Posts Tagged ‘MPI’

NAIT still long way from meeting original objective

August 24, 2018

NAIT is like a long running soap opera which viewers can watch faithfully for a couple of years, go back to after a long absence and find nothing much has changed. It was first thought of back in 2004, took eight years of argument, design, business case preparation and readings in parliament and it was finally implemented in July 2012 with a three year lead-in for cattle. (more…)

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Decision made, but important to find the cause

May 31, 2018

The Government decision to eradicate rather than contain Mp. Bovis has the merit of drawing a line under the first stage of the disease outbreak. There were three options under consideration: eradicate, manage or do nothing; the third was clearly not seriously considered, but there must have been a serious debate between the first two. In the end the eradication course of action was chosen because it gives ‘the best shot’ at eliminating the disease to the benefit of the New Zealand agricultural sector, particularly the dairy industry, and the economy. (more…)

Good trade news for red meat – let’s hope it happens quickly

March 30, 2017

The visit by Chinese Premier Li Kequiang has been very positive in several ways for New Zealand’s trade agreements, except for those people who are anti free trade or closer engagement with China (Winston Peters?). After the excitement about the announcement in April last year during the John Key led trade mission, progress on chilled red meat access to China and an upgraded FTA appeared to have gone onto the back burner, until now. (more…)

Meat exporters and farmers must get used to change

November 22, 2016

As if Brexit wasn’t a big enough shock, the US presidential election has really set the cat amongst the pigeons. Commentators of all nationalities and political inclinations have literally no idea how a Trump presidency will affect the world order, from trade agreements and global interest rates to immigration or deportation, let alone internal security issues and relationships with other nations. (more…)

Irish approach may be better than New Zealand’s

June 26, 2016

The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) 10 year strategy report named Foodwise 2025 contains a lot of the same features as MPI’s ambition to double agricultural exports over a similar timeframe. (more…)

Address to MIRINZ workshop – How and why research is important for the future

March 19, 2016
  1. Themes

 

The three main themes for this workshop are:

 

  1. Added value products focusing on key points of differentiation in NZ meat products with a research emphasis on credible health and nutritional benefits.
  2. Value from quality – research outcomes that will enable the red meat sector to meet increasing demand for high value premium meat products in existing and new markets.
  • Provenance and food assurance – research from fork to farm to ensure that exports are safe, of superior quality with defendable provenance and attractive to consumers.

(more…)

NAIT satisfaction with progress suggests complacency

March 2, 2016

In July last year I raised the problem of accurately identifying and recording all cattle movements, citing the issues experienced by a farmer friend who had no success in reconciling stock on his farm with NAIT’s records. The farmer had contacted NAIT which eventually got back to him, but the process of reconciliation was several weeks out of date. (more…)

MPI’s SOPI report suggests it is on different planet

December 21, 2015

When I read the headline forecast in the December update of the Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report, my initial reaction was “they must be joking, what planet are they on?” After a slightly more in depth study of their analysis, I am still baffled. (more…)

MPI’s food safety responsibility still causing major problems

December 11, 2015

In January this year I wrote a column which argued the Primary Industries Ministry risked losing focus on two of its core responsibilities, namely food safety and biosecurity, as a direct consequence of merging MAF, NZ Food Safety Authority and Bio-Security New Zealand into a single mega government agency.

I cited the Fonterra whey protein botulism scare as an example of the new agency dropping the ball.

The WPC80 report into that incident stated “overall there was a lack of commitment to ensuring readiness to deal with a food safety event” quoting a senior official as acknowledging nobody had taken ownership of food safety.

The report went on to say the gap had since been closed.

Recent events like the Hepatitis A cases from frozen berries from China, antibiotic-resistant campylobacter in chickens distributed by three of the four largest North Island producers and last year’s outbreak of gastrointestinal bug yersinia suggest the gap remains open.

In the meantime, MPI maintains weeks or even months of secrecy before it discloses information about the identity of suppliers or the source of the problem.

Even worse, sometimes, as in the case of the yersinia outbreak, the named culprit is found not to be the source after all.

I argued at the time MPI’s four key areas of focus, as listed in its 2014 annual report, were as follows: maximise export opportunities, increase sustainable resource use, improve sector productivity and protect from biological risk.

It seemed then and still seems staggering that the most important role of all, protection from biological risk, should come last instead of first in this list of priorities.

In case people think this is just semantics, consider the benefits of the previous structure when NZFSA was split out from MAF in 2002 and run as a sole-purpose government department between 2006 and 2011.

NZ’s food safety reputation was at an all time high among our trading partners and I struggle to remember any serious food disease outbreaks, although I might not be entirely correct.

The food safety performance of the red meat sector still demonstrates the excellence of the standards put in place under MAF and NZFSA.

 

Unfortunately, the performance of Bio-Security NZ under MAF control was not as impressive during the first decade of the 21 st century, as kiwifruit growers hit by the Psa virus would testify.

The value proposition for the creation of MPI argued there was a risk of divergence in areas of regulatory policy and standard-setting, cost recovery and international standards.

Given NZ’s unique biosecurity and trade needs, the regulatory programme was not considered optimal for creating economic advantage for NZ.

However, the most important point of protecting NZ’s borders from biosecurity risks and consumers from food safety events appears to have been taken as a given, rather than disciplines requiring single-minded focus.

The National Government’s main objective has been to achieve greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness of outcomes by means of structural changes but there is a danger this focus might result in the baby being thrown out with the bath water.

I have read one comment which calls for the responsibility for food safety to be handed back to the Ministry of Health because its sole focus is public health.

The same writer also argues MPI has a conflict of interest between its priority to protect consumers and protection of food producers.

I would argue MPI’s main focus is not on producers but on economic gain for NZ, as shown by its first three areas of focus – export growth, sector productivity and sustainable resource use.

It is very easy to claim this is absolutely consistent with maintaining first-class food safety and bio-security but the point is MPI does have a conflict of interest.

Which of the four areas of focus should they concentrate on?

If the Government insists on doubling exports by 2025 while improving sector productivity and resource allocation, it isn’t difficult to see where food safety and bio-security sit in the queue.

I spoke to Labour’s primary sector spokesman Damian O’Connor about this issue in January.

He was adamant MPI is too big and has a conflict of interests between its regulatory and compliance responsibilities as well as its goal of maximising exports while the increasing quest for trade freedom is at variance with the protection of NZ’s biologically-based economy and reputation.

He wanted to see separate food safety and biosecurity agencies established outside MPI.

 

Unfortunately, I can’t see this happening before the next election at the earliest but it looks to me more and more as though we should evaluate this as an option.

At the very least we should assess the risks to NZ health and reputation of continuing as we are.

MPI risks loss of focus on food safety and biosecurity

May 26, 2015

Most people would almost certainly see the primary role of Ministry for Primary Industries as the protection of New Zealand’s biosecurity, food safety and primary production. The creation of MPI was designed to meet a number of objectives, one of which, probably the most important, must surely have been to ensure a world class agency to deliver this priority. (more…)