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Pipfruit NZ delay levy voting

March 7, 2006

Pipfruit NZ delay levy voting to allow apple and pear growers to concentrate on harvest

Pipfruit New Zealand has delayed a vote on the country’s apple and pear growers’ levy until after the harvest winds down.

Growers were to vote on the levy this month but the Ministry of Agriculture has agreed that Pipfruit NZ can delay voting until late April. A date will be set early next month.

``At this time of year, growers focus only on one thing: getting their fruit off the trees in good condition for the export markets,’’ Pipfruit NZ chief executive Peter Beaven said today.

``So the vote will be timed to commence as harvest winds down and they can focus on other things.’’

Pipfruit NZ has budgeted on receiving $3.6 in million levy funds this year and will spent $2.2 million of it directly on research and development. Of the $2.2 million, $900,000 is invested in Prevar, while a further $1.3 million will be invested in other research projects.

The $900,000 Pipfruit NZ puts into the breeding programme with Prevar leverages a further $7.2 million of Foundation for Research Science and Technology money over six years.

The $1.3 million of other research spent by Pipfruit NZ leverages a further $2.77 million of research funds from Government sources.
``All that money is at risk if Pipfruit NZ no longer has a levy and could not fund ongoing research.
Innovation is our only future, so growers need to approach the levy round with a view to tomorrow,’’ Beaven said.
Although New Zealand has lost its competitive advantage for braeburn and royal gala varieties, the new Jazz apple and other new apple and pear varieties such as Sweetie, are showing real promise.
The levy needs to be renewed to provide Pipfruit NZ funds to advantage the NZ industry with further innovation. Growers will now vote in April on a continuation of the levy as a means of funding Pipfruit NZ for the next six years.

``We rely so much on the levy to carry out all our activities and that’s why it is so critical to the industry’s future,’’ Beaven said.

If Pipfruit NZ could not afford to push into markets in Australia, Japan and Korea or support new varieties, it would have a dramatic impact in the future.

``Our industry will not survive if it continues to rely on common bulk varieties such as royal gala and braeburn,’’ he said.

A recent independent report commissioned by Pipfruit NZ found that a levy is an appropriate and good use of funds to meet the industry’s needs.

The New Zealand pipfruit crop for 2006 is expected to be down 14 percent on last year. The forecast is for 15.5 million cases (279,000 tonnes).

Largest contributors to the export crop are expected to be Hawke’s Bay with 8.7 million cases, and Nelson with 5.6million. Together, they make up 92 percent of the domestic harvest.


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