MPI responses to key grower questions and concerns - 5pm

26 Mar 2020

Updated at 7.30pm March 26 

We have just received notice that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be visiting packhouses and other horticultural operations across the country from tomorrow.  Please read here.  


Updated at 5pm March 26

MPI has provided further answers to key questions, as below.


MPI Essential Business / Safe Practice registrations        

We asked

What is the guidance for businesses who won't have workers on their production lines over the next four weeks but plan to employ workers in the near future e.g. to plant the next crop? Will the MPI registration period open again or get extended?

MPI said

If in doubt, register now. The website will still accept registrations after 5pm.


Processing time

We asked

What is the processing time for Safe Practice (which was being called Essential Business) applications?

They said

These are not applications, but registrations. The processing time is uncertain, but we are endeavouring to process all registrations as soon as possible. 

Businesses who are essential services should continue operating (using the maximum possible health precautions) unless it hears from MPI.


Improving the registration process

We asked

Is it possible to send an email/pdf summary of answers provided by applicants after they submit their registration or when they receive their approval? Currently the answers provided disappear once you submit the registration, and there is no way to view them again.

They said

We will look into this, as well as being able to save a draft form and return to it later.


Keeping track

We asked

Will MPI notify and work with Horticulture New Zealand if there are issues with applications that are not deemed to have sufficient measures in place to protect their workers and the public?

They said

Yes, your organisation has a critical role. We appreciate the work you are doing to collate questions and disseminate information to the wider horticulture industry.



Non-supermarket distribution of fresh produce

Please note HortNZ is continuing to talk to Ministers and government officials about this issue, to get the decisions changed. 

We asked

Can independent fruit and veg shops remain open if they follow the necessary hygiene and distancing protocols, and limit customers to one at a time as is happening in dairy shops? Can they deliver fresh produce to their customers who make remote orders?

They said

No, on the basis that small-scale food retailers are considered non-essential, as similar products are readily available in supermarkets (official Covid-19 guidance). However, if there are no supermarkets or shops over a large geographic region, then a request can be made to MBIE email or call 0508 377 388 and a decision will be made on a case by case basis.


We asked

There are many growers who only supply to local markets, which are now all closed. A lot of produce is going to be wasted, can growers start up contact-less delivery of their fresh fruit & veg if they have all of the necessary hygiene protocols in place?

They said

Our understanding is no, for the above reasons, however we will seek clarification from MBIE.


We will update this information if it changes and let you know via email if you are a newsletter subscriber.