on the environment and are working hard to develop management and mitigation measures. That’s why water quality today is far better than when I was a lad, except that is, in our towns and cities.

“Picking on farming is also darn odd. Among the major productive sectors in the economy, we’re actually doing the second best job at reducing emissions.

“Between 1990 and 2007 agriculture emissions grew by 12 percent yet electricity emissions grew by 120 percent despite wind farms, transport by 74 percent despite hybrid cars and industrial processes by 35 percent.

“Farmers are actively cutting emissions growth per unit of output because we farmers are doers while Greenpeace are just talkers. I’d like to see its ideas for real economic growth that doesn’t mean regressing to the dark ages. . .”

Greenpeace does seem to be more intent on protesting for publicity than solving problems.

Farmers, processors and the government are putting a lot of money into research to find ways of reducing animal emissions. Until that research bears fruit the only way to make substantial reductions in emissions is to reduce the national herd.

That would lead to food shortages, damage our economy and almost certainly increase global emissions as countries which produce milk less efficiently than we do, increased their production to fill the gap in the market.

Feds election wish-list part 1


Federated Farmers is often described as the National Party in gumboots.

That’s not right because the organisation is not aligned to any political party. However, given its members are mostly self-employed in small businesses there is no surprise that its election wish-list is more likely to be greeted favourably by parties on the right of centre than those on the left.

It includes:

* The reintroduction of competition for ACC.

Farming is a high risk occupation and levies reflect that but the current system is a one-size fits all one which doesn’t reward those with safer workplaces who make fewer claims.

* A revised needs analysis for trade access and biosecurity and food safety to determine what is required to satisfy customers.

Biosecurity and food safety requirements could be used as non-tariff barriers to restrict market access so it’s important we understand what our customers need.

* Reasonable animal welfare requirements based on sound scientific analysis and an understanding of farm practices.

Animal welfare is paramount. But emotion and ignorance sometimes fuel criticism of practices that are safe and humane.

* increased funding for biosecurity at the border and behind the border (eg regional pest management strategies).

I’d like a return to local pest management boards. Individual responsibility only works if everyone is responsible, if they’re not those who take pest destruction seriously have their efforts sabotaged by neighbours who don’t. 

* Investment in climate change technologies reflecting that farmers are operating at ,or near to, the limits of existing technologies.

* A renegotiation of the Kyoto Protocol to exempt all animal emissions.

* Climate change policies aligned ot those of our key trading partners.

* A delay in the start of the NZETS to enable a full review and ammendment.

There is no use sabotaging the economy and adding to world food shortages for little if any environmental gain.

* Young people, urban and rural, to be encouraged to consider careers in the primary sector, including farming.

We’re still suffering from the fallout from the ag-sag of the 80s when farming and other primary industry occupations weren’t popular.

* Adequate funding for providers of agricultural education and training.

* Recognition farming is a skilled occupation by the Minsitry of Education.

* Financial support for leadership development in the rural sector.

I agree with the first two points but if we want lower taxes it might be better to look to our own resources and sponsorship rather than the government for things like leadership development.

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