Summerfruit Growers to Vote on Ongoing Industry Funding
Wednesday 16 October 2019
New Zealand’s commercial summerfruit growers are about to vote on ongoing industry funding for biosecurity, crop protection, export market access and other activities.
Industry body Summerfruit NZ has been consulting growers around the country on renewal of the sector’s commodity levy order, which expires before the start of the 2020 summerfruit season. The new order will allow Summerfruit NZ to levy growers for a further six years.
Summerfruit NZ represents more than 220 growers in the main growing regions around the country. The summerfruit market is worth $127 million each year – 69% of which is export sales (based on figures from the 2017/18 season).
Tim Jones, a cherry grower from Cromwell and Chairman of Summerfruit NZ, says Directors and staff have been meeting growers all around the country, many of them more than once, in the lead-up to the vote.
“We found almost unanimous support for our current levy calculation method, which is based on a percentage of sales value,” Tim says.
“So we are putting this option forward for growers to vote on in the levy referendum. We’re also proposing no increase for the maximum levy rates – currently one rate for apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums, and another rate for cherries. Cherries are treated differently because they have higher value and lower overall production per hectare than the other fruits covered by our levy.”
Tim Jones says growers have a three-week voting window beginning on Wednesday 16 October and can vote online or by post. Votes must be received by midday on Friday 8 November and the outcome should be known within a few days.
Levies provide more than two thirds of Summerfruit NZ’s funding. New Zealand has more than 20 primary sector commodity levy orders covering everything from apples to wine grapes.
“This year Summerfruit NZ celebrated its 25th anniversary – that’s 25 years of projects for the good of our industry; projects that no grower or exporter will do on their own because there is no direct return or payback,” says Marie Dawkins, Summerfruit NZ’s Chief Executive.
An independent industry review will follow the levy vote and will provide an opportunity for growers, exporters and others with an interest in the industry to have their say on what Summerfruit NZ will look like in the future and the scope of work it will be involved in.