A vote by beekeepers on a proposed honey levy next month has seen one industry group rallying its members to reject the proposal.
Apiculture New Zealand, a voluntary body of about 900 members, wants to
introduce a commodity levy on honey to help manage industry growth.
The proposed levy would see all 1800 beekeepers in New Zealand with 26
hives or more to pay a levy of 10 cents on each kilogram of honey -
collecting about two million dollars a year.
But New Zealand Beekeeping president Jane Lorimer said the the levy was unreasonably high.
"Compare it to the Australian beekeeping scene, where I understand it's
only about 2.3 cents per kilo that they pay... and so we think that's
going to really badly effect our beekeepers," she said.
Ms Lorimer said she was also concerned the 10 cent levy was going to
imposed on all honey varieties, including mānuka honey, despite mānuka
being worth much more money.
"You get a lot more money for mānuka and so the poor beekeeper who has
got the lower priced product... is going to be severely penalised."
She said another worry was that much of the money would go into
administrative costs, instead of targeted research and development.
"The proposed levy is a tax that would hurt struggling beekeepers
financially, and yet not be used effectively to solve the industry's
growing problems - like falling prices, biosecurity risks, and over
stocking, for example", said Ms Lorimer.
"Consultation on the planned levy in recent months exposed a lack of
planning and engagement by Apiculture NZ. Beekeepers are unhappy, and
Apiculture NZ have already delayed the vote once in the face of this
criticism. We are now calling beekeepers to vote 'no'", she said.
Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos responded to the
criticism by saying the body was the right organisation to manage the
"We absolutely refute the claims of lack of engagement - consultation has been extensive.
"Through that consultation process we got feedback which we included in
the final amended commodity levy proposal and we gave beekeepers more
time to look at the proposal because that's what they are asked for -
"Again we refute any claim that this was delayed because of criticism -
consultation is about listening and incorporating feedback which we
did," she said.
Ms Kos said the challenges facing beekeepers after a tough couple of
seasons was exactly the reason why a levy, and strong leadership, was
"Now's the time to take action, show some leadership and have a well
funded plan of attack to address those issues and the opportunities
through a levy,
"Apiculture NZ is the right organisation to manage the levy - it's been
well planned, well communicated and balanced to look after the interests
of all beekeepers, big and small."
The postal referendum on the proposed honey levy run through February.
Over half the prospective levy payers who vote need to vote 'yes' for
the proposal to succeed, providing the "yes" votes represent more than
half of the total registered beehives of those who voted.
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