Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently turned the first sod at Silver Fern Farms' Beflast (Christchurch) meat works for a project slated as a major step in the company's ambition to become coal-free by 2030.
Rural News earlier reported that the Hokitika-based processor is considering suspendiing milk collection from Canaan Farming Dairy Ltd, which operated the Gloriavale dairy farms. Gloriavale's farm supply around 900,000 kgMS a season to Westland Milk. Based on next season's average opening forecast of $9/kgMS, this would mean a $9 million loss of income annually for the community.
This follows an Employment Court ruling that members of the West Coast-based community working long hours from the age of six were employees. The ruling referred to "strenuous, difficult and sometimes dangerous" work done by children.
Now Gloriavale's Value Proteins - an offal processing plant and pet food maker - faces losing supply of offal product from major meat processors over the same concern about its labour practices. A number of meat companies and abattoirs truck offal to the export-licenced Value Proteins plant, which turns it into high value pet and stock food.
Silver Fern Farms says it is working through the details of its next steps but is "pretty clear" about the direction of travel.
"Following the recent court decision, Silver Fern Farms has decided to begin the process to discontinue any commercial arrangements with Value Proteins," a company spokesperson told Rural News. "We will now be working with all parties involved to bring this into effect."
Meanwhile, other meat companies are also considering similar action.
"We are currently reviewing our relationship with Value Proteins and have requested further information from them," Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor told Rural News.
SFF says it is committed to the fair and humane treatment of people in its employment and supply chains. The company's advertisements state that it "insists all suppliers uphold the highest ethical standards in their workplace practices and policies".
It is unclear what impact SFF's decision to end the contract would have on other rendering facilities. There are nine rendering plants in the South Island and it is understood capacity is already tight during peak killing season.
If both SFF and Alliance stop using Gloriavale, there could be major issues with offal and carcase disposal and rendering in the South Island.
Who Are They?
The Gloriavale Christian Community is a small and isolated community located at Haupiri on the West Coast.
Gloriavale has an estimated population of over 500. It has operated on a property owned by a registered charity since 2008.
Its website states: "The Gloriavale Christian Community is home to more than 90 families who are members of the Church at Gloriavale in New Zealand. Community members have come from all over the world, forsaking all to follow the teachings of Jesus. We live on a large dairy farm which helps to keep our faith vibrant and alive".