Tighter import rules are aimed at stopping stink bug

New treatment and cleaning rules for imported vehicles and machinery will make it harder for brown marmorated stink bugs to make landfall in New Zealand, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The ministry released the new import health standard for vehicles, machinery and equipment today. It will come into force on  September 1 – the beginning of the stink bug season.

“Imported vehicles and machinery pose a high biosecurity risk, as stink bugs hibernate in nooks and crannies during the northern hemisphere winter,” says Paul Hallett, MPI manager of facilities and pathways.

He says the new standard has a big focus on Japan following biosecurity issues earlier this year with contaminated vehicle carriers.

There are also new restrictions on imports from many European countries, recognising the spread of stink bug through this part of the world.

“One of the big things is making it compulsory for treatment to take place offshore for non-containerised vehicles and machinery sourced from affected countries. We simply don’t want to run the risk of having contaminated cargo enter New Zealand waters.

“The new standard also covers new vehicles from Japan. In the past, we have focused on used vehicles from this country. New vehicles can be easily contaminated if they are not securely stored.”

The approved treatment options are fumigation with methyl bromide or sulfuryl fluoride and heat treatment, says Mr Hallett.

“We expect most of the imports from Japan will undergo heat treatment, as that’s going to be available locally and Japan has restrictions on some fumigants.

“We want to do everything we can to stop brown marmorated stink bug from invading New Zealand, given the damage it could cause to our horticulture industry.”


  • 14 more countries have been added to the list requiring mandatory treatment of vehicles and machinery during the stink bug season. This requirement previously only applied to vehicles from the United States and Italy.
  • Used imports from Japan will need to be both treated and cleaned offshore as part of an approved system during the season.
  • All other new and used imports (during the stink bug season) from other countries covered by the standard will need to be treated or go through an approved system.
  • Vehicle manufacturers will have the option of applying to MPI for biosecurity approval of their supply chain processes, avoiding the need to treat each new unit. This involves having strict controls in place to reduce the risk of contamination.
  • Used machinery from any country must have a certificate proving it has undergone thorough cleaning and treatment before arrival in New Zealand. There must be evidence the machinery was disassembled for cleaning. It must also arrive with a sticker showing how and when it was treated.
  • MPI can approve alternative treatments, but only if there is proof they can produce the same outcome as the approved methods.

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries


MPI welcomes Crown appeal in Psa biosecurity case

A notice of appeal has been filed in the Court of Appeal against the High Court’s decision in the Psa litigation. The Crown appeal seeks to clarify the scope for government regulators to be sued in negligence.

A group of kiwifruit growers and post-harvest operators sued the Crown for what they allege is negligence in allowing the bacterial kiwifruit vine disease Psa-V into the country in 2010.

The Kiwifruit Claim group represents 212 growers.

PSA, a vine-killing disease, is estimated to have cost the industry close to $900m.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) does not accept the allegations and is defending the litigation.

The ministry notes that the High Court’s decision traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of the ministry.

The ministry says it has confidence in the current biosecurity system and its continued robustness and says NZ enjoys a high level of freedom from the most damaging pests and diseases as a result of the diligent actions of MPI officers, importers and others.

In a statement issued today the ministry says:

“No biosecurity system in the world can prevent every pest incursion from happening, which is why our ability to manage risk offshore and respond to incursions if they occur are critical parts of the biosecurity system. A strong biosecurity system needs government, importers, industry and the public actively participating and acting to identify and manage risk.

“The ministry considers the High Court finding has the potential to significantly impact on the ministry’s biosecurity operations.  MPI takes its biosecurity responsibilities seriously, and while the decision is being appealed, it must still be applied in the interim. The impact of this for importers and others will be delays in decision-making.”

Because the matter will go before the Court of Appeal, it will be making no further comment.

More background on the case HERE.

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

Ministry not commenting on High Court ruling on Psa claim

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced today it has received the High Court’s decision on the long-running Psa litigation. It is now carefully considering its findings and implications for current and future biosecurity activities.

The press statement said:

The 500-page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of MPI, and requires a thorough examination. We cannot rush this process.

Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.

Until then, we will be making no further comment.

MPI is continually enhancing and improving the way it manages pre-border risk and processes at the border.

We have confidence in our current biosecurity system and in the continued robustness of it going forward.

The ministry provided background information HERE.

In its report on the decision, Radio New Zealand said the High Court has partially upheld a claim from a group of kiwifruit growers for damages over the Psa outbreak in 2010.

The Kiwifruit Claim group, representing 212 growers, sued the Ministry for Primary Industries for negligence in allowing Psa to enter the country.

Radio New Zealand said:

When the case went to court, the group wanted nearly $400m from the ministry to cover losses.

Psa, a vine-killing disease, is estimated to have cost the industry close to $900m.

Justice Mallon heard the case in the High Court in Wellington in August last year.

Lawyers on behalf of the growers argued the disease came in a shipment of pollen products from the Chinese province of Shaanxi, which the then Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry approved.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said earlier any liability on the Crown for losses as a result of a biosecurity incursion was covered by a statutory compensation scheme.

In her judgement, Justice Mallon said the ministry owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers.

It had responsibility for controlling what goods could be imported into New Zealand and the risks of contamination should have been obvious.

Justice Mallon also found ministry personnel had not exercised reasonable care in preparing a research paper concerning pests and diseases associated with pollen.

She said the principal author and the supervisor of that paper had a different understanding of the scope of the paper.

That meant relevant information was omitted.

However, the ministry did not owe a duty of care to another plaintiff, the Kiwifruit giant, Seeka.

Justice Mallon said post-harvest operators were one step removed from the direct harm suffered by growers, so were less closely connected to the consequences of ministry negligence.

New initiatives to support M.bovis response

Minister for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor has unveiled a set of initiatives to support the Mycoplasma bovis response and improve farm biosecurity practices based on feedback from farmers and rural communities.

Big numbers of farmers have been attending the Mycoplasma bovis roadshow meetings, Mr O’Connor said.  They have been interested in the response and in the changes that could be made to help them manage their on-farm biosecurity.

“We have been listening to them and the Ministry for Primary Industries is making a number of changes that can be implemented quickly, without legislation,” he said.

Some farmers have expressed frustration at not being formally told when a neighbour’s farm is identified as an Infected Property.

The Ministry for Primary Industries will start directly informing neighbouring farms of Infected Properties or high-risk properties, enabling farmers to take appropriate steps to improve their on-farm biosecurity and reduce the risk to their own stock.

The aim has been to take a measured step that balances individual privacy concerns with the need for farmers to protect their own farms.

The ministry will also publish a list of the NAIT numbers of all affected animals on its website. This includes all animals associated with or traced from an Infected Property.

 “This will give farmers better information to make informed decisions when purchasing new stock,” Mr O’Connor said.

The ministry will do more, too, to ensure enforcement of the Animal Status Declaration (ASD) form. It is a legal requirement that this form must accompany a consignment of cattle when a stock sale takes place.

Regulatory and legislative changes being considered include:

  • Amending the Animal Products Act to add a new infringement offence for failing to use the ASD form correctly
  • Amending the NAIT Act to bring its search powers in line with the Search and Surveillance Act
  • New regulation to control the use of discarded milk

Mr O’Connor said he was continuing to listen to feedback from farmers and will work with the ministry and industry groups to consider further changes to support strengthened biosecurity practices and compliance in  rural communities.

Source: Minister for Biosecurity

Beef+Lamb NZ opens consultation on higher farmer levies

B+LNZ is undertaking consultation on a proposal to increase sheep and beef levies to accelerate investment in four important programmes.

It is seeking farmers’ views on a plan to increase the sheepmeat levy by 10 cents to 70 cents per head and the beef levy by 80 cents to $5.20 per head.

The additional levies would be invested in the international activation of the Taste Pure Nature origin brand and the Red Meat Story, helping the sector lift its environmental performance and reputation, telling the farmer story better, and strengthening B+LNZ’s capability to address biosecurity risks.

Consultation on the levy proposal is running until 13 July.

Source: Beef+Lamb New Zealand

$9.3m in Budget to strengthen biosecurity and protect the foundations of NZ’s primary sector

The Coalition Government’s biosecurity initiatives receive $9.3 million in new operating funding in Budget 2018 over the next four years to improve offshore biosecurity systems and  better manage the risks posed by imports.

Further investment in biosecurity is needed as New Zealand’s global trade and tourist numbers increase, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says in a press statement

When he took up his portfolio six months ago, the Ministry for Primary Industries had several biosecurity responses under way, including Mycoplasma bovis, myrtle rust, Bonamia ostreae and kauri dieback.

Furthermore, ships carrying the brown marmorated stink bug have been turned back.

Besides the new funding, the Government will speed up the review of import health standards.

“Our plan makes sure the exotic pests and diseases that could devastate our economy and wildlife have less chance of making it here in the first place, giving growers and farmers greater certainty about the health of their crops and animals,” Mr O’Connor says.

“This Government’s leadership will improve the resilience of our primary sector. We moved quickly this year to put up $85 million new operating funding in 2017/18 for the frontline response to Mycoplasma bovis in partnership with the primary sector.”

An update will be provided in coming weeks on the next steps of the plan to deal with Mycoplasma bovis, a disease which Mr O’Connor described as a regrettable example of why biosecurity in New Zealand must be properly funded.

Another concern had been the underfunding of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) during a time of increasing workload, he said.

“Budget 2018 addresses this with new operating funding of $38 million over two years for MPI to ensure our primary sector is well supported by Government initiatives as we work together to grow New Zealand’s reputation as the most trusted source of sustainable and premium natural products in the world.”

The Government is already reorganising MPI to house four business units so officials can concentrate on their core responsibilities of biosecurity, food safety, fisheries and forestry.

People around the world increasingly were buying products that align with their values, Mr O’Connor said.

New Zealand has a natural advantage, with a good record of animal welfare, grass-fed stock and brand recognition and the Government is determined to help this continue by properly funding MPI and the  critical biosecurity system.


Massey alumnus has taken his vet skills from Te Awamutu to the world

Te Awamatu veterinarian James Young’s experiences – from keeping 50,000 cattle healthy in China to performing a rectal exam on a four-tonne elephant in South Africa – is living proof that variety is a big part of a veterinary career, Massey University reports.

After graduating from Massey, Dr Young started working as a dairy vet in Te Awamutu but a year later – in 2007 – was asked if he wanted to go to China and help set up large scale dairy farms for Fonterra.

His clinic manager was supportive and within a week he had a visa and flew to China with a about 50kg of veterinary equipment, drugs, “basically prepared for anything!”

On his first day, he vaccinated a large herd in minus 20 degrees Celsius!

“My bones hurt, and the vaccine kept freezing between rows of cattle!”

The planned two-month stay turned into nearly a year and Dr Young became hooked on international work, returning to do other projects frequently in China.

In 2014, he was responsible for 50,000 cattle and 100 veterinarians and breeders as a chief veterinarian.

While a student, he had secured a place on an international vet student trip called SYMCO in South Africa.

With 90 vet students from around the world he toured several game parks

“…and got up close and personal with wild cheetah, elephant, lion and rhino, that had been darted for sampling, pregnancy testing and health checks. I convinced the wildlife vet manager to let me do a rectal exam on a heavily sedated four-tonne wild elephant.”

Dr Young completed a Master of Veterinary Public Health Management at the University of Sydney in 2009.

Three years later he was working with the Mekong Livestock Research team in a project manager role, working on research projects in Cambodia and Laos.

Those projects were designed to research ways of improving transboundary animal disease control, including Foot-and-mouth disease in the Mekong region.

The experience ignited Dr Young’s further interest in learning more about how livestock disease control is connected to wider food insecurity and poverty issues in the region. He started the PhD in early 2013 and completed it part-time over four and a half years, while employed full-time working as project manager.

His PhD focused on how to improve disease control and biosecurity in smallholder farms and their wider communities in Cambodia.

Alongside this work, since 2013 he has been an Animal Health Economics consultant for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) at the Regional Asia and Pacific office based out of Bangkok.

Dr Young is also interested in technology to help farmers identify and improve biosecurity, so he started developing farmer extension content with the aim of getting it online and scaled out widely and rapidly.

In 2017, he released the first farmer course in New Zealand called ‘Close The Gate’ which is a online training tool designed in response to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak that hit the headlines in July 2017. The course is designed to be completed on a smart phone, and even be undertaken on the back of a quad bike while a farmer waits for the cows to walk up the race.

Source: Massey University