Monday, April 22, 2024

Beekeepers take a win on audit shift

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Sweet result as MPI returns to annual audits after imposing six-monthly process on facilities.
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Beekeepers are celebrating a victory over the Ministry for Primary Industries after it dropped requirements for them to conduct an expensive and arduous audit process twice a year, reducing it back to a single annual audit.

Since 2019 beekeepers have been required to conduct twice-yearly risk management plans (RMPs) as part of an audit, regardless of the frequency of the operator’s use of their honey making facility.

Jane Lorimer, president of NZ Beekeeping, said beekeepers are ecstatic at the decision by the MPI to reduce the frequency back to an annual audit, representing a saving of over $2000 per premises.

“This is a battle we have been having since 2019. We were told back then the change to six-monthly audits was the result of concerns Chinese importers had over honey. 

“But we have been arguing ever since that most of us are not operating 12 months of the year and the second audit was simply going over things already covered in the first audit.” 

She said the second audit was one of a number of increasingly onerous requirements placed on beekeepers. Other costly requirements include testing for toxic tutin levels, American Foul Brood spore presence, and even glyphosate levels for Japan-bound exports. Beekeepers are also required to pay a $2500 export licence.

“By the time we had done all our testing and audits we were looking at costs of about $8000 over 1500-1800 hives, before you add in all your other operating costs. This will definitely save beekeepers money.”
The amended requirements from the MPI do however require beekeepers to document actions and knowledge as part of a competency requirement to balance out the return to a once-a-year audit.

The MPI document recording the change notes annual verification reduces the cost of regulatory compliance, and that facilities that only hold honey present a low risk.

“We just have to make sure we do not get any serious non-compliance or we will have to go back to six-monthly audits. Most of our members have been free of any non-compliant actions for a long time,” said Lorimer.

“It is pleasing to see MPI actually listening to industry views, working with us to achieve a positive outcome.”

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