Biose­cu­rity levy vot­ing

Vegeta­bles NZ Inc. (VNZI) will be es­tab­lish­ing a separate biose­cu­rity levy, out­side of its com­mod­ity levy, fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful grower vote at its an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Christchurch.

NZ Grower - - Product Groups - JOHN SEY­MOUR Gen­eral Man­ager Vegeta­bles New Zealand Inc.

The biose­cu­rity levy will fund op­er­a­tional agree­ment ac­tiv­i­ties un­der the Gov­ern­ment In­dus­try Agree­ment (GIA) for biose­cu­rity readi­ness and re­sponse.

The biose­cu­rity levy will ap­ply to all fresh vegeta­bles grown for sale do­mes­ti­cally, or for ex­port in New Zealand and rep­re­sented by the Vegeta­bles NZ Inc. prod­uct group. Other fresh vegetable crops such as po­ta­toes, onions, squash, to­ma­toes and as­para­gus are rep­re­sented by their re­spec­tive prod­uct groups and as such have their own biose­cu­rity le­vies

Af­ter the biose­cu­rity levy is ap­proved by the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries, which may take un­til early next year, then the levy rate will com­mence at an ini­tial rate 0.05% un­til the in­dus­try is re­quired to in­crease its share for biose­cu­rity re­sponse costs, where it may be in­creased up to the max­i­mum of 0.20%. At the min­i­mum 0.05% rate this equates to $200,000 an­nu­ally based on the VNZI mem­ber ‘gate sales’ value of $400 mil­lion. If the max­i­mum rate of levy at 0.2% was ap­plied this would ac­cu­mu­late $4m of re­serves over five years and this amount was de­ter­mined to be ex­ces­sive by the VNZI Board and will now be $2m. VNZI chair­man An­dre de Bruin says the biose­cu­rity levy al­lows it to start a fund­ing re­serve. “If we get to the ‘cap’ of $2 mil­lion we will stop col­lect­ing a levy, or if need be the ‘cap’ of $2 mil­lion may be re­duced or amended at an AGM or spe­cial gen­eral meet­ing. As the biose­cu­rity levy is specif­i­cally to cover the VNZI share of biose­cu­rity re­sponse and readi­ness it is ringfenced and can’t be used else­where.

“But we do have to start it, or we can­not re­spond”.

“As VNZI rep­re­sents 52 com­mer­cial crops, what­ever pests come to New Zealand, are likely to af­fect crops in our sec­tor and there­fore we need to en­sure we are cov­ered for type of in­cur­sion that would have an im­pact on those crops, so it is an in­sur­ance­type pol­icy. When we have so many vegetable crops within our sec­tor group it is dif­fi­cult to know where or what the next in­cur­sion may happen and its im­pact.”

VNZI signed its GIA deed in 2016 and has signed op­er­a­tional agree­ments (OA’s) for fruit fly and brown mar­morated stink bug. An ap­pli­ca­tion strongly sup­ported by VNZI has been made to the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) to im­port, rear and re­lease the sa­mu­rai wasp to help com­bat a po­ten­tial BMSB in­cur­sion should that oc­cur. VNZI will keep its com­mod­ity levy at its present level (0.3% of the sale value at the first point of sale for do­mes­tic sales and 0.2% for ex­port sales). “The VNZI board has put a lot of con­sid­er­a­tion into the levy set­ting process to en­sure that it is set at a level that we are able to op­er­ate ef­fec­tively, but col­lect no more than we re­quire.”

“It is im­per­a­tive that both VNZI and Hort NZ re­tain their separate le­vies, says An­dre de Bruin. Hort NZ lob­bies on na­tional is­sues that could po­ten­tially af­fect all com­mer­cial grow­ers, while VNZI pro­vides sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing, man­age­ment and re­sources for work in re­la­tion to vegetable crops. This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in ar­eas such as re­search and sci­ence sup­port, ex­port mar­ket de­vel­op­ment, fresh vegetable pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­ity, qual­ity as­sur­ance, ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing and biose­cu­rity ac­tiv­i­ties”.

Re­search projects

VNZI in­vested $242,000 last year in re­search projects, with an ad­di­tional $733,000 from ex­ter­nal fun­ders. Through the Vegeta­bles Re­search and In­no­va­tion (VR&I) board, it also in­vested an ad­di­tional $185,000 on multi-prod­uct group re­search projects.

Since the last levy ref­er­en­dum, VNZI has in­vested more than $1.25m,

with an ad­di­tional $3m in ex­ter­nal gov­ern­ment fund­ing, en­abling the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of more than 30 re­search projects, in­clud­ing co­fund­ing and sup­port for the suc­cess­ful great white but­ter­fly erad­i­ca­tion pro­gramme.

Pre­vi­ous and cur­rent re­search projects in­clude:

• Nu­tri­ent man­age­ment for im­proved vegetable pro­duc­tion.

• Bras­sica pest, nat­u­ral dis­ease and dis­or­ders IPM man­ual up­date.

• Fluxme­ter use to de­ter­mine the wa­ter up­take of crops.

• Max­imis­ing the value of ir­ri­ga­tion tech­niques to re­duce cost and wastage.

• Ni­tro­gen quick test mod­ule test­ing.

• Silt and top­soil run-off man­age­ment.

• Tamar­ixia tri­als and re­lease as an al­ter­na­tive to agri­chem­i­cal con­trols.

• Cad­mium man­age­ment lev­els in leafy greens.

• Virus con­trol man­age­ment in let­tuce crops.

• White fly con­trol in cov­ered crops. Re­search projects presently have a real fo­cus on en­sur­ing that our grow­ers can con­tinue to op­er­ate safe, sus­tain­able and ef­fec­tive busi­nesses in an in­creas­ingly leg­is­lated en­vi­ron­ment.

Fresh vegetable promotions

VNZI has funded more than $300,000 a year through Vegeta­bles.co.nz for the past six years to­wards fresh vegetable pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­i­ties. Vegeta­bles. co.nz de­vel­ops, sources and pro­vides ex­ten­sive vegetable pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial for the re­tail, ed­u­ca­tional and health sec­tors. An­dre said that “The high­light this year for Vegeta­bles. co.nz has been the mo­men­tum cre­ated in the ‘Kids can Cook’ healthy meal pro­gramme in in­ter­me­di­ate schools. This pro­gramme is cre­at­ing ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to teach our fu­ture con­sumers how to use and pre­pare vegeta­bles. Part­ner­ships with the Heart Foun­da­tion and Health Pro­mo­tion Agency to drive this pro­gramme have given it real horse power. Vegeta­bles.co.nz alone would not have been able to achieve this”.

“The next 12 months looks re­ally ex­cit­ing for this pro­gramme. All the ground work has started to come to­gether and we should re­ally start to see the out­puts from the pro­gramme”.

“The board be­lieves that this pro­mo­tional in­vest­ment along with pro­gres­sive ini­tia­tives un­der­taken by grow­ers un­der­pins the con­tin­ued growth of our sec­tor.”

Di­rec­tors

VNZI di­rec­tors John Mur­phy, of Blen­heim, and Mark O’Con­nor, of Nel­son, were re-elected af­ter re­tir­ing by ro­ta­tion.

Stuart Davis had stepped down from VNZI board and as chair­man of the VR&I board. Dr Davis is the gen­eral man­ager of Suther­land Pro­duce Ltd in Pukekohe. He was also the Vegeta­bles NZ di­rec­tor re­spon­si­ble for the Leafy Greens Crop Ad­vi­sory Group (CAG). “Stuart has been a fan­tas­tic as­set to VNZI and a long-stand­ing ser­vant to our in­dus­try. He has com­mit­ted count­less hours of his time, his knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence. His pro­fes­sional and bal­anced gov­er­nance com­bined with his in-depth re­search knowl­edge has made a mas­sive con­tri­bu­tion to our in­dus­try,” said An­dre de Bruin.

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