Forest owners consider bio-security levy
AN ADDITIONAL LEVY IS BEING DISCUSSED BY FOREST OWNERS to help fund the fight against introduced pests in the future.
But it would only come into force in the event of an incursion.
The industry already levies a sum on every plantation tree harvested in New Zealand that goes towards research and other industry requirements.
But now the New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) and the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association (FFA) are considering raising a separate biosecurity levy as part of their obligations under the Government Industry Agreement (GIA).
The GIA is a partnership between primary industries and the Government to manage future incursions of pests and diseases, which could impact on the economy and the environment.
The two organisations are looking at applying to the Government for the right to introduce a biosecurity dual levy on seedlings and cuttings, as well as harvested wood products to recover the costs of fighting any new biosecurity threat.
Before the industry signed the GIA it was the Government’s responsibility to decide how best to deal with any new biosecurity threat.
Since the forest industry became a partner, its representatives now have the right to be involved in any response decisions, which means it would also be required to pay a share of costs associated with any response.
The NZFOA says: “Potentially the greatest threat to the plantation forest industry is a biosecurity incursion.
“An incursion could affect all growers and does not respect boundaries, ownership or size. Effective management of an incursion requires government and forest growing sector collaboration via the sector Government Industry Agreement (GIA). It is proposed that the Forest industry GIA response will be initially funded by borrowings from commercial entities, with a levy under the Biosecurity Act acting as collateral and subsequently being invoked to service any loan.
“Due to the long time period for a forest crop to mature and be harvested, a dual levy is proposed on seedlings/cuttings and harvested wood products. This is seen as spreading the levy take more equitably over the forest industry.”
The proposed biosecurity levy on seedlings/cuttings will be 1-to4c per seedling/cutting. In conjunction with a biosecurity levy on harvested wood products of 10-to-26c per tonne, the levy has been structured to bring in a maximum of approximately $10million per year, based upon an assumption that harvest is 34million m³/annum, resulting in 63,000ha replanting and with new planting of 40,000ha per annum.
The levy would raise up to 80% of the total cost from a charge on harvested products (logs, woodchips etc) and no more than 20% would come from forest cuttings/seedlings.
The levy will initially be set at zero until incursion costs are incurred under the GIA agreement and the cost to the industry of any incursion would be capped at 80% and not open-ended.