Update from Richard Palmer

Here's the latest news for members of Summerfruit NZ.

Annual General Meeting – 15 July 2020 by Zoom

Last week members should have received an email with the details on the 2020 AGM – which has been set for 15 July at 3pm. Included in the email was a call for director nominations and resolutions. If you have not received this email please get in touch with Summerfruit NZ by email to admin@summerfruitnz.co.nz 

Industry review

The independent industry review report is nearly complete after having been delayed due to Covid-19. Last week the Summerfruit NZ Board agreed to the process to take forward the report. That process is:

  1. Receive the final report – due this week.
  2. To release the report to Summerfruit NZ staff and the industry.
  3. A board meeting in June to consider and set out options.
  4. Develop the options to progress – in consultation with staff and other stakeholders.
  5. Consultation with the industry on the options.

Alasdair noted to me the excellent discussion with those people he interviewed, which will give the Board and me plenty to consider as we develop the future options for Summerfruit NZ. 

Covid recovery subcommittee

Also at last week’s meeting, the Board agreed to establish a Covid recovery subcommittee with three streams:

  1. Logistics
  2. Labour
  3. Longer-term

Already Summerfruit NZ is involved in discussions with government about our seasonal airfreight demand and the logistics workstream will refine the demand and planning for capacity, destination and scheduling.

One aspect that is crucial to the planning for this coming season is to understand the potential crop. With cherry plantings up 20% over the last four years there is potential for an export crop substantially larger than we’ve seen previously. To that end, Summerfruit NZ is working on a process to get accurate information on the 2021 crop, that will enable us to work with government and other stakeholders to ensure the necessary enablers and inputs are available – logistics and labour in particular.  

Further information will come out in due course on the work of this subcommittee. 

RSE labour

Summerfruit NZ has been working with other sectors on RSE matters. Key issues currently are a report on RSE and assisting with planning the return of workers. NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc is leading on completing a report to go to officials and ministers, which uses data that many of you will have provided. For those that contributed, I thank you for your information which is crucial to our advocacy efforts. We are well aware of the concern you all have about the future of the RSE programme and collectively the industry organisations are working hard to advocate for options that reflect the reality of our seasonal businesses.  

RSE employers will today receive an email regarding a survey on prioritisation of worker repatriation, and an update on Pacific Islands borders. This is an area that we are working closely with the broader horticulture and viticulture sector groups on. Crucially we have been pushing for policy change to allow greater flexibility on the 30 hours minimum, particularly where the original contract has finished, and ongoing work is limited. We have also pushed for a temporary removal to the five month stand down, given that workers will potentially return home weeks or months after the original date. 

Summerfruit NZ team

I’d like to use this opportunity to thank the Summerfruit NZ team for their commitment to our work throughout the lockdown period. We are still mostly working from home and continue to get the necessary work done to support you all. As an example, over the last two months we have undertaken eight separate, but connected, pieces of work on agrichemicals including working with Market Access Solutionz on two submissions to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

I thought it useful to highlight some of that work below.

  • Spray diary collation and analysis for trends in agrichemical use, effectiveness, and residues.
  • Review and update on copper spray efficacy and best practice use.
  • Preparation of a submission to EPA on the sector’s use of Hydrogen Cyanimide as EPA is conducting a review.
  • Review of use of the neonicotinoid Thiacloprid (Calypso) in preparation for EPA’s neonicotinoid review.
  • Input to MPI report on use of antibiotics in primary sector.
  • Review of export market Maximum Reside Limits (MRLs), and resulting Pre-Harvest Intervals (PHI) for the 2020-21 season. Inclusion of some newer markets.
  • Review of SummerGreen manual, especially the agrichemical recommendations and practices. Planning for update of the manual.
  • Review of the Summerfruit NZ agrichemical strategy.

I appreciate that much of this requires input from growers, in particular the spray diary review, so if you haven’t yet provided information please do so asap.