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New Sharemilking Variable Order Signed

A new Sharemilking Agreements Order was signed into law by the Governor General on 30 May. The new order took affect from the start of the new dairy season on 1 June 2001. "It is important for all sharemilkers and dairy farmers employing variable order sharemilkers to be aware that existing contracts as well as new contracts are affected by the new order," Dairy Farmers of New Zealand Chairman, Charlie Pedersen advised today.

Mr Pedersen says that the Sharemilking Agreements Act empowers representatives of the Sharemilkers and Sharemilker Employers Sections of Federated Farmers to negotiate variations to 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. But there are also aspects to the Order that may present significant difficulties for some farmers and sharemilkers. Unusually in these negotiations neither party consulted with either the Federation as their umbrella organisation, or the wider sharemilking community. If they had done so some of these difficulties may have been avoided. Nevertheless, both parties should be congratulated for arriving at a result after several years of negotiation," said Mr Pedersen.

There are several significant changes over the previous order. 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 now make themselves familiar with the new provisions. Federated Farmers is preparing updated contracts and information sheets that will be available in time for the National Field days," concluded Mr Pedersen. For further information federation members should ring the Federated Farmers' toll free help line on 0800 327 646.


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