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NZMFP Chairman’s Address

NZMFP Chairman’s Address

Delivered by Ian Corney, Chairman, New Zealand Meat and Fibre Producers, Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc)

BEGINS In last year's address to this Council I shared with you my vision for the next couple of years. In that vision I touched on some key areas that in my view were very important to our industry as we move forward into the new century.

One of these was the need to build key industry relationships and where possible work together solving issues in a structured fashion for the collective good of the whole industry.

On the relationship front, I am now finding that the doors are opening and other bodies are willing to talk and show an understanding of where we are coming from. There is, I believe, a general realisation that working together we have a powerful lobby voice - fragmented, we simply get picked off.

Rural New Zealand needs a powerful voice simply because there are more people between the harbour bridge and the Bombay Hills than live in much of rural New Zealand.

Another important point we need to consider is the most effective way for farmers' voices to be portrayed in the media and in other forums.

My approach has always been fairly pragmatic, sometimes it is necessary to go to the fringes to generate debate, but in the main I find that if you want to be taken seriously or listened to, the best approach is good old-fashioned horse sense.

Producer Board Reform Wins for NZMFP include: the disestablishment of the Wool Board New legislation restricting the Meat Board's activities to quota and reserves The establishment of Meat & Wool New Zealand under the Commodity Levies act (CLA), where farmers have more control over its direction.

NZMFP played an important role in the restructuring of the industry.

The Primary Production Committee took many of the federation's concerns on board and clearly acknowledged the views of FFNZ within its report back to Parliament.

I see NZMFP's role in the future as a watching brief; making sure that the issues are discussed adequately and worked through to ensure a good outcome for farmers.

The new meat and wool "industry good" organisation must be more accountable to farmers to ensure its ongoing existence.

The CLA, with its mechanisms and safeguards, is such that at the end of the day farmers have a significant amount of power over the organisation. So put simply, the organisation needs to be transparent in delivering outcomes or farmers won't be inclined to vote "yes" next time.

The Rise and Rise of Red Tape NZMFP is an important voice in the fight for less red tape and more sensible political frameworks.

The increase of regulations and other cost-creating influences on to our industry are gathering momentum at an alarming rate. These include high local government rates, regional council rates, water run-off tax, dog chipping, HSNO, employment laws, border security, the Building Bill, environment issues, Clean Stream, fencing, OSH and ACC and the proposed "Right to Roam," which threatens farmers' ability to manage their own property effectively. On the subject of right to roam, while docking at our backyards high in the Taumarunui hills recently, normally a pleasant place - Egmont to the west, Ruapehu and Tongariro to the south, green grass, trees, native bush, and on this particular day, after the second thunderstorm, I started thinking about sharing this part of paradise with other people. I decided I'm fine with that, that is anybody who asks demonstrates goodwill and courtesy would be welcome but only at my or my families say so. In other words, our name is on the mortgage, and I believe that gives me a God given right to say yes or no. In other words, I'm still in control of who goes where on my property.

Couple these with rising fuel prices, rising dollar, rising interest rates and the outcome is that farmers are facing huge imposition on their businesses.

Once again interest rates are being used as the blunt tool to stifle Auckland's over-cooked housing market. Unfortunately, rising interest rates means an attractive dollar so farmers suffer a double whammy. With an election looming, farmers should actively pursue these issues with MP's and aspiring MP's. We should also make sure that as an organisation our members are as informed as possible so we can effectively create pressure for positive outcomes.

Food Safety In the last 18 months or so we have seen outbreaks of BSE in both the US and Canada. The devastating results for some of their producers are something that we as New Zealand food producers need to be very mindful of and it is absolutely essential that NZMFP has a continuing role within industry standards bodies. While I have the utmost confidence in the NZFSA, it is important for farmers to remember their role in food safety as well.

Traceability The high paying markets of the world are becoming much more food safety conscious and I see the time for individual ID in certain classes of stock getting closer. I have been appointed by the Federated Farmers Board to represent Federated Farmers on the working group set up to work through the issues. While I think electronic ID will happen, I think it is hugely important that the cost to our industry is kept to a minimum, and whatever system is arrived at, in practical terms it must work and, more importantly, stand the test of time.

ASD Cards Although industry representatives unanimously recommended to the NZFSA that there be one card for all, it would seem that because of a timing issue with the EU audit, this can't happen; at least at the moment. Some issues have been addressed - for instance, FFNZ had a win with the introduction of a 3 percent tolerance for small animal tallies. Also, companies will accept cards from other plants. My guess is we will be back to square one in a short time.

Biosecurity Biosecurity is absolutely paramount to the well-being of this country, so it is pleasing that the government recognises this and has put more funding in its direction. Federated Farmers, I believe, still has an important role to play here to ensure that New Zealand's biosecurity is optimal and that we are sufficiently prepared for the worst case scenarios.

The importance of FFNZ was demonstrated by the fact that intervention by Federated Farmers was necessary to convince MAF to respond appropriately to the incursion of the pig disease PMWS. Without FFNZ's intervention, any chance of eradication or containment of the disease would have been lost.

Animal Welfare Animal welfare is an issue that, from time to time, makes the headlines - each time the issues seem to get more press and some farming practices come under scrutiny. Although a lot of the criticism is uninformed, farmers need to be aware that what might have been okay 20 years ago might just simply not cut the mustard today. As an industry, farmers need to be mindful of best practice at all times. Remember - if it doesn’t look good to you, imagine how it would look to the uneducated eye. Federated Farmers must, however, make sure that farmers' ability to continue to farm in a sustainable fashion is maintained.

Overseas Relationships Building competitive advantage involves minimising your costs of production and pulling down red tape, but it is also about adding value and creating opportunities. Protecting our current access to markets and working towards gaining increased access is vital for our industry. Relationships and dialogue with trading partners is an important activity.

Over the last year NZMFP strengthened New Zealand's relationship with Australian and US lamb organisations by organising a joint Meat and Wool and FFNZ invitation to our "tri-lamb" partners. As a result Ian Feldtmann, President of the Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA) and Guy Flora, President, and Peter Orwick, Executive Director, of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASIA) attended and spoke to the Council in March this year.

The Meat and Fibre Executive will be attending the Tri Nations Lamb Conference in a couple of weeks in Tamworth. I see this as a good opportunity for the Executive to gain first hand experience of what the international scene offers and a useful forum for an exchange of ideas with Australian and US sheep farmers.

There are also other international forums that we can become involved with; for instance, the Five Nation Beef forum. However, we must be mindful of budgetary restraints and sometimes it is better to work with others rather than having full attendance ourselves.

Looking to the Future There are many opportunities and threats ahead. These include: The central government election The establishment of a new biosecurity authority Access Legislation Public Perceptions of Farming Skill Shortages Changing market requirements Increasing urbanisation

As a Council, NZMFP has a lot of strength. We have resources and a network that can be utilised for communication purposes and for motivating grass roots action. It is important that this network is used to the benefit of meat and fibre producers - our collective knowledge is our greatest strength.

The NZMFP mission statement is “to improve the farm business operating environment for NZ Meat and Fibre Producers.”

This involves achieving outcomes for New Zealand Farmers that secure farmers' Competitiveness Responsiveness Confidence to invest Representation

A strong Federation is a strong agricultural industry.

A strong agricultural industry is a strong New Zealand.

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