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Chinese control of our meat industry

Rt Hon Winston Peters

New Zealand First Leader

Member of Parliament for Northland
12 AUGUST 2016

CHINESE CONTROL OF OUR MEAT INDUSTRY

New Zealand First says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will regret selling majority control of their co-op to the Chinese but expects the Overseas Investment Office will greenlight it at breakneck speed.

“Today was the owners of Silver Fern Farms last chance to preserve one of New Zealand’s great assets for present and future farmers,” Mr Peters says.

“Last year, the suits and directors at Silver Fern Farms (SFF) said the co-op was in crisis and faced receivership or liquidation. They now say last year was a good year, so this 180 degree about-turn condemns them out of their own mouths.

“Then again the directors, the very people who got the co-op into this mess, carved out a $7m slush fund for themselves - the purpose of which shareholders both didn’t know and more pointedly, didn’t want to know about.

“Only so much can be done for an industry which is voluntarily following infant formula into foreign control. I guess it proves ‘you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it think’.

“As parts of the added value operation start to close around the country and plans are hatched to shift value-add processing abroad, large sections of provincial New Zealand will see that they were simply sold down the drain.

“Typically, not one member of the National Party caucus had the guts to raise a finger in protest. Then again most of them wouldn’t know a cow from a bull.

“If the Chinese do complete this deal, it will mean a majority of New Zealand’s red meat industry will be in foreign hands. Most of ANZCO is Japanese, while foreigners have big stakes in Blue Sky, United Beef Packers and Lean Meats.

“That doesn’t count the debacle that was Chinese-owned Prime Range Meats. It really does not bode well for the remaining Kiwi owned processors because foreigners will control the price on the hook in New Zealand. They’ll make up the difference in value-add offshore and those offshore profits will not be going to New Zealand farmers.

“It is bizarre shareholders would do this given all the heavying of Zespri and Fonterra in retaliation for complaints over Chinese steel being dumped here. Chinese control will also cause massive problems in a highly sensitive and lucrative United States beef market.

“How is it that foreigners can see value in what we produce, but the producers and this government can’t? Meat progressively joins forestry and increasingly dairying to condemn farmers as price takers at the bottom of the heap.

“As for the stock transportation arrangements established within SFF without any proper disclosure to shareholders, it will become a matter for the Serious Fraud Office,” says Mr Peters.

ENDS


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