Launch of Industry Code of Practice for the Minimisation

  • John Luxton
Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control

Morrinsville Saleyards

Gavin Forrest, Federated Farmers Reg Barrett, the Land Safety Transport Authority George Fairburn, New Zealand Automobile Association Fiona Knight, Transit New Zealand Tony Friedlander, the Road Transport Forum and other invited guests.

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I can just imagine the headlines that will come out of today's event!

The organisations represented here today by Gavin, Tony and Fiona, together with the Meat Industry Association and the New Zealand Stock and Station Agents Association are those we have to thank for this long-awaited Industry Code of Practice.

The problem of effluent spilling onto the roads from stock trucks has been with us ever since the very first stock travelled by truck and before that from drays and carts. Perhaps it wasn't much of a problem back in 1861 when there were only 193,000 dairy cattle. But today with 4.2 million dairy cattle not to mention 4.8 million beef cattle, the problem is such that something needs to be done.

Not only does it somewhat belie our 'clean, green' image it is obviously very unpleasant for drivers travelling behind or passing, or the next person who parks by the deposit.

What some of our tourists used to the sophistication of big city life and who barely know what a live cattle beast looks like, must think when they have close encounters with effluent from stock trucks is hard to imagine. No doubt they have an appropriate epithet to mutter.

The talk about controls has been going on for many years but it was only in 1997 that the Road Controlling Authorities' Forum finally established the Stock Effluent Working group to establish practice and solutions to reduce the amount of effluent falling from stock trucks onto our roads.

The result was not just talk, but this Industry Code of Practice.

I was particularly pleased that instead of taking the usual legislative route, the working group opted for a voluntary Code of Practice. The responsibilities in this Code are sheeted home to where they belong but for it to work the various responsible parties must communicate with one another.

Each industry participant has a part to play.

Farmers need to stand their stock for from four to eight hours, before they are transported.

To do this they need adequate notice of when the stock is to be picked up and to be assured that the transporter will arrive at a set time so that their stock are still in prime condition by the time they reach their destination.

It has been reliably calculated that standing stock reduces the amount of effluent by up to two-thirds. This relatively simple measure which involves only a small amount of planning, can lead to a significant reduction in the effluent that will be collected by trucks while transporting the stock.

As a farmer I'm also pleased to know that not only will my stock travel better after being stood but there will be a minimal loss of weight and they will be much cleaner when they arrive at their destination. Already some meat companies are providing financial rewards and incentives to those farmers who present their stock in a clean condition.

Livestock carriers
In turn, livestock carriers should plan their work so they can pick up stock at a pre-arranged time-having ensured that the farmer has been given sufficient notice to allow their stock to be stood. Transport operators need to have holding tanks or other collection devices to collect the small amount of effluent that will accumulate in transit.

Destination Points
Whether the carrier is taking stock to saleyards, meat processors or to other farms it will be the responsibility of these receiving organisations to ensure they have the ability to receive both the stock and their effluent, and to enable the carriers to dispose of the effluent efficiently and appropriately.

Provided the stock has been stood before it is picked up, the amount of effluent that will need to be disposed of will be relatively small.

Roading authorities
When they are required, the local councils and Transit New Zealand should ensure that appropriately sited, efficient disposal facilities which meet all the planning and environmental requirements are provided along roads and state highways. A companion booklet to the Code which details how and in what situations these should be provided has also been produced. However, if the standing of stock can become the norm, then the need for such facilities should be minimal.

I have been talking about cattle and dairy cows today, not sheep, because it is the larger animals which are the major contributors to the problem.

The Working Group which produced this report is to be congratulated on a Code that is realistic and achievable. The organisations represented on the group were Federated Farmers, the Meat Industry Association, the Stock and Station Agents Association, the RTF, Transit, territorial and local authorities and Lincoln University.

Their work is not yet complete. They plan a review in 2001 and in the meantime there is much education required by all parties of farmers, stock carriers, road controlling authorities, meat processors and saleyard operators to ensure that this voluntary Code moves from the status of a code to a standard industry practice.

As the Minister responsible for Food and Fibre (an appropriate title today!) I heartily welcome this initiative which has so many benefits for our communities and our economy.

While the Code might be about a load of old effluent, it is an important document that will improve the practices and perceptions of our vital agriculture industry.

It gives me very great pleasure to launch the Industry Code of Practice for the Minimisation of Stock Effluent Spillage from Trucks on Roads.