A top US facility that globally supplies cultivars for the pipfruit and stonefruit industry has lost interest in dealing with New Zealand. An industry member blames the way the Ministry for Primary Industries has dealt with the pipfruit/stonefruit issue.

The Washington University Clean Plant Center Northwest (CPCNW) last week stated it would not seek re-accreditation for exports to NZ.

“That is massive; a huge negative for our industries because that is the main clearing house for material to be sent all around the world,” Kerry Sixtus of Pattullo’s Nurseries at Akaroa told Rural News.

Sixtus is one of five industry members who in the High Court challenged the MPI’s directive to destroy or contain thousands of pipfruit and stonefruit plants over biosecurity concerns. It says the way MPI handled that issue and their communication with the US facility has caused “big issues”.

A High Court decision has overturned MPI’s directives, but the industry early last week was still trying to establish communication with MPI on a way forward.

The judge found that the MPI directions, issued under s116 of the Biosecurity Act, were unlawful. It has directed MPI to reconsider. The judgment encouraged MPI to work with the industry to develop and agree a more appropriate set of directions that address their key biosecurity concerns.

Yesterday, MPI issued revised directions that apple and stonefruit growers found disappointing.

Meanwhile, Sixtus says the CPCNW had issued a statement saying it is not interested in re-accreditation. “They have said they basically can’t be bothered anymore. That is probably as much as anything else because of the process MPI has taken with its communication."

If CPCNW does not want to deal with NZ that causes big problems, Sixtus says: “All those cultivars that come out of the US, all those summer fruit cultivars… that’s the main breeding force around the world out of California. “We now have to look at other ways of getting them into the country and that is huge.”