Challenges reason for levy rise, farmers told

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor fields questions at the organisation's consultation meeting in Gore about a proposed levy increase. Photo: Nicole Sharp
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor fields questions at the organisation's consultation meeting in Gore about a proposed levy increase. Photo: Nicole Sharp
Sheep and beef farmers in Gore recently put hard questions to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) about a proposed increase in sheep and beef levies.

The sheep levy is proposed to increase by 10c to 70c a head and the beef levy by 80c to $5.20.

If adopted, the rise would mean an average sheep and beef farm would pay an extra $260 a year and an average dairy farm an extra $55 a year.

BLNZ chairman Andrew Morrison said before starting the consultation with farmers, BLNZ had reprioritised its business model and reallocated $5.1million of spending.

The reason the organisation was asking farmers for more money was because it believed greater spending was needed in some areas, Mr Morrison said.

The four main areas for increased spending were: the Taste Pure Nature origin branding; BLNZ's newly released environment strategy; improving capability to address biosecurity risks; and telling farmer's stories.

With such a lot happening in the primary sector - environmental issues, alternative proteins or biosecurity risks - the industry needed to step up, Mr Morrison said.

''There are lots of changes happening currently. Challenges or opportunities, they are things we are going to have to react to.''

BLNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said one of his priorities was telling the red meat ''story'' as alternative proteins were on the rise.

That was aided by people such as tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams saying they did not need meat, he said.

At the same time, meat consumers were looking for a more natural product and this was where New Zealand's opportunity lay.

''Our day has come for grass-fed.''

This had led to the development of the Taste Pure Nature origin branding.

Questions were raised from the floor about whether the BLNZ origin branding was reinventing what meat companies were already doing.

Both Mr McIvor and Mr Morrison said the branding had been developed in consultation with meat companies. BLNZ would not be doing what meat companies were already doing on the marketing front.

As well as a mailout on the proposal, which included a submission form, farmers could share their views at www.beeflambnz.com/levy2018.

Once consultation has closed on July 13, BLNZ's board will consider all feedback and notify farmers of the outcome in mid-August.

If adopted, the changes would take effect from October 1.

Meetings are still to be held in Otago, in Lawrence, at the Lawrence Hotel, 7pm on June 25, and at the Cellar Door, Alexandra, from 10.30am on June 26.

Further meetings will be held in at the Ranfurly Bowling Club from 2pm, also on June 26, and then at 5.30pm, at the Waihemo Lodge Hotel, Palmerston, the same day.

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