Saturday, December 2, 2023

Fortuna busy Zeestraten farms from Southern Centre

Neal Wallace
Four farms at the centre of the Southland Mycoplasma bovis outbreak have been sold.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Southern Centre Dairies, owned by Alfons and Gea Zeestraten, has been bought by Southland dairy farming firm, Fortuna Group.

Zeestraten said he is uncertain what he will do next, before politely declining to comment further.

A Primary Industries Ministry spokesman said Zeestraten and Southern Centre Dairies still face five Biosecurity Act charges each but they do not relate to the introduction of M bovis to New Zealand.

The case will be heard in Invercargill District Court at a date yet to be set.

The charges against Southern Centre Dairies relate to the importation of farm equipment in January 2018, specifically the process of accepting and unpacking those goods, including an effluent pump, without the required authorisation or following the correct procedures. There are additional charges relating to the acquisition and disposal of unauthorised goods. Zeestraten has been reported saying he denies all charges.

In February 2018 MPI identified Zeestraten farm as the source of M bovis infection in Southland with all infected properties in the province having links to them.

Fortuna chief executive Matthew Richards said the herds on the Zeestraten farms were culled in 2017 and the farms were subsequently cleaned and restocked.

MPI has removed all restrictions and they are operating as normal.

Richards says future risk will be managed as Fortuna does with all its farms, using best industry best practice.

“The midseason takeover will allow us to work with existing management capability and ensure we are able to implement our Fortuna Way as effectively and quickly as possible,” Richards said.

Fortuna already owns or partly owns about 19 Southland dairy farms running more than 12,000 cows on 4345ha with 1350ha of support land.

The company was formed in 2012 and is majority owned by the Dodunski family with minority shareholdings by private investors including a stake managed by Craigmore Sustainables, a NZ partnership that owns and manages food and fibre businesses.

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