What is an ACVM?

ACVM stands for agricultural compounds, including veterinary medicines. These are substances used to help manage plants and animals. The ACVM Act 1997 controls how they may be used, sold, imported, and manufactured in New Zealand.

What is an ACVM?

ACVMs are agricultural compounds, including veterinary medicines. Under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997, if you want to import, manufacture, sell, or use an ACVM in New Zealand, it must be authorised.

About agricultural compound and veterinary medicine (ACVM) authorisation

Agricultural compounds are used (or intended for use) in plant and animal management, for:

  • pest management, including vertebrate pests
  • productivity and performance or reproduction
  • nutrition
  • manipulation, capture, or immobilisation of animals
  • diagnosis of animal conditions (such as disease)
  • prevention or treatment of animal conditions
  • enhancement of an agricultural compound used to treat plants and animals
  • marking animals
  • post-harvest treatment of raw primary produce.

In this situation:

  • "plants" includes fungi
  • "animals" does not include humans
  • "post-harvest treatments" generally control pests or infestations of raw primary produce. The scope of post-harvest treatments depends on the industry sector.

A substance can also be declared to be an agricultural compound by Order in Council.

Classes of agricultural compounds

The following classes cover the majority of the term "agricultural compound":

  • veterinary medicines – substances used for animals, including companion animals
  • agricultural chemicals – substances used for plants, including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, plant growth regulators, surfactants, and adjuvants
  • vertebrate toxic agents – substances that kill or limit the viability of animals, such as possums, rodents, and other unwanted mammals
  • fertilisers, plant biostimulants, and soil conditioners
  • pet food and animal feed – including dietary supplements.

Definition of agricultural compound depends on use

To be an agricultural compound a substance must be used, or say it's intended to be used, to manage plants and animals (in a way that fits the ACVM Act definition).

For example, when a compound to control mosquitoes is used to prevent the spread of an animal disease, it is an agricultural compound. If it is used to control a human disease, it is not an agricultural compound.

Products that modify animals or plants, even if to benefit people, are considered agricultural compounds. For example, a product used to produce human pharmaceutical ingredients from cow's milk is an agricultural compound because the cows are being managed for productivity.

Cleansers, disinfectants, sanitisers, and water conditioners

These are considered agricultural compounds if they are used to maintain hygienic conditions for animals or plants. For example, this includes a product used to control cattle disease organisms in a dairy shed.

Products used to clean industrial equipment and marine antifouling paints used in aquaculture are considered agricultural compounds if they're used on equipment where animals or plants are being managed for a purpose in the ACVM definition.

Substances that could be used as agricultural compounds

These are considered agricultural compounds if:

  • they can be used as they are without further manufacture or modification, and
  • they have a stated purpose fitting the ACVM definition. 

For example, if you bought a bag labelled "zinc sulphate" without a stated use, it would not be an agricultural compound. If the same bag had a label stating it is "for use on farm animals to treat footrot", it would be an agricultural compound.

Managing or eradicating pests with agricultural compounds

Pest management must be for animal or plant management. A pest is an organism that can reproduce and may affect plants, animals, or raw primary produce. It excludes organisms that affect only humans.

An organism may be a pest in one context but a managed plant or animal in another. To be a pest, the organism must have the status of being unwanted – this status can be determined by Order in Council but doesn't have to be.

Effectiveness-improving substances for agricultural compounds

Some compounds by themselves aren't used to manage plants or animals. But, when used with an agricultural compound, they help it to work better. This makes them agricultural compounds. Examples include pH buffers, surfactants, and emulsifiers.

Items that may count as agricultural compounds

Things like absorbable sutures or microchips can be considered agricultural compounds if they have a non-removable chemical in them.

What's not an agricultural compound?

The following classes of compounds don't fit the definition of an agricultural compound:

  • products used for purposes that are not listed in the ACVM Act
  • public health insecticides for human health purposes
  • household fly sprays for human health purposes
  • industrial herbicides used only where plants and animals are not being managed (for example, at a commercial industrial site to control weeds in concrete surfaces).

If you're not sure what your product is

If you're still not sure whether your product is an agricultural compound, a class determination will tell you its status. 

Class determinations for ACVMS: how to get one, or do one yourself

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