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Varroa PMS should be a Priority for Government

The evil hour when Varroa crosses Cook Strait will draw closer if Government chooses not to fund the Varroa Pest Management Strategy, warns New Zealand Bee Industry Group (NZBIG) Executive member Darren Clifford.

NZBIG have welcomed the Varroa Planning Group's recommendations that the group focus on keeping the South Island Varroa free, but are concerned that Government may not pick up the $760,000 tab to run the Varroa Pest Management Strategy.

"MAF has estimated that the spread of Varroa to the South Island would cost $314 million over 35 years with the bulk of the impact hitting the pastoral sector. While the impact of Varroa on the bee industry has been catastrophic, the flow on cost in terms of lost production due to reduced clover pollination is enormous.

"However, the Minister of Agriculture has indicated he would rather provide an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff in the event a South Island incursion occurs than fund the PMS."

NZBIG North Canterbury Provincial Chair Tony Scott questions why funding for a Varroa PMS was not earmarked in last week's Budget increase for biosecurity.

"The Government should know that investing $760,000 per annum to protect New Zealand's pastoral and horticultural industries will have a guaranteed benefit."

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