NZPPI has made several submissions on industry issues in past weeks, including biosecurity, plant variety rights, and policy matters:
Plant Variety Rights (PVR) Act
This important piece of legislation supports the success of our sector. Many members propagate or own the rights to plants that are protected by the Act. Our submission supports the alignment of the future PVR regime with international obligations which would ‘give effect’ to, rather than acceding to UPOV 91. This is consistent with trading partners implementation of the international agreement while still enabling kaitiaki interests to be considered in a meaningful way.
Giant Willow Aphid
NZPPI supports the trial of a parasitoid wasp as a biological control for the Giant Willow Aphid. Our submission points out the damage the aphid causes to a wide range of hosts, as well as affecting surrounding plants with black mould. Several NZPPI members also submitted in support, and Biosecurity and Technical Manager Kathryn Hurr will speak in support of our submission at the public hearing.
Land and Water Policies
The Government is consulting on its freshwater policies. These policies are broad and there are long timeframes for full implementation. However, there is a requirement to begin to take action by 2022.
The government is proposing changes:
- Highly productive land – this proposed policy would restrict the development of highly productive land, e.g. for urban or industrial development, in order to preserve it for food production.
Our view: This policy benefits plant producers as it preserves land for horticulture (our customers). To be effective this policy needs to also protect the factors that make the land highly productive. This includes ensuring access to water and that the land can continue to be used for growing. Also, the ability to build infrastructure, such a glasshouses, would need to be retained. Without this, the land would not be productive.
We also believe that in addition to food production, the policies prioritise ‘wellbeing’ to protect land for the production of amenity plants.
- Fresh Water Quality – this proposal will add to the list of things that councils would need to consider when assessing water quality. Councils currently need to monitor around 20 different attributes and the new policy would add to this. We wonder if councils have the resources to undertake this level of monitoring.
There are no set timeframes for achieving the outcomes, however, producers must begin to take some action, such as developing farm plans. Depending on the region, the targets may not have to be met for as long as 50 – 80 years in the future.
The proposed rules would apply nationally, but only where local council rules were not as strict. The Government is requiring all regions to produce catchment specific plans within five years.
There are new rules proposed requiring a 10 metre buffer around existing wetlands. We are concerned that manmade reservoirs and storage ponds may be defined as wetlands in the policy. We would object to this.
What we think
Field producers, with a land title over 5 ha, will likely be required to develop an environment plan by 2022. Industry schemes, such as the FMS, will likely be adequate. NZPPI can assist members with this.
- Except in sensitive catchments, the nutrient load will need to be reduced. We don’t believe that government should define the amount of fertiliser that growers use, this should be managed through Farm Environment Plans.
- Rotation and short term use of land for production will be permitted.
- Expansion of horticulture operations over 10 hectares will likely require additional resource consents and evidence of good management practice being met.
Additional points that we will advocate for include:
- Defining glasshouse production as low intensity land use (due to its small area and high productivity), and therefore be exempt from the rules.
- That the benefits of plant production, which supports sustainable land use in the primary sector, is recognised.
- That the benefits of production of plants for food, gardens, landscape and revegetation are recognised.
- That industry programmes (such as FMS) are recognised as meeting the requirements of the policy. We would oppose the use of Overseer for use in the plant production sector.
What happens next?
- NZPPI is working with HortNZ and other horticulture industry groups on these issues.
- We are preparing a submission, due at the end of October.
- We encourage you to tell us what you think about these proposals and provide us with examples and insights that we can include in our submission.
- As an industry, we should begin to consider how to develop industry standards that will enable NZPPI members to meet the new rules by 2022.
Review of Vocational Education
The Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, has confirmed that the government will progress with its Reform of Vocational Education.
NZPPI has made submissions on the review, saying the proposals are welcomed by plant producers to fix the critical issues with workplace training. However, the reforms must have greater recognition of smaller sectors and on-job training.
We welcome the regional approach to industry training. However, the announcement that there will be only seven Workforce Development Councils – potentially with only one council covering all of the primary sector – means that plant producers will have to continue to work hard to be heard. This may be a significant weakness in the new system.
We are also concerned about the balance of responsibilities and potential for conflict between the Workforce Development Councils and the Regional Skills Leadership Groups. It is great to see the establishment of Workforce Development Councils with greater control of funding, but our sector needs a greater regional focus than in the past.
Most NZPPI members deliver training on the job. We want to work with the Government to figure out how to shift its focus towards on-job training as a priority.
NZPPI will be working with other primary sector organisations as we continue to influence this policy and we will keep members informed and involved. We encourage all our members and trainees to continue to support training while the reforms happen. We need more trained people regardless of the outcome of this review.