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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

Grading of Dairy and Other Agricultural Produce

Grading of Dairy and Other Agricultural Produce.

Mr. John Sawers to the Hon. John McKenzie,

Minister of Lands. Wellington, Sir,—

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your memorandum dated the 18th June, concerning the advisability of appointing experts to grade dairy and other agricultural produce before leaving the colony.

My own experience goes in the direction of proving that a certain amount of equality may be secured by such inspection, but there are so many difficulties to be contended with in carrying out the scheme that I do not think it would prove of much practical utility. I am of opinion that if dairy-produce is to bear inspection and grading that it cannot be undertaken at the port of shipment in the colony, but must be done either by associations or on its arrival in the Home-market. Even with inspection at the port here dairy-produce may not arrive in the Home-market in good condition. Our remoteness from that market, and the consequent length of time the produce is on the journey, is sure to change it somewhat.

Different makes of both private dairies and factories will cause different changes, although our factory article is becoming more uniform, and would not, therefore, suffer so much in this direction.

To do grading at the port of shipment in the colony would necessitate the erection of the necessary cool-chambers at the various ports, and the appointment of a staff of duly-qualified experts, involving, in my opinion, a quite unnecessary large expenditure.

Considerable expense would also be entailed on the exporters by the additional expense involved in discharging the produce from the railway-vans and coastal-steamers into the cool-chambers for inspection, and in the handling there, and again in putting it on board the Home-steamers.

But what would be worse is the injury which would be done to the produce. Butter packages cannot be opened, and the contents exposed to the action of the air, and holes pierced in it, without seriously affecting its keeping-qualities. Neither can cheese be inspected without severe injury being done to the cases.

Some parties, in order to enforce their arguments in favour of inspection at the ports of shipment, quote the cases of Denmark and page 29 Ireland. The inspection in these two countries is principally done by associations, and, as the produce is only a few days on the voyage, it arrives in much the same state as when it left the country.

I am of opinion that any inspection and grading which might be done at the ports of shipment here would be of very little value, and in many cases the reverse of beneficial.

It is to be regretted that many of the recommendations made to me to induce me to favour this scheme being carried out have evidently been intended to benefit certain individuals rather than the industry at large.

I beg to refer you to my annual report on dairy industry just furnished you with reference to a scheme there indicated to solve this much-disputed question.

I think it is now an undoubted fact that the success of the dairy industry in New Zealand, and reform in dairy practices, depends almost exclusively on the establishment of the factory system. This being so, I would much prefer to see some authoritative means being devised for the education examination, and certifying to the knowledge and competency of managers and intending managers of dairy-factories.

The encouragement by a small subsidy to dairy associations composed of factory memberships only, for mutual instruction and assistance, such as the present New Zealand Middle Island Dairy Association, would do good. When a certain standard of excellence and uniformity was reached among the associated dairy-factories, then a brand could be registered and given to each of such factories, the same to be under immediate Government supervision. This brand could be used with the factory brand, and would be very advantageous in engendering a certain uniformity of product, and in guaranteeing the buyer that the product was manufactured under skilled supervision, and that the cheese was full milk, or what is called "graded cheese."

The secretary of the Middle Island Dairy Association is now I authorised by the Committee to pay strict attention to the produce when being placed on board the Home-steamers, and to draw attention to any irregularities or defective casing from any of the association factories.

I have also made it my business when practicable of visiting the steamers when loading at any of the ports, and drawing the attention of the shippers to any irregularity in their produce or casing.

To my mind, the encouraging of such organizations as a means of I fostering the dairy industry is of the first and greatest importance to consider, and one which I trust will receive due consideration from I your hands.

page 30

The classification of dairy-produce at the ports of shipment is a matter to which I have devoted much consideration, and I have used my best endeavours to gather the views of the farmers on the subject when lecturing throughout the colony.

I am safe in saying, although they can see the good which would result from a well-organized system of inspection, yet they see no solution of the difficulties herein mentioned other than what I have advocated.

I have, &c.,

John Sawers.

By Authority: George Didsbury, Government Printer, Wellington.—1891.