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Wheat Growers Advocate Calls For Response

United Wheatgrowers Media Release

3 May 2002

Wheat Growers Advocate Calls For Response In Insurance Referendum

Wheat growers around the country are being asked if they want a compulsory crop insurance offered by a wheat growers advocate group.

United Wheatgrowers has been operating the disaster relief insurance since 1987 and under the Commodity Levies Act it must obtain a mandate to continue every six years.

"We have paid $4.6m to growers since the programme was introduced 15 years ago," says United Wheatgrowers Chairman Sid Worsfold.

The programme covers crop damage as a result of fire, lightning, hail, snow, frost and flood, and other eventualities like wandering stock not belonging to the grower or transport losses while in transit from paddock to farm or in temporary storage.

Crops damaged by frost and hail make up the vast majority of the $4.6m paid so far.

The disaster relief insurance covers wheat grown throughout the country. It costs growers $2.50 per tonne harvested and they are insured for $200 per tonne. "This covers the cost of growing the wheat in case of disaster. There is no minimum and no excess, and this programme costs about half the amount of commercial alternatives," Mr Worsfold says.

"Some years ago United Wheatgrowers also arranged optional top-up insurance with commercial insurance companies for growers wanting to insure their crops for the full value - that is cost plus profit.

"We have posted more than 1300 voting papers to growers around the country and these need to be returned by 31 May. Anyone who doesn't receive voting papers can contact our executive office - Brown and Glassford on Christchurch (03) 365 0881," he says.

"The wheat insurance has been a key part of United Wheatgrowers's business and we want to encourage growers to vote in the referendum. Whether they are for or against the scheme we want a clear mandate from growers.

"The referendum is a good test of whether we are doing the right thing. The insurance has served growers well and now we need to know if they are happy for it to continue," says Mr Worsfold.

United Wheatgrowers is a growers' advocate that has operated in New Zealand since the 1930s.

Ends

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