Thursday, April 23, 2009

SFF backtracking on idiotic ban of dogs in sheep yards


Since a belated maelstrom has buffeted its way through the nation's media regarding the Silver Fern Farm decision to ban sheepdogs from its sheepyards, SFF have been in damage control.
No, they say loudly. At no time did UK supermarket giant TESCO demand the removal of dogs because of the stress it may cause the sheep before it ends up in a British housewife's roasting dish.
But since SFF had removed dogs from all but three plants this season, management decided to "minimise the use of dogs from all sites".
What balderdash as the shepherds at the Fairton works in Mid Canterbury would tell you. Farmgirl has been told on more than one occasion that it was a word in the ear by the TESCO machine that led to the demise of the poor old dog.
But TESCO's big brother bark has made news worldwide as many overseas identify with the plight of the endangered Kiwi shepherd and the demise of his dog, and is apparently rather sensitive to any criticism.
It was no surprise then that SFF should jump quickly to dispel the story but in their haste they forgot to remember one thing - shepherds talk, they see, they hear what is being said when the big wigs come to visit their yards. They are not blind, deaf and dumb mutes who issue the odd whistle and yell 'Get up there Bob!'. So SFF's claim that they just idly decided to rid their yards of years of Kiwi iconic history, at a time when consumers are becoming so divorced from the reality of food production, just doesn't ring true.
And to add further salt into the wound the Otago Daily Times reported this week that surprise, surprise, Lincoln University bio-chemist Prof Roy Bickerstaffe found the dogs created no adverse affect on PH tender rating levels in sheep.
Farmgirl understands that yard requirements often dictate whether dogs are needed or not and has not problem with that but when it is so clearly being done because of supermarket pressure it is a worrying sign as to what we will have to kowtow to next in order to get out product into the market.
Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Chairman Bruce Wills is naive to think this is just a 'storm in a teacup'. What it signifies is important.
This could be the beginning of a game of dominoes.