NZ Grower Article - December 2016

NZ Grower Article - December 2016

Next steps, signed up and ready to go as a GIA Deed Signatory

Vegetables New Zealand Inc. (VNZ Inc.) have now signed the GIA Deed for Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA Deed). The GIA Deed – is a legal Deed developed by a joint Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Industry working group which contains high level biosecurity principles and baseline commitments.

Under GIA, Government and industry groups sign the GIA Deed which commits both parties to joint decision making and joint cost sharing.  This partnership-based approach aims to provide more certainty that high priority pests will be found and responded to in an appropriate time frame.  A key aspect to GIA is the pre-agreement between government (MPI) and industry groups around decisions and actions on how to respond in the event of a pest incursion.  Improving preparedness for priority pests will result in faster and less costly responses which are more likely to be successful.

This new approach to managing biosecurity risk signals the start of a more collaborative approach for our industry sectors to work with government on a range of biosecurity activities. New Zealand's biosecurity system encompasses offshore, border and on shore activities that manage the risk of introduction of new pests and our industry sectors have a role to play across the spectrum through GIA.

Our industry sectors believe that joining GIA allows:

  • The best chance of eradicating new pests of serious concern to the industry
  • Joint decision making and shared resources
  • Greater involvement across the biosecurity system to reduce the likelihood of new pests entering New Zealand
  • Non-signatories to be levied if they are considered a beneficiary but will have no decision-making input

Now that we have signed the GIA Deed we are obligated to meet a range of minimum commitments. Minimum commitments are non-cost shareable biosecurity readiness and response activities and are outlined at a high level in the GIA Deed. There are minimum commitments that must be met by all Signatories and some that must be met by either the industry Signatories or the government Signatory.

Minimum commitments include things such as

  • identifying our risks, being aware of the unknowns and monitoring what pests are being found overseas and their changing behaviours.
  • better engagement with our regulator to ensure MPI has a sufficient understanding of our industry profile. 
  • knowing where our crops are grown and who by so in the event of a response we can identify quickly who to assist and how to respond.
  • building closer relationships with our contractors e.g. pickers and other service providers e.g. transporters to enable them to better understand biosecurity risks and put them in a more informed position to assist if necessary

We consider undertaking these activities will benefit our industry by having engaged and aware participants who can be more prepared to manage biosecurity incursions and ultimately have long term strategies for managing pests that cannot be eradicated. The main outcome we want is to manage risks to lessen economic impacts on our members. However, it is important that any minimum commitment activity undertaken by our industry sectors be reasonable in regards to cost, feasible - so that they can be achieved and scalable to our sector.

VNZ Inc. have been proactive in this area and have identified where we can be better prepared. Our sectors are undertaking projects which work towards meeting our minimum commitments. These include

  • Identifying priority pests and developing a range of awareness material, including fact sheets.
  • Undertaking a biosecurity survey to determine baseline biosecurity knowledge. This will help us gauge the level of understanding with a view to continually improving the industry’s biosecurity capacity and capability.
  • Analysing results of the survey to determine what additional resources, training, information etc is required to be provided to our industry. We know there are some in our industry who have been implementing good biosecurity practice for some time but there may be others who require additional resources and guidance.
  • Developing farm biosecurity plans which outline actions to reduce the spread of pests by improving farm biosecurity practices and promoting biosecurity signage, farm hygiene and surveillance.
  • Networking with the National Biosecurity Capability Network and MPI to enable industry to engage with the response network and to have training in response roles such as in Response Governance.
  • Development of a Biosecurity Management Plan.  This will collate all information and resources in one place. Much of the detail in the biosecurity plan will be gathered from the activities listed above.  Specific modules will be rolled out to industry as we progress;

The GIA Deed requires us to engage with MPI, other Signatories, and our wider industry participants to contribute to the improvement of the biosecurity system and contribute to specific operational agreement development. There are activities being currently undertaken by our sectors to raise awareness of the biosecurity system, review risk management practices, contribute to Import Health Standard development or review, identify emerging risks, identify priority pests, and to act to reduce the spread of pests (e.g., farm biosecurity plans). Our sectors also have regular engagement with New Zealand and international biosecurity science providers.

The GIA Deed provides for the development of operational agreements which are detailed documents which individual industry GIA Deed Signatory groups develop and agree with MPI.  They commit parties to undertaking certain activities and cost shares that deliver an agreed biosecurity outcome for readiness and/or response.  These are commitments to biosecurity outcomes over and above the minimum commitments in the GIA Deed, and are cost-shared.

Under GIA, industry and Government share the costs of readiness and response activities.  The proportion of cost share is set for each operational agreement that is signed based on the assessed benefit to both parties.  However, the Government has committed to funding a minimum of 50% of the readiness and response activities for any operational agreement.  Where there is more than one industry group involved, the cost is split between these groups for example the fruit fly operational agreement. Where an industry group is a beneficiary of response activities, but they have not signed the Deed, the Government will levy that group for their share of costs regardless.  However, they will have no say in decisions that are made.  Industry groups that participate in GIA can set fiscal caps for responses so that costs are controlled.

Our sectors have ongoing and direct engagement with the Fruit Fly Council and assisted with the development of the first operational agreement under GIA, the fruit fly operational agreement. We are also looking to develop sector operational agreements which will either be pest specific to a crop or be cross sectoral. For example, our Solanaceae crops share many common pests of concern and are often grown under cover, so there are several potential combinations that an operational agreement can be drafted around. We will be consulting with growers on any operational agreements before they are signed.

It seems signing GIA was just the beginning – the obligations have just begun.  However, we can view these as obligations or we can view them as opportunities to better grow the knowledge of our members and gain a more in depth understanding of the dynamics of our industry and other stakeholders in order to be prepared.