Dairy farmers support levy in record strong vote

Record support has been given by dairy farmers for continuing their annual milk solids levy to fund ongoing research and development, environmental work and other industry initiatives.

Voting closed on May 31 in the referendum, held every six years, and interim results showed 60% of 14,436 eligible farmers voted with 78% in favour of continuing the levy.

Weighted by milk solids, the results lifted to 82% for voting in favour of the levy, and 68% overall voter turnout.

Farmers now pay a levy of 3.6c/kg of milk solids annually and that would remain unchanged until at least May 2016.

The results were a record for the vote and the turnout was also well above the average for industry-specific levy referendums, DairyNZ chairman John Luxton said.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said sharemilkers, in particular, responded to the call to have their say and their vote was up 13% on the previous poll.

Farmers had given the organisation some clear messages during the campaign about what it needed to achieve in the next six years: ''We have to meet a number of key strategic targets, including delivering farm systems research to help reduce our environmental footprint by 30%, while increasing profits,'' Dr Mackle said.

Final results would be determined once the total amount of milk solids produced for the 2013-14 season was known, hopefully by the end of June. He expected some change ''but nothing significant''.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink was pleased the industry had responded to the call to vote.

A good showing was needed to lock in the levy and that was what the industry had delivered.

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