Industry body Summerfruit NZ has been consulting growers around the country on renewal of the sector's commodity levy order, which expires before the start of the 2020 summer fruit season. The new order would allow Summerfruit NZ, which represents 220 growers, to levy growers for a further six years.
New Zealand has more than 20 primary sector commodity levy orders covering everything from apples to wine grapes. The levies provide more than two-thirds of Summerfruit NZ's funding and are used for biosecurity, crop protection, export market access and other activities. The summer fruit market is worth $127 million each year - 69 percent of which is export sales (based on figures from the 2017/18 season).
According to Cromwell cherry grower and Chairman of Summerfruit NZ, Tim Jones, meetings had been held across the country in the lead-up to the vote.
"We found almost unanimous support for our current levy calculation method, which is based on a percentage of sales value," he said. "So we are putting this option forward for growers to vote on in the levy referendum. We're also proposing no increase for the maximum levy rates - currently one rate for apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums, and another rate for cherries."
Cherries are treated differently because they have higher value and lower overall production per hectare than the other fruits covered by the levy. Growers have a three-week voting window beginning on Wednesday 16 October and can vote online or by post. According to newshub.co.nz¸ votes must be received by midday on Friday 8 November and the outcome should be known within a few days.