The Government has notified changes to the AFB levy on 19 March 2020 following extensive consultation by the Management Agency with beekeepers in 2018 and 2019.
The new levy funding will enable the Management Agency to provide additional services to protect beehives from AFB.
The 2020 AFB levy is set at $40 ($46 including GST) per beekeeper and $1.35 ($1.55 including GST) per bee colony owned by each beekeeper as at 31 March 2020.
A beehive with two brood boxes and several honey supers represents a substantial investment for every beekeeper, and it is crucial that the American Foulbrood Pest Management Plan is adequately resourced to protect beekeepers’ beehives from AFB.
Elimination of AFB from managed colonies in New Zealand requires that all beekeepers comply with their legal obligations to eliminate AFB. The majority of beekeepers have met and continue to meet their AFB elimination obligations. However, these beekeepers have not enjoyed the full benefit of their efforts, as the beehives owned by a minority of beekeepers that do not comply with the American Foulbrood Pest Management Plan rules have continued to be a constant source of re-infection for their beehives.
The previous levy did not provide enough funding to adequately monitor and audit beekeeper AFB elimination performance. As a consequence, most non-compliant beekeepers have yet to be identified and they have continued to engage in beekeeping practices that spread AFB.
The new levy is expected to raise an additional $500,000 in 2020. This represents one third of the maximum allowable increase in levy. It will enable the Management Agency to double the number of apiaries inspected in 2020/21 from 1,200 to 2,400. These inspections will be focussed in regions with clusters of reported AFB and will better enable the Management Agency to identify infected apiaries owned by non-compliant beekeepers.
The new levy funding will enable the Management Agency to increase the number of honey samples tested for AFB in 2020/21 from 60 to 1,000. The honey samples will be collected from commercial beekeeping operations that report little, if any cases of AFB each year. Negative honey test results will verify that these beekeepers genuinely have very low levels of AFB in their beehives. However positive honey test results will suggest that the beekeeper may be failing to report their cases of AFB, and their apiaries will become a priority for inspection.
The Management Agency will use the additional levy funding to employ a second Operations Manager (AP1) to manage the additional inspection workload and ensure that the non-compliances identified are followed up. Each Operations Manager will be responsible for a separate region of the country. This will provide greater capacity to focus on the AFB elimination needs of each region.
The new levy funding will also enable the existing ApiWeb/Apiary database system to be replaced in Spring 2020 with a modern fit for purpose system. The new system is expected to reduce beekeeper effort required to register apiaries, notify cases of AFB, file Annual Disease Returns and complete Certificates of Inspection. The new system will also include a phone app that will enable beekeepers to register apiaries and notify cases of AFB while they are working in the field. The phone app will also enable beekeepers to easily report apiaries that are suspected of being unregistered or other cases of non-compliance to the Management Agency for investigation.