A compulsory levy may still be necessary despite the Federated Farmers Bees Industry Group's (BIG) efforts in setting up a voluntary levy of $1 per hive to fund research projects vital for New Zealand's bee-keeping and honey industry. Other industry participants have been encouraged to do the same and the Honey Packers Association also agreed to a voluntary donation of $20 per tonne of product handled.
Following this resolution, the Bee Products Standards Council (BPSC) co-ordinated the funding drive and in July BIG and BPSC jointly wrote to all honey-related Risk Management Programme holders seeking a contribution.
BPSC chairman Jim Edwards says of the $102,762 already received, funding has supported the researches into Pyrrolizidine Alkaloides (PA's) found in Vipers Bugloss honey and C4 sugars. Also, $2683 was being transferred to the Trees for Bees project.
Unfortunately, to date not enough had been received to begin the development of honey standards.
BIG chairman John Hartnell said the response had been pleasing but there was still a section of the bee-keeping industry being disproportionally burdened.
"Some bee-keepers have been incredibly generous, but it continues to be the same names contributing while, disappointingly, many very successful businesses take the free ride option," Hartnell says.
"It just highlights the need for a compulsory commodity levy in the industry. Without it, it will always be a struggle to raise the funding needed for crucial research and market access work."
Hartnell said an approach had been made to primary industry funding body, the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust, for funding to employ a consultant to investigate the best overall structure for the honey industry. Part of that would be to look at how a commodity levy could be implemented and administered.
To contribute to the BPSC fund, contact Federated Farmers on 0800 327 646.