Import permit processing
Following the outcome of the PSA High Court case in the kiwifruit industry, plant importers have experienced significant problems in the processing of plant import permits, including MPI imposing a suspension on all permits for a number of weeks.
MPI have stated that this cautious approach is a result of this court case.
While processing has recommenced, there is a considerable backlog, and assessment of future import applications are now taking from 1 – 3 months rather than a fortnight as in the past.
These delays are creating an enormous amount of frustration for plant importers, costing time and significant financial losses.
NZPPI continues to work with MPI to ensure that our borders remain open for plant imports.
Border clearance though Auckland airport
Discussion about clearance delays identified ways to prioritise processes and to optimise freight handling and inspections. The need to work better with freight and customs brokers, undertake treatments and respond to non-compliance issues was identified. NZPPI is currently developing member guidance on these issues and their resolutions.
NZPPI continues to challenge a number of emergency measures that MPI has put in place for testing pelleted seed and petunia seed. These were imposed as temporary measures to address the risk of contaminated seed lines but have remained in place for more than a year at a significant cost to seed importers.
Test data indicates that the issues with contaminated seed have been addressed and NZPPI is questioning the need for ongoing testing at the current sampling rate.
All Import Health Standards are scheduled for review.
MPI has initiated a significant review of the plant imports system. This includes looking at the imports pathways and all import health standards. This is a significant body of work that will take a number of years to complete.
NZPPI will be very much involved in this review as it has implications for our members.
MPI manager Stephen Butcher has announced that the plants imports team will increase from 20 to 34 staff to advance this work and the backlog of risk analysis and import health standard (IHS) work.
Impatiens Downey Mildew (IDM)
As you are most likely aware, IDM has virtually taken bedding Impatiens off the shelves this season. NZPPI was alerted to the presence of Impatiens Downy Mildew four weeks ago and once confirmed we worked with MPI Biosecurity Response Manager John Brightwell to agree what biosecurity action was required. MPI decided that IDM was not stoppable and as it only affects the species Impatiens wallerania, no eradication action would be taken. MPI therefore asked NZPPI to manage industry communication about the newly arrived disease.
A factsheet and retailer leaflet went out to the industry about IDM.
Hygiene management protocols were provided to NZPPI members.
NZPPI applauds the producers and retailers that voluntarily stopped supplying Impatiens wallariana once they became aware that the disease had arrived in NZ. It is hoped that a mildew resistant Impatiens will be available by next season or the following.
Read more on the NZPPI website.
By October 2018, myrtle rust has been detected on 776 properties across most of the North Island and upper areas of the South Island.
The windborne nature of the disease means that containment has not proved possible. In response, MPI has changed gear from intensive surveillance and the removal and destruction of host plants to management of the disease over the long term.
The focus of efforts now is on a science programmes designed to lift understanding around the disease such as ways to treat myrtle rust, resistance and susceptibility, and to improve seed banking collection.
This newsletter item is a timely reminder that the New Zealand climate is heading towards myrtle rust season. Plant producers growing Myrtaceae are encouraged to use the NZPPI Myrtle Rust protocols and should refer to the NZPPI biosecurity information on the website. www.nzppi.org.nz/biosecurity