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Financial Help For Varroa-Stricken Beekeepers

Financial Assistance For Varroa-Stricken Beekeepers

Beekeepers who have had their livelihood devastated by varroa mite infestation are to receive financial assistance from the Government, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton and Social Services Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Varroa jacobsoni, a serious pest of honey bees, has spread to areas in the northern half of the North Island and beekeepers heavily reliant on income from honey and other bee products may face severe financial hardship and stress during the next two years because of the varroa infestation.

The ministers announced that Cabinet had approved the extension of the Rural Sector Assistance (RSA) scheme, administered by the Department of Work and Income (DWI), to provide essential living expenses to affected beekeepers.

The extension means that beekeepers in financial distress and those working to keep their beekeeping business viable will be eligible for RSA grants for two years, rather than the usual one.

DWI is to appoint a rural coordinator to support the beekeeper programme.

The scheme's extension is expected to cost $257,000 this financial year and $364,000 next financial year. Up to 30 of New Zealand's 128 affected beekeepers are expected to be eligible.

Meanwhile, consultation about the second phase of the varroa management plan was continuing, Mr Sutton said.

The programme is designed to ensure the South Island remains free of varroa for as long as realistically possible and minimise the impact of varroa and associated regulatory controls for beekeepers in the North Island.

Ends

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