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Velvetleaf a major threat to farming sectors

The confirmation of widespread Velvetleaf infestation in crops throughout New Zealand is a major risk to New Zealand’s arable and wider farming sectors, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries’ admission that it has been focusing more on responding to incursions rather than border protection has allowed the importation of this dangerous weed.

“The National Government’s underfunding of biosecurity and its desperation to improve control systems has allowed this and a number of other unnecessary incursions.

“Every study of agri-business confirms biosecurity is the number one priority for our international reputation and long-term future viability as a food producing nation.

“The imposition of a $25 border levy to replace $100 million in government funding has done nothing to boost biosecurity capability – it just helped National meet a one-off wafer thin surplus.

“The National Government has to fund MPI to ensure seeds or other high risk products are clear of any infestation or contamination prior to reaching New Zealand,” Damien O’Connor says.