Apple, stonefruit growers 'vindicated' by return of seized plants

  • 26/09/2018

The apple and stonefruit industry has welcomed news that thousands of plants seized by authorities are to be released.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) ordered the seizure of 55,000 fruit plants across the country in June, after it was found the paperwork allowing them into the country was incorrect. 

They were all from one testing centre in the US, which failed an MPI audit.

MPI is to release 20,000 apple plants and 400 stonefruit plants from containment after tests on all apple (Malus) plants came back clear, with no signs of any pests or diseases detectable on the plant materials. 

MPI's order to destroy thousands of stonefruit plants was found unlawful by the High Court in August.

Industry member and owner of McGrath Nurseries, Andy McGrath said: "We are encouraged by MPI's announcement and the release of the apple plants and plant materials.

"We feel this has vindicated the position we have taken since the very beginning of this issue.

"This is the first step towards rectifying the unlawful actions imposed by MPI, but there is still some way to go before orchardists and nurseries are able to return to normal commercial production. "

However there is concern that the release of stonefruit plants hasn't been confirmed.

"The vast majority of stonefruit plants remain in containment and the testing plans that have been proposed by MPI are, in our view, overly strict," said Mr McGrath.

"We will be addressing this directly with MPI in a meeting later this week."