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Growers ask for more time before making changes

Growers ask for more time before making industry changes

New Zealand pipfruit growers have called for more time before opening their grower-owned organisation to the rest of the industry sectors.

Pipfruit New Zealand Chairman Phil Alison said at the PGNZI AGM in Hawke’s Bay that a resolution to unite with other sectors within the pipfruit industry did not get the required support of 75% of growers.

Mr Alison said it was clear from the debate before the vote that it was always going to be a challenge to get the support to pass the resolution when New Zealand’s largest grower, Mr Apple, indicated that, while they strongly supported the proposal in principle, they were not happy with the some of the detail.

The closed ballot recorded 96,091,166 votes for and 66,220,071 against. The resolution received 59.2% support.

Voter representation was 41%, by production, of all New Zealand’s pipfruit growers. Mr Apple held more than 20% of the votes cast votes.

Mr Alison said since the vote growers were already expressing their alarm that one player can have such a dominant influence.

Mr Alison said while he was disappointed with the outcome he believed that a united industry was the best option for competing with other apple and pear exporting countries.

“For the last two days of our conference world-wide experts and New Zealand leaders have told us that this was the very concept lacking in the New Zealand industry.

“Growers have voted, and as their representatives, we have to accept their decision,” Mr Alison said.

“We now have to go back and discuss at forum level to decide on how we move this forward,” he said.

Although further consultation was requested from the floor Mr Alison said that during the conference general consensus was agreed for a yes vote, yet it had been voted against because of finer details.

“The concept was endorsed in Nelson at a special general meeting last year and we had consulted with growers.

Despite the decision, growers overwhelmingly have told us that, as a concept, there is significant benefit in working together, but there needs to be some fine tuning.

Pipfruit Growers of New Zealand (PGNZI) proposed significant changes to its rules to allow a “whole industry” approach uniting growers, exporters, post-harvest operators and industry suppliers.

The resolution proposed a single organisation responsible for industry good functions, including new variety development, production and post-harvest research, market access development, phytosanitary and food safety assurance, regulatory compliance, and government policy.

It would have also provided commercial benefit to the whole industry through co-operative management of the industry good functions.

Other industry objectives included the need for better access to world markets and to maximise commercial returns for growers, exporters, post-harvest operators or industry suppliers.

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