Matt’s Blog - Is it time to sign up to GIA?
New Zealand’s biosecurity system is changing. Over the past five years, large parts of the horticulture, forestry, arable and livestock sectors, have signed an agreement with the Government to share the cost and decision-making responsibilities for biosecurity incursions.
This Government Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA) has profoundly changed the relationship between government and industry, who are now partners, rather than adversaries in biosecurity responses.
The Agreement establishes a partnership between government and primary industries to promote better biosecurity by taking an integrated approach to biosecurity risks. Twenty-one partners have signed the agreement, including NZ Apples & Pears, NZ Citrus Growers, the Forest Owners Association, and NZ Winegrowers.
After years of criticism of MPI’s efforts in managing incursions, the GIA now means the industry agrees to assist in biosecurity events and fund a portion of the cost. This would have been unheard of in the past, when the government did this alone, using tax-payers’ money.
The Mycoplasma bovis response is the first significant biosecurity event managed under this new arrangement. While MPI works to eradicate the disease, dairy farmers will refund 30% of the cost, totalling $272m, over the next 10 years.
These are the new rules and Mycoplasma demonstrates what is at stake for industries in future biosecurity events.
Even with the shift in costs, the plants sector’s GIA signatories appear to like the new arrangement. Over the past five years they have banded together to develop response plans for pests like Fruit Fly and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. On the cards is a plan for Xylella, a serious bacterial disease that devastates grape vines and some tree crops. These plans are sophisticated and are driven by a lot of energy and investment from industry.
Plant production is one of only a handful of industries that has not signed the GIA Deed. The nursery industry body looked at this five years ago, but didn’t complete the process at the time.
Things were more difficult back then. Under the previous GIA rules, plant producers would have had to agree to a biosecurity levy across almost every business in the sector, a difficult task in a diverse sector like ours. The proposal was dropped but NZPPI has kept the idea alive in the meantime.
Despite our lack of signatory status, NZPPI participates in GIA forums as an ‘observer’. This is on the basis that we have been a constructive participant and signalled that we may work towards becoming a GIA signatory in the future.
As the GIA signatories get tighter as a group, they are actively looking at how to minimise their biosecurity risk, including the risk from nurseries. This is making our ‘observer’ status a bit uncomfortable.
So, is it time for our sector to once again look at joining GIA? Pressure is increasing, but at the same time the process to join is getting easier.
- A recent change in the GIA means NZPPI may be able to sign on behalf of its members. This avoids the need to convince the entire sector to sign the deed.
- The proposed Plant Production Biosecurity Scheme (PPBS) may become part of the GIA and could be a significant contribution to biosecurity readiness from our sector. Under such an arrangement, we may not have to contribute a lot of additional funding to GIA readiness activities.
- New GIA agreements, such as the one proposed for Xylella, are likely to include rules for nurseries. We need to join GIA to have a say in these rules.
Things are changing quickly. There is no turning the clock back on the GIA, as the primary sector has largely signed up and are seeing significant benefits.
At some point, the plant production sector will need to again look at joining the GIA. While not urgent yet, we will likely begin to see more operational agreements for pests and diseases, that will include nurseries, starting with Xylella later this year.
NZPPI is discussing this with our members and the rest of the plant production industry, through our shed meetings, regional visits, events, and other communications.
The NZPPI website includes information about the GIA and the PPBS, including how these are linked. We also encourage you to tell us what you think by completing our survey.
We want to know what you think, or if you have any questions. Get in touch at email@example.com or call me on 027 622 9255.