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Dairy Board Fails Local Farmers

20 January 2000

Dairy Board Fails Local Farmers

A Dairy Board decision to market organic butter produced in Austria under the Anchor brand is a blow to local organic dairy farmers, Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

The Dairy Board yesterday launched an organic spread made from butter and sunflower oil under the Anchor label. The spread will be sold in the UK, but is produced in Austria.

Ms Fitzsimons said the move effectively supported Austrian farmers at the expense of New Zealand farmers.

"Many dairy farmers have told me that they would love to convert to organics, but don't have a processing plant nearby to take their milk," said Ms Fitzsimons. "By building an organic butter processing plant in New Zealand, the Dairy Board would be providing a much-needed outlet for organic milk."

Ms Fitzsimons also said selling Austrian butter under a New Zealand label will confuse consumers about the meaning of the Anchor brand.

"British consumers are very aware of what goes into their food. Shoppers buy a New Zealand label for our clean, green image. Once they realise the butter was made in Austria, they may feel that they have been duped."

Dabbling their toe in the organic market and gaining international certification for the new Anchor butter was a positive move for the Dairy Board, but Ms Fitzsimons said she would rather see them make the investment in New Zealand.

A first step would be to produce organic butter, using New Zealand milk and a New Zealand processing plant. A second step would be to reallocate the $150 million they plan to spend on research into genetic engineering.

"Consumers, both here and overseas, don't want to buy genetically engineered milk or butter," said Ms Fitzsimons. "That money could be better spent in researching organic techniques and providing assistance for dairy farmers who want to convert to organic production."

Jeanette Fitzsimons 025 586 068 Gina Dempster, Press Officer, 04 470 6679

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