Not feasible for flower growers

Flower growers will not be signing up to the new Government-industry partnerships set up to manage biosecurity risks.

In December, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy announced the Cabinet had signed off on the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) which lays out the framework for partnerships and outlines the commitments signatories must make.

New Zealand Flower Growers Association chairman David Blewden said while he had attended many of the preliminary meetings, the group had withdrawn from the process for several reasons.

NZFGA had a relatively small group of paid-up members and so would be unlikely to get a mandate to sign the deed.

It was run mostly by volunteers and financially did not have the resources needed to fund any involvement.

Under the agreements, each sector would identify ‘‘priority'' biosecurity threats so it could plan to manage the risk.

‘‘When we sat down and looked at it . . . What does a priority pest look like for the flower industry?

‘‘There are so many crops involved it would be logistically impossible.''

There was also the feeling the Government was not particularly interested in the flower industry because it was not a big employer or contributor to the economy, he said.

So ‘‘no matter how disastrous'' the pest might be for flower growers, it would not have a significant impact economically.

‘‘[But] the flower industry has always argued the increasingly large volumes of flower imports provide a pathway for diseases or pests to come in and infect something else.

‘‘It is a strong risk sector for other industries.''

Pests could come in on imported plant material and could have mini› mal effect on the flower industry but be devastating to native plants or significant commercial horticulture crops like the kiwifruit industry, he said.

‘‘The principle of GIA is good.''

Government and industry working together to make plans to deal with incursions made ‘‘incredibly good sense'', Mr Blewden said.

But it did not have a lot to offer flower growers, he said.

What flower growers would like to see was the border policed more vigorously to minimise further risk, he said.

- by Ruth Grundy

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