Posts Tagged ‘Ministry for Primary Industries’

Grass-roots projects get $7.15m boost from Sustainable Farming Fund

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed 28 new projects under the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), and the new SFF Tere pilot scheme announced today.

The fund supports community-led projects at the grass-roots level to build productivity and resilience throughout the primary industries.

The 28 projects represent a combined investment of around $7.15 million.

“The SFF has enabled unique collaborations of farmers and growers, scientists and researchers, iwi, local government and many others that are making a real difference for our rural communities and the wider primary industries,” says Mr O’Connor.

“The SFF Tere pilot has been an opportunity to show we can take the SFF even further by enabling the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to increase investment in smaller projects.”

The name “SFF Tere” translates in English to be quick, swift or fast, which describes the nature of projects funded.

O’Connor had discussed the Sustainable Farming Fund with ministry officials and challenged them to develop an initiative that would enable investment in small SFF projects.

SFF Tere is the result and four SFF Tere projects, representing $271,000 in investment, have already been approved. They will get under way in the new calendar year.

Information about the 28 projects can be found HERE.

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Manuka Health welcomes efforts to authenticate New Zealand Manuka honey

Manuka Health has welcomed New Zealand’s new official Manuka honey definition.

The finalised scientific definition released by the Ministry for Primary Industries specifies a set of five science-based markers which identify the origin of Manuka honey.

These markers need to be present for the product to be called New Zealand Manuka honey.

Depending on the minimum level of one of the new markers, phenyllactic acid (3-PLA), the honey will be defined as monofloral or multifloral Manuka honey. Only honey that meets the new standard will be certified for export as New Zealand Manuka honey.

Manuka Health supports the Government’s efforts to protect authentic Manuka honey producers from imitation and tampering.

John Kippenberger, Manuka Health’s chief executive, said:

“It’s critical that New Zealand protects Manuka honey on the global market, where we see increasing adulteration and false claims of this highly valued product.

“New Zealand is the only source of authentic Manuka honey and we have needed a clearer scientific definition that delineates genuine, premium product from the fakes.

“MPI’s work is another step to safeguard the value of New Zealand Manuka honey. They have addressed some of the industry concerns and tightened some of the parameters; while we hoped that more feedback from the consultation period with industry would be included in MPI’s finalised definition, we believe that this is a good start to protect our industry.”

A target set by the government and industry is to grow the value of New Zealand Manuka honey to $1.2 billion a year by 2028.

Mr Kippenberger said the definition was important for customers around the world.

“It reassures them that New Zealand-exported Manuka honey is genuine.”

Authentication is the first step in classifying Manuka honey by its New Zealand origin. In addition, the rating of Manuka honey is an important guide for consumers and methylglyoxal (MGO) remains the lead, internationally recognised and scientifically researched component linked to the potency and grading of Manuka honey.

Biosecurity Minister disappointed by further findings of Mycoplasma bovis

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says he’s “deeply disappointed’’ by the detection of cow disease Mycoplasma bovis on farms near Hastings and Winton.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has identified four new properties as positive for the bacterial cattle disease and strongly suspects it is present on one further property.

One of the latest infected properties is in the Hastings district, the other three are within a farming enterprise in Winton.

The suspect property is near Ashburton.

“The fact the disease has been found in the North Island is disappointing to me and, no doubt, will be for farmers too,’’ Mr O’Connor says.

Mr O’Connor says officials are working hard to track the disease.

“We are still unable to identify the source of the disease and that concerns me.”

Mr O’Connor says he will meet with officials to discuss the next steps in dealing with the outbreak.

“I understand this is tough for farmers, people working on these properties and people in these close-knit communities, but everyone is working hard to find solutions.’’

The Hastings and Ashburton properties were identified through MPI’s tracing programme and the Winton property was identified through the industry milk testing programme.

All of the movements were prior to July 21, when the disease was first detected and notified to MPI.

The Hastings and Winton properties were placed under a Restricted Place Notice under the Biosecurity Act. This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm.

The suspect property is under voluntary movement controls until its status is confirmed.

Mr O’Connor says it is possible further infected properties could be found.

The bacteria can spend some time in an animal before it is found or they show signs of the disease, which makes our job harder, he says.

Ministry to boost its biosecurity team for the summer rush

Thirty-two new quarantine officers will graduate from their training today, bolstering the Ministry for Primary Industries’ biosecurity defences at the border.

The ministry’s Border Clearance Services director, Steve Gilbert, says half the graduates will assist with biosecurity screening of travellers arriving at Auckland Airport over the summer.

“We’re expecting the busiest summer on record for visitor arrivals at international airports, especially in Auckland.

“The new officers will have a frontline role to protect New Zealand from invasive pests or diseases that could damage our economy or natural environment.”

The graduates include five officers who will work as biosecurity detector dog handlers and five more who will shortly undergo detector dog programme training.

So far this year, the ministry has employed 73 new officers from three intakes.

It now employs around 540 frontline staff, up from 500 last year.

It has also contracted personnel to help with Chinese-language translations and with cleaning shoes and sportswear.

“MPI is quickly becoming the biggest shoe-cleaning operation in New Zealand, and it’s all for biosecurity,” says Mr Gilbert.

He says MPI will be looking for 40 more officers in its latest recruitment drive, starting later this month.

In the year to July 2017, 6.48 million passengers arrived at New Zealand’s five international airports. Under conservative estimates, the ministry is projecting a 2.5 million increase in the number of passenger arrivals over the next five years.

New food safety guidance announced

The Ministry for Primary Industries today announced food safety guidance which will cover up to 16,000 food businesses across New Zealand.

This means that all types of food businesses in New Zealand now have easy-to-follow guidance for keeping food safe. Different types of businesses have different guidance depending on the food safety risk of the food they handle.

The new national programme guidance covers businesses with medium- to low-risk food safety issues. Because of the lower risk, the compliance costs are also less than for businesses with more complex food safety risks.

“In 2016, 60% of reported cases where food made people sick, came from commercial food operators,” MPI Director Peter Thomson says.

“These guides help a wide range of food businesses from dairies to juice and confectionery manufacturers to keep their food safe for consumers. The numbers of Kiwis getting sick from food-related bugs needs to come down. We also need to protect groups like small children, the frail elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

“While food poisoning for a normal healthy person can be a short-lived upset stomach, the recent case of suspected botulism in the Waikato, or the campylobacter in the Havelock North drinking water, show how harmful bugs can have severe consequences.”

A consistent set of rules targeting top food-safety problems that are flexible and easy for businesses to apply are the best way to ensure Kiwis safely enjoy the country’s great food culture, Peter Thomson says.

Ministry officials disappointed by discovery of myrtle rust in the Wellington region

The fungal plant disease myrtle rust has been found in Lower Hutt, north of Wellington.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says its laboratory has confirmed positive infection in three ramarama (Lophmyrtus bullata) plants in a Hutt Valley garden.

The two-metre-high plants are in a row and are heavily infected, says the myrtle rust response incident controller Catherine Duthie.

Myrtle rust is a fungus that attacks – and can potentially seriously affect – myrtle species plants, including natives such as pōhutukawa, ramarama, mānuka and rātā.

“This new find, significantly further south of other known infection in the upper North Island, is very disappointing,” Dr Duthie says.

As with other positive finds, the trees are having their foliage sealed to prevent spore drift and are then being removed and deep buried.

“All efforts to date have been to contain infection where it is found. However, we have been planning for the possibility that it turns out to be widespread and are realistic that it won’t be feasible to keep removing all infected trees found long term.

“This new find will see us review our tactics and could signal a move to a longer-term approach to managing it in partnership with others, including local authorities, iwi and hapū, plant production industry, and interested individuals and groups.

“We’ll be keeping people informed about any decisions and will provide the most up-to-date information about best practice in fighting this disease,” Dr Duthie says.

In the meantime, the ministry is encouraging people to keep an eye out for the disease in myrtle species.

“So far ramarama and pōhutukawa are the species we’re finding most affected and these are the ones to look at carefully.

Anyone  who believes they have seen the distinctive yellow fungus are advised not to touch the plant or the rust, because this may spread it. If possible, they should try to get a good photo of the plant and the yellow patches and contact the ministry on 0800 80 99 66.

Ministry for Primary Industries reports second myrtle rust find in Auckland

A second location of myrtle rust infection has been found in Auckland – this time in the city, on ramarama plants at a private property in St Lukes.

Myrtle rust is a fungus that attacks and can potentially seriously affect myrtle species plants including some significant natives such as pōhutukawa, ramarama, mānuka and rātā.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says so far it appears ramarama and pōhutukawa are the most susceptible species in New Zealand.

Myrtle rust response controller Dr Catherine Duthie says of the 136 locations now known to be infected, 90% involve infection in ramarama or pōhutukawa plants.

“As with all our previous detections, we’ve placed movement controls on the new property to stop any myrtle plant material being moved off site.
“Our team on the ground will shortly remove all affected plants to contain any risk of spread.”

Dr Duthie says it’s vital that the team knows just how well-established myrtle rust is in the Auckland region to help determine what is feasible in terms of future control.

“Auckland is a big place and we can’t check everywhere. We encourage all Aucklanders to look particularly at ramarama and pōhutukawa plants in their gardens and public areas and report any signs of the distinctive yellow fungus to MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

“It’s important you don’t touch the plant or the rust, as this may spread it. If possible get a good photo of the plant and the yellow patches, and contact us. We’ll look after it from there.

“If you believe you’ve found it, don’t touch the plant or the rust, as this may spread it.”

Dr Duthie says finding another infection in Auckland so soon after last week’s detection is disappointing but also expected.

“While myrtle rust has been relatively dormant over the winter months we have been expecting new infections to be identified as the weather warms up and the fungus begins to release spores again.

“We are now considering what this new find means to the future management of the fungus. It may well mean that we have to review our tactics and prepare for a longer term approach to managing it in partnership with others including local authorities, iwi, plant production industry and interested individuals.

“We’ll be keeping people informed about any decisions and will provide the most up to date information about best practice in fighting this disease,” Dr Duthie says.

Myrtle rust has previously been found in Taranaki, Te Puke, Waikato and Northland, and just last week, in Auckland for the first time.