Fruit growers still battling MPI directive to destroy plants

Rural Exchange 02/09/2018

Apple and stonefruit growers have teamed up to challenge a directive by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to destroy tens of thousands of plants.

Growers, who are taking legal action against MPI, claim potential future losses could add up to $1.5b.

The directive includes plant materials imported between 2012 and 2017, as well as materials taken or grown from the original plants imported from an offshore quarantine facility at Washington State University in the United States.

The centre has provided plant material to New Zealand stonefruit orchards since the 1980s.

After winning a stay of execution in the courts, growers are still battling MPI.

"[In the high court] MPI were told they had acted unlawfully, they needed to engage with us, they needed to accept test results," Pattullo's Nurseries owner Kerry Sixtus told RadioLIVE's Rural Exchange.

"We are having our first real meeting in Wellington with MPI to try and work out what are the gaps in the testing data, what do they need to concede, and what do [growers] need to concede because we realise we don't want any biosecurity risk to the country either," he said.

Last month, Yummy Apples CEO Paul Paynter told RadioLIVE’s Rural Exchange he is disappointed with the decision.

The company cultivates new varieties of apples and stonefruit in its nurseries and discovered the budwood and rootstock they imported over the past six years was done so without proper certification.

"Some of this material was imported as far back as 2012, so there are [now] orchards of it."

Watch the full interview with Kerry Sixtus above.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter’s Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.