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Goodman Fielder Review Mixed News For Farmers

18 June 2000 PR54/2000

GOODMAN FIELDER REVIEW MIXED NEWS FOR GRAINS FARMERS

Goodman Fielder's rationalisation of its New Zealand milling, mixing and packaging operations has drawn a mixed response from farmers, said Neil Barton, Chairman of the Grains Council of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

Southland farmers are deeply concerned at the loss of a market for 8,500 tonnes of oats grown for processing at the Goodman Fielder plant in Gore.

"I understand this production is to be transferred to Wahgunyah in Northern Victoria. This move will take a viable cropping option, worth an estimated $1.8m, away from Southland and Otago growers," commented Mr Barton.

"Farmers and the industry have invested heavily into developing new oat varieties but it appears that investment has been largely wasted. I hope that Goodman Fielder can offer Southland growers contracts for alternative crops equally profitable as those offered in the past."

Manawatu, Rangitikei and Wanganui growers are concerned about the extra costs that may be passed back to them through the Palmerston North mill closing. "Extra costs to transport milling wheat greater distances to the mill will reduce grower returns. This will disadvantage suppliers from these wheat growing areas."

Mr Barton commended Goodman Fielder for the substantial investment they propose for their Mt Maunganui plant, as it signalled their intention to remain a major player in New Zealand.

"Such an investment also reinforces the commitment made by the New Zealand milling industry to source 80% of their milling wheat requirements from New Zealand growers. New Zealand grown milling wheat is world class, and also is fully quality assured through the industry quality assurance system."

"Wheat growers recognise the need for all sectors of the industry to be efficient and cost-conscious. The moves made by Goodman Fielder are designed to increase cost competitiveness. This is necessary for business and industry survival.

"Farmers have a substantial investment in, and a long term commitment to, the New Zealand wheat growing industry," said Mr Barton. "I welcome Goodman Fielder's decision to improve their competitiveness against imports and clearly signal their long-term commitment to using New Zealand grown milling wheat."

ENDS For further information: Neil Barton 021-441-125 Kevin Geddes 03-307-8148

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