MPI has reviewed its Plant Health and Environment Laboratory (PHEL) diagnostic test pricing list along with its post-entry quarantine booking policy and is seeking feedback on the proposals. The changes, including major cost increases, are to be introduced in December.
Full details on the proposed changes are available here.
NZPPI will be submitting feedback and we encourage greenlife members to also put in individual submissions to increase the strength of our advocacy. Feedback is due by November 6.
There is no official submission form: you just need to send an email with your feedback, any questions and your contact details, to PHELPricing@mpi.govt.nz. The main changes and NZPPI feedback are summarised below. Further details are in the attached discussion document.
PHEL Diagnostic price increases
- The price increases will double the cost of importing greenlife species and increase testing costs for all horticultural crops.
- PCR testing costs have more than doubled from $50 for the first test and $15 for subsequent tests, to a flat-rate of $65 per test.
- Importers are being asked to fund NZ’s often extreme and unjustified plant imports rules. MPI are more risk-adverse since the advent of PSA in kiwifruit (2011) and require testing for many diseases in PEQ without recognising the validity of testing done offshore.
- There are more cost-effective alternatives to “end-point” testing, such as offshore testing of mother stock, which is currently accepted in Australia.
- Xylella fastidiosa emergency measures introduced in 2017 required mandatory testing of every single host plant species in PEQ. These test costs created a barrier to trade and have not been reviewed in 6 years.
- The costs mean New Zealand consumers are no longer receiving the very latest varieties of high-health plants for their gardens and urban environments.
PEQ L3B booking policy
- The new Level 3B quarantine facility at Mt Albert will be operational in 2024, bringing the total number of quarantine glasshouses to 24.
- It should significantly help to address the backlog of requests for this type of quarantine space, however the proposed costs will be a major barrier for some companies.
MPI is proposing a flat-rate fee of $6,500 per greenhouse, per month.
- The monthly cost more than quadruples the current costs of importing plants through L3B.
- Crops requiring longer periods in quarantine, eg 12 months go from approx. $9,540 per year to $78,000 per year, more than 8 times the current amount.
- Most small businesses will be priced out of the market with high fees.
- Access to new plant material from overseas is essential for New Zealand’s agricultural and horticultural industries to develop and remain competitive.
- Employing a “user pays” model does not recognise the public good aspects of plant importation, such as new tree varieties that are adaptable to changing climates and urban densification
- There should be a significant government subsidy for greenlife species for urban regeneration.
We encourage all our greenlife members to send emails to MPI before the November 6 deadline. If you have any questions on the proposals and our feedback contact Kathryn Hurr on firstname.lastname@example.org.