Beekeeper bodies join forces

The two bodies representing the interests of the New Zealand bee industry have joined forces to manage biosecurity risks and be a single voice on issues they have in common.

The Bee Industry Group of Federated Farmers and the National Beekeepers' Association (NBA) have formed the Beekeeping Industry Advisory Council to address some of the issues facing the wider bee products industry.

The move was prompted by Government insistence it deal with a single entity when negotiating a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for biosecurity purposes, NBA chairman Ricki Leahy said.

However, both groups had also recognised the importance of working together on other industry-wide issues, he said.

In a letter to members, Federated Farmers Bees chairman John Hartnell said the new council would be able to "present a united front" on important beekeeping issues.

"A unified front means we can get much more traction with Government and other important groups."

There were matters of concern common to all.

Some were research and biosecurity related, some involved market access and others involved representation, Mr Hartnell said.

"It has long been suggested that the industry does not benefit from having different, sometimes competing, bodies representing beekeepers.

"That position dilutes industry's voice to Government, it dilutes funding and it dilutes cohesiveness and industry strategic growth."

The hope was the combined council would be more effective at addressing these issue on behalf of all members.

The council had two short-term goals - to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries through GIA negotiations and to conduct the first national bee health survey.

Mr Hartnell said there had been indications at industry events in the past 18 to 24 months beekeepers would be keen to see a more unified approach from the two organisations and this was a "first step down that path".

The respective chairman and president as well as the seconds in command of the two organisations will be on the council to make sure both are equally represented .

NBA chief executive Daniel Paul will also work with the council.

- by Ruth Grundy