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Varroa Planning Group Meets

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officials met with industry leaders last week to discuss long term measures for managing the impact of the varroa bee mite.

The group, which included representatives from the National Beekeepers' Association, Zespri, Federated Farmers, the Fruitgrowers' and Vegetable Growers' Federations and Regional Councils, has agreed that New Zealand needs to prepare for the eventual spread of the mite and that a range of management options will be needed.

Last year the Government approved a $7.6-million package of measures to limit the impact. The programme, to run for two years, is designed to help slow the spread of the mite and reduce its impact in the short term.

This latest meeting discussed the range of options needed for a long term response to the disease, after the current programme has ended. The group considered a range of different scenarios for mite spread during the next two years, ranging from the mite being restricted to the upper North Island, to complete spread throughout both islands. The range of control measures that would be needed in each case was discussed.

If regulatory powers were required, the group believed the most appropriate way to access them was via a Pest Management Strategy under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The alternatives of regional versus national strategies were discussed.

The group plans to meet again in March to outline a possible strategy and discuss funding options.

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