Rural round-up

March 23, 2015

Food Safety Arrangement signed with Viet Nam:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed an arrangement between New Zealand and Viet Nam to strengthen food safety cooperation.

The Food Safety Cooperation Arrangement between the Ministry for Primary Industries and Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development aims to promote recognition and consistency between the regulatory systems of the two countries.

“This arrangement comes as we mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations between New Zealand and Viet Nam,” Mrs Goodhew says. “It is an important step towards boosting trade to Viet Nam and further developing the strong ties between our two countries.”

The arrangement was signed in the presence of Prime Minister John Key and Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who is currently visiting New Zealand to discuss strengthening these bilateral ties. . .

Federated Farmers condemn breaches of animal welfare:

Federated Farmers is emphatic farmers and trucking operators must follow the animal welfare rules when they take stock to processing works, especially as drought conditions reduce animal feed in some parts of the country.

A picture of Jersey cows being transported across Cook Straight for slaughter recently, led to thousands of shares on Facebook, attacks on farming practices and a complaint to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Federated Farmers Animal Welfare spokesperson, Andrew Hoggard, says the rules on stock welfare and stock transport are clearly laid out in Ministry for Primary Industries’ Codes of Welfare Practice.

“For transport, the trucker has to follow rules, such as keeping the animals fed and watered for long distance transport, but both the trucker and farmer are legally responsible for making sure that stock are suitable for transport at loading.” . .

 

Farmers care about cow welfare, says DairyNZ:

Industry body DairyNZ is reminding farmers of the requirements for transporting cattle following recent news and social media comments on a case now being investigated by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

DairyNZ’s veterinary technical policy advisor, Dr Nita Harding, says the requirements for transporting cattle are the same whether the animals are going to slaughter or some other destination – all animals must be fit for the journey.

“It is not acceptable to load and transport very thin animals and most farmers understand that and take great care of their animals. The industry, and that includes farmers, see the importance of everyone adhering to the same standards of care and they place a high priority on ensuring that happens. The law and our industry take animal welfare very seriously and there are strict rules relating to animal transport.” . .

2015 Dairy Community Leadership Awards announced:

Two women deemed to be dedicated and inspiring influences in their dairy communities have won the Dairy Community Leadership Award at the annual Dairy Women’s Network Conference in Invercargill tonight.

The Dairy Community Leadership Award is open to all Dairy Women’s Network members and recognises dairying women who make significant contributions in their local community, through leadership and support.

The 2015 recipients of the award are Western Southland farmer Jo Sanford and Northern Southland mum Rachael Nicholson. . .

 Sustainable Farm Systems Win Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Awards:

The 2015 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Matt and Tracey Honeysett, aim to farm sustainably taking into consideration the environment and staff.

The couple were the major winners at last night’s Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards held at the Masterton War Memorial Stadium, winning $11,200 in prizes.

The other big winners were Rowan McGilvary, the region’s 2015 Farm Manager of the Year, and Grace Stephenson, the Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“Our future farming goal is to run a sustainable system taking into consideration the environment, human resources and producing efficient product,” the Honeysett’s said. . .

Big wins for Whitestone – Rebecca Ryan:

Artisan Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese won big at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards this week, winning the Champion Sheep Cheese category for its Monte Cristo sheep milk cheese.

Whitestone’s other accolades included four gold awards, five silver awards and 19 bronze awards.

The winners were announced in Auckland after a panel of 31 dairy connoisseurs, including top international critics, had judged more than 470 specialty cheeses, yoghurts and butter entries in the 2015 awards. . .

 

"To celebrate our 29 medal win at the New Zealand Cheese Awards, we are giving away 6 x Gold Medal Cheese Packs! (one for every gold medal) Contains one each of the gold medal cheeses. To enter just comment below which cheese is your favorite winner...(can deliver to NZ address only)"

Hawke’s Bay economy gets major blast from new food facility:

Pictured is a Post harvest technician at the Rockit food packing facility in Havelock North

The global success of Rockit™ apples has led to a $17 million investment into land development and a state-of-the-art food packaging facility in Havelock North.

Minister for Economic Development, Hon. Steven Joyce officially opened the multi-million dollar food facility today (Wednesday).

Havelock North Fruit Company managing director Phil Alison said world-wide consumer demand, which is up 700 percent from 2013, has proved a fruit such as an apple can be marketed as “a premium snack food and compete against sugar-coated confectionary.” . .

 

Farm Prices Steady but Sales Volumes Falling

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 70 fewer farm sales (-13.1%) for the three months ended February 2015 than for the three months ended February 2014. Overall, there were 464 farm sales in the three months to end of February 2015, compared to 455 farm sales for the three months ended January 2015 (+2.0%) and 534 farm sales for the three months to the end of February 2014. 1,809 farms were sold in the year to February 2015, 1.0% fewer than were sold in the year to February 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2015 was $28,009 compared to $22,644 recorded for three months ended February 2014 (+23.7%). The median price per hectare rose less than 1% compared to January.  . .

Association records another surplus:

The Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association have released their Annual Report announcing results for the financial year ending 31 December 2014. Despite some poor weather on the Wednesday and Thursday of the 2014 Canterbury A&P Show, attendance increased with approximately 103,000 visitors, slightly up on 2013.

The 152nd Canterbury A&P Show, hosted by the Canterbury A&P Association, attracted 6682 livestock, equestrian and feature competition entries. The Trade Exhibitor section experienced its most successful year in the history. .

 

 


Rural round-up

March 22, 2015

Pesticides not behind bee decline – study – Dan Satherley:

Bee numbers have been plummeting since the 1990s, with pesticides usually taking the brunt of the blame.

But a three-year study in the United States has now shown that at real-world dosage levels, bee colonies are remarkably tolerant of insecticides; therefore, there must be something else driving what’s become known as colony collapse disorder.

Scientists at the University of Maryland subjected colonies to imidacloprid, the world’s most commonly used insecticide, and found it had no real effect on colony numbers when used at recommended levels. . .

2015 Dairy Woman of the Year named:

Federated Farmers national board member and provincial president Katie Milne of Rotomanu, Lake Brunner, West Coast, has been named the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network conference gala dinner in Invercargill tonight.

Milne farms with her partner at Rotomanu, Lake Brunner catchment on the West Coast of the South Island. They have a small high BW Jersey herd of 200 cows.

On a separate run-off the couple rear replacement heifer calves and run a localised contracting operation making silage pits, hay, baleage, effluent spreading from ponds, herd homes and stand-off pads.

The 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year judging panel comprised Mark Heer from DWN gold partner ASB Bank, Sandy Burghan from Global Women New Zealand, DWN trustee Alison Gibb, DWN chair and 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Justine Kidd, and Fonterra representative Janet Rosanowski. . .

 Katie Milne is Dairy Woman of the year:

Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston, says he’s thrilled by Katie Milne winning the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

“I’m not surprised Katie won, as she has been a passionate advocate for farmers for a long time and has made some real progress for all of us at both a provincial and national level.”

“Katie has been involved with Federated Farmers since 1991, when as a 23 year old she went along to a provincial meeting with some concerns about the RMA’s impact on her ability to farm. Since then she has moved up the executive ranks, now in her third year as a Federated Farmers Board Member and in her sixth year as the Federation’s West Coast provincial president.” . .

Westland congratulates 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year Katie Milne:

Westland Milk Products is delighted that West Coast dairy farming stalwart Katie Milne has won the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

Westland’s Board Chairman Matt O’Regan says the award is fitting recognition for Milne’s passionate dedication to dairying on the West Coast and, through her work with Federated Farmers, as a national advocate for the industry.

“Katie has been a shareholder supplier of Westland Milk Products for more than 20 years,” O’Regan says. “In that time her advocacy for the dairy industry has hugely benefited the Coast, especially in terms of the incredible amount of work she has put into TB prevention and infection control. TB is still a serious issue on the West Coast, with some 35 of the South Island’s 58 infected herds located here. But compare that to a decade ago when there were 253 infected herds in the region.” . .

Markets dismiss 1080 threat – Andrew Hoggard:

The dairy industry is at large pleasantly surprised at the non knee jerk reaction that has happened in the international dairy markets as the result of the 1080 scare.

The reporting to date has been fairly well measured and thus the public has not been spooked.  The market responses seem measured and rational and that is promising, and I want to pat the New Zealand public on the back for acting in a similar fashion.

The only sour notes have been Winston Peters and some of the minor exporters.

Peters put out a supportive statement, stating he believed it was all a hoax.  The next day he got out of bed on the wrong side and bitterly claimed the news came out timed as part of a John Key be-election plot.

Commercial limits for southern blue whiting, Otago rock lobster changing:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to commercial fishing limits in two areas as part of the annual fisheries sustainability review.

“From 1 April 2015 the total allowable catch for the southern blue whiting stock at the Bounty Platform will be decreased to ensure its ongoing sustainability, while the commercial limit for Otago rock lobster will increase,” says Mr Guy.

“Limits for rock lobster (crayfish) will be unchanged in Northland, Gisborne, the Canterbury and Marlborough region, and the Westland and Taranaki region.”

The decisions follow consultation with all stakeholders and careful consideration of scientific advice. . .

Innovative Dairy Farming Couple Wins Supreme in 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Pakotai dairy farmers Rachel and Greig Alexander are the Supreme winners of the 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At a special BFEA ceremony on March 18, the Alexanders were also presented with the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, LIC Dairy Farm Award, Massey University Innovation Award, and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

Their business, Waikopani Holdings Ltd, farms a total of 486ha on two farms (one dairy and the other beef) in the Mangakahia River Valley, about 50km northwest of Whangarei.

Greig and Rachel have farmed the family dairy farm since the mid-1990s and have continued to improve the property and build a very sustainable business. . .

 Yoghurt And Butter ‘as Good as It Gets’:

Yoghurt made from buffalo milk and butter from a boutique producer have been named Champions in the 2015 New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

Forty-five yoghurts and butters were entered in this year’s awards, the first time these categories have been judged alongside cheese.

Made on the shores of the Hauraki Gulf, Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company’s Buffalo Boysenberry Yoghurt has won the very first Green Valley Dairies Champion Yoghurt Award. . .

Resurgent New Zealand Dollar Lowers Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel advises that the rapid rise in the New Zealand dollar just prior to the auction saw generally corresponding lowering of local wool prices in many areas apart from fine crossbred fleece and some targeted coarser types.

Of the 18,200 bales on offer 88.4 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was up 1.78 percent compared to the last sale on 12th March.

Mr Steel advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears ranged from firm to 5 percent dearer. . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2015

A champion at work and play – Rick Powdrell:

For generations New Zealand has been blessed with numerous elite athletes from the wide variety of codes our sports mad nation participates in.

Through those generations we have seen a number of supreme elite athletes that have been outstanding in their particular sport, an athlete we describe as one out of the box.

Our generation has been privileged to witness ‘one out of the box’- shearer David Fagan. He has set numerous records, winning over 600 open events while been an inspiration to aspiring shearers and the farming community.

His record of 17 national championships, 16 Golden Shears titles, five individual world titles, seven world team titles and 10 world records is legendary and unsurpassed. . .

 The politics of effluent – Chris Lewis:

I have to say that when I entered farming politics, I never expected that a significant chunk of the conversations I would be having would be about the stuff that comes out of the back end of a cow.  The polite term is ‘effluent’ of course, but what is not polite is the significant impacts and costs involved with managing it.

Part of Waikato Federated Farmers role is to hold our regional council to account when warranted, and effluent has been a major bone of contention. However they are there to do a job, as are we, and sometimes it is just as important to celebrate them. Just as farmers feel we are always being criticised in the media, I imagine councils do too and as we well know this can result in an ill informed perspective being held by the public.

In the last six months the Waikato Regional Council have set up an Effluent Working Group that has worked with stakeholders such as councillors, council staff, dairy industry leaders and myself, to help navigate a better model of management going forward. . .

Fonterra confident $755 million price tag for Beingmate stake is good value - Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said the $755 million price tag for 18.8 percent of Shenzen-listed Beingmate Baby & Child Food represents good value and will deliver long-term value to the world’s largest dairy exporter.

The transaction, valued at 3,464 million RMB ($755 million) is well above the $615 million Fonterra indicated it would cost for up to a 20 percent share last year when the deal was first announced.

But chief financial officer Lukas Paravicini said the $615 million was a net figure, once the proceeds from the sale of Fonterra’s under-utilised Darnum plant in Australia into the joint venture it’s setting up with Beingmate are taken off the purchase price. . .

Third ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist Named:

James Hoban is the third Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The twenty-nine year old took first place at the Tasman Regional Final in Kirwee on Saturday 14 March after a very close and tense Evening Show.

Mr Hoban went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . . .

Matua Crowned Winemaker of Year And Champion Wine of Show:

Chief Winemaker Nikolai St George added some impressive bling to the Matua awards cabinet on Saturday night at the 2015 New Zealand Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, triumphing over all to take home the Royal Easter Show Trophy for Champion Wine of the Show in addition to the Pullman Hotels Trophy for Champion Syrah for the 2013 Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Syrah. With an additional two gold medals, 10 silver and two bronze, St George then took to the stage again to claim the Royal Agricultural Society Gold Medal for Wine Maker of the Year, which he also won in 2013. . .

 Federated Farmers Exec wins Golden Lamb Award:

Federated Farmers is thrilled one of their own has taken out this year’s Beef & Lamb Golden Lamb Awards.

Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairman says “Hamish Buchanan has outdone himself and should be incredibly proud of what he has achieved.”

“The Golden Lamb Awards is a challenging competition in its quest to find the highest yielding, most tender and tasty lamb in New Zealand. For our Tararua Meat & Fibre Chair to take that national title at such a young age is very impressive.” . . .

 

 


Counting cost of greening ag

March 16, 2015

DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are surveying dairy farmers to find out how much money they have invested on-farm in environmental initiatives.

Federated Farmers initiated this research on farmers on-farm environmental spend in the Horizons region last year, and found it was invaluable information to have on hand.

In Horizons the survey results from 900 dairy farmers showed 166 of them had spent a total of $18.5 million on environmental initiatives on-farm.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the industry body has now joined the quest for environmental spend data and is working in tandem with Federated Farmers to cover the rest of the country.

“It’s been difficult for the industry to quantify all the investment that has been made across the 12,000 dairy farms in New Zealand in areas like effluent systems, stock exclusion from waterways and riparian planting. We have all these individual businesses doing what they need to do and just getting on with the job but nobody knows how much money that’s involving. There are obviously costs to all this investment in responsible dairy farming and environmental stewardship and we just want to put some numbers against it.

“If we want the public and the regulators to understand what is already happening out there, we need to know the facts and figures. We can only get those from farmers,” he says.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chair, Andrew Hoggard, says that this is as much about giving the industry something to be proud of as it is about showing the public that dairy farmers are serious about the part they play in protecting the environment.

“The more facts we have, the easier it is to tell the story about how the industry has stepped up to play its part and more importantly the significant amount farmers are investing to do that.”

“Meeting our commitments under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and industry strategy is a huge undertaking not just with national resources but with farmer’s time and money.

“We can’t tell the public or others what we don’t know – so we’re trying to understand how much that commitment to the environment is adding up to at a farm level.”

Mr Hoggard added that the Federation and DairyNZ are collecting the data region by region, which they will eventually be able to put together across the country to tell both the regional and national story.

“Now it’s up to New Zealand dairy farmers to take the survey we’ve sent out to them or visit either of our websites to access it.  If they know their environmental spend it’s quick and easy to do.”

“We’re urging farmers to take part in this project if they haven’t already and to complete it by the end of March.”

Farmers need to complete the survey to help those who help us – DairyNZ and Federated Farmers.

Those who do more are more likely to respond than the minority who do little but it will still provide valuable information on what farmers are doing and how much it costs.

Farming to the required environmental standard isn’t negotiable.

Many farmers go well beyond the minimum required. The financial return on that might not justify the expense but there will be environmental benefits and probably social ones too.


Rural round-up

March 11, 2015

Federated Farmers receives threat to contaminate dairy infant formula product:

Federated Farmers has confirmed it has received a threat to sabotage New Zealand infant formula with the pesticide 1080.

The anonymous letter was received at Federated Farmers Wellington offices in late November.  It was addressed to the Chief Executive Graham Smith.

The letter was accompanied by an enclosed plastic bag containing a powder.

Federated Farmers gave the letter and bag to the Police. . .

Fonterra Acknowledges Threat Investigation:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited acknowledges the announcement by the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Government about an investigation into a criminal threat relating to the Government’s use of Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) poison as pest control to protect the country’s native flora and fauna.

The Government said today that there was no health risk to consumers. It has assessed the likelihood of the threat being carried out as ‘extremely low’. For further information please go to: http://www.foodprotection.govt.nz

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the criminal threat targeted New Zealand and the entire dairy industry. . .

Westland says its products are safe:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy cooperative, says there is no evidence that the safety of its products has been compromised by a threat to contaminate infant and other dairy formula with sodium monoflouroacetate (1080).

CEO Rod Quin says, “We are very confident that our products are secure while within our manufacturing and distribution systems,” he says. . .

 

Synlait Milk confident in its food safety systems:

Synlait Milk is confident that its food safety systems and security standards protect the integrity of its products.

They have been specifically designed to protect against threats such as that announced today by the New Zealand Police and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said Managing Director Dr. John Penno.

“Food safety and product quality is our highest priority. Our standards and systems reflect this,” said Dr. Penno. . .

NZ infant formula among safest in world:

Mothers in New Zealand and around the world can be assured that infant formula sourced in New Zealand is among the safest available anywhere, says the Infant Nutrition Council.

Chief Executive Jan Carey deplored the anonymous threats made to Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

She says infant formula manufacturers and exporters in New Zealand have full confidence in the safety of their products and in the security of their manufacturing processes.

“These products made in New Zealand are safe and always have been safe.

“We are absolutely confident about the safety of infant formula manufacturing in New Zealand and the products sold in supermarkets. . .

Nominations Open for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards 2015:

Nominations are now open for this annual event that champions the country’s top performing sheep farmers, breeders, and industry innovators.

The fourth Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards will take place in Invercargill on Wednesday 1 July 2015.

“It’s fitting that the New Zealand sheep industry recognises and rewards its top performers, and in doing so profiles the significant contribution it makes to the New Zealand economy,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) chief executive, Dr Scott Champion.

“Productivity levels have improved dramatically over the past 20. Lambing percentages are 20 per cent higher than they were in 1995, and lamb carcase weights are up 28 per cent. . .

 Future of Farming – NZ Landcare Trust:

Former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and current Chair of WWF-NZ Dr Morgan Williams was the guest speaker at a recent Community Catchment Management Workshop organised by NZ Landcare Trust in Murchison. The programme also included presentations from community farming representatives, who highlighted the benefits and successes of community involvement within projects in this region.

Dr Williams began by voicing his support for the work rural communities are doing in sustainable catchment management projects, before outlining his perspectives on broader global and national issues shaping agriculture. . .

 

Career Changes Clean-up in Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The three major winners in the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards had all switched careers to dairy farming in recent years.

The 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Evan and Jan Billington had been in the New Zealand Police and teaching until seven years ago, while the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, James Foote, had been a professional rugby player, and the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Royce King, was a plumber and gas fitter. . .

 All-Rounder Wins Waikato Dairy Awards Title:

The 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Aaron Price, has it all – he’s a young, fit, professional, married man with a plan. He’s also persistent and great to have in the community.

Mr Price, aged 29 years, took out the major title at last night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards, with his win netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Claudelands Events Centre were Paul and Kate Manion, the 2015 Waikato Farm Managers of the Year, and Brett Steeghs, the Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Housing cows not the only way to increase production –  Wayne McNee:

The recent visit by Professor Aalt Dijkhuizen, the president of Topsector Agri and Food in the Netherlands, raised some interested points about how New Zealand dairy farmers can learn from their Dutch counterparts.

But there was a flaw in his argument – profitability and efficiency did not seem to feature highly.

The two go hand in hand here. Profit is the ultimate goal for New Zealand dairy farmers, regardless of the system or technology utilised.

The best way to make a profit is by breeding animals that will efficiently, and repeatedly, convert feed into quality, high-value milk. . .

 Fledgling agri-food course whetting student appetites:

A new multi-disciplinary degree course taking food production beyond the farm gate and onto the world stage is experiencing 150 per cent growth in new enrolment numbers in only the second year it has been offered at Lincoln University.

Developed to meet the needs of an industry decrying a lack of graduates prepared for careers in the agri-food supply chain the Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree (B.AFM) has gone from 20 students in 2014 to 50 students this year.

It is one of the success stories at Lincoln University’s Te Waihora campus which has seen good growth in new student enrolments in 2015, both for New Zealand and international students. . .

Moving stock? Think about your Theileria risks:

Industry body DairyNZ is warning farmers to assess the risks to their herds from the tick-borne disease Theileria if they are moving stock this autumn and winter.
.
DairyNZ veterinarian and technical policy advisor, Nita Harding, says stock out at grazing such as heifers that will be coming onto the farm could pose a risk, or be at risk of Theileria, depending on the situation on farm.

Nita says farmers can help the industry and veterinarians manage and prevent the spread of the disease if they are moving cattle between Theileria zones this season. . .

Giesen stamps mark in China:

Giesen Wines is earning a growing following in China, where it has been exporting for the past five years.

Its wines recently won acclaim at China’s largest and most prestigious wine competition, CWSA (China Wines & Spirits Awards), which brings together winemakers from all over the world to compete in a blind tasting. Giesen’s haul included a trophy, two double golds, five golds, and it was named the CWSA Marlborough Winery of the Year.

General manager Kyle Skene said Giesen’s total wine portfolio is exported to China, including Giesen Estate, The Brothers (Reserve) and Single Vineyard series. Its wines are sold across 12 Chinese cities and seven provinces. . . .


1080 protesters threaten infant formula

March 10, 2015

An email to suppliers from Fonterra chair John Wilson tells us that police  are investigating a criminal threat to contaminate infant and other formula in an apparent protest over the use of 1080 poison in pest control.

  • The Police say that even though there is a possibility that the threat is not genuine, they are treating it seriously and have a full investigation underway.
  • The threat is not specific to Fonterra or our brands.
  • It is a criminal threat designed to cause fear to generate a political outcome.
  • We can assure customers and consumers that our own testing programmes confirm our products are secure and free of 1080.
  • We are confident the right testing and security measures are in place to protect the quality and safety of our products.

We fully support the action being taken by the NZ Police and Government.

The Ministry for Primary Industry gives the background:

Fonterra and Federated Farmers received anonymous letters in late 2014. These letters were accompanied by packages of powder, which tested positive for 1080. Police were alerted immediately.

The letters contained a threat to release infant and other formula contaminated with 1080 to consumers. This contamination was to occur unless New Zealand stopped using 1080 for pest control by late March. The person or people making this threat say they intend to run an international media campaign to publicise their threat and pressure the government to stop using 1080. . .

The  media release says:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is working closely with Police to respond to a criminal threat to contaminate infant and other formula in an apparent protest over the use of 1080 in pest control.

MPI Deputy Director-General Scott Gallacher says the Government’s first priority is protecting the health and wellbeing of consumers.

“We are confident that New Zealand infant and other formula is just as safe today as it was before this threat was made. People should keep using it as they always have,” Mr Gallacher said.

“People should feel equally confident about using imported infant formula which has to meet New Zealand’s strict food safety requirements and is equally secure in the retail chain.

“The ability for anybody to deliberately contaminate infant and other formula during manufacturing is extremely low. Regardless, we encourage people to be vigilant when buying infant and other formula. Our advice is always to check packaging for signs of tampering. We are reinforcing that advice as a result of this blackmail threat.

“New Zealand’s food safety model is among the best in the world. New Zealand manufacturers maintain high levels of security as a normal routine. Security and vigilance has been significantly increased since this threat was received.”

Since the threat was made, the Ministry for Primary Industries – with the support of multiple government agencies, manufacturers and retailers – has put additional measures in place to further protect infant formula products, including:

  • strengthened security measures in retail stores
  • enhanced milk and milk product testing, including a new 1080 testing programme
  • increased vigilance by all relevant players in the supply chain
  • extra physical security at manufacturing premises
  • an audit programme to confirm dairy processing facilities continue to maintain the highest level of security and vigilance.

“The combined MPI and industry testing programmes confirm there is no 1080 in infant and other formula. We have tested just over 40,000 raw milk and product samples and we have had no 1080 detections,” he says.

“This criminal threat is designed to cause fear in order to generate a political outcome. It is using food as a vehicle but should not undermine confidence in our world-class food safety system or in any manufacturer.

“This type of threat does occur from time to time internationally.  We are fortunate that this is the first such threat in New Zealand, and that New Zealand has one of the world’s strongest and most secure food safety systems,” he says.

People with any relevant information should contact Police immediately on 0800 723 665 or opconcord@police.govt.nz. Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 11.

Visit www.foodprotection.govt.nz for more advice on how to check packaging for signs of tampering, and for information about government’s response to the threat.

This could be a hoax but Fonterra, MPI and the police are taking it very seriously as they should.

However, some markets whose politicians and media aren’t as open as ours might not understand that it is a potential threat.

Ministers for Primary Industries Nathan Guy, Food Safety Jo Goodhew and Trade Tim Groser recognise this and are doing their best to allay concerns trading partners might have:

The Government is taking a criminal threat to contaminate food products very seriously, and is reassuring parents that our infant and other formulas are safe and that extra testing and security measures have been implemented as a further safeguard.

The New Zealand Police and the Ministry of Primary Industries announced today they have been working with a range of agencies to assess and respond to a threat to contaminate infant and other milk formula products in an apparent protest over the use of 1080 pest control.

“We would like to reassure New Zealanders that every step possible has and is being taken to respond to this threat and ensure the ongoing safety of our food products,” says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, Trade Minister Tim Groser, and Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew.

“While the police have advised the risk is low, we are taking this very seriously. Since the threat was received last November, the Police have been actively investigating, while the Ministry of Primary Industries and other government agencies have been working closely with industry players across the supply chain to insure that all New Zealanders can have the upmost confidence in these products,” says Mr Guy.

“Every resource has been made available and we have treated this as a top priority. Ministers have taken expert advice on how to respond to a threat of this type and made considered decisions.

“The Government’s first priority is the safety of our food for consumers, both here and overseas. We are highly confident our products are safe and new increased dairy product testing gives even greater assurance.

“It’s hugely disappointing that someone would try to damage New Zealand’s strong reputation for top quality products and processes.”

Mr Groser says New Zealand officials have informed authorities in our major markets about this criminal threat and our measures in response.

Mrs Goodhew says New Zealand has a world class food safety system which has been further reinforced by recent improvements.

“We now have a comprehensive new 1080 testing regime for dairy products that gives us a high degree of confidence. MPI has also analysed the supply chain in detail and worked with manufacturers to put in place additional security measures,” she says.

“This new testing is on top of our normal thorough testing, auditing and verification system. It is extremely unlikely that anybody could deliberately contaminate formula during manufacturing, and there is no evidence of this ever having occurred.

“In addition, we have worked with retailers to address any risk to food products at the retail end of the chain.

“The advice to consumers is not to consume any food product that appears to be have been tampered with, and report it to the Ministry for Primary Industries immediately.

“Any signs of tampering are easy to spot. Detailed information on how to check products and further information is available at www.foodprotection.govt.nz.”

If parents or caregivers have any concerns they can contact Plunketline 0800 933 922 or Healthline 0800 611 116.  


Rural round-up

March 4, 2015

Water refusal ‘will have wide imapct':

Federated Farmers says the Canterbury Regional Council’s refusal to allow some farmers to exceed their groundwater limits this year will have a widespread impact on farming there, as the drought bites deeper.

Some farmers with seasonal restrictions on their ground water allocation have asked the council if they can increase the amount of water they can take, because they say they’ll need more to get them through the irrigation season.

Environment Canterbury turned them down because it said limits were set for each zone for environmental reasons.

It said groundwater levels were now very low, particularly in the southern half of the region, where some wells have dropped to record levels. . .

Improvements to food traceability on agenda:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the release of the Dairy Traceability Working Group’s reports, which make recommendations on food supply chain traceability.

“The group was formed following a recommendation from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident, with a mandate to investigate dairy traceability,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“However traceability is critical for all foods exported from New Zealand, and the government is now considering applying the report’s recommendations across all food sectors. . .

Magnetic milk – the lure of dairy investment down under:

In 2014 there was a flurry of inbound investment activity by Asian dairy companies, mostly from China, into the New Zealand and Australian dairy sectors. However Rabobank warns that ongoing growth in import requirements by Chinese and wider Asian dairy companies shouldn’t be taken for granted.

In a recently-released report ‘Magnetic milk – the lure of dairy investment down under’, global agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says a specific focus for overseas investors in New Zealand dairy has been on securing access to liquid milk and ingredients for infant formula.

Report co-author, Rabobank director of Dairy Research, New Zealand and Asia Hayley Moynihan says a quest to secure access to a high-quality, safe milk pool is driving international investment in dairy down under.

“Between 2014 and 2020 we expect China and South East Asia combined to account for almost one third of the increase in global dairy imports,” Ms Moynihan says. . .

 

 – Keith Woodford:

[This post was first published in the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times on 22 February 2015. It is the fourth of a series of five on Fonterra.  The earlier posts were ‘The evolution of Fonterra’, ‘Fonterra’s jouney’, and ‘Fonterra’s global reach’.]

One of the big challenges for Fonterra has been to determine its overall market position. Is it a marketer of commodities? Or is it a marketer of fast moving consumer goods (fmcgs)? Or is it a marketer of specialist ingredients? Can it be all three?

The challenge of trying to be all three is that the appropriate business culture is different for each market positioning. Commodity marketing is all about logistics, efficiency, and financial discipline. Fmcgs are all about entrepreneurship, creation of brands, being fast on one’s feet, and willingness to take risks. Specialised ingredients require a focus on science and technology. . .

 

Scholar is one to watch:

Henry Buckingham says his Beef + Lamb New Zealand scholarship is worth far more than the $5,000 per annum financial support.

“It’s the people I’ve got to meet and the information I’ve picked up from those people.”

The 19 year old is one to watch. He was the 2011 winner of the New Zealand Teen Ag award, which runs along similar lines to the national young farmer of the year competition. Henry also has a goal of competing in the Coast to Coast and is currently building up for the event. . .


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