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Silence On The Lambs

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE USE

16 JUNE 1999

SILENCE ON THE LAMBS

Coyotes eat more lamb than US Consumers

Food and Fibre Minister John Luxton said today that farmers are understandably nervous as they wait for US President Bill Clinton's decision on access for New Zealand lamb.

"I'd like to reiterate what the Prime Minister has said. Every available step has been taken on behalf of New Zealand sheep farmers by the Government to lobby influential people in the US. I have written to my counterpart, US Agricultural Secretary Dan Glickman and made representations to several other key figures in the US administration."

"I've had meetings with Mr Robert Mallett, the Deputy Secretary at the US Department of Commerce and "Skip" Boyce the US Assistant Deputy Secretary of State for East Asia. I've rung the Deputy Agricultural Secretary to US, Richard Rominger. And I've made it clear to Ambassador Beeman and other US embassy people on numerous occasions exactly where New Zealand stands on this issue."

"I read recently that coyotes stand more chance of dining on American lamb than most Americans. In 1998 each American ate only 450g of lamb. In comparison coyotes ate 1400 sheep and lambs a day. New Zealanders on average eat 17kgs a year. This staggering contrast makes it blatantly clear that there is still plenty of room to grow the US lamb market. If the American lamb industry wants to increase its flagging fortunes penalising unsubsidised imports is not the way to go."

"New Zealand sheep farmers have considerable expertise in producing a top quality product that customers like. We have the enterprise and innovation to grow the US lamb market and we've offered US farmers our marketing assistance. You would think this offer would be welcomed with open arms."

"Our farmers should not be penalised for being more efficient than their US counterparts. It will be a tragedy if at the end of the day US intervention means that while the coyote dines out, American consumers miss out."

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