American foulbrood (AFB) is the most serious disease affecting honey bees in New Zealand. It costs beekeepers an estimated 6% of gross returns and poses a serious risk to New Zealand’s honey exports valued at $329 million in 2017.
Under the National American Foulbrood Pest Management Plan (NPMP), beekeepers are responsible for eliminating AFB from their beehives, and the Management Agency is responsible for monitoring and auditing beekeepers’ compliance with their obligations in order to eliminate AFB from managed beehives in New Zealand.
In July 2018, the Management Agency consulted with beekeepers on a proposal to increase the levy to provide the Management Agency with sufficient funding to fully implement the NPMP and achieve the plan’s primary objective of an annual 5% reduction in the level of AFB.
Beekeeper submissions on the proposal raised a number of concerns including:
- that beekeepers are the key to eliminating the disease, not the agency
- non-compliant beekeepers create the biggest risk for AFB spread
- the proposed cost creates financial stress and may be a barrier to beekeeping
- the proposed levy structure is unfair and benefits some groups more than other groups
- the proposed levy cost and structure incentivises bad beekeeping practice
- the plan won’t work or isn’t needed, and
- lack of confidence in the agency.
The Management Agency Board considered beekeeper submissions and announced in December 2018 that it planned to make changes to the proposal to increase the levy to address beekeepers’ concerns. These changes included:
- replacing the existing apiary and beekeeper levy with a hive and beekeeper levy, and
- establishing a dedicated team solely focused on the elimination of American foulbrood.
The Management Agency Board has also decided to fund its compliance and enforcement activities through cost recovery charges under section 135 of the Biosecurity Act 1993. This will result in a fairer allocation of costs, as the Management Agency will recover the cost of its compliance and enforcement actions from non-compliant beekeepers.
The Management Agency is proposing to replace the apiary and beekeeper levy with a hive and beekeeper levy set at $40 per beekeeper and a hive levy increasing from $1.35 to $2.55 per hive over a five-year period. This will raise an additional $0.6 to $1.6 million per year to enable the NPMP to:
- save 41,000 beehives and associated products estimated at $50 million from destruction over 10 years
- support ongoing access to overseas markets by providing evidence that AFB is under appropriate regulatory control.
The increased levy funding is required to enable the Management Agency to implement a robust monitoring and audit programme that will ensure that all beekeepers are taking responsibility for eliminating AFB from their beehives.
Have your say!
The Management Agency is seeking beekeepers’ views on the proposal to replace the American Foulbrood apiary and beekeeper levy with a hive and beekeeper levy.
Consultation on the levy proposal is running from 4 March to 5pm 22 March 2019. Beekeepers will receive the levy proposal via email or regular mail from 4 March and can share their views by:
- completing the online submission form, or
- posting a submission to The Management Agency, PO Box 44282, Lower Hutt 5040, or
- providing a written submission, and either attaching it to an email sent to email@example.com or posting to The Management Agency, PO Box 44282, Lower Hutt 5040, or
- writing an email and putting ‘Submission on proposed AFB Levy’ in the subject line of the email.
Beekeepers are encouraged to email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org before 15 March 2019. Answers to frequently asked questions will be posted on this webpage and emailed weekly to all registered beekeepers.
Once consultation has closed, the Management Agency and Apiculture New Zealand Boards will consider all feedback and notify beekeepers of the outcome in June 2019.
Levy proposal documents
Note: Submissions close 5pm 22 March 2019
Start your submission at here.
Previous levy consultation
Access to the July 2018 AFB levy consultation can be found here.