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Trade in cut flowers and foliage to USA resumes

31 October 2008

Trade in cut flowers and foliage to USA resumes

New Zealand cut flower and foliage growers, who export product to the USA, are about to receive an early Christmas present.

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) received notification last night, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), that they have approved the resumption of imports of New Zealand field-grown cut flowers and foliage to the US.

Effective from 1 November 2008 (USA time) all field-grown cut flowers and greenery produced under the MAFBNZ Phytosanitary Compliance Program will again be accepted into the United States. Cut flowers and foliage grown in a hot/screenhouse environment had already been granted access in an earlier concession.

New Zealand’s cut flower and foliage exports to the United States, worth around $12m per annum, were suspended following the interception of a Light Brown Apple Moth in a flower consignment from this country. The suspension, put in place on 12 September 2008, affected crops grown in both indoor and open environments.

MAFBNZ Exports Senior Adviser Peter Johnson says a high level of collaboration between all parties helped in regaining access quickly for product grown in a hot/screen house environment.

``We had excellent co-operation from the USDA, exporters and industry and getting a return to trade almost immediately for product grown in a closed environment which was a very pleasing result. We then focused on re-gaining access for flowers/foliage grown in an open environment.’’

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Peter says urgent work was carried out on developing a USDA approved Risk Management Programme (RMP) for outdoor growers wanting to export to the USA. The programme was devised with co-operation from industry, scientists and MAFBNZ and took around three weeks to put together.

``This was an extraordinary effort by all concerned in a very tight time frame and the outcome is very pleasing. We were well aware time was of the essence as the product we were dealing with in this case is fragile and depends on a very precise and concise set of events which allow it to arrive in peak condition for sale.

Peter says changing rules in one area can have flow on effects on another so it takes time and careful analysis to ensure the optimum balance is maintained.

``In these particular circumstances the trade suspension could have been catastrophic but while there are losses these were not as heavy as could be expected by a prolonged suspension in trade. We have been well supported by exporters and growers alike which allowed MAFBNZ staff to focus on the important business of getting full trade access resumed across the cut flower/foliage market as quickly and efficiently as possible.’’

He says it is a great outcome for all concerned and will be particularly good news for growers in the lead up to Christmas.


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