24 Mar 2010

Farmers keen for US senators to visit NZ

7:15 am on 24 March 2010

Federated Farmers has invited 30 United States senators who have criticised New Zealand's dairy industry to come and take a look for themselves.

Negotiations over the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership, which could secure better access for New Zealand's exporters to the multibillion-dollar American market, started in Melbourne last week.

The talks have encountered strong opposition from farming lobby groups in the United States, with some saying that improving access for New Zealand's dairy products could cost its industry $US20 billion.

The senators, who all represent areas with strong dairy interests, have written to US trade representative Ron Kirk, criticising New Zealand's dairy industry for what they claim are anti-competitive practices.

Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson says New Zealand is not a threat, as it only trades about 2% of the world's milk supply and the organisation is willing to educate the senators on how the industry works.