Career funding available to support graduate vets in the regions

Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri is encouraging the next generation of vets to apply for career funding through a scheme designed to support and increase the number of graduate vets working with production animals in the  regions.

Having opened applications for 2018, Minister Whaitiri says the Voluntary Bonding Scheme for Veterinarians offers 30 recipients who are developing careers in our heartland, $55,000 each over five years.

“Animal health and well-being is critical to the success of our primary industries and wider economy. Having skilled workers such as vets in our regions, where they are desperately needed, plays a key part in that success,” says Meka Whaitiri.

“To date, 256 graduates have benefited from this initiative and made a valuable contribution to rural veterinary centres focused on working animals – such as cows, sheep and horses.

One hundred and sixty-eight female graduates have seized this career-enhancing opportunity and the Minister encouraged even more women who want a rewarding role in rural vet services to apply.

Ministry for Primary Industries officials are about to conduct a survey of all scheme participants, to investigate how the scheme can be further refined in line with the Government’s priorities in terms of inclusivity and diversity. Ms Whaitiri expects this work to be completed by the end of the year.

Applications for career funding close at 3pm on Monday August 27.

Source:  Associate Minister for Agriculture

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Science group to help Mycoplasma bovis eradication efforts

A science advisory group has been formed to strengthen efforts to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).

Members of the M. bovis Strategic Science Advisory Group will provide strategic scientific advice to the Mycoplasma bovis Governance Group.

Announcing the group’s formation today, the Ministry for Primary Industries says science continues to be critical to the M. bovis response and the advisory group will be a valuable resource to enable current science activities to be scaled up and expanded.

“The advisory group will ensure we have on-going access to some of the best minds and knowledge relating to M. bovis, which will bolster the eradication effort,” says Roger Smith, head of Biosecurity New Zealand and chair of the Mycoplasma bovis Governance Group.

The advisory group will contribute expertise on a range of science matters, including:

  • identifying any critical knowledge gaps and ways to address them, including considering emerging technologies and ideas that may help eradicate M. bovis;
  • prioritisation of M. bovis research efforts;
  • coordination of current and future science initiatives relating to M. bovis;
  • learning from other research programmes in New Zealand and internationally;
  • providing assurance that M. bovis eradication research efforts remain fit for purpose.

Members of the advisory group understand this is an unsettling time for many farmers and are moving quickly, says Dr John Roche, the group’s chair and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ departmental science adviser.

“The group has already identified some key priorities for immediate work, and will hold a workshop in September to get wider input into developing the broader science plan,” says Dr Roche.

Advisory group members –

John Roche – departmental science adviser, MPI (chair).

Glenn Browning – professor, director, Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Hamish Gow – professor of agribusiness, Massey University.

Nigel French – distinguished professor, executive director of the Infectious Disease Research Centre, Massey University.

Axel Heiser – senior scientist, immunology, AgResearch.

William McMillan – independent agri-business consultant and scientist;

Kaiārahi Ahuwhenua – Federation of Māori Authorities.

Trish McIntosh – director, North Canterbury Vets.

Roger Ayling – private consultant with extensive M. bovis research experience, United Kingdom.

Cameron Stewart – research scientist, Disease Prevention and Detection, CSIRO.

James Turner – resource economist and senior social scientist, AgResearch.

Shaun Hendy – director, Te Pūnaha Matatini, University of Auckland, complex systems, networks, and mathematical modelling.

Prue Williams – general manager Science System Investment and Performance, MBIE.

Veronica Herrera – director, Diagnostics and Surveillance Services, MPI.

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

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

Minister encourages apiarists to provide bee health data

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is urging the country’s beekeepers to complete a survey checking the health of the country’s bee stocks.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Colony Loss and Survival survey is an important part of the work the Government and beekeepers do together to understand bee health, losses and beekeeping practice.

Typically the surveys are completed by only a third of the apiculture sector of nearly 8000 registered beekeepers, who look after nearly 900,000 hives.

“A united sector builds resilience and can take action on the big issues such as hive overstocking rates, access to floral resources, queen bee performance, seasonal variability in climate and production, and pest and disease management,” O’Connor said.

“Working with the thriving mānuka honey industry, we recently introduced the science definition to protect the integrity of exports and I strongly believe there is more value to extract from our other native honeys. We need to work together to protect the long-term viability of the sector and get more from what we do now.”

The 2017 survey showed bee colony losses in New Zealand continue to be significantly lower than many other countries. Annual hive losses were reported at 9.84% overall.

But, O”Connor said

” … we need to monitor trends and collect as much information as possible to protect our bees.”

Registered beekeepers will receive the survey from Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research in September.

Source:  Minister for Agriculture

Ravensdown PGP gets new funding boost

Ravensdown’s Primary Growth Partnership programme has been extended to cover more geographic areas with the aim that the research outputs will be valid for 90% of hill country in New Zealand.

The research involves aerial scanning of hill country farms combined with actual soil tests so a predictive model of soil fertility can be calibrated across the varied terrain. New additional funding has been made available by Ravensdown and the Ministry for Primary Industries on a 60:40 basis so that the North Canterbury and Southland regions can be modelled and tested.

The farmer-owned co-operative has committed to invest $564,000 to complete this additional work, with MPI investing $376,200.

This PGP programme, called Pioneering to Precision, and an aligned Ravensdown-funded programme, which is investigating improved aerial spreading precision, is at the three-quarter mark on its seven-year journey. The special aerial camera used by the programme scans 1,000 hectares an hour. These ‘AirScans’ can be turned into a soil fertility map that directs a GPS-enabled topdressing aircraft with computer-controlled doors to deliver fertiliser where it’s needed, instead of where it’s not.

Of the farms using the aerial spreading precision service so far, the system ensured fertiliser was avoided for 14% of land either because it was ineffective, culturally sensitive or environmentally vulnerable. The technology also makes it safer for pilots and can be better for productivity and the environment.

“When it comes to the aerial scanning of hill country, there will be some climate and soil differences which means you can’t necessarily take results from one part of the country and apply it to another,” said Mike Manning, Ravensdown’s General Manager Innovation and Strategy.

“We’ve done a fair amount of calibrating actual soil results with modelled results across the east coast and central parts of the North Island, South Canterbury and Otago. While we wouldn’t expect the differences to be huge across many of these regions, it’s important to check.”

Ravensdown is looking for farms in the newly added areas who want to test their farm using the AirScan service.

Source:  Ravensdown

At-risk imported apple and stonefruit material to be contained or destroyed

At-risk apple and stonefruit plant material imported from a United States testing facility must be appropriately contained or destroyed to protect New Zealand from biosecurity risk, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

This follows a ministry audit in March which found a number of significant failures at Clean Plant Centre Northwest in Washington State.

MPI has completed a thorough technical analysis on whether it is possible to retain rather than destroy the plant material.

“We have concluded industry can keep priority plant material as long as it’s properly contained while we determine if it can be tested for diseases so it may be released in the future,” says the director of plant and pathways, Pete Thomson.

“We have high expectations of the assurances provided by our overseas partners. These are an important part of keeping unwanted pests and diseases out of New Zealand.

“Our audit shows we can have little confidence in the testing carried out by Clean Plant Centre Northwest since June 2012. An investigation by US authorities has since confirmed our findings.

“As a result, MPI can’t be certain the affected plant material is free of pests and diseases of concern, and this is a biosecurity risk for New Zealand.”

The ministry has been working with nurseries, importers, growers and industry to get to a position where the value and significance of the plant material is recognised, but where biosecurity protection comes first.

“The steps we’re taking ensure risks are properly managed through containment and testing,” Mr Thompson said. “These measures provide the possibility that priority apple and stonefruit varieties may be released in the future if no pests or diseases are found.”

Nurseries and importers will be able to contain the affected apple plant material (around 21,000 plants and small trees) at existing sites under specific requirements. This will include access restrictions, no movement of plant material, and regular monitoring for any signs of disease.

MPI is confident that the testing recently carried out in New Zealand on some of the affected apple plant material confirms there are no major pests or diseases of concern. But further testing is required for lower-risk pests and diseases.

For affected stonefruit plant material (around 26,500 plants and small trees), the biosecurity risk and containment requirements are higher. Further testing is required to rule out pests or diseases of concern.

Nurseries and importers will be able to select a small number of cuttings and potted plants from stonefruit varieties to retain in the appropriate level of containment facility. Stonefruit plant material which cannot be contained will need to be destroyed.

Mr Thomson says it is for nurseries and importers to decide what plant varieties and how much plant material they wanted to retain, as they will be responsible for containment and testing costs.

“MPI will be supervising the containment process and also the steps required to properly destroy the plant material,” he says.

“It must be either contained or destroyed before the onset of spring. Currently, plants and pests are not as active and the risk of spreading potential pests and diseases is at a minimum.

The ministry will consider claims for the direct cost of lost plant material.

Almost 48,000 affected apple and stonefruit plants and small trees have been secured at 50 sites in the Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, Nelson and Central Otago. In total, 32 nurseries, importers, and growers are affected.

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