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Listening to growers – Horticulture New Zealand

Kris Robb of Clyde Orchards

Horticulture New Zealand must advocate for growers and in doing so, support the horticulture industry’s long-term prosperity. And to do that effectively, it must really understand the interests of all growers, and then work collaboratively with growers, central and local Government on solutions for the environment, economy and the health of New Zealanders, writes Kris Robb at hortnz.co.nz.

At the last meeting of the Horticulture Industry Forum (HIF), labour emerged as the biggest concern of the industry, followed by major concerns about climate change, freshwater and land use, the rate of change in those areas and the increasing cost of compliance.

The industry’s message to the Government is – ‘we support the need to do better but come and see us understand the realities of growing so we can work together on solutions that are win-win’.

Growers are aware that consumers will pay for alcohol, cigarettes and junk food at increasing price points, but expect healthy fruit and vegetables to be kept within a range that has existed for decades. This continually forces growers to try and reduce the cost of production, which is impossible in the current inflationary environment. This is why growers ask that the Government has some understanding of these impossible tensions, Kris says.

The industry’s vision of compliance remains ‘one auditor up the drive’ and a common-sense approach to achieving what is needed, in terms of environmental protection, food safety, and health, safety and wellbeing.

It sees the current Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) schemes as the solution, albeit with changes to reflect new requirements, and is pleased to see Environment Canterbury and Gisborne District Council recognising GAP schemes for growers in those areas. It also working with Tasman District Council for growers on the Waimea Plans to address water quality challenges.

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