Working together to support growers and create the right environment
31 August 2021
Kia ora koutou
For me, the past seven days have been spent working across the horticulture sector and with Government, to ensure that vegetable and fruit growing can continue with as little disruption as possible, as different alert levels and associated borders start to be put in place.
In particular, I have been working very closely with the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association and vegetable product groups, on the border being put in place at midnight tonight to the south of Auckland.
What’s been pleasing is the way that HortNZ and product groups have come together to get a good outcome from Government, for growers in the Pukekohe area. Our collective work with the Ministry for Primary Industries has built on the progress made last time a border was put in place, south of Auckland.
Government’s understanding of the dynamics of vegetable and fruit growing in New Zealand has deepened, thanks to the regular interaction and field visits that have taken place since the last lockdown. This increase in understanding, coupled with the strength of the relationships that have developed over the past 18 months, enable us to have the type of free and frank conversation with Government officials that result in the Government receiving advice that creates a complete and compelling picture of horticulture in New Zealand.
The Government must also be aware of and hopefully monitoring, the rush to supermarkets for fresh vegetables and fruit, from the points of view of food security – have New Zealanders access to enough fresh, healthy food – as well as supermarkets’ behaviour, in terms of grower relationships and prices – wholesale and retail.
In the background, the Commerce Commission is continuing its process around the review of supermarkets, and HortNZ and other product groups remain close to that. In other areas such as Freshwater Farm Plans, the consultation period has been extended, from closing on 12 September to closing on 26 September, see here.
However, in areas such as He Waka Eka Noa, the work continues with consultation planned for November-December. Once again, HortNZ, the product groups and others in the food and fibre sector remain heavily involved, to make sure that what is put in place creates an environment where growers can thrive and feed New Zealand and the world, while ensuring the country can meet its international climate change commitments.
Conversations with the Government also continue about the speed and order of change – not the outcomes – in the environmental and climate change areas, particularly given the immediate and medium-term impact of this latest outbreak of Covid in New Zealand. I will keep you posted.
In closing today, I would like to encourage everyone again to remain connected, check on neighbours and find out how next door really is at the moment. Also, do not hesitate to contact HortNZ – Covid@hortnz.co.nz – or your product group if you have an issue that we could help resolve or you just need clarity about something.
Ngā mihi nui