The management of unwanted exotic pests that 'escaped' eradication has at times been unclear, with regional councils often left to their own devices to formulate management plans, says Federated Farmers general manager of policy and advocacy Mark Ross.
Except for the Tb Free programme run by the Animal Health Board and the American foulbrood bee disease prevention programme run by the bee industry, there is little national consistency in managing exotic pests.
To mitigate this inconsistency the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been leading a programme to improve the pest management framework.
MPI has been consulting on this and landowners, under the representation of Federated Farmers, have been a key part of the process in developing improved protocols.
The Biosecurity Law Reform Act made a number of changes to New Zealand's biosecurity system in 2012. Among the changes are that the Act now requires the Minister to develop a national policy direction for all pest management plans formed under the legislation.
In brief, the direction will apply to national and regional pest and pathway management plans, the plans themselves and regional small-scale management programmes.
The contents of the proposed national policy direction under discussion have been broken into six key areas:
Bringing consistency to terminology in pest management plans
Improving the quality of objectives within plans
Analyses of the costs and benefits
Directions on proposed funding of costs of pest and pathway management plans
Timing of inconsistency determination
Setting of good neighbour rules.
The key purpose of the direction is to bring greater consistency to the pest management plans and hence improve the likely success of reducing the negative effects of a pest or disease on New Zealand's economy and environment.
Bringing consistency to plans, improving objectives and timings are pretty straight forward requirements when it comes to managing pests.
As Federated Farmers sees it, plans throughout the country need to be consistent and developed in the similar, if not the same, manner.
More thought is needed in the debate over funding, costs and benefits analysis and enforcement of good neighbour rules.
As it stands, it is difficult to determine the true costs and benefits of pest impacts.
Transparency within most proposed regional pest management strategy documents is not clear, and often not made available to the public.
Funding the plans also needs better consistency, along with the Crown needing to comply with the new legislation under the Act of being the good neighbour.