Ian Jackson, New Zealand Tree Grower May 2015.
This will be my last column as President of the NZFFA, as I am standing down at the Whangarei Conference and will be replaced by Far North member Dean Satchell. I have enjoyed my time as President, however with the advent of the Forest Growers Levy and the increased responsibilities that we now have, it has been an extremely busy time with the increased workload the entire executive has experienced. In my annual report I highlighted the fact that by our very nature we are a volunteer based organisation where individuals give of their free time and now operate in what really are professional areas. We cannot afford to pay these representatives, but for how long can we sustain this level of commitment and deliver the appropriate outcomes? Due to time and funding deficiencies FFA will always be constrained in what it may do, however, as the only organised advocate for all small scale growers this organisation has come a long way in recent years, taking its place alongside the larger corporate growers in the decision making process.
I wish to extend my congratulations to the award winners of our foresters of the year. Graham and Pam Hunter from Lawrence, South Otago won the South Island Husqvarna award, while John and Sue Upton of Hawkes Bay won the North Island award. I would like to extend my gratitude to the Husqvarna Company for once again sponsoring these awards, both in funding the judging, as well as the prizes presented to the winners. Husqvarna have been doing this for some 30 years and the NZFFA are extremely grateful for this long term support.
The New Zealand Landcare Trust award for Innovation in Sustainable Farm Forestry was awarded to Graham and Tess Smith, Waikato.
All of these winners will have field days on their properties during this year and I would urge all members to get along to at least one of these days to view some quality farm forestry properties. The media interest and reporting of these award winners and the subsequent field days involved are very important promotional tools for the FFA.
Health and Safety
This is the most important and vital area for governance within the forest growing sector at the present time. It is very important that the industry gets this right and is seen to be leading so as to achieve a long term and sustained reduction in forestry related accidents. The Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) establishment Board has been established with the aim of getting the FISC up and running. The terms of reference and legal set-up have been done and the group is presently searching for an Independent Chair, as well as a “National Safety Manger” who will be the full time executive officer to oversee the day to day organisation. There has been $550,000 allocated within the FGLT budget to fund the operational side of the FISC, while a similar level of funding is hoped for from Government to fund the programmes that arise from any recommendations. I am at present on the FISC establishment board representing the small scale forest grower.
Also within the levy budget is an allocation of funds for FFA to establish a health and safety area within our website. The aim here is to have the information available that is essential to all small scale growers, in terms of duties and obligations. The sort of things that will appear will be duties under the new H&S legislation, contractual and legal requirements throughout the growing cycle, but particularly around harvest. Many growers are uninformed about what is required in the sale of a woodlot and this will go some way in filling that void.
Thank you to all those members and others who have made my time as President such an enriching and rewarding experience and I wish this Association all the best in its future development. I will remain on the executive for another year, as well as being on the FGLT board and the FISC, so will still be involved.