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PPCS Backs Traceability Scheme: Slams Fed Farmers

23 May 2008

PPCS Backs Traceability Scheme: Slams Federated Farms

PPCS, the country’s largest meat processor and marketer, has thrown its weight behind Government plans to inject $10.1 million in capital to set up the National Animal Traceability and Identification tracing scheme (NAIT) and a further $13.2 million over the next five years which equates to 35 per cent of the NAIT forecast operational costs.

The NAIT scheme, announced by Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton yesterday, is aimed at ensuring all livestock produced in NZ would be tagged as part of a database providing lifetime traceability of animals.

Keith Cooper, PPCS Chief Executive, says the NAIT investment was very positive news for the industry, and PPCS had fully endorsed the initiative. “Our markets are acutely aware of issues around food safety and animal welfare, and we have been working on ways to implement effective traceability measures for some time in response to customer demands.”

Mr Cooper says the adoption of a NZ-wide programme would ensure that NZ, in the event of an incident, would be in a position to safeguard its reputation across the board, versus a piece-meal approach that would achieve very little.

”Large international customers, within the European market in particular were becoming impatient with the livestock industry, which they feel is dragging its heels in comparison to other food industries in terms of identification and traceability. An investment stimulus such as this comes as welcome news, and will enable the entire industry under a “NZ INC” model to go forward in terms of best practice.”

He expressed concern, however, at the kneejerk negative reaction of Federated Farmers, which publicly questioned the value of the NAIT initiative to farmers. “Federated Farmers seems to be translating the entire issue into short term dollars and cents without taking into account the national good. It’s more than a little surprising, given that food safety has been highlighted as a major concern in global food procurement markets.

“Federated Farmers seem to believe we should be extracting a premium from the market to pay for this, the premium is in ensuring ongoing market access, conforming to consumer trends and being proactive. It is appalling that Federated Farmers are not grasping that the supply chain must change, and that’s about inovation and leadership in our aspiration to protect and improve returns.”

Mr Cooper says it’s important to understand that this is a highly competitive arena, particularly into the EU and North American markets and that there are a host of other producers out there. “We need to be in a position to offer not only best quality, but to adapt to overall demand patterns to retain market share. This relates to the key elements of market access, bio security management and on farm system development, which largely underpin NAIT’s existence.”

ENDS

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