13 regional meetings to discuss varroa management plan

15 August 2000

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will be holding regional meetings around the country with beekeepers and representatives from industries reliant on bees beginning next week, to consult on the two-year management plan for varroa.

The two-year plan is phase two of a three-phase management plan, which was presented to and approved by the National Beekeepers Association (NBA) annual general meeting in Gisborne last month. As directed by Cabinet, MAF is working with beekeepers and other affected industries to develop and implement a three-phase management plan for varroa. The plan's objectives are to mitigate the impacts of varroa and to maintain the South Island free of varroa for as long as possible.

Phase one of the plan is currently underway with the Government funding treatment of hives in infested areas. Phase one will continue until the details of the two-year plan have been finalised. This is likely to be in late September.

MAF, NBA and the horticulture industries are to discuss and agree on the details of the two- year plan during meetings in late August. A draft plan and cost-benefit analysis will be presented to Cabinet in September.

"The meetings will provide an opportunity for beekeepers to be involved in decisions on managing varroa. These decisions will affect the future of the beekeeping, and we hope that all beekeepers get involved so that a plan that best serves the industry is developed," says Matthew Stone, MAF's Programme Co-ordinator, Exotic Disease response.

A two-year integrated pest management plan will need to consider issues such as treatment recommendations, movement controls, surveillance to monitor spread, maintaining South Island freedom, beekeeper extension services and research needs.

The regional meetings form part of the consultation programme developed by MAF and the NBA. Meetings will run for two weeks, starting Monday 21 August and ending 31 August 2000, and takes in 13 locations (Wanganui, Gisborne, Havelock North, Whangarei, Tauranga, Auckland, Hamilton, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru, Alexandra and Balclutha). The full itinerary is attached.

Following the regional meetings, a beekeeper representative from each region will attend a meeting in Wellington (details to be finalised), at which the recommendation to Cabinet will be prepared.

All registered beekeepers from the MAF apiaries database have been sent a meeting schedule, the MAF discussion document, Draft Operational Plan for the Control of Varroa, and a document describing the process for beekeepers to lodge compensation claims.

The discussion document, Draft Operational Plan for the Control of Varroa, was prepared by AgriQuality New Zealand Ltd with the assistance of nominated beekeeper representatives. "The document discusses options for meeting Cabinet's stated objectives. It should serve as useful background information prior to the regional meetings, although MAF remains open-minded about the details of the two-year management plan," Dr Stone said.

The compensation claim document describes the process by which beekeepers can lodge claims for losses incurred as a result of statutory control actions during MAF's response to the varroa incursion, in accordance with provisions of the Biosecurity Act 1993.

MAF and the NBA have been working together to develop a fair and timely compensation process. The compensation document will assist beekeepers that may be entitled to receive compensation. A three-step process will be employed to enable entitlements to be determined fairly and efficiently.

Firstly, beekeepers have been asked to advise MAF of their intention to make a claim by supplying general information. This is needed so that MAF can understand the type, value and volume of losses that have occurred.

An advisory group will be established to review the claim intention advice from beekeepers and make recommendations on the type of losses that qualify for compensation and determine the correct compensation amount.

Finally, formal claims will be invited in early October 2000. Straightforward claims and compensation offers should be determined relatively quickly. Further advice on compensation will be available from MAF Biosecurity and affected NBA branch representatives who will be briefed on Wednesday (16 August 2000).

Times, dates, and places of regional meetings follow.

For further details visit the MAF website.

Contact MPI

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