Sep 04 2019

September 2019

Annual General Meeting Report

 Around 40 people attended the TomatoesNZ annual general meeting at Mystery Creek on 31st July. 

 TomatoesNZ chair, Barry O’Neil, thanked the industry for being accommodating and assisting in his learning of the industry in his first year in the role. He highlighted some key points from the year in addition to those presented in the annual report.

  • Barry thanked the growers for their support in the commodity levy referendum, noting that the board and the chairman will be doing everything they can to ensure value add during the 6-year lifetime of the commodity levy.
  • Biosecurity; it’s been a big year on this topic, with the signing of the fresh tomato operational agreement with MPI, and identifying two significant organisms to prepare for.
  • Noted that the fresh tomato biosecurity levy application is working its way through the MPI process, and expect an update later in the year on when that can start to be collected to pay for the current fruit fly response.
  • Appointment of a PhD student at Lincoln developing glasshouse biocontrols for tomatoes is a great initiative and his area of study is very exciting.
  • The passing of the country of origin labelling bill was a great outcome. Two promotional videos for NZ tomatoes were shared with the room.
  • Noted that TomatoesNZ initiated a new export market development grant to help exporters identify and work towards new markets.
  • Thanked the board and staff for their dedication and efforts. 

Other highlights:

  • The Fresh Tomato commodity levy rate for the coming levy year was confirmed to remain at 0.35% at the first point of sale for domestic sales and, for exports the price received by the grower after deduction of all offshore costs for exports. 
  • Confirmed that Mayank (Mike) Saklani has joined the board as an elected member.  Mike was born in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, India and has been living with his family and two sons in New Zealand for about two decades. Mike has a varied business background, and in 2012 became grower and director of Wing Shing Farms Limited in Karaka South Auckland, growing tomatoes as a covered crop. Welcome Mike! 
  • The Chair also acknowledged Malcolm Pook’s long standing contribution to the board, and Greg Prendergast’s brief contribution. 
  • Board member Lex Dillon said few words of thanks to Malcolm.  Malcolm has been an active and long term contributing member of the Tomatoes NZ, NZ Gap and Vegetables.co.nz Boards over 15 years. He is very passionate about NZ growers and NZ in general. His knowledge and support have been highly appreciated and will be missed. 
  • At a brief board meeting after the AGM, Barry O’Neil was re-appointed as the independent chair, and Simon Watson was appointed as the vice-chair, replacing Malcolm Pook who stood down from the committee. 

The next board meeting will be held in Wellington on 29th October. 

 

Free ETS allocations phase-out announced 

On the 31st July, the government announced the outcome of its latest ETS review and decision on phasing out of NZ Unit free industrial allocations (for Carbon) – beginning at 1% per year from 2021-2030 then increasing to 2% for 10 years, then 3%.   

This means that from 2021 fresh tomato growers will receive 1% fewer “free units”, designed to offset the cost on growers of the emissions trading scheme.  All industries that receive the free units face this phase-down. The government has also indicated that some industries may face an even faster phase down if it is considered they are “at low risk of emissions leakage”. Emissions leakage means substitution by cheaper imports of higher carbon-emissions alternatives. 

The full description of the recent decisions can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website: https://www.mfe.govt.nz/climate-change/proposed-improvements-nz-ets 

TomatoesNZ submitted on this review back in September 2018. Our submission is available for download on our website: https://www.tomatoesnz.co.nz/hot-topics/ets/  In our submission, we strongly advocated for retaining free unit allocations until there are viable alternative heating technologies available for growers throughout New Zealand. We, with HortNZ, will continue to press for appropriate support for growers until growers have viable alternatives to heating that are not charged under the ETS. 

Some other announcements resulting from that review were made in December 2018 and May 2019. These earlier decisions included removal of the ETS “Fixed Price Option” (FPO), i.e. the ability to purchase ETS units for a fixed price of $25 from the government, after 2019. The Fixed Price Option effectively set a maximum price on the units. However, a date still has not been set for that to occur yet.   

In summary, the government intends for carbon emissions to continue getting more expensive. 

 

Fresh New Zealand tomatoes animation

We have recently sent to all members TomatoesNZ branded USB sticks which contain two short informative animations sharing facts about our tomatoes.  We urge you to share these animations with your networks including your customers, distributors, retailers and friends.

 

The first animation provides some key information about New Zealand grown fresh tomatoes.  The second animation contains details about the industry, including requirements for labelling of tomatoes imported from Australia which are treated with irradiation to manage the risk of introducing Queensland Fruit Fly.   

 

With the Auckland area currently on high alert for fruit fly and an extensive trapping and baiting programme being managed in the Northcote area, the prevention of this pest is crucial to our industry.  Imported tomatoes need to labelled at the point of sale, including stating that it has been treated with ionising radiation.   If you see Australian produce for sale without the signage you should contact MPI directly at www.mpi.govt.nz or on freephone 0800 00 83 33.