The Herbage Seedgrowers' Subsection of Federated Farmers is
organising a referendum to determine whether it continues to
collect a levy on all ''Commons'' and uncertified herbage
seed from growers.
The levy, call the Non-Proprietary Cultivar (NPC) levy, is
paid by growers based on the number of kilograms of ryegrass
and white clover cultivar seed they grow.
The referendum will run from April 30 until the end of May
and papers will be sent out in the post or available online.
Herbage sub-section executive secretary Nick Hanson said
while most of the herbage seed grown in New Zealand was owned
and grown by commercial companies who issued contracts to a
few growers, several public cultivars are available for
anyone to use.
''These are the publicly-owned `Commons' and the levy is
collected in order to maintain those varieties to ensure they
continue to be available to growers in New Zealand,'' Mr
''There is no restriction on who can grow them, and that is
what sets them apart from the proprietary ryegrass and
Commons cultivars included Grasslands Nui, Moata, Manawa,
Tama, Ruanui, Huia and Pawera.
He said it cost money to ensure the seed stock was maintained
and to ensure it did not get mixed with other cultivars or
They paid AgResearch to do the work for them and ensure the
base material was available to growers, at a cost of about
$135,000 to the industry.
He said most of that cost came from the levy, paid by about
300 growers. The levy referendum is held every six years
under the Commodity Levies Act 1990.
Chairman Hugh Wigley, of Waimate, said the levy was important
and urged growers to vote.
''The bottom line is without this levy, the Commons would not
be available,'' he said.