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Major Changes Proposed in Sharemilking Agreements

Major Changes Proposed in Sharemilking Agreements Order

A new Sharemilking Agreements Order is likely to be in place for the start of the new dairy season on 1 June 2001. "Since a new order is just around the corner it is important for all sharemilkers and dairy farmers employing variable order sharemilkers to be aware that existing contracts and any new contracts may be affected by the new order" Dairy Farmers of New Zealand Chairman, Charlie Pedersen advised today.

Delegates appointed by the Sharemilkers' Section and the Sharemilker Employers' Section of Federated Farmers have negotiated the new order. Ten delegates, together with one Northland representative, were appointed at the respective sections Annual General Meetings. The delegates now have responsibility for the Order.

"The new Sharemilking Agreements Order improves many areas of the current order and considerable effort has gone into making it a much more user friendly legal document. It has been a difficult task for the delegates and getting a result is a significant achievement" said Mr Pedersen.

The final order is not yet publicly available, but some changes are known. They include limits on a farm owner's ability to withhold payments during a dispute and the compulsory appointment of a conciliator from a national panel for disputes not resolved within 10 working days. The order also establishes a minimum payment of 21% of the milk price for the labour content of contracts for herds of 300 cows or less.

"The new Agreements Order sets new minimum conditions which will apply to both existing contracts and to new contracts commencing on 1 June regardless of whether they have already been signed by both the farmer and the sharemilker," said Mr Pedersen.

"Because the order contains some significant changes, parties to any existing or new agreement should make themselves familiar with the new provisions when they become available and seek independent third party and legal advice. They should do it now rather than wait to be surprised at the commencement of the new season," concluded Mr Pedersen


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