12 Jul 2012

Growers await new produce import rules

6:51 am on 12 July 2012

The horticulture industry is keeping a close watch on proposed new import standards for Australian produce.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is reviewing the import regulations for tomato, capsicum, cucumbers and zucchini from Australia.

Imports were halted six months ago when Australia suspended the use of the chemical treatment dimethoate which kills pests including fruit fly.

Under the proposed new rules Australian producers would need to show they were managing the population of the Queensland fruit fly.

Growers would also have to use an alternative chemical treatment, methyl bromide.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock supports the move which he says gives greater assurance to growers.

He says Horticulture New Zealand understands there are concerns internationally regarding the impact of the use of methyl bromide on the environment.

"Our concern is principally to protect the fruit and vegetable industry in New Zealand from a pest which would devastate us in terms of the effects it has ... on the industry here, but also in terms of the market access we would have internationally".

Mr Silcock expects a decision on the new import rules will be made by August at the earliest.