Barbara's Beat No. 14


The possibility Foot and Mouth Disease could reach New Zealand looms as this newsletter goes together.
FMD is the highly contagious disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. The only way to eradicate it is to destroy any affected animals.
If agencies charged with our biosecurity put one foot wrong, our agricultural sector would be decimated. So there can be no slip ups.

Foot and Mouth broke out in Indonesia in May. It has now spread to popular Kiwi holiday destination Bali. Then news that FMD particles were identified on meat imports to Australia show just how close to home this issue is.
FMD can come to NZ in any manner of ways, from the importation of infected products to clothing and footwear. All it would take is a few particles of the disease to walk into country on a pair of jandals.
We also import large amounts of palm kernel extract (the by-product of palm oil production) from Southeast Asia including Indonesia, so the risks are high.
Should it reach us, FMD can spread quickly through close contact of animals, animal products or by wind.
Some of us are old enough to remember the UK’s 2001 outbreak and the news footage showing carcasses of cattle shot and piled high to burn in fields. It reoccurred in 2007. Since then there have been outbreaks in Taiwan, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
NZ has never had an outbreak of foot and mouth, but our recent brush with Mycoplasma Bovis and subsequent eradication programme, gives us some idea what could happen with thousands of animals destroyed and billions of dollars lost.
I am questioning the Minister for Agriculture and closely following the steps the Government and MPI are taking, to protect us.
It is pleasing to see MPI has already stepped up the rules for those returning from countries where FMD is present. Because every possible avenue for the disease to enter the country needs to be identified and on high alert.
All returning travellers must carefully declare where they have been while overseas while farmers need to re-ensure their farms have stringent biosecurity measures in place.
Near enough will not be good enough when it comes to stopping foot and mouth ever reaching our shores. We won’t get a second chance!


I’ve had a busy time during July’s three-week Parliamentary recess, including five dinners in five cities from Christchurch to Whangarei — all in one week.
Farmers work and live in isolation so to join with them at various conferences and awards events, celebrating successes and joining in positive, progressive discussions, was fantastic. They had been a long time coming after a two-year gap due to COVID.
First up was the Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate Conference in Christchurch from July 4-6. Meat and dairy reps attending were very disappointed, as was I, with the Prime Minister signing off the new European Union trade agreement.
Despite this, on the day I attended, talks among the 550 or so present were all about the endless possibilities within their industry. It was heartening to hear, and the event was rounded out by an amazing boning competition.
NZ Trade Envoy Mel Poulton opened the two-day Primary Industries Summit held in Auckland.


The Primary Industries Summit from July 6-7 was held in Auckland. There were lots of presentations and again positivity, around talks on emissions, research and development, as well as new technology. Delegates also discussed what politically was coming down on the sector and better ways of doing things in terms of ‘ground up’ rather than the ‘top down’ solutions.
On the night of the 6th, I went home for the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards held in New Plymouth. These events are always so enjoyable as I get to meet inspiring environmental champions who are practising sustainable farming in harmony with their land. My congratulations to supreme regional winners, David and Samantha Turner of The Grange. David’s great-grandfather George bought the property in 1880, clearing the land and establishing the farm now managed by the fourth generation.

At NZ Groundspread Fertiliser Association's annual awards dinner on July 8, I spoke about the bigger issues affecting our agricultural sector including the time and energy wasted going back and forth in trying to get usable legislation.


After the Primary Industries Summit final day, it was back to Wellington for the Groundspread NZ’s training day, AGM and annual awards dinner on July 8.

The NZ Groundspread Fertiliser Association of 110 members is at the very heart of our food chain — applying the fertiliser which enriches our soils before arable, horticultural and agricultural farmers make use of them. It was a really amazing event to attend.

Again, while there was talk about the ever increasing regulations being placed on their sector, discussions were positive and focused on solutions, innovative technology and research developments.

As guest speaker at their awards dinner that night I spoke about the bigger political issues going on as well as the time and energy wasted, going back and forth, trying to get usable legislation. I also discussed how the rising costs of doing business for them, was adding to expense of bringing food to our tables.
The next morning (July 9), I was off to the Young Farmers of the Year Grand Final in Whangarei. This yearly contest is huge, and I greatly admire the young people taking part.

It includes testing the skills of everything, from the brain and a business plan to the brawn of completing agri-sports, rounded off by a general knowledge quiz, in front of an audience.

In the end, it came down to a competition between brothers-in-law, Tim Dangen (Northern) and Chris Poole (Waikato/Bay of Plenty). It was a clear win for Tim, but a close one.

Dunsandel Young Farmer Jonny Brown (Tasman) was third and I applaud them all for their efforts.

I really enjoyed meeting the RD Sixers in Whangarei - Liam Hodgson (Pirongia School), Archie Keelty (St Patrick's, Te Awamutu) and Leighton Barnett (St Columbus) - winners of the 2022 AgriKids NZ Grand Final.


While in Northland I also caught up with Vanessa Winning (Irrigation NZ) and former East Coast Bays National MP Murray McCully, to discuss water storage and irrigation issues affecting the region.



I spent two lovely sunny days in the Otago/Southland region with local MP Joseph Mooney. We visited an Angus stud, organic farm, and met with a range of people including Federated Farmers members.
One of the groups we met, that I was very impressed with, was Thriving Southland. Members are proving the ‘one size does not fit all’; it fits nobody when it comes to catchments. The group’s science and research approach goes down to the last 10sq m. The results are proving that not one catchment, one district, or even one area, is the same.
Southland MP Joseph Mooney (left) and I visited this Angus stud owned by Mike Smith.


While in Canterbury for the recent Silver Fern Farmers conference, I visited a farm using solar energy. Owner Mike Smith says the 1/6th of ha housing his solar panels is the most productive piece of land on his farm.

Solaragri Energy's Pete Saunders took me to a farm to see the renewable energy source in action and talk with its owner, Mike Smith.


Last month I met with Taranaki branch members of Cystic Fibrosis NZ seeking help in their efforts to obtain Pharmac funding for the drug Trikafta.
People with CF have a mutation in their CFTR gene. The gene is responsible for a protein that creates a channel or gateway which allows chloride in and out of the body cells.
When this channel doesn’t work, it affects salt and water balance. This can lead to thick mucus building up in the lungs, pancreas and other parts of the body.

Trikafta is the first triple therapy drug for CF. It combines two CFTR correctors and a potentiator.
Many CF sufferers don’t live beyond the age of 31.
The presentation from those with the disease, and their families, was testament to what they go through — especially the clogging of their lungs and the inability to breathe freely. Sufferers can spend 6-8 times a year in hospital, and those who can work, need sympathetic employers because they need to take a lot of time off.
Taking these factors into consideration, the cost of Trikafta is reasonable.
Most of all, it gives sufferers a better quality of life, and perhaps longevity, so it needs to be funded now.


Taranaki-King Country MP Youth MP Brylee Gibbes was in Wellington to attend 2022's Youth Parliament held from July 19-20; She gave a fantastic speech on mental health. To view, go to My 11- year old granddaughter Aislinn also came to Parliament to visit 'Grannie' as she is intensely intersted in what we politicians do.


On July 23, I attended the launch of Amy Harrop's new children's book, Goat on a Trampoline. It's a great read by the talented mum of three who is a teacher at Te Awamutu Primary School. Held at Te Awamutu Paper Plus, it also gave me the chance to meet illustrator Ross Hamilton (right), and the store's new owners Chris and Michelle Fleming.