Commercial beekeepers urged to vote for a commodity levy

The industry group representing commercial beekeepers is calling for support for the introduction of a commodity levy.

Voting papers are to be distributed this month on a proposal for a flat $0.10 per kilogram on all honey, applied to honey extracted for commercial purposes.

Chair of Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) Bruce Wills said a commodity levy would provide the foundation and resources to realise enormous potential in the apiculture sector.

"We are at a crucial juncture in the history of this industry," he said.

"We need beekeepers to vote and we need a clear statement from the beekeepers through this vote," said Mr Wills.

He said the industry has grown significantly in the last few years, with export earnings showing a ten-fold increase in ten years (NZ$350 million as at June 2018), to hive numbers which have more than doubled over the past ten years to reach 895,860 hives as at December 2018.

"We need a focused and tightly managed effort to address the challenges that are currently holding us back."

"We also need to look past these issues to future opportunities."

Over the past few years, the industry has seen several poor seasons as a result of adverse weather conditions, with a more recent slow-down in sales for some honeys, and Mr Wills said these need to be faced and worked through in a united manner.

"We need continued strong leadership and decisive action from a strong industry body to secure the future of industry and make best use of the long-term investment and funding that will emerge through a commodity levy."

To meet the requirements of the Commodity Levies Act, the majority of those who vote need to be in favour of a levy. 

ApiNZ has held extensive consultation with beekeepers around the country with voting papers going to all beekeepers with 26 hives or more.

The vote opens in February and will close at 12 noon 1 March. 

If the vote is successful Apiculture New Zealand intends to apply for a levy order by April 2019 with the aim of having it in place by the beginning of October 2019 for the 2019/20 season with levies payable after that season.