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Dairy industry potentially headed for overseas own

Proposed changes to the dairy industry could result in it becoming overseas-owned, because the Government has linked the mega-merger to deregulation and tradeable shares, Alliance agriculture spokesperson John Wright said today.

He is challenging the Government to allow farmers to vote not only on the mega-merger, but also on deregulation.

“This will mean the end of the co-operative basis of the dairy industry and it will put the assets of the Dairy Board and a quarter of New Zealand’s overseas trade in the hands of overseas-owned corporates.

“Our dairy farmers will become no more than peasant farmers, instead of being shareholders in New Zealand’s most successful company and major export industry as they are now.

“This has to be the ultimate act of treachery for a government which no longer has a moral or democratic mandate to govern.

“The National government is pretending that the deregulation is a natural consequence of the merger. That is simply not true. It is entirely possible that the merger could go ahead without deregulation.

“Minister Luxton knows there is little support among farmers for his agenda of deregulation. He also knows that there is considerable support for the mega-merger. He is using the bait of the merger to cover the poison of deregulation.

“Farmers will be asked to vote on the merger, and that is good. I challenge Mr Luxton to make it a two-part ballot, so that farmers can vote for or against the merger and deregulation as separate issues.

“They are separate issues, no matter what the government says, and must be put to the farmers in an open and honest way.

“The Alliance has always said that we would support the producer boards as long as the majority of producers want the legislation.

“We want people to have a fair vote, issue by issue, not a ‘buy the merger, get deregulation thrown in as well’ deal,” John Wright said.

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