Harvest is all over for another year and I’m hearing that those crops that were able to be picked are packing out well with fruit quality looking good. This is a positive for our industry, it’s good for Hawke’s Bay, good for New Zealand, and it’s an important message to remind global markets that we continue to be a world leading producer of quality fruit.
As a Regional Association, we are working hard to balance how we celebrate the ongoing success and vitality of our industry with the need to draw attention to the obvious destruction that so many have endured. For those that were unaffected by Cyclone Gabrielle – we cheer you on. For those that were impacted – we stand with you in support. HBFA will continue to be here to advocate for our industry and to help our growers in any way we can, so please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our executive committee are meeting next week to discuss more ways we can help our affected growers with the funds we have raised so far. Growers will hear more about this in June.
It’s also a balancing act with the Government. Of course, we welcome the help we have received so far but it is nowhere near enough to get growers get back on their feet in any substantial way. There have now been 3 comprehensive reports prepared and shared with The Government to articulate the damage that Cyclone Gabrielle has caused to horticulture and the risks this poses to local communities and the wider economy. These include the BCG (Boston Consultancy Group) report initiated by Rockit Global, our own HB Grower Taskforce report (which includes a recommended support framework), and the government’s own report prepared by the Ministry of Primary Industry. All these reports state very clearly the economic and social consequences if there isn’t immediate assistance to get our growers up and going.
Last week a few of us met with the Prime Minister and Finance Minister to hear them announce their Hawke’s Bay Cyclone Relief Package. Unfortunately, this included very little for growers and farmers. Minister Robertson commented that the reports were very good and aligned and indicated that The Government will make a further announcement in early June, so we remain hopeful for our impacted growers. We have consistently reminded The Government of the urgency needed for action. The biological time clock is ticking along, orchards need to get cleaned up and big decisions need to be made urgently regarding re-instatement of crops and the re-establishment of orchards.
Another area causing delays, frustration, and anxiety for many is the issue of zoning. We anticipate Zone 1 categories to be announced by the end of the May which will hopefully enable those landowners to progress insurance payments and make decisions. The other zoning categories will then go into a consultation process involving relevant parties. Please know that The Hawke’s Bay Grower Taskforce, of which I’m a member is advocating on behalf of all growers to deliver the best possible result for all affected parties.
As recently announced, our Young Grower of the Year event has been delayed to the 10th and 11th of August. Planning for this event is advancing well and we look forward to showcasing the fantastic talent we have emerging in our region. Our industry will continue, and I believe it can be bigger and better than ever before.