A request was made to MPI for copies of the background papers and instructions made by the MPI inspectors, which have now been provided to the industry group. This information gives a greater insight into the decision made by MPI to take ‘a more generalised approach’ and the rationale for their revised directions.
The testing plan is of particular interest to the industry group and is a critial component of defining a pathway forward for the 48,000 apple (Malus) and stonefruit (Prunus) plants which have been seized by MPI and are subject to the containment order. Under the order, the plants are to remain in situ and be subject to a spraying and/or netting programme agreed with MPI.
As part of the required Import Health Standards (IHS), the plants in question have already been subject to a comprehensive testing regime for major pests and diseases - both prior to importation, and during a Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) period in New Zealand.
The proposed testing plan put forward by MPI appears to require a number of repeat tests for pests and diseases that have already been conducted by MPI, some of which cannot be conducted until the end of summer – which is approximately April of 2019.
The industry group seeks to engage with MPI on the proposed testing plan in order to rationalise the scope of the plan and move from a ‘generalised approach’ to a more specific and targeted testing plan which also provides a clear pathway towards the release of the plants and plant materials from containment.
“We seek to work with MPI to achieve a testing plan that delivers certainty with regard to biosecurity, ensures the health of the new varieties of plants, and provides us with a timely pathway to commercialisation,” said Kerry Sixtus, owner of Pattullo’s Nurseries in Napier.
“We are planning to provide MPI with our comments on the testing plan this week and we reserve the right to return to the High Court should MPI prove to be unreasonable in negotiations pertaining to the proposed testing plan.
“We are also strongly encouraging MPI to fully engage with CPCNW in order to rebuild their fractured relationship, for the sake of the future of New Zealand’s apple and stonefruit industry.
“CPCNW has been an important supplier of innovative plant varieties for over 30 years. This long-term partnership has allowed New Zealand to remain internationally competitive via the production and export of premium quality fruit to key global markets such as China and the USA.
“MPI has severely limited the options available to New Zealand apple and stonefruit growers in terms of suppliers of plant material. They have not completed audits of key facilities in Canada and France and have a lot of work to do to ensure we have viable import channels available,” concluded Kerry.