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Presidents Report, October

Posted By HBFA | October 15, 2022

I write this as more rain is falling, just when we thought it was all over – we certainly are in trying times.

It is imperative that fungicides are applied at the right times to prevent black spot from occurring, in conditions like this I feel for the organic growers who do not have access to the same chemicals that conventional growers use. In my view Organic growers and managers do an amazing job of crop protection considering the limitations they all face.

On the 21st of September we had a nasty hailstorm that came through areas of Hastings and Havelock Nth. There has been fruit damage, especially in summer fruit and I’d imagine that more damage in apples will show once they are in the fruiting stage. In addition to this we’ve also experienced some frost scares, however it seems that we have dodged what could have been another significant blow to the industry – we have certainly fared better than our friends in the Bay of Plenty. There has been extensive damage on many kiwifruit orchards further up the island – I spoke with one grower who has lost 70% of his crop. As growers these are the risks we all face each year, so our thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected.

After some long negotiations with Minister Woods (Immigration) and our Product Group and HortNZ CE’s, an announcement regarding the RSE cap has finally been made with an agreement to raise it to 19,000. This is good news for everyone in horticulture and will take some pressure off our labour concerns for the up-coming season. Housing remains an issue of course but this has been the case for some years now. I believe the CE’s have done an excellent job throughout these negotiations, especially given the additional complexities that emerged with the last-minute involvement of the Trade Unions. Sick pay to our RSE workers will now be required under this new deal, I’m told that some growers were already doing this.

There was more good news for horticulture the other week with the introduction of the “National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land” (NPS-HPL) aimed at ensuring such land can be used for growing vegetables, fruit, and other produce. Councils will now need to identify, map, and manage productive land to protect it from inappropriate use and development. This document is not airtight so it will be a priority for HBFA and the “Save the Plains Group” to keep all councils accountable. Here is a video link for a local HB viewpoint on the policy.

In a previous newsletter I mentioned I had attended a meeting with Barbara Kuriger, National Party MP for King Country and acting spokesperson for Horticulture. Last week I went to hear ACT’s David Seymour to hear what his policies are on issues that are important to our growers. I asked him 2 questions and here are his responses.

1 – “Where does ACT position itself on horticulture’s labour needs and what is their policy for our RSE scheme”.

His response was extremely positive. ACT would not put any cap on the scheme “bring in as many as what’s needed to fill our labour requirements”

2 – “What is ACT’s view of the new National Policy Statement for Highly productive Land?”

He was very clear on this in that he does not agree with the (NPS-HPL) and believes there should be no interference or mandates from Central or local Govt on land use. The ACT Party have no interest in the preservation of our precious fertile soils throughout HB and NZ. He stands by landowners’ rights do what they want with their property, if that means building houses or developing lifestyle blocks then fill your boots. To me this is extremely short sighted, as our soils are amongst our Nation’s most precious commodity’s. I’ll leave you to decide your own vote at the GE next year.

The next few weeks will be an extremely busy period for the Association, with several events coming up. Our annual Fishing Contest is scheduled for October 31st, and I understand the prize table will be fully loaded, I’d like to thank all our generous sponsors and encourage as many of you as possible to get involved. HBFA are also leading this year’s “Pick the Bay” job expo on November 3rd and the activation efforts for this will include a presence at the Hawkes Bay A&P show, where Dean (our Business & Grower Engagement Manager) and Jacqui Davis from MPi will be driving awareness for Pick the Bay.

Regrettably our inaugural Industry Family Day that was scheduled for October 16th was postponed due to the wet weather. The new date will be November 13th November – I look forward to seeing you down there.

Let’s hope we see some sunshine soon!

Brydon Nisbet
HBFA President 

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