14 Mar 2013

Farmer questions Beef and Lamb mandate

1:42 pm on 14 March 2013

A North Island farmer who has been challenging Beef and Lamb New Zealand on its voting system is questioning whether it has a mandate to put farmer reserve money into a new collaborative research programme.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand says it has received the farmer support it needs to confirm its 30%share of funding for the seven year project to boost productivity and profits on sheep and cattle farms.

The proposal has received 77% support in a farmer referendum, but the votes cast represented just over 21% of the total potential poll, based on livestock numbers.

Beef and Lamb chairman Mike Petersen says despite the low response, the result still gives it a mandate to commit funding to the programme.

However, a former Meat Board director John McCarthy disputes that.

He says with the participation rate, once votes relating Landcorp and meat companies are taken out, could be in single figures for individual farmers.

MrMcCarthy says Beef and Lamb should hold another vote without Landcorp's participation.

Mike Petersen agrees that low farmer participation in decision making is an issue, not just for Beef and Lamb, but for other sectors as well.

He says the organisation will be reviewing its constitution relating to voting powers based on livestock numbers.