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Rural contractors urged to get correct licences

Rural Contractors New Zealand is urging its members to ensure they have all the correct transport licences for the coming season.

RCNZ president Steve Levet says with the new season fast approaching, rural contractors and their staff should check to see they have the correct licence and a ‘Wheels Endorsement’ if required.. “It is incumbent on rural contractors to ensure both they and their staff have all the correct licences when moving their tractors and machinery around the country,” he adds.

“There are no excuses for not having the correct licenses and/or wheels endorsement. If contractors are not sure they should find out – all the necessary information is under the members section of RCNZ’s website: .”

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Doctors surprised at Govt "essential skills" proposal

The ability to employ doctors and nurses from overseas to fill vacancies in New Zealand is under review in a move that could affect rural health service delivery.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is reviewing its list of occupations on the Essential Skills in Demand lists that guides migrant selection.

New Zealand Rural General Practice Network chairman Dr Jo Scott-Jones said the group is ''very surprised'' to see the GP positions on the list for review.

He said there were currently 40 permanent rural GP vacancies in New Zealand, representing about 20% of the 190 rural practices.

His organisation’s submission on the review says ''six of those vacancies are in ''hot spots'' or critical workforce situations, such as illness or retirement, where a practice is in danger of having to close or where services to the community will need to be reduced if the vacancies cannot be filled.

He said the number of vacancies has remained at about 20% to 24% during the past three years.

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Wool levy referendum start

Voting for the wool levy referendum has opened, voting papers having been sent to all New Zealand sheep farmers.

The levy will be 2.75 cents per kilogramme on the average 5.4kg produced per sheep per year.

This equates to about 14.85 cents per sheep, meaning the cost for a farmer with 2000 sheep would be $297 a year.

Wool Levy Group chairwoman Sandra Faulkner said the lack of an industry body is preventing wool producers from maximising their returns.

Voting in the wool levy referendum will close on October 10.

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Expert team carry out post-mortem on mystery death cows

A team of experts is carrying out post mortem examinations in an effort to solve the mystery deaths of up to 300 Southland cows.

The cows became sick after eating swedes and the managing director of VetSouth, Dr Mark Bryan says it was believed the mild winter in Southland caused the plants to retain high levels of glucosinolate, which is beneficial in small quantities but becomes toxic in larger doses.

Brassica supplier PGG Wrightson Seeds has confirmed the vets' suspicion that a new swede variety was linked to most cases.

Dairy NZ’s response leader Craig McBeth said his team wanted to take a scientific approach rather than make assumptions.

Vets are sharing the results of earlier tests and blood tests are expected to be turned around in a couple of days.

Finding laboratories prepared to do plant tests was proving more challenging and samples are being frozen in the meantime and delays with these tests may prolong the process of identifying the cause.

In the meantime post-mortem tissue sampling and blood testing of live cows was being carried out to try and find an explanation.

DairyNZ has received no reports of other cases outside Southland and South Otago and had been in talks with vets on the northern boundaries of these areas.

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Mild winter could have caused Southland cows swede sickness

The mild  winter’s weather could be behind the mystery illness that’s killed more than Southland cows grazing on swede crops.

PGG Wrightson Seeds, which supplies forage brassica products in New Zealand, has investigated the issue.

The company’s Seeds general manager David Green says believes the mild winter and lush growth of leaf material on brassica crops causes problems when dairy cows have been introduced onto late winter swedes after wintering on other types of crops.

With extra swede leaf material available because of the mild winter, Green says it appears some cows have consumed more leaf and less bulb than normal. Initial reports from veterinary advisors suggest glucosinolate toxicity was the cause of their illness.

While small amounts of the substance are believed to be healthy, the use of these crops as a primary food source for animals could have negative effects, including liver disease.

David Green says the company doesn’t yet know the full extent of the problem, but it understands between 30 and 50 farms and hundreds of cows are affected.

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Marine parasite found in Marlborough mussel

A marine parasite - Perkinsus olseni – has been found in a mussel in the South Island for the first time – a discovery that could have implications for New Zealand’s mussel export trade.

The parasite is endemic but previously had been found only in warmer northern areas, and never in green-lipped mussels.

The Ministry for Primary Industries initiated a biosecurity response after a single organism was found during routine sampling by staff at the Cawthron Institute’s Glen Aquaculture Park.

It is understood the affected mussel came from an unidentified marine farm in the Marlborough Sounds, and was taken to Cawthron to become broodstock last year.

The MPI said it had determined that the parasite posed an extremely low overall risk.

Prior to the detection, there had been no ill-health or unusual mortalities found in any shellfish at the Cawthron facility.

The Cawthron Institute is undertaking ongoing monitoring in conjunction with MPI as a precautionary measure.

In accordance with international agreements the find has been notified to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The Ministry says it is still working through the trade implications of the detection.

Currently no market has sought restrictions.

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NZ Country Music Entertainer of the Year

NZ Country Music Entertainer of the Year

Rotorua  (New Zealand)

Join in the exciting evening of NZ Country Music Entertainer of the Year 2014.

More info: