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President's Comment

Ian Jackson, New Zealand Tree Grower February 2013.

Greetings and welcome to the first Tree Grower issue of 2013. I trust that you all had an enjoyable festive season, and managed to incorporate that, with what is normally a busy time out on the farm. The agricultural sector remains robust, albeit with some areas of the east coast experiencing a summer dry. Forestry is producing solid and steady, but not spectacular, economic returns.

Annual Conference

The NZFFA annual showcase conference is approaching, and is being hosted by the Lower North Branch from 20 to 24 April at Orewa, just north of Auckland. They have put together an extensive and exciting programme which will prove enjoyable and informative. If you have not already booked then use the form in this magazine, and send it off. The conference is the highlight of the year for many farm foresters.

Forest Growers Commodity Levy

The main thrust of activities within the forest industry at present, is in preparation for the upcoming vote to establish a compulsory Forest Grower's Levy. I have been very involved with the Forest Owners's Association to ascertain what form the levy will take, the rate and the collection mechanism. I am also a member of the levy trust incorporated society, the legal entity initiating the vote.

As there has never been a forest levy in New Zealand, it would be fair to say that this whole process is still evolving. When considering a levy, the respective groups involved need to be aware of and adhere to the Commodity Levies Act under which levies are made. The vote will happen in March this year, with the publicity campaign kicking off in February.

A Levy Referendum Board has been established to accomplish the actual vote and all that is entailed in the lead up to that vote. The chairman of this board is a woodlot owner and lawyer, Geoff Thompson. Also on this board and Hamish Levack, NZFFA executive member, and Peter Berg, who will be an NZFFA executive member ager the AGM in April. Another member of the board is Teven Wilton of Forestry Enterprises who manages forestry partnerships made up of many small investors. So the concern of small-scale forest owners are well represented.

Much debate has centered on the levy rate, which has now been settled at 27cents a tonne, with an allowance to increase to 30 cents during the initial six year period. Any higher levy rate would have met with resistance from some industry players, so for the sake of getting a levy established, the lower rate was settled on. While the lower rate will mean that some of the objectives may not be achievable, at least the forest industry will have a common, cohesive base for co-operation, and a united voice in the political and research fields. With ever-changing criteria and administration for funding research, a pan industry levy is now imperative.

Non-affiliative members and the harvest spike

As a result of the 1990s planting boom, there are thousands of tree growers who are not affiliated to any organisation. Their trees will be due to harvest in the 2020s and will produce a massive increase in wood production. In response, the Wellington Branch lead by Hamish Levack, has initiated a programme to identify these growers.

I draw your attention to the two articles written by him in association with Howard Moore and Chris Goulding in the November 2012 issue of Tree Grower, and the article from our patron Wink Sutton in this issue. This harvest spike will need some co-ordination and co-operation among growers so that these trees reach the market at an acceptable price and in an orderly fashion.

Identifying these non-affiliated growers is the first step in the process. Once we know who they are, the NZFFA may gain some new members, and perhaps some unity among the small-scale forest growers. It is my intention to have a full discussion of all aspects involved, during the meetings at the Orewa conference, so please some along fully informed and prepared for the discussion.

To all members, enjoy the summer. I look forward to catching up with many of you at the conference in April.


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