Back in 2019, Norwood was one of the first companies to sign the Biosecurity Business Pledge, an initiative to help protect New Zealand from pests and diseases. Three years on, biosecurity is embedded deeply into the company and every step of its supply chain.
Logistics Manager Stephen Hansen, along with Craig Kelland, signed the Pledge for Norwood. He explains why biosecurity is more than just a buzzword for the agricultural services and equipment provider.
“The Biosecurity Business Pledge was created three years ago, by business for business, because of the massive impact that would be caused to our economy if pests like the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) made it into NZ,” says Stephen.
“If the BMSB gets established in New Zealand, our agricultural industry would be toast. So why not have us all work together to share literature, share plans, share whatever we can do to try and increase the national awareness of biosecurity, and this bug in particular.”
Norwood is on the steering committee for the Pledge, which has now been signed by around 100 businesses and organisations. And while the company is so far the only agricultural machinery supplier to sign up, Norwood’s key partners share their commitment.
“Oceanbridge, our freight forwarder, and PTS, our national domestic distributor, have both joined the Pledge. So they take it just as seriously as we do.”
Stephen says while all imported containers the company receives are required to be fumigated at origin, that didn’t leave them off the hook. “Even if bugs are dead by the time they get to New Zealand, they still need to be reported. Once it’s in that container, it’s in the country.”
The government agency responsible for biosecurity is the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).
To keep things running smoothly for its customers, Norwood has received accreditation by MPI to receive uncleared goods at two sites in Palmerston North. These are known as approved transitional facilities and are the only places where imported containers are allowed to be unloaded.
“We didn’t pack the containers we receive, so we don’t know everything that’s in there,” says Stephen. “But because we’ve got the certification and accreditation with MPI they’re allowing us on their behalf to open them and check them ourselves. And then if we find leaves, foliage, insects dead or alive, spider webs etc, we make the call on whether to report it or if it is within acceptable boundaries.”
Each transitional facility needs to have an MPI-approved operator, who is responsible for running the facility, and ‘accredited persons’ who are authorised by MPI to clear the goods.
National Warehouse Manager Martin Bartholomew, who is both a transitional facilities operator and an accredited person, says “Although I work for Norwood, the moment we open a container that has been sent to us, I am an agent for MPI. That’s how you are trained to act.”
“The BMSB is a serious threat and Norwood, I am proud to say, has treated that threat with the correct level of severity and importance. There’s never any suggestion of cutting corners. Far from it.”
Stephen adds “Norwood goes a lot further than our legal requirements, because we appreciate the gravity of the pain that would be caused should there be an issue.”
“We go to the degree that every single person at Norwood undergoes annual biosecurity awareness training. Every tractor manual we send out to customers also has biosecurity awareness literature in it.”
“Right across the entire supply chain, we have put in place some sort of measure to make sure that there is biosecurity awareness at every step. From origin to shipping, to landing and processing and then dispatch out to the farm.”
For overseas partners, sometimes that awareness needs to start with a basic understanding of what biosecurity is and why it is such a big deal for us in Aotearoa.
“One of the challenges we have is that the concept of biosecurity is alien to almost everyone else on the planet,” says Martin.
“Even the Australians to a degree don’t take it as seriously as we do. You can land a container at any building in Australia, but you can’t do that in New Zealand. And this cautious approach has served us well. So far, we have managed to keep the BMSB, and other dangerous pests, out of the country.”
You can find more information about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and how to spot it on the MPI website.