Rural round-up

21/04/2020

Our greatest opportunity – Penny Clark-Hall:

After 10 or so years of a society dislocating itself, with the farming community being challenged to meet the evolving values of its urban counterparts, we have been given a gift. A chance to reconnect.

We’ve been bemoaning the fact that no one wants to listen to the good stories for years. Who would have thought it would take a global pandemic to give us a window to be able to have that voice again? It seems bad taste to be observing silver linings and opportunities whilst so many are suffering however, an opportunity to connect and support our country can only be a positive for everyone in my books. The primary sector’s social licence and our economy depends on it.  . .

Sector wants deal on reforms – Neal Wallace and Colin Williscroft:

Primary sector leaders have been in discussions with the Government to try to reach a consensus on freshwater reforms.

The 11-member Food and Fibre Leaders’ Forum, which represents the primary sector, is adopting a similar approach to last year’s accord on reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and for several months has had regular meetings with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and senior Cabinet ministers.

The Government’s Essential Freshwater reforms have been temporarily stalled by covid-19 with Environment Minister David Parker saying dealing with the crisis necessitates the reconsideration of priorities and timing. . .

Wanna job? We’ve got it – Annette Scott:

Primary industries face a serious staff recruitment pinch of grave concern to AgStaff director Matt Jones.

The impact of covid-19 is alredy starting to bite and with hundreds of vacancies on his books it’s only going to get worse over the next year, Jones said.

Through his employment businesses Jones recruits staff for jobs from farm and agricultural contracting and food processing to seasonal staff and quality assurance experts, many coming from around the globe to work in New Zealand.  . . 

Are pine trees killing kauri?

A new study suggests that kauri dieback disease may be connected to the lack of protective fungi in plantation pine forest soil.

Published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology, the study, by Bio-Protection Research Centre PhD candidate Alexa Byers and others, looked at the differences in the bacteria and fungi living in the soil of kauri forest and surrounding pine plantations in the Waipoua area. It found soil in the pine forest’s neighbouring kauri forests lacked several species of fungi and bacteria that protect plants, promote growth, and improve their health (for example Trichoderma and Pseudomonas).

“The loss of core microbiota from native soil microbial communities… surrounding remnant kauri fragments could be altering the forest’s ability to respond to pathogen invasion,” Ms Byers wrote. . . 

Energy farm to trial zero carbon solutions – Nigel Malthus:

Lincoln University has unveiled plans for what is expected to be a globally-unique Energy Demonstration Farm to help the primary sector meet its future zero-carbon obligations.

The farm is designed to be fossil fuel-free and feature solar and wind power, bio-fuel, and energy storage solutions while showcasing the range of technology available and how it can be applied, as well as providing data for research and innovation.

Project leaders Dr Wim de Koning and Dr Jeff Heyl say the farm would allow the University and their research partners to make mistakes, so farmers won’t have to.

Fury of British farmers as public sector caterers vow to cut meat served ins cools, hospitals, universities and care homes by 20 percent to improve diets and help environment – Jack Wright:

  • British farmers are furious at public sector caterers vowing to cut red meat servings in schools, hospitals, and care homes by 20 per cent
  • NFU board member Richard Findlay described move as ‘frankly ridiculous’
  • He called #20percentless a ‘misguided project’ that is ‘wholly inaccurate’
  • The aim is to cut greenhouse gases linked to livestock and boost public health
  • Hitting the target would remove nearly 20million lb of meat every year in the UK . . .

Rural round-up

21/02/2020

Drought, coronavirus rattle dairy – Sally Rae:

Westpac has cut its farmgate milk price forecast from $7.40 to $7.20 and ASB has trimmed its forecast by 10c to $7.40, as economists keep watch on the effects of coronavirus and drought.

At this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction the headline index was down 2.9% and most products fell. Key export product whole milk powder fell 2.6%.

The result was unsurprising given the continuing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, Westpac market strategist Imre Speizer said in a note.

The steps China had taken to contain the outbreak, such as limiting the population’s movement, had kept many factories closed. . . 

Fonterra ramps up emergency water deliveries to parched Northland– Andrea Fox:

Dairy heavyweight Fonterra is trucking, free of charge, hundreds of thousands of litres of emergency water supplies daily to the drought-stricken Far North.

The drought relief effort will see tankers carrying 90,000 litres of water a day each to Kaikohe and Kaitaia, and new water deliveries just started to Dargaville and Rawene, a spokesperson said.

Sixty tankers a week have been delivering water to emergency holding tanks in Kaikohe and Kaitaia, while Dargaville will get 10 tankerloads or 300,000 litres every two days and Rawene one tankerful or 30,000 litres daily. . .

Rain lifts river levels in Marlborough but region not out of the woods yet – Maia Hart:

A drop of February rain has given water irrigators in Marlborough an extended grace period. 

Several rivers in Marlborough were days away from being “shut off” from irrigators on February 6. 

Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsworth said Rai Valley irrigation had been shut off for a week but the river had “quite a good lift” earlier this week, which meant it had been turned back on. 

“In some places there was quite a bit of rain, in the Rai Valley there was 50mm,” Wadsworth said.  . . 

Balclutha hens rule the roost on Country Calendar – Melenie Parkes:

In Balclutha, there’s a family rearing some of the happiest hens you’re likely to find.

These merry cluckers are ‘pasture free range’, meaning they have the run of the land.

“There’s 1200 acres that we’re roaming around on here and there’s 6300 chooks, so there’s a lot of space,” says Michelle Pringle who, along with husband Tony, sells their eggs under the Agreeable Nature label.  . . 

Fresh producers must yell loudly – Richard Rennie:

Fresh fruit and produce companies around the world risk having their long-held and proven health claims stolen by the new arrivals on supermarket shelves, plant-based food products.

One of the biggest emerging trends in consumer behaviour in six regions surveyed globally is healthy living, Cathy Burns, chief executive of giant United States trade organisation Produce Marketing Association, told Zespri’s Momentum conference.

“This includes a desire to shed things from the diet that are not good for me and it has become a proxy term for intelligence and social acceptance. . . 

Stratford breaks SI drought -:

Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford won the Southern Shears open final in Gore at the weekend, his first in the event after 24 years of trying.

The result brought him 70 open final victories as he became the first South Island shearer to win the event since 1994 when Edsel Forde, from Winton, won the final for a fifth time . . 


Rural round-up

11/02/2020

All that’s missing is the workforce :

Mid-Canterbury farmer Ryan Esler enjoys an enviable lifestyle – working in the scenic foothills beneath Mt Hutt, jet boating on the Rakaia River, and fishing for fresh salmon.

But it’s becoming harder to attract young people to a career in farming and he believes the industry has a perception problem which needs to be addressed.

“If you start looking at petri dish meat, you’d think farming is doomed but there’s a lot of scope for a lot of different directions.

“When you look at the marketing of wool and merino, the range of products being made now is absolutely incredible. . .

Dry hits hard – Colin Williscroft:

As dry starts to ratchet up the pressure on farmers Central Hawke’s Bay farmer John Waldin has been lucky enough to get some of his stock away to the works but there’s still more that needs to go.

Waldin was pleased to get a call confirming he will be able to send 240 lamb to the works.

Though he’s experienced conditions just as dry as now on his Ashley Clinton property Waldin can’t remember a time when he’s seen such a shortage of grass.

He normally aims to kill lambs at a carcase weight of 18kg-plus but a couple of weeks ago he decided there was not enough feed so drafted at 15kg-plus, with anything lighter likely to be worth more as stores. . . 

Is grass-only still feasible in New Zealand farming? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Nobody, least of all farmers, wants animals to be hungry – but is grass-only best? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Drought is affecting the country. Holiday makers have been able to enjoy warm temperatures and sunny barbecues, but towns and cities are already on restrictions for watering gardens and washing cars, particularly in the north and east of the North Island.

The situation for farmers is different – it is animals and crops that are the focus.

Farmers in some areas have access to irrigation, but most don’t, and they are increasingly worried about when rain might come. . .

Aussies get a taste of Kiwi – Tony Leggett:

Two enterprising young Australian rural professionals received an amazing insight into New Zealand agriculture during a two-week whistle-stop tour of the country last November.

The pair were joint winners of the 2019 Zanda McDonald Award which is presented annually by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP), a group of 150 larger scale and influential farm owners and agribusiness professionals from both sides of the Tasman.

The award is open to anyone under 35 and winners receive $2000 in prize money plus a flying trip around properties and agribusinesses on both sides of the Tasman, hosted by members of the PPP group. . . 

 

U.S. dairy subsidies equal 73 percent of producer returns, says new report :

Comparing government support for Canadian versus American dairy farmers is not a simple black and white process. While Canada’s dairy sector operates under a regulated supply management system, the U.S. government’s support for its dairy farmers is less direct.

Support, in its various forms, equaled 73 percent of U.S. dairy farmers’ market returns in 2015, according to a report published by a Canadian trade consulting firm on Thursday.

The 588-page study by Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates — commissioned by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) — says the American government contributed around $22.2 billion in direct and indirect subsidies to the dairy sector in 2015. . . 

2019 GB potato crop fifth lowest on record :

Total potato production in Great Britain for the 2019 crop has been estimated to be the fifth lowest on record, according to latest figures.

AHDB estimates the figure to be 5.10Mt, which is an increase of 182Kt from last season, but 7% below the five-year average (2014-2018, 5.49Mt).

While total GB production is 4 percent more than last season, it still comes in at the fifth lowest on record.

The 2019 estimated average net yield is 45.6t/ha, up 3.9t/ha from last season and 2% below the five year average (2014-2018, 46.6t/ha). . . 

 


Rural round-up

08/06/2019

New machine to help export traceability:

AgResearch is developing a method of giving New Zealand exports a “unique fingerprint” that scientifically proves their provenance and could be used to deter supply-chain fraud.

The technology is so accurate that it can differentiate New Zealand, English and Welsh lamb using a measurement that only takes a few seconds. It can also detect what feed – such as grain, grass or chicory – a carcass was reared on, an increasingly important trait driving consumer spending. . . 

Click here for more: https://vimeo.com/340251207/7367c5e18b

Dr Alastair Ross said the new rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometer (REIMS) machine being used at AgResearch’s Lincoln campus detects the “molecular phenotype” of a sample, a unique “fingerprint” made up of molecules resulting from the interaction of genes and the environment. This measurement, which previously took over an hour of lab work, can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine. . . 

Farmer submissions encouraged on ZCB:

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle is encouraging dairy farmers to speak up and make a submission on the Government’s proposed Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

“DairyNZ welcomes the opportunity to engage constructively and share our perspective on this Bill and are encouraging dairy farmers right across New Zealand to do the same” says Dr Mackle.

“The potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for our sector. That’s why farmer engagement is so important. . .

New Zealand women’s meat industry group launched – Angie Skerrett:

A group for women working in the meat industry in New Zealand has been launched, in an effort to attract more women into the sector.

The New Zealand launch of Meat Business Women (MBW) is the latest in a rapid expansion of the organisation which was started in the UK.

The group held its inaugural meeting in Napier, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector. . .

Farmer satisfaction with banks continues to slide:

Farmers’ overall satisfaction with their banks remains strong but it is declining steadily, the Federated Farmers 11th biennial banking survey shows.

Satisfaction rates are at their lowest since the survey began in August 2015.

“More than 1300 of our farmer members responded to the survey we commissioned from Research First and overall satisfaction with banks has dropped over the last six months from 74% to 71%,” Federated Farmers economics and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

Proceed with caution on speed limit changes:

Safety of people on our roads is a top priority but any move to reduce speed limits should not be an excuse to skimp on road maintenance and upgrading, Federated Farmers says.

“There are some rural roads which are too windy, narrow and bumpy to drive on safely at 100 km/hr,” Feds transport spokesperson Karen Williams says. “It may indeed be wise to post a lower speed limit on such routes, though the overriding rule ‘drive to the conditions’ springs to mind.”

However, the blanket and widespread speed limit reductions being suggested in the wake of data from a new NZTA mapping tool could cause far more harm than good. . .

Comvita CEO to step down, Hewlett to lead strategic review Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita’s chief executive for the past four years, Scott Coulter, is stepping down in September and, while it searches for a replacement, former CEO Brett Hewlett is taking on a temporary executive role to review the company’s underperforming assets.

Coulter will retain a governance role in the manuka honey products company’s business in China business.

“Scott’s commitment to Comvita since joining the company in 2003 has been outstanding,” says chair Neil Craig. . .


Rural round-up

27/09/2018

Pasture pests costing economy billions:

Pests most commonly targeting New Zealand’s pastures are costing the economy up to $2.3 billion a year, an AgResearch study has found.

The study is the first of its kind to estimate the financial impact of invertebrate pests such as the grass grub, black beetle, nematodes and weevils in terms of lost productivity for pastoral farming.

The full science paper has been published this week in the New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research and can be found here: . .

Alliance meat company paid too much for winter export lambs cutting profit – Heather Chalmers:

Meat company Alliance Group says it paid too much for export lamb over winter, which has hit its profit. 

Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said that in lamb markets there had been a “fundamental disconnect” between the laws of supply and demand.

“For the last three months lamb prices overseas have been flat, but domestically the export lamb price to farmers has gone up by $20 a head to procure animals.

In the last few weeks Alliance has cut the price it pays for lamb “as it was not sensible to continue at this level of pricing”, Surveyor said. . .

Westland Milk Products final payout for 2017-18

Westland Milk Products has reported a final milk payout of $6.12 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), less a five cent retention, delivering a net average result for Shareholders of $6.07 per kgMS.

Chairman Pete Morrison noted that a substantial number of Shareholders received an additional premium on the net result of 4.4cents per kgMS for providing UHT winter milk and colostrum, giving them a net average payout of $6.11. . .

Fonterra: ‘lots to do to get basics right’ – Simon Hartley:

China poses several challenges for Fonterra and a2Milk, and both organisations face the likelihood of short term volatility in sales and earnings.

Fonterra’s woes stem from its poor full year result and rising milk prices pressuring profit margins, but it also has to make a decision on its much criticised 18.8% stake in Chinese infant milk formula company Beingmate, which it bought for $755million in 2015.

And a2 Milk could face some short term volatility with recent changes to Chinese law impacting on the thousands of informal ”daigou” traders selling on numerous e-commerce and social media platforms in China. . .

Apple industry welcome release of seized plant material:

New Zealand Apples & Pears Incorporated (NZAPI), the industry’s representative association, has welcomed the Ministry for Primary Industries announcement that 20,000 apple plants have been cleared for release from all restrictions imposed following their seizure after being imported from a US testing facility.

An MPI audit of the facility in March had found that there were incomplete or inaccurate records associated with this material, which raised the prospect of a biosecurity risk. . .

Minister Sage forced to postpone her tahr hunt

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has been forced to postpone the mass tahr cull she ordered to start this weekend because of huge pressure from recreational hunting and tourism industry, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Ms Sage personally ordered the culling of tens of thousands of tahr without adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters who would be directly affected

Prospects good for anglers – Jono Edwards:

Anglers are waiting with bated breath for a healthy southern fishing season.

Otago Fish and Game officer Cliff Halford said yesterday most fisheries in the region were in ”good condition” for the opening of the season on Monday.

”Certainly, weather conditions play a part in how opening day will pan out and it looks like we will get some clear skies.”

While snow expected this week could impact water clarity, so far there were not expected to be any ”major rain events” between now and opening day. . .

More farmers turn to DNA parentage testing to improve productivity:

Farmer owned co-operative LIC has seen an increase in demand for its DNA parentage testing service as livestock farmers place increasing emphasis on cow quality over cow quantity.

This spring, upwards of 250,000 calves from around the country will have their parentage confirmed by LIC’s DNA parentage service which operates from its laboratory in Hamilton. . .

Hancock’s tech transformation has animals, staff in mind – Shan Goodwin:

THE technology transformation and infrastructure rollout taking place across the 34 cattle properties now in the Hancock Agriculture portfolio is as much about leading the way in animal and worker well being as it is about delivering efficiencies.

From the day of acquisition of each station, Hancock’s Gina Rinehart has expected an allowance be set aside for animal welfare investments.

So far that investment is running in the millions. . .

NFU joins forces with food supply chain to tackle food waste:

The NFU is today announcing its support for the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and is encouraging its members to play their part in tackling food waste in the supply chain.

The initiative, run by the charities Wrap and IGD, aims to have 50% of the UK’s largest 250 food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2019. It is working towards milestones to help halve UK food waste by 2030.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “This is an incredibly important initiative by Wrap and IGD, and the NFU is very pleased to be able to support it. Farmers are the first step in the supply chain, producing the raw ingredients that make up the safe, traceable and affordable domestic food supply that helps to feed the nation. . .


Missed opportunity for fairer outcomes

19/07/2018

The Ministry for the Environment has missed the opportunity for fairer outcomes in its new guidelines for the Resource Management Act:

Federated Farmers is in favour of ‘best practice’ guidelines on how councils exercise their duties under the Resource Management Act if they bring common sense and consistency to that role.

But there is concern the new guidelines miss opportunities for fairer outcomes.

The guidelines released by the Minister for the Environment this week are intended to assist councils in their compliance, monitoring and enforcement duties in promoting the sustainable management purpose of the RMA.

Richard Gardner, Federated Farmers senior policy advisor, says this is a very admirable purpose “because too often we find that councils are misusing their powers under the legislation, and managing compliance and enforcement matters inappropriately.

“The guidelines will hopefully usher in more practicality and consistency to the exercise of that role.”

That would be a welcome improvement but there is a but:

Federated Farmers finds fault with some of the guidelines and is disappointed that it had not been more involved in putting them together.

There is concern about the lack of differentiation in the guidelines between routine inspections and inspections that arise as the result of a complaint. Feds also sees faults in the way enforcement decisions are handled.

“We have long held the view that there should be a pecuniary penalty regime for ‘misdemeanour’ and accidental offences, with criminal prosecutions reserved for the worst, deliberate offences, and the current strict liability standard regarding those prosecutions removed,” Mr Gardner says. . .

There is a big difference between deliberately flouting the law and accidents which breach it.

Farmers can be charged for accidental effluent ponding that could reach a waterway. That’s a bit like charging someone for drink driving when they are drinking but have no intention of driving.

Contrast that to the soft approach taken to councils which fail to deal with sewerage spills.

The latest example of this was in Northland:

A Kaipara Harbour farmer says raw sewage was left to flow into local waterways for up to two weeks.

Grant McCallum, speaking with Jamie Mackay on Newstalk ZB programme The Country, said the overflowing sewage was discovered by a Wellsford farmer who leases the land.

McCallum said Auckland Council sent up one-tonne diggers to deal with the broken and blocked pipes but the machines were too small.

Five days later the sewage was still flowing, so the farmer contacted Rodney Local Board member Colin Smith to ask him to get involved.

Smith said there had been problems with the sewerage infrastructure in the area before.

“The sewerage line in the area’s been broken for a long time…it’s buggered.”

Farmers wouldn’t be allowed to get away with systems that were buggered, nor should they be and councils should be held to the same standard.

He said it took far too long for the problem to be fixed.

“The thing is it could’ve been done in eight hours and it took weeks.” . .

Too many councils waste their time and ratepayers’ money on fripperies when core responsibilities like sewerage are in urgent need of attention.

The RMA, or the way it’s administered, appears to let them away with it while farmers are prosecuted for accidents which are often beyond their control.


Price of Milk fails fairness test

11/04/2017

Sunday asked is our love affair with dairy farming over? and promoted this week’s programme as giving the farmers’ side of the story.

It was supposed to provide some balance to the anti-farming stories which have dominated media and it failed.

Jamie Mackay devoted most of yesterday’s edition of The Country to the reaction.

He interviewed Federated Farmers Dairy chair Andrew Hoggard and Waikato-based farm management consultant John Dawson:

Hoggard found the show “frustrating” as he was expecting to see farmers’ “heartfelt” reactions to criticism levelled at them in the media. Instead Andrew says he saw two farms being unfairly compared to each other which he believes would have created an unbalanced view for those not accustomed to farming.

John Dawson has a lot of clients on the Hauraki Plains where Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm was filmed in the documentary. He says Flint’s farm is not typical and there was a lack of “penetrating” questions for the farm that Flint’s was compared to.

Central Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farmer Steve Wyn-Harris and Northland dairy farmer Grant McCallum were equally incensed.

Wyn-Harris was looking forward to a balanced show where farmers would finally be able to tell New Zealand their side of the story. Within minutes of watching he says his “heart sank” as soon as he saw shots of Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm.

Wyn-Harris is so incensed he has laid a complaint with TVNZ and is fully committed to taking it the Broadcasting Standards Authority if need be. . . 

Sunday’s Facebook page  has hundreds of comments, almost all of which are critical of the show.

It also includes a post from the show’s front man Cameron Bennett saying:

We went to the Hauraki Plains with no agenda. We happened upon (as explained) Gavin Flint and he kindly showed us around. 

Happened upon? That might well be the case, but why didn’t the show use more examples.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle writes:

. . .Last year when we heard about this documentary, we approached the production company to provide information and we offered them farmers and industry spokespeople to interview. Several were interviewed, but none of their footage or commentary was included in the final cut.

In my job, I’m fortunate enough to see the good work you are doing on your farms, and the amazing connections you have into your communities.

Good dairying must be made more visible, especially to those that are commentating, those in regulation setting positions, and to our neighbours in the cities and towns.

At DairyNZ we are upping the ante in our efforts to engage with the media, the public and special interest groups to tell the real story of dairying.

As farmers living and working on the land, I urge you to continue to keep up the good work. We all have a role to play in the economy of our country, in staff development, in animal welfare and in care for the environment and our waterways.

To inform and change perceptions it is crucial to reach outside your circle of farming and rural friends. Tell it how it really is to people who may not know much about farming life, but enjoy their milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, etc., which arrives on their tables in a container conveniently purchased from the supermarket. Tell them you produce high quality food, and you’re proud of it. . . .

The Price of Milk  showed two atypical farms, took a far tougher approach to one than it did to the other and failed the fairness test.


Peters standing to give Invercargill MP at Northland’s expense

27/02/2015

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is standing in the Northland by-election.

. . . He said today that standing in the by-election was not an easy decision, but he had a long held concern for “Northland’s forgotten people”.

National had forgotten Northland for years, and the region was stagnating, Peters said. . .

He will be hoping that Northland voters have forgotten, or never knew, about the vagaries of MMP.

Should he win the seat he will become an electorate MP and the next person on NZ First’s list will get into parliament. That’s Ria Bond from Invercargill.

Quite how Peters will persuade the good people of Northland they will be represented by voting him in as an electorate MP with his reputation for talking big and doing little and in the process losing an MP from their end of the country and gifting parliament one from the other will remain to be seen.

Labour has confirmed Willow-Jean Prime as its candidate, and the Act Party will stand Whangarei orchardist Robin Grieve.

The Green Party and the Maori Party are not standing candidates.

If Labour sabotage their candidate in an attempt to unite opposition votes behind Peters it could happen.

Voters often punish the governing party in a by-election and a new candidate usually doesn’t attract the same level of votes a sitting one did.

The 2014 election results show:

NZ First didn’t bother standing a candidate in Northland last year. Mike Sabin won the seat for National with 18,269 votes and a majority of 9,300 over Prime who got 8,969 votes.

National gained 17,412 party votes; Labour got 5,913 and NZ First 4,546. the Green Party managed to get 3,855 votes and its candidate gained 3,639 votes.

National members in the electorate will select their candidate tomorrow.

The five in contention are: Grant McCallum, Mita Harris, Matt King, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

 

 

 

 

 


McCallum seeks Northland selection

10/02/2015

Dairy farmer and party board member Grant McCallum is seeking selection as National candidate for Northland.

The party’s rules give the right to select a candidate to members in the electorate. Voting delegates  must have been members for at least six months.

They take that very seriously and would take a very dim view on interference from anywhere else, in or outside the party.

Grant is the first candidate for selection to announce his intentions.

He and his family have a long history of active membership in the party which means he will be known to many of the delegates who will vote in the selection.

That will give him a head-start but every candidate has to earn the support of the delegates and nothing can be taken for granted.

Northland is the seventh biggest general electorate, stretching from the top of the North Island, skirting Whangarei, to Wellsford and covers an area of 12,255 square kilometres.

It has no single big centre of population and many diverse and far-flung small ones.


Fonterra regrets . . .

06/08/2013

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings has expressed regret at a Chinese media conference for consumer anxiety caused by revelations that batches of whey protein had been contaminated.

“We regret the distress and anxiety which this issue could have caused,” Mr Spierings says. “Parents have the right to know that infant nutrition and other products are safe.”

The head of the world’s biggest dairy exporter says Fonterra has three key priorities: public health and food safety; working quickly with customers and regulators to resolve the issue; and working with customers and regulators to take corrective action.

The company’s commitment to China “is very high” and there is a “very strong relationship not only of Fonterra but also the New Zealand government”. . .

The distress and anxiety wouldn’t have been quite so bad if the company had handled the media briefings better, giving as much information as possible from the start rather than drip-feeding it.

Shareholders have been getting regular emails from board chair John Wilson but it was only yesterday that we got this explanation:

  • It is now more than 48 hours since we announced the serious situation we have with three batches of affected whey protein concentrate WPC80.
  • We continue to focus 100% on the health and safety of the public, working closely with our customers and regulators, and being as transparent as possible in the information we provide.
  • Our customers who have been impacted and local regulators have begun making public announcements about products that have been affected.
  • This is good for us as initially we were unable to provide details of our impacted customers.  I’d like to explain to you why this was the case.
  • When we sell commercial ingredients, like the affected whey protein concentrate, to our customers, we do not have visibility of how and where they use them. We are, of course, aware of exactly where product is in every step of Fonterra’s own supply chain, but once it leaves us, it is no longer in our control.
  • This means we did not know what customer products the affected whey protein concentrate had been used in and where these products were. Announcing the names of our international food and beverage customers without this information, could have caused even more uncertainty for consumers. 

Telling us, and the public, all this at the start would have been much more helpful than just saying they couldn’t say which products might be affected.

Explaining the testing regime, what happened, how it happened and what’s been done to ensure it won’t happen again would also have helped.

The 38 tonnes possibly contaminated is a tiny amount in the grand scheme of Fonterra’s production. Northland dairy farmer Grant McCallum, interviewed by Jamie McKay on the Farming Show yesterday, asked why it hadn’t been kept aside from the start.

He pointed out that if farmers know there’s a problem with their milk, they have to put a red padlock on the vat and asked why the processor doesn’t do something similar.

Prime Minister John Key said Fonterra will come under the microscope once the dust has settled.

Ministers have launched an all-of-government approach to Fonterra’s discovery of a bacteria that can cause botulism in some of its whey protein concentrate, and will review Fonterra’s role once it has dealt with the food safety issues, which are its primary concern, Key told reporters at today at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference.

Fonterra “will need to answer some questions which we can’t detail for you today, but they will be around the length of time it took for all of us to know, it will be about the processes it went through from when it first identified there could be an issue to one that was one that was brought into the public domain, and to the general approach to these issues,” Key said.

A second review will be into how the monitoring systems work, and Key said his “top-line assessment is that the bureaucracy-side of this issue has performed extremely well over the last 48 hours.” . . .

Once the health concerns are allayed it is essential that all these questions are answered.

But there wouldn’t be as many questions to be answered if Fonterra had had a much better protocol in place for handling the issue – or at least the publicity around it.


Two re-elected, three new directors

01/08/2009

Alastair Bell, Kate Hazlett and Pat Seymour have been voted on to the National Party board and sitting members Scott Simpson and Grant McCallum were re-elected.

Eight people had been seeking one of the five vacancies.

Those elected today plus sitting directors Roger Bridge and Peter Goodfellow will elect a new President tomorrow morning.


8 candidates for 5 Nat Party board places

07/07/2009

Eight people have been nominated for five places on the National Party board.

Normally two or three places come up by rotation each year but the resignation of President Judy Kirk and two other directors, Wyatt Creech and Craig Myles has created two extra vacancies.

Sitting members Grant McCallum and Scott Simpson are seeking re-election. the other nominess are: Alastair Bell, Dennis Catchpole, Wira Gardiner, Kate Hazlett, Bruce Mills, Pat Seymour.

I’m pleased that two of the candidates who have the skills and personality to make very useful contributions as directors also happen to be women.

Kate served as Southern Regional chair for six years and was an electorate chair before that.  Pat is East Coast electorate chair and a former national president of Plunket.

The election will take place at the annual conference on Augsut 1 and will use preferential voting.

Whaleoil gives his views on the candidates here. 

I’m not sure why he’s only lukewarm about Kate. I was her deputy when she was Regional Chair and couldn’t fault her leadership.

When she took over National held only one of six seats in the region and had one list MP. In the next election (2005) National held the seat it already had, won three more and kept the list MP. Last year boundary changes reduced the region to five seats. National increased its majority in the three it held, increased its party vote in all seats, got one list MP and should another list MP resign it will get one more.

Under Kate’s leadership party membership grew and the region always contributed more than its share to the party’s finances.


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