Levy rise to cover share of response agreed to

Beef farmers have signed off an increase in the biosecurity levy to as much as $2 per head of cattle to cover their share of the Mycoplasma bovis response.

Beef + Lamb NZ (BLNZ) said of 1601 farmer submissions during the consultation period, 59% of farmers supported BLNZ's proposals. This included raising the maximum rate for cattle under the new levy from $0.45 a head to $2 a head, with an initial levy rate of $1.80 a head for beef cattle.

BLNZ had sought farmers' views on lifting the cap on the biosecurity levy so the beef sector can meet its 6% ($17.4million) share of the costs of the M. bovis response, an increase on the maximum levy rate approved by farmers when consulted on the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) proposal in 2017.

''Farmers have told us they recognise the importance of the M. bovis response and the need for the beef cattle industry to actively play its part in helping to eradicate the disease,'' BLNZ chairman Andrew Morrison said.

''BLNZ needs to have a seat at the table to ensure beef farmers' views are heard. We are working hard with our response partners, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and DairyNZ, to resolve these issues and strengthen the M. bovis programme so we have the best possible chance to eradicate the disease.''

The Minister of Agriculture will assess BLNZ's application to introduce the levy. If the minister approves it, he will then recommend the introduction of a levy order.

Due to the time involved in this process, BLNZ anticipates the new biosecurity levy will not be in place until the end of the year.

-By Brent Melville

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