Defining agricultural chemicals

Find out what agricultural chemicals are and which laws they come under in New Zealand.


Legal obligations

If you import, manufacture, sell, or use agricultural chemicals in New Zealand, you must follow the the requirements outlined in the ACVM Act (1997). These products may also have requirements under other legislation, such as the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 and the Biosecurity Act 1993.

What is an agricultural chemical?

An agricultural chemical is an agricultural compound that is applied directly to or on plants for one or more of the purposes listed in the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997 definition (see below). Agricultural chemicals range from herbicides to plant growth regulators.

If you are unsure of your product’s status under the ACVM Act, we can do a class determination for you. There is a fee for this service.

Definition of agricultural compound

The legal definition of an agricultural compound, as stated in the ACVM Act, is:
... any substance, mixture of substances, or biological compound, used or intended for use in the direct management of plants and animals, or to be applied to the land, place, or water on or in which the plants and animals are managed, for the purposes of:

  1. managing or eradicating pests, including vertebrate pests; or
  2. maintaining, promoting, or regulating plant or animal productivity and performance or reproduction; or
  3. fulfilling special nutritional requirements; or
  4. the manipulation, capture, or immobilisation of animals; or
  5. diagnosing the condition of animals; or
  6. preventing or treating conditions of animals; or
  7. enhancing the effectiveness of an agricultural compound used for the treatment of plants and animals; or
  8. marking animals; and includes
    1. any veterinary medicine, substance, mixture of substances, or biological compound used for post-harvest pest control or disinfestation of raw primary produce;
    2. anything used or intended to be used as feed for animals; and
    3. and any substance, mixture of substances, or biological compound declared to be an agricultural compound for the purposes of this Act by Order in Council made under subsection (2).
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