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Peas explain, Minister

The Minister of Primary Industries needs to explain how the failure of its biosecurity systems led to the Pea Weevil incursion in the Wairarapa, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says

“The decision to ban the growing of peas in the region has huge implications for farmers. While the ambition to eradicate the pest is right, Labour has little faith the Ministry for Primary Industries can achieve this.

“There is an ongoing risk of further incursions because the changes to health standards on imported foods do not lower the biosecurity risk from imported peas.

“The Ministry has reinstated methyl bromide treatment of imported peas – against an international objective to end its use – but then removed the soak test checks on the imported material.

“The final MPI checks that failed farmers in the past have been removed but were not improved as was needed by the industry.

“Trusting the certification of offshore exporting countries has proven to be naive and dangerous in a world of increasingly competitive international trade.

“The cost to New Zealand of National’s inadequate biosecurity systems is hundreds of millions of dollars, and growing every day.

“Labour is committed to an independent and well-resourced biosecurity agency to protect our borders, our biological systems and primary sector jobs,” Damien O’Connor says.