Horticulture NZ makes case for levy renewal
Horticulture New Zealand chief executive chief executive Peter Silcock has called for grower support in a levy renewal vote that is coming up in September.
Silcock tells www.freshfruitportal.com the organization has made many significant contributions to the industry over the last five years, since it was formed from a merger of two seperate fruit and vegetable grower bodies.
"I think it’s really important that growers have a single strong voice that’s able to advocate for them. I think it’s quite difficult to get heard above all the noise, but we continue to be a voice with both national and regional governments on issues impacting on the industry," he says.
"We've also had a huge input into resource management plans, where regional governments develop plans and rules around the use of natural resources; we made sure interests have been looked after at all times when those plans have been drafted.
"That’s about making sure that growers are able to do ploughing, or agricultural spraying or frost fans without being tied up in so many rules, as that really creates obstacles for the horticultural business."
He adds Horticulture New Zealand played a critical role in getting the return worker policy up and running, and also maintaining and improving the policy so that it better meets industry needs.
Silcock points out Horticulture New Zealand works with the govenrment to improve overseas market access all the time, supporting its agenda in the development of free trade agreements and other trade partnerships.
"At the moment it's Korea, India and the Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes a number of Asian countries as well as the U.S.; we’ve also been encouraging the government to look at other negotiations.
"There are some negotiations going on at the moment with Taiwan, as a trade partnership, and we would also be interested in an agreement with Japan for instance, which is a big market for horticultural products, so getting better access to those markets is really quite important to us.
"In the last few years we’ve had some quite positive results with China, and that’s a quite rapidly growing market for horticulture now that we have that agreement in place."
He says Horticulture New Zealand doesn't just deal with the government in issues of trade and tariff discussions, but also when it comes to the biosecurity and quarantine restrictions exporters face.
The proposed levy renewal would be NZ$0.15 (US$0.12)for every NZ$100 (US$82) in sales, but Silcock says this needs to be put into perspective.
"The levy is around 1 cent for a tray of green kiwifruit and about 4 cents for a carton of apples; that puts it into perspective, it’s a very small amount."
He says the organization has 10 staff and around 6,000 members.