23 Apr 2013

Compulsory levies proposed for all citrus fruit growers

6:33 am on 23 April 2013

The national citrus body is proposing to put the squeeze on growers who aren't contributing to research and other projects that benefit the industry.

Currently, the New Zealand Citrus Growers organisation has commodity levies covering Navel oranges and Satsuma mandarins.

But levies on other citrus fruit, including lemons, limes and grapefruit, are voluntary and not all growers are contributing.

Executive manager Nikki Johnson said it's proposing to rectify that by introducing compulsory levies for all citrus fruit.

She said it's estimated that currently there is about 30% of citrus fruit which the organisation is not collecting levies on.

"We estimate an increase of about $60,000 in our levy intake which is relatively significant and we anticipate the majority of that will actually come from our lemon, lime and grapefruit product group."

Ms Johnson said that's the product group where levy collection is currently voluntary and only about 40% of growers in that group are paying at this stage.

The Citrus Growers body is proposing levy rates ranging from 0.5 cents a kilo for mandarins to 1 cent for oranges, lemons, lime and grapefruit.

Ms Johnson said details have been circulated to about 500 growers.

There will be a meeting in the biggest citrus production region, Gisborne, on Tuesday.

Growers will vote on the levy in June.