MIA Matters: Working together on biosecurity

Tim Ritchie
Tim Ritchie.

The year ahead will see the Meat Industry Association (MIA) working in partnership with government on biosecurity readiness, writes MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie.

In September, MIA signed a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) – a binding agreement on biosecurity – with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). This followed lengthy negotiations between industry and the government and unanimous agreement on the final document from our members in July. The new agreement will cover responses to major exotic disease outbreaks such as foot and mouth disease, BSE or scrapie which have the potential to devastate the New Zealand red meat industry.

Meat processors, marketers and exporters now have direct and joint say with the Government in the management of biosecurity risk across the biosecurity system. All major GIA decisions the MIA is party to will need full MIA Council agreement.

Another important feature for our members, is that biosecurity response costs will be shared with government. The existing MIA budget will cover the meat industry’s share of readiness costs in the majority of cases. In the event of a major response the industry’s share will be met by the activation of a biosecurity levy (under the Biosecurity Act) – and that liability will be capped.

MIA and MPI have each agreed to meet minimum commitments. This means, effectively that MIA carries on with what we are already doing: communicating with industry membership on biosecurity; raising awareness of response procedures and policies; maintaining an organisational plan for an incursion; and maintaining Risk Organism Preparedness and Response guidelines. MPI is to maintain or improve the current readiness and response system to an agreed level.

The move onto a new footing in our relationship with MPI, as full partners in biosecurity, is an important milestone for MIA. We will now have a representative at the biosecurity decision-making table. Representatives will also be involved in working groups set up to respond to specific threats and will share information about the meat industry’s biosecurity system and be involved in open forums to improve the biosecurity system as a whole.

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