UK to ditch plans for biosecurity cost-sharing

Thursday 26 November 2009, 9:18AM
By Federated Farmers of New Zealand

Federated Farmers has welcomed reports the United Kingdom Government has shelved its ‘animal tax’, which would have forced exporters to cost-share for biosecurity incursions. The Federation is demanding the New Zealand Government now follow suit.

“New Zealand cannot export a biosecurity incursion into New Zealand, yet that’s the logic behind wishing to see exporters share the cost of biosecurity,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson.

“I have never seen a more illogical proposal. Instead of making importers pay more for biosecurity, given that’s where 100 percent of the risk comes from, let’s just sting the people who generate New Zealand’s export wealth.

“New Zealand’s unique selling proposition is that we are relatively free of nasties. Farmers are deeply concerned over current investment in frontline biosecurity, combined with a policy towards incursions, that seems more flight, than fight.

“Biosecurity cost sharing should fall on goods being imported into New Zealand as well as international air travellers. That’s where 100 percent of the biosecurity risk resides.

“64 percent of all export wealth comes from the agricultural sector and any incursion would adversely affect the entire economy. Not only that, but tourism, which doesn’t contribute anything to biosecurity, would be impacted severely based on UK experience.

“I find it unacceptable the Government is unwilling to add to the cost of an imported LCD TV but is willing to further erode farmgate returns.

“Several weeks ago on Q+A, the Minister of Finance, the Hon Bill English, said Federated Farmers was cool on the idea of biosecurity cost sharing. He’s dead right.

“In real terms, we are spending 51 percent more in Vote Biosecurity than was spent in 2000, yet we seem to be getting less frontline staff and less in terms of a biosecurity response judging by Varroa and the Argentine Ant.

“While Federated Farmers lobbying saved six frontline biosecurity staff in Whangarei, Tauranga and Timaru, the Government chopped 44 positions. This plan to cost share biosecurity with exporters is, frankly, the second most short-sighted thing I’ve seen.

“Every New Zealander has a stake in the export economy. It’s palpably unfair to penalise exporters for risks that can only be imported into New Zealand. The UK Government has ‘got that’ so it’s high time our Government ‘gets it’ too,” Mr Hartnell concluded.