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NZ’s 6,000 fruit, vege growers vote on levy

Horticulture New Zealand
Media Release
15 November 2006

NZ’s 6,000 fruit and vegetable growers vote on Horticulture New Zealand levy this month

New Zealand’s 6,000 fruit and vegetable growers will vote in a referendum this month on the introduction of a levy aimed at strengthening the funding basis of Horticulture New Zealand.

Horticulture New Zealand, the representative body for the country’s commercial fruit and vegetable growers, is proposing a uniform levy of $15 per $10,000 of sales for all growers. Vegetable growers will also be voting for additional levies to fund product group work in areas like research and promotion. If supported, the levy will be effective from 2007 for six years.

“Doing business is becoming harder for growers as the issues they face are getting larger in number and complexity,” says Horticulture New Zealand’s President, Andrew Fenton. “The levy is therefore crucial to ensure the industry has a strong representative voice and can successfully tackle these issues.”

“Last year growers voted enthusiastically to form Horticulture New Zealand and over the last 12 months we’ve made significant progress on a number of major issues, including labour shortages, resource management and biosecurity but there is still a massive amount of work to do,” said Mr Fenton.

“To continue to deliver results for growers, we require a commitment from them for more funding. We hope growers will support the new levy so we can continue achieving results on their behalf.”

Horticulture New Zealand was formed a year ago when the New Zealand Fruitgrowers Federation, Vegetable and Potato Growers’ Federation (Vegfed) and Berryfruit Growers Federation amalgamated. The new levy growers are voting on will replace the previous levies paid to the Fruitgrowers Federation and Vegfed.

If accepted, the new fruit grower levy will be introduced in two stages over six years, starting with $11 per $10,000 of sales paid from 2007, and increasing to the full amount of $15 per $10,000 of sales in 2010.

To ensure there is equity between fruit and vegetable growers the NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust will top up the difference between the $11 and $15 per $10,000 of sales in the first three years to ease the transition for fruit growers.

Horticulture NZ will be sending out ballot papers to all registered fruit and vegetable growers this week who have until 8 December to complete and return them. For more information growers should contact Horticulture New Zealand on 0800 HORT NZ (467 869) or visit www.hortnz.co.nz.

ENDS

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