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Fruit & Veg Un-Affordable

Fruit & Veg Un-Affordable

An article published in the NZ Herald online on the 1st march 2018 was headlined:
“Vegetable growers losing up to $100K every week due to weather conditions”
This article went on to ask:
“Wondering why veges are so expensive at the moment?”
And then stated:
“Growers of green vegetables in the North Island have been battling 18 months of extremely adverse weather conditions, impacting produce growth and driving up prices - and also costing jobs.
Horowhenua is a horticultural hub, known as the food basket of the lower North Island; it has been severely affected by the unrelenting and extreme weather conditions.
Woodhaven, one of the region's largest growers, has lost up to 20 per cent of its produce, at a cost of $100,000 per week.
Managing director John Clarke said it's not just farmers and supermarket prices affected, but the workers as well.
"People tend to forget about the social side."
In a market driven by supply and demand, prices have more than tripled for some of the most affected vegetables.”

In New Zealand looking forward from the present time, we should be prepared to see this type of price increase become a regular occurrence and as a result that fresh vegetables become too expensive for the people on lower incomes to be able to buy them.

Why do I say this?

Under the new rules for Land use that were enacted when the proposed changes to the Waikato Regional Plan were advertised in late 2016, the ability to produce horticultural products anywhere within the Waikato Region has been adversely affected.

These rules prevent any new horticultural operations from starting anywhere in the Waikato Region without gaining a “non-complying” resource consent, and the chances of being able to gain one of these is extremely low.

These rules also apply to any horticultural land that may have been used for production in the past, but that has been left out of production for some time and therefore being considered as a new operation starting up.

This effectively means that over time the ability to produce horticultural products anywhere in the Waikato Region, will decline and this will impact on both prices and local jobs.

Having to bring supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables into this area from outside the Waikato Region will add un-needed expenses to the cost of supply and also increase the chances that the security of supply will be compromised as a result of impacts on the extended supply chain.

Nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s population lives in the Auckland/Waikato Region and they are likely to be severely affected by any adverse events that impact on the extended supply chain for fresh fruit and vegetables.

As the levels of horticultural production decrease in the Waikato Region this will also have the effect of transferring the jobs of those employed in the total supply chain in this region, to other areas outside the Waikato Region.

This will also have a severe effect on all of the support industries that have grown around the horticultural industry in the Waikato Region and also the investment in the horticultural industry that has been made by the producers currently in the region.

This change to the land use rules whilst well intentioned in relation to the environment, is likely to have a severe detrimental impact on both the economy of the Auckland/Waikato regions and also the national economy as well as the ability of people on lower incomes to provide a secure supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for their health and wellbeing.

Effectively all that is being achieved by this change to the land use rules under PC1 is that the Waikato Regional Council is exporting any economic benefits, horticultural jobs and any environmental effects from horticultural production to other areas outside the Waikato region as the same amount of fresh fruit and vegetables will be required by the region’s population whether they are produced locally or not.

Another perverse outcome from the decision to change the land use rules in the Waikato Region is that by reducing the ability to produce fresh fruit and vegetables in the Waikato region this will have the effect of raising the prices across New Zealand as a whole by the simple effect of supply and demand in the Waikato causing producers from outside the region supplying their products into the Waikato due to the higher prices being paid there, rather than selling locally where they are produced.

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