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Farmers being fed rubbish on CoOL

29 November 2005

Farmers being fed rubbish on CoOL

Federated Farmers and Meat and Wool NZ surely cannot believe that the farmers they represent will fall for the rubbish they are promoting over the Country of Origin Labelling debate, the Green Party says.

Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says the organisations have launched a blatant attempt to pull the wool over farmers' eyes, issuing media releases congratulating the Government for its decision not to adopt mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL).

"They seem to be treating their own membership with contempt. Farmers are smart. They know that Country of Origin Labelling would actually expand their market within New Zealand.

"Many consumers, given the choice, would prefer to buy New Zealand meat and other food products, but in the absence of Country of Origin Labelling they do not have the choice.

"In fact most consumers probably assume the meat they see in our supermarkets is produced in New Zealand, and have no idea that our farmers are facing competition from imports.

"They would be amazed to learn that we imported about 29,000 tonnes of meat last year, because there are no labels alerting consumers as to what meat is imported.

"Its bizarre that we have mandatory Country of Origin Labelling for clothing and footwear, but not for food. It means that consumers can work out where their tee shirts and jandals come from, but not their meat and other food.

"As a marketing tool, Country of Origin Labelling works - why else would Meat and Wool New Zealand promote the Beef and Lamb Quality Mark programme?

"But that is no good to New Zealand farmers if our supermarkets are not passing that information on to customers. Shoppers have no way of working out where their meat and other food products comes from when it is packaged for sale - unless the label tells them.

"Farmers are one group that should definitely not be congratulating the Government for its decision."

Ms Kedgley says food producers would be penalised once the new standard comes into effect in Australia. Food exported to Australia will have to be labelled as 'Made in New Zealand', but food coming the other way won't have to have 'Made in Australia' on it. This totally disadvantages New Zealand growers in both countries.

ENDS

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