5 Nov 2009

Meat and Wool NZ cuts please farmers' lobby

10:14 pm on 5 November 2009

A farmer lobby group that's been campaigning for the reform of Meat and Wool New Zealand has welcomed the wide-ranging cut-backs announced for the organisation's research, marketing and farm extension programmes.

The levy-funded body is having to cut its spending by more than $6 million a year because farmers voted not to renew its wool levy.

It has already announced staffing reductions that will reduce its Wellington office by a third. The latest cuts are to shearer and wool classer training and wool research and technical programmes, while the funding for facial eczema monitoring and clover root weevil, parasite and thistle control will be axed.

Budgets have also been slashed for meat marketing, Johne's disease research, the sheep improvement programme and monitor farms.

Meat and Wool chairperson Mike Petersen says that while many of those programmes aren't directly wool-related, they're still affected by the loss of the wool levy.

The cuts have pleased the Proactive Farmers' group that wants the levies imposed on sheep and beef farmers to be scaled right back and used only to support research and development.

Its spokesperson, Robin Hilson, has no argument with any of the reductions and thinks there's scope for more.