Activation of the almond industry EPPR levy
The Almond Board of Australia is notifying almond levy payers of an activation to the Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levy as our industry is required to fund contributions of the Varroa jacobsoni response plan.
The ABA has sought agreement from the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources for the activation of the EPPR levy at the following rates:
- Inshell Almonds: the levy will be set at 0.001 cents/kilogram for almonds in their shells; and
- Kernel: the levy will be set at 0.00133 cents/kilogram for shelled almonds.
Estimates calculated by ABA indicate that it will be necessary for the levy to be set at this rate and provided the almond industry has met its funding commitments, it is proposed that the levy be reduced back to zero.
Once confirmation from the Minister is received and acknowledged, an objection period will commence and run until 12th May 2017. During this time, almond levy payers are invited to make any reasonable objection to the introduction of this levy.
For more information or to object to the levy contact ABA Industry Development Manager, Andrew Downs on +61 8 8584 7053 firstname.lastname@example.org . Alternatively, contact the departments’ levies area email@example.com.
Questions and answers
Please find below answers to some of the common questions you may have about the levy. Please contact ABA Industry Development Manager, Andrew Downs on +61 8 8584 7053 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What is the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD)?
The ABA is a founding signatory to the EPPRD which was signed in 2006. The EPPRD covers management and funding of responses to emergency incidents – such as the incursion of an exotic pest or disease. It also ensures participation from plant industries in decision making and their contribution towards the costs related to emergency incident responses.
Plant Health Australia is responsible for facilitating the partnership between industry and governments during emergency responses and for maintaining the EPPRD, a formal legally binding document.
In 2006, the almond industry elected to set the Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levy rate at zero with the intention of it being activated in the event of an emergency incident at a rate determined by government regulation in consultation with industry through the ABA.
Who made the decision to introduce the Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levy?
The almond industry EPPR levy rate was established in 2006 at levy payers’ meetings held in in Adelaide, the Riverland and Sunrayisa growing regions. It was agreed among industry members that the levy would be set at zero with the intention for it to be activated if a plant pest threat or incursion were to occur.
The alternative option was for the EPPR levy rate to be set at a positive amount to build an industry contingency fund but it was agreed this wouldn’t be necessary, that industry would adhere to the proposed levy when necessary.
Prior to the adoption of the EPPR levy, the ABA conducted extensive industry consultation which included articles in In A Nutshell magazine, and direct mail notifications to all almond levy payers known to the ABA.
Which other industries are contributing to the Varroa jacobsoni response plan?
Response plans such as this involve cost sharing between both state and Commonwealth levels of government and affected industries.
For the Varroa jacobsoni response, there are a number of pollination dependent industries which in this case include:
- Apples & Pears Australia Limited
- Avocados Australia
- Australian Melon Association
- Cherry Growers of Australia
- Australian Macadamia Society
- Grain Producers Australia
- Australian Honey Bee Industry Council
- Summerfruit Australia Limited
- AUSVEG Limited
- Australian Mango Industry Association
- Raspberries and Blackberries Australia
- Strawberries Australia
- Canned Fruits Industry Council of Australia
What happens if the almond industry doesn’t contribute to the Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levy?
Under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD), the ABA is the signatory and therefore liable to pay the almond industry’s share in funding a response. If we do not pay our share of the levy, the ABA will be indebted to the Commonwealth Government.
In 2006 the Australian Almond Industry agreed to a nil-rated Emergency Plant Pest (EPP) Response Levy and agreed that it is to be activated in the event of an eradication response.
There has been no need to activate the levy until the initial detection of Varroa Jacobsoni was recorded.
Who decided to implement the Varroa jacobsoni response plan?
A collective agreement was made between affected horticulture industries and the Australian Government’s National Management Group to proceed with an immediate response plan as it was deemed technically feasible to do so to stop an incursion of Varroa jacobsoni.
How does the ABA decide the levy needs to be activated?
There has been no need to activate the EPPR levy until the initial detection of Varroa jacobsoni was recorded.
The response plan has been developed to provide a high degree of surety that the varroa mite will be eradicated, and the results achieved to date appear promising. The eradication plan includes establishing exclusion zones, location and destruction of feral hives and surveillance of managed hives. Several surveillance methods are being used including queen pheromone traps to capture male bees, sweep netting of flowering plants and feeding stations to attract foraging bees.
What is the process for levy activation?
In 2015 this processes for activating an EPPR levy was streamlined. The key change was that industry consultation, which involved a 3-6 month consultation process followed by an industry ballot, is that it is replaced by a public notification and objection period. This change acknowledges that industries supported this levy and its intention to be activated when required. These streamlined requirements only apply to activating EPPR levies, not research and development or marketing levies.
What would a Varroa jacobsoni incursion mean to the Australian horticulture industry?
Any plant or pest threat incursion could be detrimental to the Australian horticulture industry which is why it’s important to have strict biosecurity measures in place and that the almond industry responds accordingly.
How much will this cost almond growers?
As one of the industries highly dependent on honeybees for pollination, the Australian almond industry’s share of the varroa mite eradication cost of $2.5 million is $317,404. The Commonwealth Government will underwrite this and it is proposed that this is repaid over a three-year period 2016/17 to 2018/19.
In considering the value of funding the eradication activities, the ABA Board was mindful that the cost per hive in the USA for almond pollination is more than A$250 due in part to the additional management costs incurred by apiarists to control varroa mite. The additional annual cost to the Australian almond industry for pollination services should hive costs rise to the Californian level, is more than $22 million per year.