The Government is spending nearly $6 million to stop Australian beekeepers marketing their products as ‘mānuka’ honey.
The proposal is to levy of 10 cents per kilogram on beekeepers who produce 750kg of honey per year. It’s estimated that a ‘yes’ vote for the levy would raise about $2 million annually.
Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos says the industry body has run a national roadshow going to 10 main centres, had individual meetings with some bee keepers and also communicated to the industry via their publication NZ Beekeeper.
Kos says Apiculture is currently a voluntary membership organisation. It came together two years ago when all sectors of the industry – including beekeepers, marketers and affiliates such as Federated Farmers – joined forces to form the present organisation. But she says times are changing due to the growth in the industry
“The apiculture industry in NZ has grown phenomenally,” Kos told Rural News.
“Ten years ago honey exports were $50m, now they are $350m. There are now 900,000 beehives NZ-wide, up from only 400,000 ten years ago.
“With that huge growth has come a lot of pressure on the beekeeping industry. We need good bee health and good biosecurity systems, and we need investment to remain a sustainable industry.”
Kos believes being a voluntary organisation was a good start, but now is needed a fully professional body seen as having full industry support and funding for R&D.
“We made a good start with Apiculture NZ, but we need to step up as an industry and put some serious investment in our sector.
“And we need to work closely with government. While we won’t always agree with what they do we need to be professional in how we work with them and how we advocate on behalf of our members.”
The levy is aimed at commercial beekeepers with about 26 hives or more, but Kos says other smaller scale beekeepers can still join Apiculture NZ.