Tuesday, 24 May 2022 07:55

Hopeful Christians

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Westland Milk could suspend milk collection from the Gloriavale Christian community after a recent employment court ruling. Westland Milk could suspend milk collection from the Gloriavale Christian community after a recent employment court ruling.

The reclusive Gloriavale Christian community stands to lose $9 million a year if Westland Milk suspends milk collection from its dairy farms.

Hokitika-based processor Westland says it is looking at suspending milk collection from Canaan Farming Dairy Ltd, which operated the Gloriavale dairy farms, following an Employment Court ruling that members of that community working long hours from the age of six were employees.

The ruling referred to "strenuous, difficult and sometimes dangerous" work done by children.

Gloriavale's farms supply around 900,000 kgMS a season to Westland Milk. Based on next season's average opening forecast of $9.50/kgMS, this would mean a $9 million loss of income annually for the community.

It is highly unlikely any other milk processor would be keen to pick up Canaan's milk.

Canaan Farming spokesman, Stephen Standfast told Rural News that it is in consultation "with the appropriate bodies and agencies to ensure impacts of potential suspension of milk supply are considered and addressed to ensure responsible outcomes".

He says Westland Milk has been in contact with Canaan Farming and they are in discussion with the company about the concerns raised.

"We have always supported Westland Dairy Products and will comply with government legislation and, in particular, the conditions of supply to WDP," Standfast told Rural News.

"It is our commitment to adhere to continuous improvement and implementation of sound principles, fairness and dignity."

Westland chief executive Richard Wyeth says following the recent Employment Court decision, the company is investigating legal avenues to suspend milk collection from dairy farms operated within the Gloriavale community.

Wyeth says Westland will work through a range of other issues that would be caused by abrupt cessation of milk collection - such as animal welfare and environmental issues caused by milk disposal. "Suspension of milk from farm controlled by Gloriavale will have minimal impact on Westland's operations," Wyeth adds.

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