Red meat farmers launch consultation for biosecurity GIA

Sam McIvor
Sam McIvor.

Sheep, beef dairy and deer farmers are being encouraged to have their say on a proposal to give the red meat sector a direct say in readiness and response to biosecurity threats.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), in conjunction with DairyNZ and Deer Industry New Zealand, is launching consultation on a proposal to sign a Government Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response Deed (GIA).

Information packs outlining the proposal are due to arrive in farmers’ mail boxes this week with the consultation officially getting underway from October 31st.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ, said the GIA was about working together to protect farmers from exotic pests and diseases

“Farmers consistently tell us that biosecurity risks are among the biggest risks we face as an industry.

“Currently, when hard decisions are being made about how New Zealand prepares to respond to an exotic pest or disease incursion and, more importantly, what to do during an actual response, we are ‘in the room’ and consulted.  But it is the Government that makes all the final decisions.

“Signing the GIA would give sheep and beef farmers, through B+LNZ, a seat at the biosecurity decision-making table.  Alongside other GIA Signatories, we would have more direct influence on biosecurity preparedness and response decision-making.”

There are costs associated with signing the GIA, because it means agreeing to contribute to readiness and response costs. The level of these contributions would depend on the significance of the pest or disease to the sheep and beef sector, says McIvor.

“Importantly, our farming sector could also choose to set a funding limit as part of a GIA Operational Agreement.

“We think that the benefits of signing the GIA, with increased certainty and control over our own biosecurity destiny, justifies potential costs.

“We would be better-prepared, have a pre-agreed set of minimum readiness and response commitments between industry and government, and agreed limits on our industry’s potential cost-share for readiness and response activities.

“If we don’t sign the GIA, we will have much less influence over the decisions that affect our sector.”

The Government could also use powers under the Biosecurity Act 1993 to recover costs from industries that benefit from a response even if they have not signed the GIA, says McIvor.

“That would be a poor outcome for our sector and we would lose the opportunity to work together with government and other industries under the GIA to manage fundamental risks to all livestock farmers.

“It is vital farmers have their say on this important matter.”

B+LNZ will also be hosting a teleconference for its farmers on Tuesday 14 November 2017, 7.30pm. More details will be available via e-diaries.

Consultation ends on 6 December 2017.

Red meat processors signed a GIA in September.

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