14 Jul 2015

Kiwifruit industry weighs legal action

6:53 am on 14 July 2015

A kiwifruit growers' industry body says its members are free to join legal action seeking damages from the Government for the vine disease PSA, even though it is advising them not to.

Zespri expects a lift in gold kiwifruit production next year.

Photo: AFP / Monty Rakusen / Cultura Creative

The Kiwifruit Claim has so far been signed by 72 growers, who are seeking a share of the $885 million worth of damage that the Government estimates was caused by the disease.

The claim alleges that Biosecurity New Zealand was negligent in allowing PSA to be introduced into the country.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated president Neil Trebilco said the legal action could ruin the industry's relationship with the Government.

"If Government's going to be worried about being sued every time there's a biosecurity incursion, it may stop them from being open in their information sharing," he said.

"We did take some legal advice very early in the piece, when PSA was found, and the advice that we had that any such claim against the Government would be most unlikely to succeed.

"But, in the end, growers will make their own decisions and that's just the way it should be."

Mr Trebilco said New Zealand growers have just picked their largest kiwifruit crop ever, in which the volume of gold kiwifruit harvested rebounded to pre-PSA levels.