Beekeeping ombudsman

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The latest kerfuffle around hive destruction is not the first by any means and won't be the last .
The management agency rather than just sticking to the AFB PMP has also been using the bio security act .
This means that rather than just ordering the destruction of clinical infections it is now sometimes ordering the destruction of hives that are not showing clinical infection or the destruction of stored beekeeping equipment.
Just to be absolutely clear I fully support the agency in this, but, there seems to be no recourse for those that feel they are being hard done by except perhaps for the court of public perception which does not always show what is really happening and also because of privacy laws can leave the management agency looking like the villains.
A beekeeping ombudsman could be an independent adjudicator if given permission by both parties to do an investigation including physically confirming by inspection and testing where doubts have been raised .
Given that all beekeepers carry at least a little bit of baggage an ombudsman could be a non-beekeeper but would need the powers to co-opt experts in such things as identifying AFB .
Anyway, I'm throwing this idea out there and would really like some opinions on this from every sector in the beekeeping community.
 
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Alastair

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The idea has merit.

The problem though, is that some of the folks objecting to the current processes are pretty extreme end of the bell curve, akin to people who think Bill Gates is putting computer chips in the vaccine, that type of thing, they are melded in the same mold.

Even on the recent Facebook controversy on the subject there was one of the objectors bringing up covid conspiracy theories to try to prove whatever his point was about the AFB management program, and accusing anyone supporting the agency of having too many booster shots. IE, some of these folks don't even know what planet they are on and will oppose any measures at all, if there is an ombudsman, he will be part of the Deep State far as they are concerned, or certainly his experts would be.

The blatant lies being told by some of those folks demonstrates their grip on reality, or lack of.

Not trying to shoot the idea down completely, an ombudsman might be able to alleviate some disputes in a neutral way. But I believe some folks will not be swayed by any amount of reason, and never be happy unless they get their own way in all things. Which is to allow AFB to run rampant in their outfit until they are forced out of business and have massively damaged any nearby beekeepers in the process.
 
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good idea. never a bad thing to have checks and balances.

the most basic issue is simply cost and how to pay for it.

keep in mind that an ombudsman is not legally binding, so they an only make recommendations. but as they may have the ear of the govt minister, people may be motivated to follow the recommendations.

the other issue is do you find someone who is an expert, which is extremely difficult as no one is an expert in everything in beekeeping, and they have their own bias. or you get someone outside of beekeeping, then they are then left to engage experts and navigate their bias. they have to be careful not to fall into industry rot, something has happened in other industries. (this is where the info the industry/experts gives them is flawed but assumed to be correct). keep in mind beekeeping is fairly small, there is not many real unbiased experts out there.
so i think it will be difficult to find someone who could even do the job, given the nature and size of the industry.
 

NickWallingford

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The management agency rather than just sticking to the AFB PMP has also been using the bio security act .
Yes, the AFB PMP only exists because of the powers that are given to it by the Biosecurity Act.

Clause 8 of the AFB PMP Order specifies a range of powers that the PMP can use, powers that are in the Biosecurity Act. The PMP Order does not give *all* of the powers of the Biosecurity Act to the PMP.

For example, the PMP is not allowed to use clause 123 - Power to vaccinate, etc. It isn't listed in clause 8 of the PMP Order, so isn't available to our PMP. A number of these powers were simply not applicable to our PMP. But other powers of the Biosecurity Act we considered essential.

Clause 8 says that the PMP *can* use the powers of clause 109 of the Biosecurity Act - Power of Inspection, which includes the power to enter a property. While the PMP might talk about hive inspections, it is only because the PMP was given this power from the Biosecurity Act that an AP2 can enter your property to inspect. If the PMP did not have this power, the AP2 would have to have your specific authority, and invitation, to look at your hives...

That one was a *critical* requirement for the PMP to be potentially effective. And yes, it was a power from the Biosecurity Act, not from the AFB PMP Order.

The PMP has *always* used powers from the Biosecurity Act, as well as the specifics of the PMP Order itself.
 

NickWallingford

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The concept of a system of arbitration of decisions of a Mgmt Agency does not exist in any other PMP. The only place that arbitration is described is directly relating to the assessment and collection of levies. *Those* decisions, for all of the PMPs including our own, can go to a system of formal arbitration.

Someone at the Summit complained that the Mgmt Agency could make decisions, and the bkpr has no chance to appeal the decision, or get it over-turned.

That is not true. Section 154 of the Biosecurity Act describes what happens when the Mgmt Agency issues a compliance order to a bkpr. It gives great detail about the contents, service, compliance - and describes the appeal process through the District Court if the bkpr is unhappy. Before the court action, the Agency is required to formally reconsider the compliance order if asked.

Having said all that, I have a lot of sympathy for John's suggestion. But as was said, cost might well be a hurdle. And a need to "vexatious proof" the process so that it isn't open to abuse.

The Mgmt Agency is more regularly describing their activities - and linking them directly to the powers used and the responsibilities of both Agency and bkpr. I think that is a great approach, and it should spread better understanding of the PMP generally...
 
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My main reason for raising this issue was the management agencies plan to forcibly update everybody's DECA . I am fairly unhappy with this idea as I am fairly sure my personal DECA despite having proven to be absolutely workable and doing a good job will not meet their new minimum standard which is not how it is supposed to be or at least not how we were told it would be when we signed them.
Since raising this issue I have had several talks with people claiming that some people working for the agency have acted vindictively when challenged and I am not talking about the beekeepers that have brought things down on their own heads through gross negligence. I have also been warned that I should be careful because I may be targeted for raising concerns.
There were some pretty damning accusations about what amounts to abuse of power.
The management agency still has my full support but it is obvious they do not have the support of all beekeepers and that is a problem for everyone.
Over my many years in the industry I have seen a very few examples of incompetence and or unprofessional behaviour by hive inspectors. This includes one case of a hive being misdiagnosed as AFB when it was in fact PMS and one case of unprofessional behaviour by an apiary advisory officer.
Both these were deep in the past, well before the current system and do not need bringing to the light of day.
We need a system that protects us from bad beekeepers and we have that but that system gives a lot of power, power that affects both the innocent and the guilty.
With Power comes responsibility and the only way to ensure responsibility is to have oversight.
 
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Alastair

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I just re did my DECA, there's a bunch of multiple choice type boxes to tick, saying how you will handle various situations. The temptation is to try to look good and give the best looking answer. But got to bear in mind if you don't then do it, you would be in breach of your DECA.

Perhaps the most obvious example would be a question if you will attend annual AFB re training days, there is a box for yes and there is a box for no. I thought it would look good if I ticked the yes box, but then realized that if I tick that but then don't attend one every year I would be in breach of my DECA. So I ticked no. Not sure if that will put me in some lower category of beekeeper or something, but at least I will not be at risk of breaching my DECA, far as that question goes anyhow.

So it costs no money to re do your DECA, and it only takes a few minutes. It can be accessed in HiveHub under MY REQUESTS. Just make sure to think about the answers and tick the box that says what you are actually going to do.
 

NickWallingford

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I questioned that option, too. It is, presumably, a hold-over from back when there was a plan for such an annual AFB training day. The intent was that commercial bkprs, especially, would get the opportunity to meet specifically to talk about AFB - means of elimination, tips, ways of tracing, etc. The Mgmt Agency would produce the materials and process, so each meeting (based on the NBA branches back then!) would be sure to get the same messaging and opportunities. It never actually came about.

It was another of those aspects that beekeepers talked about, consulted on and presented to the Minister - but it did not get included into the actual PMP Order. My *memory* of the time was that such as this and, say, the providing of the "yellow book" to each beekeeper, was considered to be education. And MAF Policy at the time said we didn't need anything in the Order to be able to provide educational services, so it was not specified in the Order.
 
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We are in changing times. I printed and only skim read the first couple of pages of the “updated” DECA, I put it in the read and do later pile. I noted, as mentioned, the multiple choice, and filed it in the back of my brain marked interesting. I’m going to read it thoroughly & fill it out when I finish this post.

I hope that with the greater transparency that the AFBPMA has been using after all the publicity that they are looking closely at all their processes, as they seem to be sharing them a lot more freely. I’ve had multiple deliveries of their processes through email, text message and Facebook links. I was impressed, and really felt the agency was trying hard despite the privacy limitation. I had a fairly good understanding prior to this as I’m the “paperwork” Queen in our business. (Being in education was a good training ground and no one else wanted the job), and I’ve always tried to learn something new every day, knowledge is useful when faced with general uncertainty. The other two are happy just to get on with the “real” job and don’t want a bar of it.

I agree with John that something needs to change so that trust is restored and there is better clarity within the industry and the masses who without knowing the first thing about a subject seem to jump on any band wagon and try and ride it towards their pet destination. We need to look at what we have and ask, “Is it still fit for purpose, do we need change?” Maybe we can see this occurring now.

Would an ombudsman work, I don’t know. Can we afford it, would the whole trust it, I don’t know that either. I’ve always believed that to do nothing implies consent. If you feel passionate then you should do everything you can to change perception.

I’m in.
 

Alastair

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Would an ombudsman work, I don’t know. Can we afford it, would the whole trust it, I don’t know that either.

Therein the issue with having an ombudsman. I am 99% sure that the guy who has created this latest kerfuffle would only accept the ombudsman's decision if it went his way. If it did not go his way we would be right where we have been with this.
 
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Therein the issue with having an ombudsman. I am 99% sure that the guy who has created this latest kerfuffle would only accept the ombudsman's decision if it went his way. If it did not go his way we would be right where we have been with this.
especially as ombudsman don't have any legal powers to enforce anything.
 

yesbut

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I don't think another layer of "bureaucracy" waving a handkerchief would achieve anything. The bad people will still only respond to a heavy cudgel.
 
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It's not so much enforcement as keeping both sides honest and showing where there is dishonesty. Someone with the mana to say this person has been treated unfairly or I suspect far more likely this person is blowing smoke.
 

NickWallingford

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I wouldn't much mind if it does play out, to some extent, in public. That is, if someone is making a complaint - esp of the Canterbury scale - about the actions of the Mgmt Agency, then they should release the Mgmt Agency from privacy implicatiions, etc, and allow *both* parties to speak publicly. May not need an ombudsman then...
 
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It's not so much enforcement as keeping both sides honest and showing where there is dishonesty. Someone with the mana to say this person has been treated unfairly or I suspect far more likely this person is blowing smoke.
it would keep management honest, and i think most beekeepers as well. however that only works if its open to the public.
then the extreme cases, they won't care one bit about if it shows them being dishonest, they will still claim they are right no matter the outcome. the only good thing is it may make it more open to the public.
 
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Bron

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The complainant is being protected by law from the organisation he’s complaining about. He knows it, other beekeepers know it. The general public does not.

It ain’t fair, it ain’t right. Once you put yourself out in the public eye and attack the organisation that beekeepers pay levies to fund and is our organisation by $$$, all protection should cease. Its easy to be righteous, when there’s no right to reply.
 


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