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Social Costs Of Mega Merger Too High - Greens

Green Party Agriculture spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street today said the possible loss of 500 jobs as a result of the proposed Dairy Mega Merger was a social cost that was far too high.

It was revealed yesterday that the Dairy Board's export producer board would be wound up as the dairy industry was forced to deregulate to allow the mega merger. The end of this board looks set to cost around 500 jobs in Wellington.

Mr Ewen-Street said the loss of 500 jobs would be a huge body-blow to the Wellington economy and was a massive social cost which could easily be avoided.

"I am not opposed to the merging of the dairy industry to increase international bargaining power for our dairy exports," he said. "However I disagree strongly that the dairy industry should be completely deregulated to allow this to happen.

"The removal of the single desk producer board - as well as costing 500 jobs - will allow dairy importers to play individual New Zealand dairy farmers off against each other to secure the lowest price," he said.

"This will leave New Zealand dairy farmers continuing to accept lower and lower prices for their produce at the farm gate."

Mr Ewen-Street said the previous government had focussed solely on reducing the costs of operation for dairy farmers but had never addressed how farmers could receive higher returns.

"The single desk producer board is a successful way of ensuring that farmers receive the highest possible returns. Not only is the deregulation and scrapping of the board bad for individual dairy farmers but the following loss of jobs is more bad news for the whole country," he said.

Ends

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