Meat impasse caused by paper work mistake

May 23, 2013

The impasse over New Zealand meat on Chinese wharves has been resolved.

A resolution has been agreed which should see authorities clearing New Zealand meat exports to China from next week, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced.

“Chinese authorities have agreed they will begin releasing consignments under the name of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority.

“Officials are working around the clock to reissue certificates for all the meat consignments that are held up at ports or on the water.

“This is positive news for farmers and exporters after what has been a frustrating time.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries have now released information on how and why this delay occurred. It provided certification in a format which AQSIQ had not yet approved, and in doing so caused confusion for Chinese inspectors.

“I am very disappointed in the Ministry for Primary Industries for its mistakes in certification which have caused this delay.

“Accurately certifying exports of New Zealand agricultural goods is a core function for the Ministry and this mistake should never have occurred. Officials have a responsibility to meat exporters and to all New Zealanders to get the basic details right. . .

What all this polite language means is there was a stuff-up with the paper work.

“I am grateful to the Chinese authorities for their willingness to work constructively with New Zealand officials to find a way through this administrative error. I am also grateful to the New Zealand meat industry for their patience.

“At the moment our number one priority is ensuring the product gets off the wharf and onto the plates of Chinese consumers as quickly as possible.

“MPI officials have also let themselves down in two further ways: by not informing Ministers of the scale and seriousness of this issue early enough, and in being too slow to provide information on exactly why this problem occurred.

“The Director-General of MPI first informed Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye and I of this issue on Tuesday 14 May. However, the size of this issue was not made clear until I began receiving calls from the meat industry on Friday 17 May.

“After making my own inquiries it became apparent the issue was bigger than what officials had been telling me so I called the officials in for an explanation on Saturday morning.

“I’m disappointed it has taken so long to get to the bottom of this problem and for the Ministry to come up with a proper explanation. This has been frustrating for myself, the public and meat exporters.

“Overall we have a strong system and a mistake like this is highly unusual. I have given the Director-General of MPI clear instructions to ensure this does not happen again,” says Mr Guy.

When there’s a stuff-up it’s important to sort it out, find out why it happened and do everything possible to ensure it doesn’t happen again.


Now they want cheaper meat too

April 1, 2011

Complaints over the price of dairy produce are now being matched by moans over the price of meat.

The problem isn’t high prices, it’s low incomes.

The solution is economic growth and you don’t get that by hobbling export industries.


World food price rises good for NZ

January 7, 2011

High world food prices are good news for exporters and the New Zealand economy.

The United Nations food price index shows prices for staple food items  – cereals, dairy products,  meat, oils and fats and sugar – in December were higher than the last peak in 2008.

The first auction of the year resulted in a good boost to milk prices,  meat prices are holding up and cropping farmers are getting better returns too.

The floods in Australia are already impacting on grain prices here, although if their milling wheat is downgraded to feed grain that will compete with local produce and counter some of the gains for New Zealand growers.

Flooding of of fruit and sugar cane will also lead to price increases.

In some years the wider economic benefit of  rising prices for one group have been offset by falling prices for another but this time dairy, meat and cropping sectors are all receiving better returns.

Higher export prices will lead to domestic price increases which will put pressure on budgets for those on low incomes. But we’re a food exporting nation and our overall wealth and wellbeing depend on good prices for our produce.


Woman as meat

July 16, 2010

Montreal has banned a billboard showing actress Pamela Anderson in a bikini with her body marked as meat cuts.

The ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says: “All animals have the same parts. Have a heart. Go vegetarian.”

The overt message is clever. But the subliminal message of woman as meat isn”t.

Would it be any better if it was a bloke?


Export led recovery

May 29, 2010

New Zealand was in recession long before the rest of the world.

It didn’t look so bad because the old government was spending lots of our money, but the trading sector was going backwards.

National has been talking about the need for an export led recovery and Statistics NZ shows it’s started

The annual trade balance for the year ended April 2010 was a surplus of $161 million. “This is the first annual trade surplus recorded since July 2002,” added Louise Holmes-Oliver. The trade balance for the April 2010 month was a surplus of $656 million or 16.5 percent of the value of exports. This compares with an average April trade deficit of 0.6 percent of exports for the previous 10 years, with a mix of surpluses and deficits recorded during this period.

And what are the big contributors to that surplus? Dairy products, wood and meat.

Aren’t we pleased we didn’t take any notice of the politicians of  the 1980s when they said farming was a sun set industry?

Oh, and biased as I am, I’m not giving all the credit for this to the government. It doesn’t control the demand or price of our goods on export markets. Nor was it responsible for the recession which dampened demand for imported goods at home.


Vegetarians not so green?

February 28, 2010

Vegetables good – meat bad. That’s what we keep being told by people wanting us to save the planet by going vegetarian,

But a study by the World Wildlife Fund has found that the environmental impact of growing some meat substitutes are worse than that from raising animals.

It has often been claimed that avoiding red meat is beneficial to the environment, because it lowers emissions and less land is used to produce alternatives.

But a study by Cranfield University, commissioned by WWF, the environmental group, found a substantial number of meat substitutes – such as soy, chickpeas and lentils – were more harmful to the environment because they were imported into Britain from overseas.

Far be it for me to stick up for anyone advocating we all give up meat, but this is the food miles argument which Lincoln University proved doesn’t necessarily stack up.

How far produce travels is only one factor. Lincoln’s study found New Zealand’s free range meat had a smaller environmental footprint even when transport was accounted for than meat from intensively farmed animals sold on local markets.

The study concluded: “A switch from beef and milk to highly refined livestock product analogues such as tofu could actually increase the quantity of arable land needed to supply the UK.”

The results showed that the amount of foreign land required to produce the substitute products – and the potential destruction of forests to make way for farmland – outweighed the negatives of rearing beef and lamb in the UK.

An increase in vegetarianism could result in the collapse of British farming, the study warned, causing meat production to move overseas where there may be less legal protection of forests and uncultivated land.

Meat substitutes were also found to be highly processed, often requiring large amounts of energy to produce. The study recognised that the environmental merits of vegetarianism depended largely on which types of foods were consumed as an alternative to meat.

It’s good to see an environmental group taking the trouble to investigate claims that vegetarian diets are better for the planet than those which include meat and that the study looked at the economic impact a mass conversion to vegetarianism would have.

This study shows that working out the green credentials of any produce is a complex business and being vegetarian isn’t necessarily better for the environment than eating meat.


Where to with wool?

September 2, 2009

Merino has got it right.

By itself or with possum, now renamed paihamu, it is a premium product.

Crossbred wool can’t match that and has been losing ground to synthetics for years.

Too much of the world prefers tiles to carpet. Too many of the parts which do like their floors covered have found cheaper and/or harder wearing alternatives to wool.

Alternative uses have been tried. The stab proof, fire proof vest and insulation both have promise but have yet to make enough traction to improve the value of crossbred wool.

The fibre pushes the right buttons for the environmentally concerned times: it’s a natural product and it’s renewable.

But in spite of that prices are so low the return barely covers the costs of shearing.

Frustration over that is no doubt part of the reason behind the vote against paying levies on wool to Meat and Wool New Zealand.

The organisation may well become Meat New Zealand now it’s lost farmers’ funding for its wool related activities but the loss of half its name is the least of its worries.

Loss of funding for wool research means the budget for meat research will have to go further. Some studies, in genetics for instance, would have been funded from both the meat and wool levies.

Another valuable resource paid for by the wool levy was shearer training. It might be possible for some of the people who did that to set up a separate business and continue the service, but it will be more difficult than it was under M&W’s umbrella with AgITO funding.

Sheep returns made a much-needed recovery last season when the price paid by meat companies went up. A shortage of stock here and overseas is expected to keep this season’s price at a reasonable level but the industry can’t afford to stand still.

Research and education in both meat and wool are still needed. Meat and Wool still has a mandate, and funding, to undertake industry-good activities for meat, but who’s going to do the work for wool?


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