Catching Up

Boy a lot happens when you take break from the world.

I could write many different posts but the download speeds round here……

Post Number One: THE HEAT!!!

It was so hot here the other day we had trucks sinking into the tarmac and getting stuck, I kid you not.  It was 33 degrees at 6pm yesterday, once again, I kid you not.  On top of that we had gale force winds which allowed all Hawke’s Bayites (?ians) to understand what it must be like in a fan force oven.

It’s currently 30 degrees in my office an it’s not even lunch time

Post Number Two: Apples to Australia.

We are still stuck in process, but at least its the WTO process and not Australian process (which they have a tendancy to make up as they go along)

Apple growers around New Zealand can be very proud that their actions have taken this long standing dispute further than it has ever got before.  We should have resolution by the end of 2009 🙂

Post Three: Compliance Costs

Farmers are getting that ‘we’re surrounded by wolves’ feeling.  Whereever we look someone is trying to make us tick more boxes (at considerable cost of course).

E.g 1.  Last year a pest was found in apples going to Taiwan. One caterpillar in many, many years of trade. As a result the monitoring and auditing schedules were reviewed (and so they should be) however the result is a complete over-reaction. Remember, international trade is based on a low risk, not no risk.  So now we have three random audits (for just this one pest, and only for apples going to Taiwan) which cost around $600 ea.  We have to keep the evidence that we have bought the proper equipment (receipts and the equipment).

E.g. 2. We are currently going through our GlobalGAP audit ($1100 please).  When we first started many years ago there was one folders worth of documentation; now there are three. We employ seasonal labour and many of them are backpackers. We have to provide everyone with a room to eat their lunch, what happened to sitting under the apple trees.  It’s got so silly at a local level that our neighbours are having to put in wheelchair access to their lunchroom; I’m sorry but people in wheelchairs can’t pick apples; can we have some common sense please.

E.g 3.  New Seasonal Labour Laws; where the hell do I start.  OK, as an employer…

  1. is your global workforce limited by legislation? Ours is, we are only allowed to get labour ( the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme) or ARSE as growers call it) from 5 pacific islands.  A whole new bureaucracy has been created to get growers RSE’d. 
  2. Do you have to pay for their airfares to get here
  3. If they go missing do you get lumped with a $3000 fine per person MIA
  4. Do you have to provide pastoral care (health, religious requirements, housing…)

In reality it is working well for large corporate growers but for the little guy the cost is prohibitive. $1400 just to go through the registration process.  Us little guys just do not have the work for an RSE employee because…

  1. We only have approximately 4-6 weeks work available in Nov/Dec and another 8-12 weeks work from Feb onwards.
  2. Under RSE we have to guarantee a minimum of 30 hours per week for the entire time they are over here
  3. We are not allowed to share RSE workers between growers; an RSE worker is only allowed to work for his/her grower.  I don’t know how many times in the past that we have shared workers, and the workers like it. They get more work.  The industry spent years promoting a harvest trail…

The RSE a complicated expensive programme that singles out the horticultural industry as social providers for the Islands. (The scheme was designed to help the participating Islands on a social and economic level by training the residents and providing a source of income)

No other industry has to stick up with the rules.

Here’s how it used to work.  Backpackers  came into the country on a visitors permit.  Growers helped them get temporary work permits.  In November the Backpackers worked and paid taxes. Over the summer holidays the Backpackers went up north, saw the Pohutukawa trees and spent their money. In Feb March the Backpackers picked fruit and paid taxes, and in winter they went down south and saw snow and spent their money.  So simple they only issue being that to get temporary work permits a seasonal labour shortage needed to be declared; all they had to do was to declare this SLS in a more timely manner.

While the wolves are circling, all we seem to be doing is defending, we want to produce.

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