BLNZ consulting farmers on need for higher levies

Andrew Morrison
Andrew Morrison
Beef + Lamb New Zealand wants farmers to pay higher levies to fund its programmes.

The industry body is seeking farmer response to a proposal to increase the sheepmeat levy from 60c to 70c a head, and the beef levy from $4.40 to $5.20 a head.

If it went ahead, an average sheep and beef farm would pay an extra $260 a year and an average dairy farm an extra $55.

The money would be spent on ''the international activation of the Taste Pure Nature origin brand and the Red Meat Story, helping the sector lift its environmental performance and reputation, telling the farmer story better, and strengthening BLNZ's capability to address biosecurity risks'', it said in a statement on Thursday.

Chairman Andrew Morrison said sheep and beef farmers were facing unprecedented challenges including environmental pressures, trade issues, competition from alternative proteins, biosecurity incursions and eroding public confidence in farming.

''There is growing demand globally for grass-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free red meat that consumers are willing to pay a premium for.''

BLNZ believed the scale and speed of change meant a modest levy increase was needed to accelerate its work.

Taste Pure Nature promotions would be beefed up in the United States and China to capture more value for farmers before alternative proteins took hold.

Extra funding would also give farmers tools to meet stricter environmental standards, measure their progress, and tell the world what they have done, plus allow BLNZ to work with the Government to ensure it developed ''sensible policies''.

BLNZ had made resources and advice available to farmers affected by the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak and eradication plan. The levy proposal was separate from negotiations on sheep and beef farmers' share of eradication costs, Mr Morrison said.

The increases fell within the range supported by farmers in the 2015 Commodity Levies Act referendum. It reflected the commitment BLNZ stated then it would go back to farmers if it wanted to raise the levies, chief executive Sam McIvor said.

If approved, they would produce just over $4million.

BLNZ had saved about $1.4million in the past two years by reprioritising its resources, he said.

Levy-payers have until July 13 to have their say. They would be sent consultation packs with information on how to do so.

Views could be shared at www.beeflambnz.com/levy2018, by attending one of the meetings around the country, by emailing BLNZ on inquiries@beeflambnz.com, or phoning 0800 233-352.

The outcome would be made public in mid-August and any changes would take effect on October 1.

MEETINGS

  • Meetings in Central Rural Life area:
  • Palmerston - Waihemo Lodge Hotel, 5.30pm, June 26.
  • Kurow Rugby Club, 10.30am, June 27.
  • Albury Hall, 2.30pm, June 27.
  • Geraldine Community Resource Centre, 6pm, June 27.
  • Mt Somers-Methven, venue to be confirmed, July 2.
  • Culverden, venue to be confirmed, July 2.
  • Tasman, venue to be confirmed, July 3.
  • Ashburton, venue to be confirmed, July 5.

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