MPI meets with farmers over Dairy Act

Around 50 farmers attended a public meeting in Winton last week organised by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to discuss the the Government review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA) and its impact on the dairy industry.

Emma Hammond, the Eastern Southland representative on the Fonterra Shareholders' Council said the high turnout was a sign farmers were keen to be part of the discussion on any proposed changes.

''According to MPI representatives at the meeting, the numbers at the Winton meeting were the highest for any of the public events,'' Ms Hammond said. She said there were no particularly dominant issues raised by the farmers but that most felt comfortable that it was time for a review and an update of the legislation.

''There was some discussion about the perceived dominance of Fonterra within the New Zealand industry,'' she said. ''This was balanced however by a realisation that on a global scale Fonterra has a lot of competition.''

The fact that local competitors were springing up around the country and that Fonterra was still left with the responsibility of taking any remaining milk from farmers was also raised, she said.

''There was also some discussion about the open entry and exit obligations and other aspects of the milk supply,'' Ms Hammond said. ''Overall most farmers saw a need for a consolidation of the regulations rather than need for wholesale change.''

The themes presented by MPI were those of productivity, sustainability and inclusivity.

She said those attending had a lot of questions but given the fact that it is 17 years since the original legislation farmers accepted a fresh look was appropriate.

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