AHB/NAIT merger progressing smoothly

With Federated Farmers' board member Anders Crofoot chairing the Shareholders council which has overseen the amalgamation of the Animal Health Board (AHB) and animal tracing organisation NAIT Limited, farmers can be sure their concerns have been taken into account.

Farmers need the amalgamation to deliver a single, streamlined organisation, without duplicate sets of overheads.

There have already been synergies between the work done by NAIT and AHB.

Some people in charge of cattle, whose farms were not previously known to the AHB, have registered for NAIT. Having an additional source of information will allow AHB to be more effective in their bovine tuberculosis (Tb) eradication work under its TbFree New Zealand programme.

Crofoot and the council are working towards ensuring farmers' needs are met through a body which efficiently carries out its existing roles, but is flexible enough to potentially take on new tasks beyond Tb control and cattle and deer identification.

Last month, the council announced the new entity's independent directors - Jeff Grant, Keith Sutton, Ted Coats, Lesley Campbell and Michael Spaans.

Andrew Coleman from the Ministry for Primary Industries, will be the Government appointee. A chairman has yet to be appointed.

The directors were selected by a stakeholders' council of Government and industry representatives who are funders and partners in the national bovine Tb control programme and NAIT schemes. Crofoot says nobody wants the amalgamation to inadvertently divert AHB and NAIT's attentions away from their core functions of Tb eradication and animal traceability.

Once the transition has been made, the new entity will be responsible for both the TBFree New Zealand programme and the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme.

"The stakeholders' council has taken care to reach a balance between current directors, who have knowledge of the existing Tb programme and NAIT scheme, along with those who will bring a fresh perspective to the new entity," Crofoot says.

It is expected the initial work on the merger will be completed in the next few months and the new organisation to be in place by July 1, 2013, at the latest.

- Hamilton News

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