Waitomo News : NKC Farmer 11 March 2014
16 Tuesday, March 11, 2014 Te Awamutu 2 Livingstone Brothers Ln P: 07 871 6781 Otorohanga 12 Progress Drive P: 07 873 8500 Putaruru 89 Tirau Street P: 07 883 3423 qubik.co.nz GeT A chiLLeD wATer SySTem TODAy! Milk TeMperaTure probleMs? we’ve got units in stock and ready to install! WAIKATO Regional Council’s proposed An- nual Plan budget for the 2014-2015 year is not providing funding for the Animal Health Board’s TB programme in the Waikato region. WRC has funded about 10% of the cost of the regional TB pro- gramme, raised by a targeted rate on rural properties, amounting to about $650,000 per AHB TB funding review overdue By Stu Kneebone Waipa-King Country Councillor Waikato Regional Council annum. During the past 23 years, the council has con- tributed about $19 million towards TB control in the region, and infected herds have reduced from more than 300 to about seven today. The balance of funding comes from central gov- ernment (50%) with industry contributions and slaughter levies making up the remaining 40%. The council has effectively acted as a third party collection agency for the AHB, and signalled some years ago that it was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with this. Primarily because the money collected by the council is recognised as WRC expenditure, even through it is not spent by the council, and WRC has no mandate/responsibil- ity for TB disease control. The contribution made by WRC to the TB Free programme is effectively a grant, with no direct accountability back to ratepayers. AHB REVIEW NEEDED The rational of different organisations collecting from the same farmers for TB work is questionable and the council is of the view that the AHB needs to review the way it funds its work programmes. The AHB gave WRC an assurance three years ago that it would undertake a funding review, with a view to establishing a more equitable funding mechanism. Recognising the importance of the TB Free programme, WRC agreed to interim fund for a further two years pending the outcome of the review. But the AHB has still not completed the review, despite acknowledging inequities with the current model. The regional council is of the view that the AHB is not recognising the intent and goodwill of council’s interim funding and addressing the issue, hence the proposal not to continue funding. The argument is often put forward that there are biodiversity benefits from the TB possum control work. However, in the ongoing drive for efficient use of ratepayer dollars, WRC has put a lot of work and effort into identifying sites of high biodiversity value throughout the region, and targeted our pest control spend accordingly. Equally, the AHB only controls possums to re- move the risk of TB spread in wildlife. Once the vector (possums, ferrets) risk in an identified area is determined to be suitably control- led, resources are redeployed to the next highest priority where the most value can be gained. While outbreaks of TB can, and sometimes do happen in those high value biodiversity sites, it is coincidental. Pest control for biodiversity man- agement/enhancement, and TB disease control require different approaches, and the end goals and outcomes are entirely different. Mixing the two invariably puts programmes at risk, as there is no certainty of funding for the duration of projects. WRC absolutely supports the need for the TB programme to be appropriately funded throughout the Waikato region, and recognises the impact that TB has had on many King Country farmers. But it has concerns with the current funding model, and believes it’s well overdue for review.
4 March 2014
13 March 2014