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Government Dithering Puts Agriculture At Risk

10 July 2000

GOVERNMENT DITHERING PUTS AGRICULTURE AT RISK

Major agricultural and horticultural industries today joined in their criticism of the Government's failure to make a decision on the Varroa mite that is risking New Zealand agricultural and horticultural industry.

Federated Farmers, Fruitgrowers Federation, VegFed and the National Beekeepers' Association have condemned the Cabinet's failure to decide the Government's response.

Federated Farmers President Alistair Polson said that the Cabinet Committee had called for more information. "Frankly, this dithering is hard to justify, and it is putting these major industries at risk."

"All the information necessary should have been gathered already, it should be in front of those Ministers, and there should be a decision made to eradicate the mite."

"Time is running out for a successful eradication campaign. Eradication is what the agricultural, horticultural and beekeeping industries want. The economics favour of eradication, and these delays are just making it harder."

Fruitgrowers Federation President Martin Clements restated the fruit-growing industry's demand for the Government to undertake eradication. "Given that the cost estimates for control over time far exceed the estimates for eradication, why would the Government choose the less effective option? An acceptance of Varroa will decrease production, reduce quality, and add extra costs, not to mention degrading New Zealand's clean, green image that is so important to fruitgrowers in our overseas markets."

VegFed President Brian Garguilo echoed Mr Clement's remarks. "Vegetable growers need bee pollination, and management strategies will fail to ensure an adequate supply for the industry's needs. Every day that goes by makes it harder to remove the mite from New Zealand."

The National Beekeepers' Association says that they have difficulty finding evidence from overseas experience that control is successful.

"There is strong evidence that pollination of crops such as blueberries and almonds in the US is becoming more difficult and that 12 or 13 years after infestation, many thousands of hives are dead each spring. It is imperative that a decision to eradicate is made now," said NBA spokesperson Lin McKenzie.

Meat New Zealand Chief Executive Neil Taylor said that his organisation was very concerned because the huge positive effect that bees have for pastoral farmers across New Zealand.

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