Johnny Appleseed is one of the largest apple growers in New Zealand; director Paul Paynter says the current worker shortage crisis in the sector can be sheeted home to Government naivety.
Johnny Appleseed Holdings Ltd pleaded guilty to discharging agrichemicals into the air in breach of the Hawke's Bay Regional Resource Management Plan.
On 23 September 2019, two cyclists were riding along the path bordering an orchard on Otene Road in Hastings. A spray operator employed by Johnny Appleseed was spraying the orchard at the time.
The cyclists were covered in spray from the sprayer, wetting their hair despite the helmets they were wearing. There were no signs on the pathway that spraying was in progress.
Following a complaint, a Hawke's Bay Regional Council environmental officer attended the scene and observed two orchard sprayers operating in gusty wind.
Spray could be seen blowing over the path and Otene Road.
The agrichemicals the cyclists came into contact with were Calibra (a fertiliser), Folicur (a fungicide classified as hazardous), Mantrac (a fertiliser classified as hazardous) and Pristine (a fungicide classified as hazardous).
In the Hastings District Court, Johnny Appleseed pleaded guilty. Judge Dickey fined the company $14,000.
Hawke's Bay Regional Counci's group manager policy and regulation Katrina Brunton, says the large fine serves as a strong signal to orchardists that they must comply with the law.
"Sprays can be dangerous to public health and need to be used with great care and diligence. We will not tolerate poor practice from the horticulture sector, and will rigorously enforce the law to protect people and the environment," Brunton said.
Brunton says the fine should discourage others from not taking the proper precautions when using agrichemical spray.
"This is the fourth successful prosecution for the Regional Council this year. We are committed to pursuing illegal activities through the courts to enforce the rules that protect our community and our environment," she said.
Earlier this month, Farmers Transport Ltd and Dynes Transport Ltd pleaded guilty to discharging a milk solution contaminant into water and were fined a total of $37,000. Also this year, two other companies were fined $11,900 and $12,555 for illegal burning.