Rural News // March 20, 2012
Food Bill concerns remain – Browning PAM TIPA
WHILE THE Food Bill’s
furore was based on misinformation, concerns with the proposed legis-
progress through Parliament has been postponed, and some of the summer’s
lation remain, says Green Party MP Steffan Browning.
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on the select committee gives him a chance to revisit and discuss with government agency representatives aspects of concern, notably some areas which lack of clarity. This includes the possibility of excess regulation and uncertainty about how bureaucracy would be “grilled down” which could worry sellers at farmers’ markets and roadside stall. Many issues will be left to the discretion of the Minister for Food Safety (currently Kate Wilkinson) which he says creates uncertainty. Also, some aspects discourage rather than encourage small growers, he told Rural News. As he interprets it, if there is direct grower to customer contact - they can see “the white of their eyes” - then farmers’ market or roadside sellers do not have to register and
be inspected. But if they have produce leftover and sell it to an organic shop, or the corner dairy, or someone else sells it for them, they will have to register and be inspected, or apply for an exemption. As he told the meeting, inspectors can charge $140 an hour, yet some suppliers may already be being inspected for export, so there’s a risk of duplication. Browning says exemptions will be on a case by case basis – though exactly how is not clear. It may be all spuds or oranges are treated in a particular way. He says the “templates” for restaurants and cafes have been established, tested and appear to work well. But the templates for small growers and the like have not yet been established.
March 31 is ETS cut-off
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Browning, a former organic grower and retailer turned Green activist and now MP, is holding a series of meetings around the country to discuss the Bill, including Orewa, north Auckland, last week. Concerns about the Bill “went viral” over summer and among the incorrect information circulated was that the legislation would shortly be passed, Browning told the Orewa audience. In fact, Parliament didn’t even sit until February 7 and the bill has been put down the order – although it could be moved up again at any time. As a new MP, he says he’s delighted to be on the Primary Production committee, which is looking at the bill. It’s already gone through the public submission process, but being
Meeting members: Green Party MP Steffan Browning.
REGISTER FOREST by March 31 if you want to qualify for and claim Emissions Trading Scheme New Zealand units accrued for the first five years of the scheme, says Waikato Regional Council. It sent a letter to owners of 600 parcels of post 1989 planted forest covering some 39,000ha of that region earlier this month reminding them of the registration deadline. “These plantings, if registered for credits, represent a significant potential income stream for forest owners under the
13/03/12 10:55 AM
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Government’s emission trading scheme,” says WRC biosecurity and heritage group manager John Simmons. Forest owners with credits can sell them to emitters but prices have tumbled to about $7 to $8/NZ unit due to Europe’s economic crisis and reduced demand. Participating forest owners must pay for their own “emissions” when they harvest trees. “So forest owners need to get independent advice about whether taking part in the ETS will work for them,” adds Simmons.
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Rural News 20 March 2012