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Court proceedings have been filed against employees from PGG Wrightson and Elders New Zealand for alleged price fixing, along with the companies themselves. The Commerce Commission felt that the breach of the Commerce Act was very serious indeed, and is also in discussions with Rural Livestock. The companies are believed to have been working together to fix the price of tagging cattle at sale yards, increase yard fees and increasing stock and station agent charges. PGG Wrightson has said that having cooperated with the investigation they feel that the potential penalty was unlikely to be ‘materially price-sensitive’. Price fixing can attract a maximum penalty of the greater of $10 million, or three times the commercial gain. When this is unable to be easily established the penalty tends towards 10 percent of turnover. PGG Wrightson shares last traded at 46 cents.

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A $15,000 fine has been given to an Auckland man who tried to illegally import dried birds’ nests. Tian Chi Lee, a 40 year old man from the North Shore, pled guilty on the 30th July to a Biosecurity Act charge of knowingly attempting to possess unauthorised goods. Dried birds’ nests are a Chinese delicacy that threaten New Zealand’s poultry industry and native birds. Executive director of the Poultry Industry Association Michael Brooks says that the nests pose a grave threat to New Zealand’s freedom from major avian diseases. The nests can carry a number of these including avian influenza and Newcastle Disease. The serious fine reflects the nature of Mr Tian Chi Lee’s actions, and he admitted that his Malaysian brother had sent them to a fictitious person because they both knew of their illegal nature.

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Sheep meat and beef producers will now have the chance to continue funding activities and programmes for the next six years, through the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum proposal. Launched by Beef and Lamb New Zealand, the Act requires farmers to vote to continue new levy orders every six years. ‘Yes’ votes will enable Beef and Lamb New Zealand to continue on with their activities. The proposed levy rates will remain unchanged at 60 cents per sheep and $4.40 per cattle beast. 17,269 people attended the 356 farmer events held last year, and the organisation wants to carry on hosting these and to be able to speak up about important issues. 53 regional roadshow meetings are being held throughout New Zealand in August to allow farmers to have their say.

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August is a big month for farm injuries, with dairy farmers in particular more likely to be injured this month than any other time of the year. Common injuries are to the lower back and neck, often from being kicked, stood on or bitten by animals, as well as muscular stress from lifting or carrying. The calving season means dairy farmers are working long hours in the dark, cold and wet. Uneven ground, sharp objects, farm vehicles and fences can be factors in numerous injuries and accidents. Worksafe Agriculture Programme Manager Al McCone is encouraging farmers to think about what causes injury, and to minimise risk before these injuries can happen. Checking worker capability, lifting techniques, and that employees are eating and drinking at the right times are all ways to making farming safer during August.

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Silver Fern Farms is facing interest from potential foreign investors, while Labour Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor is urging for the company to be kept in Kiwi hands. The co-operative is owned by 16,000 New Zealand sheep, cattle and deer farmers and is seeking about $100 million in new funding to reduce debt. That it has appointed stock broking firm Goldman Sachs to help with the process could suggest overseas investment. Mr O’Connor says the country’s meat companies need to stop competing and work together to increase profits, and that New Zealand needs to control its own economic destiny by owning the assets. Silver Fern Farms has refused to comment further and are not able to give a timeline for the lengthy process.

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The Mobile Surgical Services bus has had its contract extended a further three years.     Health Minister Jonathon Coleman announced the $12 million contract extension which will run through until mid 2018.   The surgical bus visits 24 rural towns during a five week cycle and performs operations from paediatric dentistry to hernia repairs.   To date it has treated 20,000 New Zealanders and has also been the vehicle for professional development training and carried out 45,000 hours of education for health professionals.

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Marketing to the Rural Sector Conference

Marketing to the Rural Sector Conference

Crowne Plaza  (Auckland)

The Marketing to the Rural Sector Conference is back again. Last year this event attracted well over 100 delegates and is gaining a reputation of being a must-attend event for marketers marketing to the rural sector. Some of the highly rated past speakers are back and we have Kim Skidum-Reid from Australia, to speak on sponsorship as a marketing strategy; brought to you by NZX Agri. Attend this conference to get some fresh insights and hear case studies from industry leaders with stories worth sharing.

More info: