Funding for the promotion of sheep meat and beef has been cut
by $1.35 million and the future of shearer and woolhandler
training is in limbo after Meat and Wool New Zealand slashed
$6.3 million from its budget this week.
The budget cuts and 23 redundancies announced by the producer
board last week were in response to farmers voting by
referendum earlier this year to end their annual payment of
about $6.5 million in wool levies.
Meat and Wool New Zealand (MWNZ) chairman Mike Petersen said
he had no choice but to adjust the budget, and he was blunt
with his reasons.
"These are the implications, and I made it clear that any
income stream cut will have repercussions across the sector."
Farmers have contributed $300,000 a year in wool levies to
MWNZ to help pay for the training of 2000 shearers and
The Government contributed a further $900,000 but Mr Petersen
said it was made clear if industry did not contribute, the
Government would not either.
The wool industry has said it might replace MWNZ's funding,
which ends next April, and Mr Petersen said it was time for
them to match words with action.
Wool Exporters Council executive manager Nick Nicholson said
his executive had not formally discussed the matter.
"We have said publicly that if there was a need or a hole in
the system, we would certainly be having a look at it."
But, Mr Nicholson said he had read reports of farmers asking
whether they should be funding shearer and shedhand training
at all, raising questions about what value, if any, they saw
Some MWNZ projects to be cut had come to the end of their
term and could have been renewed, but would not while funding
has been reallocated, which means projects not directly
linked to wool have been affected.
Mr Petersen said reduced lamb promotion spending accounted
for a third of the budget for Europe, and the United Kingdom
has gone along with $350,000 from beef market development.
Previously MWNZ said it hoped meat companies would pick up
any market development funding shortfall, but Meat Industry
Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said that would be
for individual companies to decide.
MWNZ would save $5 million from ending or not renewing
research projects, wool technical and enterprise activities,
scholarships, promoting agricultural careers and cutting back
on research extension programmes.