That’s it!


You can't negoitate with eco-terrorists

You can’t negoitate with eco-terrorists

ENOUGH IS enough! That’s our message to the nutter or nutters responsible for the latest food safety scare to hit the dairy industry.

Whoever sent those anonymous letters containing white powder laced with high concentrations of 1080 to Federated Farmers and Fonterra three months ago is an eco-terrorist; this person or persons must be hunted down and face the full force of the law.

The perpetrator is bound to fail; there is no place in the society for such zealots. If you have a problem with 1080, take your gripe to the courts; stop threatening our country’s reputation.

This attempted sabotage affects not only dairy farmers, who work tirelessly to ensure safe, high quality raw milk leaves their farms every day for the processing plants. It has also affected processors striving to maintain premium quality – the entrepreneurs competing with global traders to ensure consumers feed New Zealand infant formula to their babies.

This 1080 scare has instilled fear and anxiety in parents and grandparents. Is this what the nutter/nutters wanted to achieve?

Let’s look at 1080. The authorities consider it safe to use, but there are conservationists and hunters who would like to see this pesticide banned. Fortunately most conservationists and hunters take a balanced view; one or two may choose to spend days and nights squatting in a kauri tree to prevent its destruction, but we doubt any would condone putting poison in baby milk powder.

New Zealand sells $440 million of infant formula to international markets each year, representing 3% of our total dairy exports. At times like these we say thank God for our stringent checks and balances on food safety.

The international markets buying our infant formula were given a heads up before authorities went public with the threat last week, and so far it’s business as usual in most markets. These markets – crucially the lucrative Chinese market— have faith in our food safety systems; rigorous workplace practices are ensuring the integrity of our products.

However, some countries, like Sri Lanka, have used such cases to slap bans on our milk products. Such countries are intent on gaining a competitive advantage over our milk products.

Also, other infant formula producers worldwide will be keeping a close eye on developments. While no commercial infant formula producers will condone such a hoax, some will end up benefiting from this latest case.

The Government, Fonterra, the dairy industry and retailers are banking on our food safety credentials to see us through. We’re confident that after a possible knee-jerk reaction parents’ confidence will bounce back too.

Another doorstop?

Will the latest report into the red meat sector by  the MIE Group prove to be anything but another doorstop?

Will the latest report into the red meat sector by the MIE Group prove to be anything but another doorstop?

THE MEAT Industry Excellence Group’s (MIE) much-vaunted and so far highly secretive report into meat sector reforms is due to be released later this month.

No one can accuse MIE and its supporters of lacking passion or determination, and their initial efforts in rousing farmer support and getting endorsed candidates onto the boards of Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farm is commendable.

However, passion and understanding aside, this knotty question remains: given all the huffing and puffing by MIE, what real and tangible reforms will it actually achieve? The reality is that getting a couple of directors onto meat co-ops’ boards, and increasing voter turnout among apathetic suppliers is nice – but it doesn’t mean much.

Not long ago MIE’s predecessor ginger group MIAG (Meat Industry Action Group) was calling for similar meat sector reforms and even got a number of endorsed candidates onto the boards of Alliance and SFF.

And what happened? MIAG’s leader gave up and went dairy farming, while its meat company directors either retired or got voted off the boards and nothing has changed in the ensuing years!

MIE claims it has… “strong farmer support for a new processing and marketing co-operative with much greater scale…. There is clearly a groundswell and we need to get on with it.”

But will this ‘groundswell’ translate into actual support forMIE’s recommendations for reform when they are finally published? Especially when it requires farmers to dig into their own pockets to pay for industry consolidation (read plant closedown) and reduces their opportunity to shop around?

And how will farmers feel about the lack of capacity in the industry when they are desperate to get stock killed in a dry year?

No doubt all will be revealed when the MIE report is published.

While admiration for the group’s efforts and work are one thing, one gets the uneasy feeling that this latest effort at meat sector reforms will just turn out to be another doorstop – with a $200,000 price tag.

It would be good to be proven wrong, but the history of the New Zealand meat industry is littered with good intentions and dozens of ‘change reports’.

Don’t hold your breath.