Primary Industries Minister David Carter is working with the kiwifruit industry on the issue and a decision is pending, he says.
“We are closely monitoring the effects of Psa but more work needs to be done before we make a decision,” Carter told Rural News.
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) says about 46% of New Zealand’s kiwifruit orchards are identified with Psa, and many other growers face increased prevention costs. While Psa is tough for all affected growers, it’s expected about 120 growers will qualify for state assistance.
The Government said last week that help in recovering from biosecurity incursions would go on a similar footing to adverse events. A new biosecurity recovery framework will sit alongside existing support measures for farmers and growers affected by major climate events such as droughts and floods.
Carter says there’s “a well-tested framework in place” and the same approach would now apply to a biosecurity incursion.
“The new framework will make recovery measures available to people seriously impacted by a disease or pest incursion. It will include most of the measures available under the existing adverse events framework.”
Kiwifruit growers have been pushing the Government to get biosecurity incursions, such as Psa, included in the definition of adverse events.
NZKGI president Neil Trebilco says growers welcome the change as a first step towards making relief measures available for growers hardest hit by Psa.
“The next step is for NZKGI to continue to work with Government to communicate the hardship some growers are facing so relief measures can be made available. At least now there is a framework to work with.”
Federated Farmers vice president William Rolleston says as seen with the Psa outbreak, the impact of a biosecurity incursion is as debilitating as a snow storm well into spring. “This is not just logical but is genuinely welcomed by us.
“This is very much about the impact upon individual farms and their ability to cope during times of extreme stress. We operate in unpredictable and varied environments that are anything but linear.”
Federated Farmers is a key player in Rural Support Trusts, which helps farmers and rural communities hit by adverse events.
“It must also be remembered that biosecurity incursions impact the wider economy. That is why government and industry must continue to work together to respond to any incursion.”
Three categories of incursion would apply: localised, medium-scale and large-scale. To be eligible for help, those affected would need to show they have taken all reasonable steps to mitigate and manage biosecurity risks, Carter says.