Feb 20 2017

Monthly Update - February 2017

Government Industry Agreements – What is industry’s role?

Tomatoes New Zealand (TNZ Inc.) and Vegetables New Zealand Inc. (VNZ Inc.) have now both signed the GIA Deed for Biosecurity Readiness and Response with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Government (MPI) and industry groups sign the GIA Deed committing both parties to joint decision making and joint cost sharing.  This partnership approach aims to provide greater certainty that high priority pests will be found and responded to in an appropriate time frame.

Both the VNZ Inc. and TNZ Inc. Boards agreed that there will be a considerable long term benefit to growers, as the biosecurity partnerships will provide a better outcome for growers rather than working in isolation. This is evident from the lasting impact of the tomato/potato psyllid incursion for which there was no partnership approach; in comparison to the joint program with DoC, VNZ Inc. and MPI. to eradicate the Great White Butterfly pest. A consolidated partnership with expanded resources ensures an improved biosecurity system and a faster and more efficient preparedness structure for future incursions.  

With GIA, government (MPI) and industry groups will decide in advance how to respond should an incursion occur.  Improving both industry and government preparedness for priority pests will result in faster and less costly responses and will therefore be more likely to be successful. New Zealand's biosecurity system encompasses offshore, border and on shore activities that manage the risk of new pests arriving and our industry sectors have a role to play across the spectrum through GIA.

Our industry sectors believe that joining GIA means:

  • The best chance of eradicating new pests of serious concern to the industry
  • Joint decision making with government and shared resources
  • Greater involvement across the biosecurity system to reduce the likelihood of new pests entering New Zealand
  • Other parties who are not GIA signatories will also be levied if they are a beneficiary of an incursion response; but they will have no decision-making input into that response or their cost share.

What will growers and industry need to do?

The GIA Deed contains high level biosecurity principles and commitments that both TNZ Inc. and VNZ Inc. have agreed will be met by the fresh tomato and vegetable industries.

We are obligated to meet a range of minimum commitments including biosecurity readiness and response activities to:

  • Identify our risks, be aware of the unknowns, and monitoring what pests are being found overseas and their changing behaviours.
  • Better engage with our regulators to ensure MPI has a sufficient understanding of our industry profile.  
  • Know where our crops are grown and by who by so in the event of a response we can identify quickly who to assist and how to respond.
  • Build closer relationships with our contractors e.g. pickers, transporters and other service providers, to enable them to better understand biosecurity risks and put them in a more informed position to assist if necessary

Our industries will benefit from these minimum commitments by everyone being more aware of biosecurity risks and how to act in an incursion, and ultimately having long term strategies in place for managing pests that cannot be eradicated. The main outcome we want is to manage risks and lessen economic impacts on growers.

What are we already doing?

TNZ Inc. and VNZ Inc. have been proactive in this area and our sectors are undertaking projects which work towards meeting our minimum commitments, including:

  • Identifying “priority pestsand pathways” for pests that we don’t want to establish in New Zealand, and developing a range of awareness material, including fact sheets;
  • Determine baseline biosecurity knowledge. We are developing an industry surveyto gauge grower biosecurity awareness and what growers are already doing on biosecurity;
  • Determine what additional resources, training, information etc. is required to improve the industry’s biosecurity capacity and capability;
  • Developing templates for Farm Biosecurity Plans. Plans will outline actions to reduce the spread of pests by improving farm biosecurity practices including, farm hygiene, surveillance and signage;
  • Working with partners such as the National Biosecurity Capability Network, MPI and other horticultural sectors to enable industry to engage fully in responses;
  • Development of a Biosecurity Management Plan.  This collates all biosecurity information and resources in one place. Much of the detail in the biosecurity plan will be gathered from the activities listed above.  Specific modules will be rolled out to industry as we progress.

Wider engagement with the biosecurity “system”

The GIA Deed  requires us to engage with MPI, other Signatories, and our wider industry participants to:

  • improve the biosecurity system and contribute to specific operational agreement development.
  • identify emerging risks, identify priority pests, and;
  • to act to reduce the spread of pests (e.g., farm biosecurity plans).

Our sectors also have regular engagement with New Zealand and international biosecurity science providers.

Costs sharing

Under GIA, industry and Government share the costs of readiness and response activities as agreed in an Operational Agreement.  Operational Agreements define joint commitments for readiness and response activities for specific pests (e.g. fruit flies). They detail what makes up the readiness and response activities, how they will be implemented and how they will be funded.

The proportion of cost share is set for each operational agreement that is signed based on the assessed benefit to both parties.  However, the Government has committed to funding a minimum of 50% of the readiness and response activities for any operational agreement. 

Where there is more than one industry group involved, the cost is split between the affected groups. Where an industry group is a beneficiary of response activities, but they have not signed the Deed, the Government will levy that group for their share of costs regardless.  However, they will have no say in decisions that are made.  Industry groups that participate in GIA can set fiscal caps for responses so that costs are controlled.

Operational Agreements

Our sectors have ongoing and direct engagement with the Fruit Fly Council and assisted with the development of the first operational agreement under GIA, the fruit fly operational agreement.

We are also looking to develop sector operational agreements which will either be specific to a crop or cross two or more crops and industry sectors. For example, our “Solanaceae” crops share many common pests of concern and are often grown under cover, so there are several potential combinations that an operational agreement can be drafted around. We will be consulting with growers on any operational agreements before they are signed.

Signing GIA is the beginning – where ultimately every grower will be an important contributor to the biosecurity system along with MPI staff, DoC, local councils, Iwi, science providers and external resources so that our industry and other stakeholders  are prepared in advance too act when and where required.