6 May 2009

Bee industry says its stung by export restrictions

2:41 pm on 6 May 2009

The bee industry wants the Government to negotiate better access conditions for getting New Zealand honey and live bee exports into overseas markets.

Agricultural Minister David Carter told the official opening of Bee Week on Tuesday night that New Zealand's free trade policy is based on science and there has to be a sound scientific reason for restricting imports of products that might carry pests and diseases.

He says New Zealand expects its overseas markets to use the same approach for its exports.

But the National Beekeepers Association says that's not working for honey and bee exporters, who continue to battle unfair restrictions.

A live bee exporter, Russell Berry of Arataki Honey, says they're also being stung by unreasonable fees and compliance costs.

He says beekeepers also have to pay steep fees towards the Food Safety Authority's risk management programme.

He says one beekeeper has complained that his fees have increased from $300 to $10,000 per year in five years.

He says the user-pays approach takes no account of the free pollination services that bees provide.