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New beginnings for apple and dairy industries

New beginnings for apple and dairy industries

Bills restructuring the apple and dairy industries have been passed, enabling those industries to begin new eras, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said the Apple and Pear Industry Restructuring Act Repeal Bill passed late last night would enable orchardists and marketing companies to make the most of opportunities to sell their produce to markets overseas.

"From this coming season, New Zealand's pipfruit growers will have a genuine choice of exporter and a track record against which they can assess exporter performance. The bill will allow New Zealand's pipfruit industry to retain its existing competitive advantages while also giving life to new entrepreneurship and niche market development that was severely constrained under the former modified single-desk export system.

Mr Sutton said the apple industry had been through stressful times lately, but it had a chance to start afresh now.

"To succeed, this industry must look forward, by understanding and competing in the international market, rather than looking backwards and engaging in costly and unproductive arguments over industry issues in the courts, in arbitration disputes, or for that matter in Parliament."

He said that ENZA was still the major exporter of New Zealand apples and pears, and was likely to remain so. It was 60 per cent owned by growers, he said.

"I encourage growers and exporters to put the past behind them, to work together co-operatively on industry good and other issues of common interest and common benefit."

Parliament this afternoon passed the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill. The bill enables NZ Dairy Group and Kiwi Co-operative Dairies to merge and to absorb the NZ Dairy Board, to form a new co-operative company called Fonterra. The bill also sets out a regulatory package to ensure that competition is maintained.

Mr Sutton said the last legislative hurdle to the formation of a dairy mega-company has been cleared.

He said he was pleased that the Government and Parliament had managed to maintain the timeline on the bill.

"It was an ambitious one and I am pleased that we were able to keep to it.

"It was important we went through this process as expeditiously as possible, because while this legislation was unresolved, the industry in many ways had been in a state of suspense, and did not have complete credibility in the market place."

Mr Sutton said the bill's passage marked the beginning of an exciting new era for the New Zealand dairy industry.

"I wish well all dairy farmers, sharemilkers, members of Fonterra and of the co-operatives of Tatua and Westland, and all other members of the industry as they respond to this exciting new challenge."

Mr Sutton thanked the members of the primary production select committee for their hard work in scrutinising both bills, in particular West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor who chaired the committee superbly.


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