2 Mar 2015

Agcarm supports MPI raising fees

5:15 am on 2 March 2015

The group representing agricultural chemical and animal health companies says it supports the Ministry for Primary Industries increasing its fees, because it's in desperate need of further resources.

The ministry is proposing to increase the fees it charges to provide food safety and biosecurity services by almost $13 million a year.

Agcarm's outgoing chief executive Graeme Peters said it only supported the fee increase if the money went towards increasing MPI's resources.

"To employ people, to keep people, to make sure they're paid adequately, because at present, that's not happening. So we are supportive of higher fees, but we are absolutely vigourously opposed to the government taking our higher fees and putting them into some sort of consolidated fund for use somewhere else," he said.

Mr Peters said the number of Agcarm members complaining about under-staffing and delays at MPI had soared in the past year.

"Agri chemicals and veterinary medicines have to be approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries before they can be sold in New Zealand and they have to go through quite a rigourous process there. What our members are finding is that the officials at MPI are under resourced, there's not enough of them, there has been a lot of staff turnover, retention is a problem and we're finding that a lot of the applications are just not going through, statutory deadlines are being missed, there are errors being made and there's been an enormous amount of complaint about the level of service from MPI."

Graeme Peters' replacement is Mark Ross, who has moved from a policy and advocacy manager's role at Federated Farmers.