Rural round-up

May 9, 2015

Low-Cost Pasture-Based Dairying Still Our Best Bet, Say Farm Environment Leaders:

New Zealand dairy farmers shouldn’t lose sight of their competitive advantage, say farm environment ambassadors Mark and Devon Slee, who recently returned from a study tour of the Northern Hemisphere.

In late March the Canterbury dairy farmers and National Winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards embarked on a 25-day trip to the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Ireland, visiting a wide range of dairy farms

Mark says a key aim of the tour, which was facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and supported by a range of industry groups, was to study intensive dairy farming systems in Europe and to find out how farmers were using technology to improve sustainability. . .

Pacing global changes a big ask for Fonterra – Fran O’Sullivan:

Tim Groser’s warning that the dairy sector would effectively have to guts it out during a period of low milk payouts was timely.

It’s perhaps easier said than done maybe from the perspective of a Trade Minister.

But dairy farmers are a resilient lot. They’ve been through cyclical times before.

Yet, last week’s Fonterra announcement that the co-operative has downwardly revised its 2014/2015 payout forecast back to $4.50/kg milk solids (from $4.70) was still a hard knock for those that had factored the higher track into their own financial planning.

Federated Farmers pointed out just how difficult it was for some dairy farmers with their comment that the average Canterbury dairy farmer was now facing a loss of 91c for every kilogram of milk solids that they produced. . .

ANZ Bank was most aggressive in rural rate swaps sales to farmers, ComCom says – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – ANZ Bank New Zealand, the country’s biggest lender, was the most aggressive in pitching interest rate swaps to farmers, over which it subsequently agreed to pay $19 million in compensation, the Commerce Commission says.

General counsel competition Mary Anne Borrowdale told Parliament’s primary production select committee that of the three banks to settle with the regulator, ANZ had the most customers involved and was investigated over both the way it was able to move its margin and the break fees it charged farmers for an early release. While ANZ announced its settlement with the regulator before ASB Bank and Westpac Banking Corp, it only just made its offer to farmers yesterday. The three banks’ collective settlements totalled $24.2 million. . .

Landmark animal welfare legislation welcomed by veterinarians:

The New Zealand veterinary profession welcomes today’s landmark passage of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill which brings greater clarity, transparency and enforceability of the country’s animal welfare laws, further strengthening New Zealand’s excellent reputation for animal welfare.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), which played a key role in helping to shape the Bill, says some of the key changes include the legal recognition of animal sentience, which is sensation or feeling in animals, for the first time in New Zealand law.

NZVA President Dr Steve Merchant says: “Veterinarians are at the vanguard of animal welfare advocacy and public support is behind us in the call for greater clarity on issues concerning animal welfare and increased sanctions for animal cruelty. . .

 

 High prices and volumes for avocado growers:

Avocado exporter Avoco says its growers are celebrating the end of a season where they not only got a bumper crop – but decent prices for their fruit too.

Avoco said strong end-of-season demand from Australia lifted returns for growers – to $15 per tray for large avocados and $14 per tray for smaller fruit.

Avoco director John Carroll said the company exported a record volume of fruit – 4.5 million trays, out of a total 7 million trays – and still managed to get good returns for its 700 plus growers. . .

Anchor Gives More New Zealanders an Organic Milk Choice:

Anchor is making organic milk more accessible to New Zealanders with the nationwide launch of Anchor Organic.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Managing Director Tim Deane said that with other organic milk brands only available in certain regions or very expensive, Anchor is on a mission to make organic milk more widely available at a fair price.

“We want to put organic milk in reach of more New Zealanders. We’ve done just that through our nationwide distribution and providing Anchor Organic at an everyday price that works out at only about 20 cents extra per glass compared to our standard Anchor milk,” said Mr Deane. . .

Wool Prices Bounce:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that a weaker New Zealand dollar, limited wool volumes pressuring exporters and renewed client interest, combined to lift local prices across the board.

Of the 6,350 bales on offer, 99 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 1.79 percent compared to the last sale on 30th April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Full Fleece and longer shears were 7 to 10 percent dearer, stimulated by resurgent Chinese interest with shorter types 3 to 6 percent firmer. . .


Rural round-up

April 30, 2015

Dairy industry ‘paper’ flawed

Federated Farmers is disappointed to see Massey University supporting attempts to use academia to tarnish the dairy industry by pretending a student’s academic hypothesis is established fact.

“The paper is being discredited by the authors’ academic peers as being sloppy,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair.

“Unfortunately Joy, Death and Foote’s conclusions are drawn off assumptions, which are out in the world now and we have to rely on the intellect of its readers to see through its many untruths.”

“We support the authors’ desire to have ‘accurate reporting of real costs’ but the student’s thesis only looks at the negative externalities under very poor and inaccurate assumptions of the dairy industry while ignoring the positives. Therefore it could not possibly arrive at an accurate conclusion.” . .

 Downward revision for Westland Milk Products’ pay-out to shareholders:

The decline in international prices for milk has resulted in Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, revising its predicted pay-out for the 2014-15 season.

Westland’s board has advised shareholders that the predicted pay-out is now $4.90 – $5.10 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS) before retentions. This is down from the previously announced range of $5 to $5.40 per kgMS.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says prices were such that a $5.20 pay-out seemed possible before the recent auctions, as buyers looked to New Zealand to secure supply ahead of the dry conditions during January and February. . .

 

Rates a balancing act of who’s going to foot the bill – Chris Lewis:

Rates are being set across the country as local government prepare their Long Term Plans (LTP) for the next three years.

These plans set out the council’s long term focus, describe the activities it intends on providing and specifies which community outcomes are to be achieved. More importantly, from the rate payer’s perspective, who is going to foot the bill for these activities?

Across the country Federated Farmers staff and elected members are busy squirrelling away on council’s plans. One of the things members don’t fully understand is where our membership money is spent. It has taken me a while to get my head around all the different activities the Federation covers and the effort that geos in to keeping 85 councils around New Zealand honest and fair for rural communities. . .

Ministers welcome scientific progress in cutting agricultural greenhouse gases:

Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have welcomed news of a breakthrough by New Zealand researchers which offers the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions from sheep and cattle by 30 to 90 percent without cutting production.

This breakthrough in methane inhibitors was made by researchers working through the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.

“Livestock methane is New Zealand’s single largest greenhouse gas emissions source, making up 35 percent of our total emissions in 2013,” says Mr Groser. . .

Tight times force farmers to adopt new tactics – Tony Field:

Dairy New Zealand is warning farmers to prepare for tough times next season as well as this one.

It says the average farmer needs $5.40 in income per kilogram of milk solids just to cover farm working expenses and interest and rent this season. Fonterra is forecasting a payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season.

Industry body DairyNZ says “bank balances for most dairy farmers will be heading south this winter and spring, producing some short-term but significant cashflow management challenges for farmers”. . .

Secret recipe through the seasons:

There’s a lot to be said for a fertiliser which does double duty, giving an instant boost of nitrogen to promote autumn growth, followed by the slower release of sulphur.

That’s the verdict of King Country sheep and beef farmers, George and Sue Morris who followed advice from their Ballance Agri-Nutrients representative to give PhaSedN a try.

The product is a granulated combination of SustaiN, elemental sulphur and lime. While the nitrogen offers an immediate boost to pasture, the elemental sulphur delivers a long-term supply of sulphur. It is an ideal combination where there is a high sulphur need such as sandy, peat and pumice soils or if there is high rainfall or a high risk of sulphur leaching. . .

 

 

Snapshots of US agriculture – Conversable Economist:

An extraordinary shift happened in the US agricultural sector during the last century or so. Robert A. Hoppe lays out the facts in his report “Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report,
2014 Edition,” written as Economic Information Bulletin Number 132, December 2014, for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Indeed, when I hear arguments about how difficult (impossible?) it will be for the US workforce to adjust to the coming waves of technology, my thought quickly jump to the shift in agriculture.

For example, back around 1910, about one-third of all US workers were in agriculture (blue line, measured on the right-hand scale).  It’s now about 2%. The absolute number of jobs in agriculture declined, too, but the big change was that more than 100% of the job growth in the U.S. was in the non-agricultural sector. I haven’t researched the point, but my guess is that many people around 1910 would have viewed these changes as somewhere between  impossible and inconceivable.  . .  Hat tip: Utopia


Rural round-up

April 2, 2015

MIE plan stimulates debate but won’t fix the problem – Allan Barber:

The Pathways to Long-Term Sustainability document launched earlier this month makes some very valid points about the red meat industry’s shortcomings, but its recommendations are almost certainly impossible to implement.

Even if the processors are willing to consider capacity rationalisation, it won’t be on the scale envisaged by the GHD consultants and judging by Sir Graeme Harrison’s remarks ANZCO won’t be part of it; nor will AFFCO unless the Talleys undergo a St Paul like conversion on the road to Motueka. This leaves the cooperatives, with Rob Hewett prepared to consider merging with Alliance, although he isn’t holding his breath, while Murray Taggart remains very lukewarm.

The common theme evident from all the company chairmen is the fundamental need for any solution to be commercially justifiable from the companies’ perspective. The problem with this particular stance is the conflict with the farmer bias of MIE’s proposals. . .

Wine and Spirit geographical registration coming:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced that Government will implement the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act.

“The Act will set up a registration regime for wine and spirit geographical indications, similar to the trademark registration regime,” Mr Groser says.

A geographical indication shows that a product comes from a specific geographical region and has special qualities or a reputation due to that origin.  Well known products that are identified by geographical indications include Champagne, Scotch Whisky and Prosciutto de Parma.

The use of geographical indications by New Zealand producers is largely confined to the wine industry. . .

Implementation of Act is a big step forward for the New Zealand wine industry:

New Zealand Winegrowers warmly welcomes the announcement that Government will implement the Geographical Indications Registration Act.

Geographical indications identify wines as originating in a region or locality says Philip Gregan, CEO, New Zealand Winegrowers. The Act will set up a registration system for wine geographical indications, similar to the trademark registration system. . .

 

$7.8m for new sustainable farming projects:

29 new projects have been approved for $7.8 million in new funding over four years through the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“These are grass-roots projects that support farmers, growers and foresters to tackle shared problems and develop new opportunities. They will deliver real economic, environmental and social benefits.

“For example, one project will develop industry tools for farmers to improve their farm practices to improve water quality and infrastructure, while reducing nutrient loss. . .

Forestry projects identify practical solutions:

New Zealand’s forestry sector will benefit from five new projects in the latest round of the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew announced today.

“Around $1.2 million has been committed over four financial years towards five new SFF projects involving the forestry sector,” Ms Goodhew says.  “SFF continues to be a great example of government supporting foresters to ensure the sustainability of our primary industries.”

The forestry projects are part of the 29 new SFF projects announced today—following the 2015/16 SFF funding round held last year. . .

New OSPRI Chief Executive appointed:

OSPRI Chairman Jeff Grant has today announced the appointment of Michelle Edge as Chief Executive of OSPRI.

Ms Edge brings a wealth of agricultural industry experience to the position having had an extensive career spanning scientific research, government regulation, policy and industry organisations within the Australian agricultural sector.

She was most recently Chief Executive of Australian Meat Processor Corporation – a levy-funded research, development and extension organisation operating in the red meat sector. . .

IrrigationNZ welcomes OVERSEER 6.2 despite forecast Nitrate loss spike:

IrrigationNZ says any short-term pain for irrigating farmers who end up with worse nitrate leaching results in OVERSEER 6.2 will be out-weighed by the benefits of more realistic irrigation modelling.

To prevent issues arising from OVERSEER 6.2’s introduction, IrrigationNZ and OVERSEER’s General Manager Dr Caroline Read have been working to inform affected regional councils to reduce compliance concerns. The industry body says irrigating farmers also need to be proactive and familiarise themselves with the new software.

The latest version of OVERSEER® Nutrient budgets (OVERSEER 6.2) launches later this month and IrrigationNZ says some irrigators will see increased nitrate loss estimates for their properties due to more accurate modelling. This may impact on their compliance under regional council regulations. . .

Nitrogen dollars dissolving in thin air:

Millions of dollars’ worth of nitrogen is vanishing into thin air, causing losses to farmers and to New Zealand in wasted import dollars.

That’s the conclusion reached in field trials completed as part of the Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Clearview Innovations Primary Growth Partnership programme to measure ammonia losses from standard urea and urea treated with a nitrogen stabiliser. These losses occur when the nitrogen in the urea volatilises into ammonia.

While farmers try to avoid the loss by applying urea when wet weather is forecast, research by Landcare Research and Ballance has shown a good 5 to 10 mm of rain is needed within eight hours of application to reduce ammonia loss – a finding consistent with research in New Zealand in the 1980s. . .


Rural-round-up

March 27, 2015

Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated the three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, celebrating excellence in Māori farming.  

Mangaroa Station in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, Paua Station north of Kaitaia, and Maranga Station near Gisborne were announced as the finalists for the 2015 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming award at an event tonight in Parliament. . .

 Can green-lipped mussels be the next heavy lifter? – Keith Woodford:

If New Zealand is to double agri-food exports by 2025 in line with Government targets, then we are going to need some lateral thinking. We won’t get there just by doing more of what we have been doing.

Related to this, in recent weeks I have been giving thought as to whether the green-lipped mussel can be one of the heavy lifters that can get the job done for New Zealand.
The green-lipped mussel is indigenous to New Zealand. The species is found nowhere outside our coastal waters. It is easily identified in the shell by its distinctive emerald green colour. The flesh is also distinctive from other mussels.

Maori would no doubt have harvested green-lipped mussels for many hundreds of years, but most of nature’s mussels are well hidden. In most years there are huge amounts of microscopic mussel spat washed up attached to seaweed on the Northland Coast, particularly on the so-called Ninety Mile Beach. Exactly where it comes from no-one knows. . .

 – Keith Woodford:

A Chinese language report on WeChat –China’s popular social media platform – indicates that the Chinese infant formula market is about to become a lot more price competitive. According to a usually reliable Chinese industry website, the New Hope Nutritional Foods Company is about to introduce a new line of products called ‘Akarola’ which will come from New Zealand and sell for less than one third the price of similar products.

New Hope already has a New Zealand sourced brand called ‘Akara’ which is manufactured and canned by Canterbury-based Synlait. Linked to this, Synlait announced in late 2014 that it was taking a 25 percent share in New Hope Nutritional Foods and that this would create an integrated supply chain from farm to consumers, in line with Chinese Government regulations. . .

Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Awards Winners Determined to Advance in Industry:

The 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Justin and Melissa Slattery are passionate and determined to advance in the dairy industry – in fact they want to be farm owners before they are 35 years old.

The Slatterys took out the major title and claimed $18,800 in prizes at last night’s 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual dinner held at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand at Wigram. The other big winners were Mark Cudmore, the 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Farm Manager of the Year, and James Davidson, the 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Food Safety Law Reform Bill consultation begins:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the consultation process for the Food Safety Law Reform Bill, which will address the recommendations from the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Inquiry.

“We have made substantial progress implementing the WPC Inquiry recommendations; however, some recommendations require legislative change,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“The Food Safety Law Reform Bill will address these recommendations and reinforce New Zealand’s reputation as a reliable supplier of safe and suitable food.

“We are seeking feedback from the public and those in the food industry to ensure the proposed changes are usable and practical for all involved.” . .

Red Meat Sector welcomes signing of Korea FTA:

The recently signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea will be a significant step towards reducing the overall amount of tariffs paid on New Zealand red meat exports, according to the Chairmen of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Trade Minister Tim Groser signed this week the New Zealand Korea FTA with his Korean counterpart.

“This deal is critical for New Zealand sheep and beef farmers and meat exporters, keeping us competitive in this key market,” said Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons. . .

 Commerce Commission issues draft determination on wool scouring assets application:

The Commerce Commission has reached a preliminary view that it should allow Cavalier Wool Holdings to acquire 100 per cent of New Zealand Wool Services International’s wool scouring business and assets.

The Commission has today published its draft determination on Cavalier Wool Holding’s application under the Commerce Act for authorisation of the proposed acquisition.

“Our preliminary view is that the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the North and South Island wool scouring markets, and in the small domestic customer wool grease market. Cavalier Wool Holdings would essentially have a monopoly on the supply of wool scouring services and the supply of wool grease post-acquisition. However, at this preliminary stage, the Commission is currently satisfied that the public benefits of the acquisition would outweigh the loss of competition,” said Commerce Commission Chairman Dr Mark Berry. . .

 


Korea FTA worth million$

March 24, 2015

The signing of the Free Trade deal with Korea, singed by Trade Minister Tim Groser yesterday  has the potential to add millions of dollars in extra export earnings.

“Improving access to international markets through free trade agreements is a key component of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda. Supporting our exporters is crucial to creating new jobs and boosting incomes for New Zealanders,” says Mr Groser.

“This Agreement secures the long-term future of New Zealand exporters to Korea whose international competitors were benefiting from Korea’s other FTAs.

“It reduces barriers to trade and investment, provides greater certainty about the business environment and ensures our exporters remain competitive in each other’s market.”

On entry-into-force, tariffs on 48.3 percent or NZ$793.7 million of New Zealand’s current exports to Korea will be eliminated. The Agreement will progressively remove tariffs on 98 per cent of New Zealand’s exports to Korea.

“Particular success stories include the removal of wine tariffs of 15 percent on entry into force, and the removal of 45 percent tariffs on kiwifruit effectively five years after entry into force,” says Mr Groser.

“It will also make possible a new level of cooperation in areas like agriculture, the creative economy, the environment and education, and spur greater investment.”

The FTA will offer improved protections for New Zealand investors in the Korean market, and reinforce the attractiveness of New Zealand as a stable investment destination.

Prime Minister John Key and President Park Geun-hye of Korea witnessed the signing of the Agreement by Trade Ministers Tim Groser and Yoon Sang-jick in Seoul.

“The Agreement shows the strength of the relationship between New Zealand and Korea. It symbolises our countries’ commitment to economic openness and market integration in the Asia-Pacific region,” says Mr Key.

“Korea is one of New Zealand’s biggest and most important trading partners. This Agreement makes it easier for Koreans and Kiwis to do business with each other, and the removal of tariffs will benefit consumers in both countries.

“At the moment, New Zealand exports into Korea attract NZ$229 million a year in duties.  Tariff reductions in the first year of the FTA alone will save an estimated NZ$65 million.”

The Agreement now needs to be ratified by the New Zealand Parliament.

“We are keen for the Agreement to come into force this year,” says Mr Key.

“With a population of over 50 million and as the 13th largest economy in the world, Korea is an attractive market for New Zealand exporters.” . . .

Korea is New Zealand’s sixth largest export destination for goods and services and our eighth largest import source, with total two-way goods trade of NZ$4 billion.

Once ratified by parliament, the FTA will open the door to better business for Koreans and New Zealanders.

It makes the eggs in other trading baskets than China more valuable, will give better returns for our exporters and more choice and lower prices for consumers in both countries.


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.  


Lone voice not answer

January 13, 2015

The ODT editorialises on climate change and concludes:

. . . No sudden shift in policy by the Government will stop the forces of nature. Mr Groser says New Zealand is taking a balanced approach to climate change and New Zealand is playing its part in avoiding imposing excessive costs on households and businesses.

In that sentence is the nub of the problem. The New Zealand economy is going against the trend seen in Australia, Japan and the euro zone with economic growth set to rise in the coming year. Imposing energy charges on households and businesses will slow growth and put jobs at risk.

Climate change is an important issue for communities facing previously unheard weather conditions but New Zealand being a lone voice on change is not the answer. A balanced approach is the best solution.

Quite.

Sustainability is the balance of economic, environmental and social considerations.

Handicapping the economy and hurting the poor by imposing excessive costs which would have little if any impact on the climate would be the triumph of politics over science and common sense.

 


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