Beef + Lamb New Zealand Launches Referendum Proposal
3 AUGUST 2015
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Launches Referendum Proposal to Farmers
Beef + Lamb New Zealand has launched the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum proposal, outlining activities for the next levy cycle between 2016-2022. Sheepmeat and beef producers, including dairy farmers through their cull cows, will have the chance to continue funding activities and programmes for the next six years when voting opens on 8 August.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman, James Parsons said the Commodity Levies Act requires farmers to vote to continue new levy orders every six years and a ‘yes’ vote will enable Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s activities to carry on. A 'no' vote would mean that Beef + Lamb New Zealand would be wound down and all the programmes would end.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand launched the referendum campaign at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmer council annual conference in Wellington today. The conference brings together 100 farmers who make up the seven farmer councils nationwide that provide grassroots input to the organisation.
Parsons said the proposed levy rates from 2016 to 2017 are to remain unchanged at 60 cents per sheep and $4.40 per cattle beast. Under the Commodity Levies Act, a maximum levy must also be set for the six-year levy cycle. For sheep this will be set at 75 cents per head and beef $5.50 per head. If farmers wanted more investment in certain areas, then the maximum levy provides some flexibility within the next six years. However there would need to be very strong farmer support for any adjustment from the current levies beyond 2017.
“We’re proposing a programme that will continue the momentum of the past six years, carrying on activities that farmers have told us are important. For example 17,269 people attended 356 farmer events last year to learn something new to take back to their farming business, so we’ll be building on that. 130 Beef + Lamb New Zealand project farm sites tested and trialled techniques and tools to improve profitability or save money and that is another investment farmers benefited from. The organisation’s market access activities alongside government have achieved tariff savings of $161 million in 2014 and that work remains an important activity. So does our support for bright young people seeking a career in our sector.
“Farmers have also told us they want their organisation to have a stronger voice with government and policy makers in the areas of health and safety, the environment, and on other regulatory issues which impact their farming business. They want to see sensible and workable rules and regulations and we will be doing more work in these areas over the next six years, alongside others in the sector.”
Parsons said in previous referenda farmers had voted to have an organisation that was their own, had their backs, and spoke up on important issues that affected their ability to get on with what they love – farming.
“Farmers created Beef + Lamb New Zealand to look after their interests and have their backs – so they could focus on their farming businesses. I’m encouraging farmers across New Zealand to have their say and try and attend one of the 53 regional roadshow meetings being held throughout New Zealand between 12-28 August. They can view the calendar at beeflambnz.com/referendum.”
Voting opens on 8 August 2015 and closes on 10 September 2015 at 5pm. Separate votes are held for each of the sheepmeat and beef levies and to be successful they must pass on two counts – one farmer, one vote and a vote weighted by stock numbers. Farmers must be enrolled to receive voting packs and they can check they’re enrolled by calling 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 233 352) or register online atbeeflambnz.com/register.
The 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum proposal can be viewed at beeflambnz.com/referendum.