Putting horticulture’s case to the government
Many of the government’s election promises are now being addressed by Parliament and special working groups.
Responding to this, Horticulture New Zealand is making written submissions and appearing before Parliamentary Select Committees. We have also submitted to and appeared before the Tax Working Group. These submissions are on our website. The government released its first Budget last month, with some important measures for horticulture, but not as many as we would have liked. As we engage with government and make these submissions, our focus is on doing everything we can to create an enduring environment where you, our levy paying growers, can prosper. This government has a strong focus on the environment, with every Minister, including the Prime Minister, expressing concern about the rural environment and our water ways. The dairy industry has come in for criticism, and horticulture is being touted by politicians as having good environmental and economic outcomes. Early in June, a primary sector action plan for water quality, involving the key national industry good organisations, regional councils, and both the Ministers and Ministries for the Environment and Primary Industries, is being launched by Environment Minister David Parker. This action plan takes the good management principles from Environment Canterbury (ECAN) and, with the agreement of the regional councils from across the country, accepts those principles as the basis for water and nutrient management. This a major win, getting the regional councils to accept one set of principles. It is also significant to get the government supporting and recognising that the primary sector is working with the regional councils to significantly improve the environment. Recent data shows while this is the case in rural New Zealand, urban New Zealand remains a major and unchecked polluter. The work of Hort NZ’s Natural Resources and the Environment team, along with horticulture’s GAP programmes, are the keys to horticulture progressively meeting the action plan’s goals. The manage with law. threat our The the environment, government government has government has already made stated will is that force that if it we compliance will do tighten not up the acceptable leaching levels. To do this, there needs to be accurate measurement and, the Overseer software is neither accurate nor appropriate for horticulture. In the 2018 Budget, there was an allocation of $5 million for Overseer upgrading and we are working on a bid to get some of this research money. This is both good and ominous. It is good that there is funding to make Overseer somewhat accurate, but ominous because it can then become the basis for enforcement action and an environment tax. In this context, our oral submission to the Tax Working Group in the company of Federated Farmers, with both of us representing DairyNZ, on all the problems associated with an environment tax was very important. We spent the time explaining the unreliability of Overseer and the fact that it is a model and not a real-time accurate measurement made it an inappropriate tool to base an environmental tax on. Similarly, we addressed water and fertiliser usage, explaining how these measures are not suitable on which to base an environmental tax. Our submissions are on our web site. These submissions are critical work to enable rural New Zealand to feed the nation healthy and affordable food without targeted taxation and impossible environmental constraints. In July and early August, on the six-year cycle, you will be asked to renew Horticulture New Zealand’s levy, along with Vegetables NZ Inc., Process Vegetables, Onions NZ and Tomatoes NZ levies. Earlier this year, the levy referendums for New Zealand Apples & Pears and Potatoes NZ were held. The combined and co-ordinated work of all the product groups and Horticulture New Zealand is focused on doing all we can for your businesses to thrive and grow. We look forward to and thank you for your support – so please vote. To make sure that you can vote contact Horticulture New Zealand on 0508 467 869 or at [email protected] and please contact us with any queries. Also check Pages 6 and 7 in this magazine for more on the Hort NZ Commodity Levy, and how to vote.
Mike Chapman is chief executive of Horticulture NZ.
“Our focus is on doing everything we can to create an enduring environment where you, our levy paying growers, can prosper.”