14 Jul 2009

Meat and Wool NZ scales back levy demand

10:35 am on 14 July 2009

Meat and Wool New Zealand will be cutting its spending projections after talking to farmers about its plans for the next five years.

The organisation, funded mainly by levies on sheep, cattle and wool, provides services ranging from market support and promotion to research and development and farmer training.

It has completed almost 70 consultation meetings with farmers to get their views before asking them to vote on renewing their financial support for another term.

Meat and Wool New Zealand has told farmers that the beef and lamb levies would have to almost double to keep its current services running without drawing on reserve funds.

Farmers have questioned that level of spending.

Meat and Wool chairman Mike Petersen says the organisation has now come up with a proposal addressing the possibility of getting more funding for marketing from meat companies and money for research from the Government.

He says farmers will be asked to support a slight levy increase when they vote in August, and not the level contemplated earlier.

A group of farmers who are campaigning against renewing the Meat and Wool levy is still urging farmers to vote "no", in the referendum.

The group's spokesman, Southland farmer Murray Turner, says they will put up an alternative plan to pay greatly reduced levies to an organisation that would limit its role to funding research and development.

Mr Turner says farmers should not be paying for marketing and meat promotion activities that are the companies' responsibility.

Sheep and beef farmers have until this Friday to ensure they are on the roll to vote in the referendum.