MPI’s director-general, Ray Smith, wants his staff to engage more with the rural sector.
Velvetleaf is an invasive pastoral and cropping weed that has been found on 252 farms around the country. The majority of affected properties are in Canterbury, Otago and Southland. Its presence here has been linked to the importation of contaminated fodder beet seed.
The ministry has been working with primary sector industry bodies and regional councils to investigate the situation, find and destroy outbreaks, and develop plans to manage the weed in future.
Response incident controller David Yard says managing velvetleaf is possible if everyone involved stays on top of it – every year.
"We recognise that this is very disappointing for those farmers who have this pest weed on their properties. But we are also keen that farmers understand that relatively simple measures such as good machinery hygiene, management of stock and crop planting, and removing any velvetleaf plants that appear will all help control the situation.
"It is vital that farmers and rural contractors have this knowledge and for this reason, we've organised meetings in the key affected areas to provide full information about velvetleaf and its management."
There are two components to the meetings in each location. In the mornings – from 10am – midday – there will be an open public session and during the afternoons affected farmers will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with technical experts to develop a personalised management plan for their property.
The full schedule of meetings is on the MPI website at: http://mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/velvetleaf/
The first three meetings are in Canterbury as follows:
Tuesday, July 19 - Waipara Hall, Cnr Johnston St and Ferguson Ave, Waipara, Amberley
Wednesday, July 20 - Pleasant Point Town Hall - Halstead Road, Pleasant Point, Timaru
Thursday, July 21 - Tinwald War Memorial Hall, Cnr Graham and McMurdo Streets, Tinwald, Ashburton
All meetings start at 10am.
For more information about velvetleaf see the MPI website: http://mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/velvetleaf/