NZ Grower Article - February 2017

NZ Grower Article - February 2017

GIA - Entering into GIA Deed Operational Agreements -

Vegetables New Zealand Inc. (VNZ Inc.) has now signed the GIA Deed for biosecurity readiness and response (GIA Deed) and is now considering what operational agreements (OAs) it may need to be a party to, primarily focussing on exotic pests of concern to the vegetable industry, including fruit flies. OAs are documents that outline what readiness and response activities will be undertaken for a pest or group of pests and how these activities will be funded and cost shared.

Through OAs, the vegetable industry will have:

  • Joint decision making on preparing for and responding to pest incursions.
    • Shared costs of readiness and response activities between Signatories to the GIA Deed including Government.

VNZ Inc. is confident that signing up to OAs will improve response preparedness for its priority exotic pests resulting in faster and less costly responses which are more likely to be successful and will minimise the impact on the vegetable industry. Any preparedness work done in advance will mean that decisions on how to respond are pre-agreed.

OAs that VNZ Inc. would consider being a party to are likely to be for pests which, if they arrive in New Zealand will have a serious impact on vegetable growers’ continued viability. An OA may involve more than one horticulture industry sector where multiple crops are impacted by a particular pest or group of pests.  In theory, the vegetable industry may be a party to a number of OAs. For example, Solanaceae crops share many common pests of concern such as leaf mining flies and are often grown under cover, so it is likely that VNZ Inc. would consider signing an OA with other horticulture sectors that grow similar crops.

VNZ Inc. is committed, within the next six months, to signing the Fruit Fly Operational Agreement (FFOA). Vegetable growers would be beneficiaries to a response to a fruit fly detection or incursion. VNZ Inc. assisted with the development of the FFOA and as part of the process, the costs that vegetable growers will need to pay for fruit fly readiness (surveillance) and response were determined and a work programme for readiness was implemented, initially funded by voluntary contributions from the FFOA Signatories including VNZ Inc. (as a near Signatory). The FFOA is overseen by a Fruit Fly Council (FFC) and VNZ Inc. has an observer representative on this council who is also a member of the Fruit Fly Technical Working Group which implements the FFOA readiness work programme. A number of horticulture industry sectors have signed the FFOA to date.

VNZ Inc. is intending to provide growers with information on any OAs it is considering signing to ensure growers understood how the OAs would work and the cost implications.  However, in an incursion, quick responses are critical to eradication success and the VNZ Inc. Board would make decisions on behalf of all vegetable growers and provide feedback on the response as it progressed.

VNZ Inc. has provided extensive communication on the FFOA with its members over the past three years and is now developing guidelines for entering into other OAs.

VNZ Inc. is currently estimating a fiscal cap for entering into readiness and response activities under specific OAs and a cap for all potential OAs taking into account industry affordability to limit vegetable grower’s liability. There will always be pests that the vegetable industry is not prepared for so it is very difficult to predict the cost of pest incursion responses and therefore the overall cost of entering into OAs. VNZ Inc. is now working on likely scenarios and estimated cost calculations. However, it is most likely that any vegetable pest response, other than fruit fly and BMSB, will be 50%:50% cost shared with Government and most likely with other horticulture sectors.

VNZ Inc. anticipates that most readiness activities under OAs would be funded from the existing Commodity Levy but response and readiness activities could also be funded through a Biosecurity Levy. VNZ Inc. intends to establish a Biosecurity Levy which would fund readiness and responses set at zero once established and then activated to a rate, to be determined, when it is required. This means that unless an incursion response occurs or there is a need to fund readiness activities, the Levy will remain at zero and there will be no payment required.

During the establishment of the Biosecurity Levy, specific details around paying, use and amount need to be identified. TNZ Inc. will commence a consultation process around this prior to confirming the details of the Levy.

Growers who have questions or would like more information are encouraged to contact VNZ Inc.