16 Feb 2011

Major structural changes at Hort NZ

7:09 am on 16 February 2011

The national horticulture industry body has made some drastic changes to its structure following a 20% cut in its funding.

Horticulture New Zealand has laid off 1.5 full-time equivalent staff, reduced directors fees and cut back on its policy and research activities.

Fruit growers last year decided not to approve an increase in their levy to Horticulture New Zealand which would have cost them an extra $120 per year on average, or $15 for $10,000 worth of sales.

The proposed levy increase was to replace a loss of grants from the Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust and would have brought fruit growers into line with the rate vegetable growers pay.

Chief executive Peter Silcock says Horticulture New Zealand's mean income is down by 20%, or $500,000 per year, and all areas of activity have been affected.

He says the industry body has also decided to set aside a portion of the vegetable levy in a fund for vegetable growers, to make up for them paying more than fruit growers.