with Mike Chapman
Every six years, industry good organisations, such as Horticulture New Zealand, are required to ask their levy-paying farmers and growers for continued support and funding. If this support is received, then under the Commodity Levies Act legislation, that organisation is compulsorily funded for the next six years.
This year, Horticulture New Zealand, along with a number of specific fruit and vegetable representative groups, is putting proposals to our levy-paying growers to get their support for the next six years. Our levy voting takes place during July.
Horticulture NZ is a pan-industry organisation focused on nationwide issues. We do not deal with individual product group issues, such as market access. We work collectively on major issues for horticulture, such as attracting people into the industry and showcasing the rewarding careers available.
Our vision – healthy food for all forever – and our mission – creating an enduring environment where growers prosper – explains what Horticulture NZ is focused on.
The horticulture story
This translates into telling the horticulture story to the public and politicians, to bridge any urban-rural divide and explain what goes into growing healthy food in a sustainable way. We want to increase everyone’s understanding of what horticulture is and the contribution it makes to New Zealand financially, culturally and socially, as well as providing healthy food for everyone to eat. Horticulture is growing and there is further potential as consumer preferences move away from animal-based protein to a vegetable-based diet. Ensuring growers get a voice with central Government in Wellington, is our second main activity. We make submissions on Government policy and proposed legislation to influence direction where we can, to enable the right environment for growing fruit and vegetables.
Our growers are facing increasing compliance requirements from councils and government. This is another area where we work, particularly with planning controls imposed under the Resource Management Act. We are focused on protecting the 5.2 per cent of New Zealand’s soils that are suitable for growing fruit and vegetables. Following our media-focused food security campaign to protect these soils, we have had some success. The Environment Minister agrees these soils need to be protected with a national direction to councils – called a National Policy Statement – under the Resource Management Act. We contend that New Zealand, into the future, needs to be able to have suitable land to grow the food to feed its population, as well as meet export market demands.
Working with the other industry good groups to increase the impact and maximise the use of our resources, we have a strong focus on biosecurity – keeping pests and diseases out of New Zealand and dealing with them if they arrive – and on attracting, upskilling and retaining people in the industry, with a focus on employing New Zealanders. This includes running specific training programmes and workshops to ensure employment law compliance for example.
In addition to the food security campaign, we have run a campaign for the mandatory Country of Origin Labelling for fresh fruit and vegetables. This is because independent research has shown the New Zealand consumer wants to know where their fruit and vegetables come from, and they also want to eat fresh and locally grown. Both these campaigns are close to being successful.
If you are a commercial fruit and vegetable grower make sure you are registered to vote in the levy referendum in July. To check you are registered go to: firstname.lastname@example.org or ring our office on 0508 467 869.