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Consultation supports Meat & Wool's initiatives

Consultation reveals support for Meat & Wool New Zealand’s Initiatives

Farmers are generally satisfied with the overall direction and operation of Meat & Wool New Zealand during its first year of operation, but are seeking more information and feedback on a number of the activities it is undertaking in a range of areas.

Meat & Wool New Zealand Chairman, Jeff Grant, said that whilst the organisation aimed at communicating with farmers on an on-going basis, a series of consultation meetings had recently been completed, with the specific aim of seeking views on the 2005/06 activity and levy plans and more generally reviewing the progress of the newly established entity.

Meat & Wool New Zealand was established in July 2004 following the Farmer’s Choice referendum when farmers voted to continue paying a levy on both red meat and wool production which would be channelled into a single organisation, replacing Meat New Zealand and SheepCo and aiming to further the interests and profitability of meat and wool producers.

“During the last couple of months we have conducted 26 consultation meetings, covering the length and breadth of the country in order to get first-hand feedback from farmers on our plans for 2005/ 2006, how they think the organisation is performing, and the extent to which it is meeting the needs of levy payers after its first year of operation.”

“Whilst issues varied between regions, we were pleased with the level of discussion, the wide range of topics that were raised, and noted the differing views expressed across the country,” Jeff Grant said.

“A fair summary of the outcome would be that farmers are generally supportive of the work that Meat & Wool New Zealand is doing on their behalf, but there are areas of concern about delivering outcomes on some issues. We certainly acknowledge these concerns and the feedback will help us ensure that the levy investment is being directed to best effect in meeting farmer needs. We are also looking closely at just how we communicate on our diverse range of activities, whether that be at a practical on-farm level or through the dissemination of written information,” he said.

During the consultation process farmers focussed on Meat & Wool New Zealand’s “Growing the Future” document which summarises how the organisation is currently tracking against its targets, together with an outline of proposed initiatives for the year ahead.

Farmers expressed strongest support for initiatives providing solutions to on-farm production problems, such as drench resistance, lamb survival, Johnes disease and wool on bellies and points. There was also very positive support for trade policy work, initiatives relating to skills and education and the leveraging of activity with Australia.

Jeff Grant said that there remains debate on the role of Meat & Wool New Zealand in sponsoring market development work, with farmers tending to either strongly support or strongly oppose levy expenditure in this area. There is full support however for the much closer collaboration with meat exporters and their financial contribution to what are increasingly joint programmes.

“Market development is one of the areas where we need to be better explaining for farmers the strategies behind the work that is being done,” he said.

“Farmers have generally supported the organisation’s move towards increased regionalisation, but following the consultation meetings it is evident we need to look at communicating exactly what we are doing at the regional level and the resources that we are making available to farmers, including the results of work that is being done on monitor farms,” he said.

“Whilst there is general support for virtually all projects being undertaken by Meat & Wool New Zealand’s farmers have identified areas where the organisation needs to be better communicating the work of the organisation including goals and outcomes in order to provide maximum benefit to levy payers. We have certainly taken this on board and are constantly reviewing the way we communicate on a range of issues.”

Jeff Grant said that Meat & Wool New Zealand Directors had pledged to maintain both the wool and meat levies at the same level as last year and consequently there would be no change to any levy for the 2005/06 year. The following levy rates will continue to apply for the 2005/06 season:

$3.60 per head of cattle slaughtered, 55c per head of goats slaughtered, 40c per head of sheep slaughtered, 5.25c for every kilogram of wool shorn, 5.25c for every kilogram of wool on sheep at slaughter and 2c per kilo of dags.

Farmers also supported the $3.2 million grant from the New Zealand Meat Board for investment in specific R & D industry good projects.

He said that although the formal round of consultation meetings has been completed for this year, Meat & Wool New Zealand doesn’t want farmers to wait another year to have their say. The organisation was created by farmers for farmers, and Directors and staff are encouraging levy payers to comment and seek out information from their organisation at any time, either through Meat & Wool New Zealand’s Directors, regional staff or the 0800 number (0800 647 000)

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