Kiwifruit growers hit back at Government's Psa appeal

Time is money and it's taxpayer money - that's the message from kiwifruit growers.

On Tuesday kiwifruit growers filed a cross-appeal to the Government's appeal against the High Court's ruling the Ministry of Primary Industries was at least in part responsible for the Psa outbreak.

The industry is warning the cost of compensation is growing each day, with predictions a settlement could now crack $800 million.

When kiwfruit grower Curly Walker planted what he calls his "paddocks full of gold", he was counting on them to live up to their name.

"It was sort of my retirement thing to get it all up and running, started in the year 2000 and over those 11 years I'd build it up to its potential and all of a sudden we're just going to achieve our dream and whip it was gone."

From producing 70,000 trays of gold kiwifruit each year, six years post Psa he's now only growing a quarter of that.

"I'm 72 now, who knows how long we've got to spend in retirement," says Mr Walker.

Many affected growers don't have time on their side.

Barry Harris, who met with Newshub in December, hasn't seen a cent of compensation.

"All the work you've done all your life, you've actually achieved nothing."

Kiwifruit claim chairman John Cameron says a lot of farmers won't recover financially from this decision.

"A lot of them are getting older; we're all getting older, so to be prolonged for another period of time is pretty devastating really."

In June the High Court found MPI responsible for the Psa outbreak. But the Government fired back with an appeal.

On Tuesday, before that appeal has even been heard, growers filed a counter-appeal.

"We would not have put a counter claim in if the government had not done the same, we are very concerned that the cost to the tax payer and the industry will grow in time as the court case will be a long time before it'll actually be resolved," says Mr Cameron.

Cold and wet weather like this is the ideal climate for Psa to regenerate and destroy plants.

So with every year that compensation is  pushed out, the losses increase and will be accounted for if and when there is a final settlement. That settlement is getting bigger, fast.

Early estimates put compensation at around $370 million, but last year that was bumped up to $450 million. Just weeks ago the Government almost doubled its estimate to $800 million.

"Hopefully something can be resolved fairly quickly to save the tax payer a lot of money, it's just going to drag on and drag on," says Mr Walker.

In the meantime, Mr Walker is pinning his retirement dreams on kiwifruit paddocks full of green.

The golden days now seem all too far away.