Government action is urged to future-proof food production

Animal and Plant Health NZ, formerly called Agcarm, is pushing for New Zealand farmers and growers to be able to access the latest innovative technologies to control damaging pests and diseases.

Without those technologies, the organisation contends, the country would lose up to $20 billion in export earnings.

Because so much is at stake for the future of New Zealand food production, the plant protection and animal health industries are backing the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) as gatekeeper of agrichemical products – but it demands transparency and a faster, more consistent service from the regulator.

The ministry recently released a report by the Inspector-General, ‘A Regulatory Systems Review – Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1991’.

The report identifies the complexities of approval systems for new pesticides and animal medicines.

Animal and Plant Health NZ is urging the ministry to fast-track improvements to the registration of agricultural chemicals and animal medicines as outlined in the report.

Animal and Plant Health NZ Chief Executive, Mark Ross, says that highlighting the problem areas and future challenges is a step in the right direction but he wants more accountability for cost recovery from MPI.

“In paying for product approvals, our members need transparency in how their funds are spent and a system for benchmarking applications for approval. Industry requires a more consistent service in return for their financial support.”

Animal and Plant Health NZ has been working with the Government to resolve identified performance issues after industry feedback stated that registration services were below agreed expectations.

Ross is supportive of the work that MPI is now doing in recruiting additional staff, updating IT systems and working more closely with other local and international regulators.

With a changing environment in how people perceive the use of agrichemicals in New Zealand and how this is reflected in the regulation of them, industry needs support to bring newer, softer and more targeted products to New Zealand.

The report highlights inefficiencies with certain products needing approval from two – and, in some cases, three – regulators. Delays reduce the incentives for companies to bring new technologies to New Zealand.

“It is essential that industry and government work together to achieve a positive outcome for farmers and growers,” says Mark Ross.

His organisation, Animal and Plant Health NZ, represents the New Zealand animal health and crop protection industries as well as rural retailers.

It promotes the benefits of safe, effective, quality products and services for the health of animals (including pet care) and crops, and its members are committed to the responsible use of products from research to disposal.

The report, ‘A Regulatory Systems Review – Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1991’, released this month, can be found HERE. 

Source:  Animal and Plant Health NZ



Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog