Mushroom Manure Imports – Like Russian Roulette

New Zealand First wants to know why the National Government is playing a form of “Russian Roulette” by protecting an importer who brought in high risk animal manure. 

“These imports were a clear risk to New Zealand’s biosecurity,” says New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland, Rt Hon Winston Peters. 

“When DairyNZ and the New Zealand Equine Health Association both say this idea is dangerously preposterous National ignored them.

“What we know is that a corporate importer got approval to bring in one product, but then imported dangerous animal manure. 

“As DairyNZ wrote in its understated 2017 submission: ‘Animal manure can contain the infectious agents for a number of economically important animal diseases (for example Foot & Mouth Disease), as well as weed seeds, animal parasites and micro-organisms.  DairyNZ is of the view that animal manure products should not be imported in New Zealand’.

“When Minister Guy and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) were tipped off about the original import containing animal manure it took them an incredible four months to do anything about it, while imports continued. 

“No prosecutions under the Biosecurity Act occurred. Instead, the minister legitimised this clearly illegal behaviour, using taxpayers’ money to fly officials to Europe to prepare the writing of an Import Health Standard for some of the highest risk items facing New Zealand.

“It speaks volumes that MPI was so negligent that they admitted in November 2015, they did not know imported mushroom spawn had been approved, and that these imports could introduce unwanted pathogens into New Zealand called Trichoderma aggressivum and Mushroom Virus X.

“When they were warned, it took them until mid-last year to stop such imports. 

“The risks are so unacceptable that local producers, DairyNZ and New Zealand Equine Health Association are worried a serious incursion is a matter of when, not if.  Importing animal based manure is madness and we want to know exactly why this government and Minister Guy let it happen. 

“Other mushroom growers have had to spend millions setting up their own mushroom manure manufacturing base. 

“But Minister Guy and National let one mushroom grower cut corners, buy manure off-shore and imperil the whole New Zealand agriculture and horticulture sector. 

“These are grounds for senior MPI officials and this minister to be sacked, particularly when documentation involved fraud,” says Mr Peters.