Horticulture New Zealand’s top five

19 Jul 2018

AGM Head17

Next week, Horticulture New Zealand has its Annual General Meeting (AGM), where we will focus on our top five activities including:

Biosecurity - Since last year’s AGM we have increased the size and expertise of our biosecurity team. This is because of the increasing risks that horticulture faces. In our member surveys unsurprisingly, this comes out as our growers’ number one concern. Horticulture’s current focus is preparing for a probable incursion of the brown marmorated stink bug, where Horticulture New Zealand has taken the technical lead. Together, the industry is preparing to face new pests and diseases.

Labour - Horticulture is experiencing amazing growth. This is showing no signs of slowing down. But it will slow down unless we can attract and retain skilled and reliable workers at all levels. As with Biosecurity, working closely with all horticulture sectors, there are initiatives running to get more New Zealanders into our workforce and to make sure we have the right number of seasonal workers for harvest and pruning. We are building training and skill development pathways and ways to attract talented New Zealanders into our innovative industry.

Resource management - To feed New Zealand you have to be able to grow food sustainably and economically. Since last year’s AGM our Natural Resources and the Environment team has been strengthened with the addition of experts in the RMA and water and with the placement of resources out of Wellington, Auckland, Hawke’s Bay and the South Island. More than 30 submissions are currently in the process of being made across the country. In addition, with the support of Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, we are developing a National Policy Statement (NPS) for Horticulture to ensure that there is a balance between urban development and continued fruit and vegetable growing in the country’s elite soils. This NPS will also deal with reverse sensitivity issues that impact on our members’ ability to sustainably grow high value nutritional crops.

Impact of Government policies / compliance - As with every new government there are a number of new initiatives that need to be evaluated and submitted on to protect our members’ ability to grow their crops. Prime concerns are employment law changes and the application of Auckland’s regional fuel tax to off-road vehicles, such as tractors, and pumps. Areas where we have needed increased focus are climate change and the impact of the ETS targets. Getting workable regimes for the Food Act and rebates that do not add cost and unnecessary bureaucracy that inhibits growing, are what we strive to achieve.

Telling the horticulture story - The urbanisation of New Zealand has led to many city dwellers having no real connection with rural New Zealand, our economic powerhouse and the basis for New Zealand’s prosperity. We can never do too much to address this. We are pushing our horticulture message out into mainstream media. The aim is to get New Zealand’s public to understand the importance of horticulture for healthy living and for New Zealand’s sustainable future. Horticulture New Zealand initiatives such as promoting mandatory country of labelling for fresh fruit and vegetables are part of this and will identify fresh locally grown produce emphasising the importance of horticulture for the country’s health.

With all of these focus areas we aim to work collaboratively not only with each horticultural product group and district association but across the wider primary sector to get the maximum impact and the best value without duplication of effort.

For further information go to our annual report which is here.

Every six years, levy funded organisations such as Horticulture New Zealand go back to their members to get support for another six year’s funding. The vote for Horticulture New Zealand’s levy is currently running.  f you are one of our members and have not received a voting pack please ring 0508 467 869 as we need a solid mandate to continue creating the environment where our growers can proposer and feed New Zealand.

- Mike Chapman, CEO