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Strawberry growers commodity levy proposal vote successful

Strawberry Growers New Zealand Inc (SGNZ) has received a strong vote of support from its grower base to proceed with an application to the Minister of Agriculture to be granted a commodity levy order for strawberries.

After a period of consultation, the strawberry growers’ levy referendum closed on 12 July. The result was finalised today by independent returning officer,

The vote shows support in favour of the proposal greater than the minimum 50% support required by both individual voter and weighted vote for a commodity levy referendum vote.

The referendum asked: Do you support the proposed Strawberry levy? The result is:

Yes: Vote count: 84.00%, Weighted vote: 71.02%

No: Vote count: 16.00%, Weighted vote: 28.98%

Voter return was 30.67% by number of eligible voters and an estimated 71.99% by weight.

SGNZ proposed a levy rate of $26 per 1000 strawberry plants sold, which is expected to raise about $375,000 per year. This is proposed to be spent on strawberry grower representation across areas collectively important to their businesses as specified in the SGNZ strategic plan and levy consultation. This includes crop protection, export market access, biosecurity, food safety and labour.

"During our consultation on the levy proposal, we’ve spoken with a number of growers throughout the country. It was great to hear of their support for the work of an adequately resourced, whole of industry organisation," SGNZ Chairman Anthony Rakich says.

Next steps include application to the Minister of Agriculture for the granting of a new levy order, consideration of the application by the Minister and, if approved, drafting by the Parliamentary Counsel Office in accordance with the requirements of the commodity levies act.

This process will take some months. SGNZ’s objective is to have the levy in place by the end of February 2020.

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