Dec 06 2019

December Update

Fruit fly response update

The last Queensland fruit fly find was on 15th July, and after a period of intense activity, baiting, trapping and collecting fruit over spring, the good news is that there were no further flies found.

So, as I write this, the response is entering wind-down mode. Weekly baiting in the area around the finds has finished, although fruit and vegetable movement restrictions still apply for residents in the Controlled Area Notice zone in Northcote, and trapping is continuing.  The total number of Queensland fruit fly found in the Northcote area is ten and there has still been no evidence of larvae, pupae, eggs or female flies found. The response has been in action since February this year when a single male fruit fly was identified in a surveillance trap in Devonport, Auckland.  No female flies, larvae or eggs have been found.  

TomatoesNZ, as a signatory to the GIA Fruit Fly operational agreement with MPI and other impacted industries, have been part of the Response Governance and are also obligated to pay a share of the response costs.  

TomatoesNZ signed up to GIA as it gives us a greater say in response decision-making, as well as an opportunity to develop biosecurity “readiness” (or prevention) with MPI.  We signed the Fruit Fly operational agreement in 2017 and are second smallest contributor at 4.2%.   Under the current arrangement MPI is funding at least 70% of the current response costs with industry picking up the balance. 

Naturally with the response activities now being in place over several months and with more time to run until we know the flies have gone the costs have been mounting up.   So far over $18 million has been spent.  Fresh tomatoes share is $100,000 and we are expected to start paying that share once our biosecurity levy is in place.  


Fresh Tomato Biosecurity levy to come into effect soon

In 2017 fresh tomato growers voted in support of a new biosecurity levy on fresh tomatoes at the TomatoesNZ Annual General Meeting.    The levy was proposed to fund requirements needed to adequately prepare for biosecurity incursions through government-industry operational agreements (GIA).

The Minister approved our biosecurity levy in September this year and the levy order is currently being drafted by the Parliamentary Office.  It’s expected it will come into effect early in 2020 and TomatoesNZ will start collecting the levy at an initial rate of 0.10% (10 cents per $100).    For growers, this will mean a biosecurity levy in addition to the fresh tomato commodity levy (which is currently 0.35%) will be collected at the first point of sale. 

TomatoesNZ will update all growers on the details and dates once the biosecurity levy order is finalised, but if you have any questions please contact Karen Orr or Helen Barnes.

Tomatoes unlikely to be impacted by Xylella

Last month’s Grower magazine (November 2019, pages 30-31), described the biosecurity threat of Xylella fastitiosa a bacterial plant pathogen with a broad host range, that has devastated many crops internationally but as yet has not reached NZ.  The disease mainly affects woody plants, and it is vectored by insects in a similar way to Tomato Potato Psyllid and Liberibacter.

TomatoesNZ contributed to a “Xyllela action group” literature review earlier this year.  The good news for members is that the literature review came up with no evidence that the disease has affected tomatoes overseas.