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Is NZ's Bio Security up to the Task?

Greetings Readers

The impact of new reports of BSE being identified in livestock in France, Germany and Spain high lights the grave responsibility that rests on the scientific community and politicians as they try to ensure the correct steps are taken to prevent or limit the damage the continuing outbreak will have on producers and consumers of beef.

While the initial reaction of BCE free countries is to stop the import of product from the infected countries the continuing outbreak has the potential to change demand for beef products. With the net affect that consumer everywhere may avoid beef and in many instances all red meat consumption.

There will be nothing good for NZ farmers in this BSE scare. As should the publicity on the problem continue more consumers will avoid red meat due to the unclear picture being presented by the authorities about its risks and control.

In a year where lamb prices are indicating a good farm gate return adverse consumer reaction to all red meat is the last thing wanted by producers.

BSE seems to be caused by the application of industrial production techniques to the production of stock feeds. Not a choice by farmers but the result of feed manufacturers sourcing lowest cost protein inputs from unsupervised sources. But once again farmers seem to be being held responsible for something beyond their control.

Marion Hobbs has accepted that her ministry has fallen short in their management of NZ's biosecurity and is moving to shore things up. However the focus seems now to have moved to insects and reptiles because the public can identify with visible intruders. However MAF must reassure NZ that they are managing all risk across the border, and in our feed production processes - not just the visible beetles, bugs and crawlies.

Good farming

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