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Advertising Decision a Win for Farmers

July 19, 2005

MEDIA STATEMENT

Advertising Decision a Win for Farmers

Ravensdown’s Claim For Eco-n “Likely to Mislead”

Statement made by Larry Bilodeau, Chief Executive, Ballance Agri-Nutrients

The Advertising Standards Complaints Board’s decision that Ravensdown’s advertising claim that its Eco-n product “can give a 60% reduction in nitrate leaching” was “likely to mislead” is a significant win for New Zealand farmers.
The issue of nitrate leaching and the role of DCD is far too important for Ravensdown to take a cavalier attitude to its science and research findings to achieve a marketing advantage.

The Advertising Board’s ruling makes it quite clear that advertising claims based on science and research must be meaningful and accurate.

As a 100% farmer-owned co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients takes seriously its duty of battling on behalf of farmers so that science and research findings are used appropriately in advertising and lead to well informed nutrient management decisions.

In the Advertising Board's view “… it was misleading to extrapolate these ( Ravensdown’s research ) findings, which had been based on testing of sedimentary soil types, all from the South Island, to a claim in an advertisement which implied that 60% nitrate leaching was achievable on all soil types throughout New Zealand, including the North Island where 75% of the country’s dairy farming took place and much of the pasture was grown in ash and pumice soils”.

The Board also took into account “… that various geographical features which had an effect on the efficacy of the product, such as drainage, microbes, temperature and rainfall. In its view, these variables would also be significant determinates of whether a 60% improvement was achievable”.

“….(Ravensdown’s) blanket claim in the advertisements was an over simplification of research findings, to the extent that by implication it would be likely to mislead …”.

This decision reinforces Ballance’s position on the effectiveness of DCD, the active ingredient in products designed to reduce nitrate leaching. This position continues to be advanced by a national trial programme being run on behalf of Ballance by an AgResearch team led by Stewart Ledgard. The most recent results showed that nitrate leaching from soils can be reduced ranging from 10-20% up to as high as 50- 60% (depending on soil type and other conditions), and nitrous oxide gas reduction by as high as 75%.

Ballance believes DCD has an important role to play in managing loses to the environment and is working to ensure farmers understand the factors that impact on its effectiveness.
Visit the Advertising Standards Authority website www.asa.co.nz for the full decision.

ENDS

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