November 15, 2003
NEW ZEALAND FARMERS VOTE "YES" ON REFERENDUM
Nov. 2003 -- New Zealand farmers have voted resoundingly to continue funding red meat and wool industry-good activities through a compulsory levy, reports Meat New Zealand. The industry good activities include trade access, research and development, market development for red meat and education and training.
Results of a month-long vote by sheep and beef farmers showed more than 70 percent of those who voted were in favor of being levied $38.4 million for these activities. The vote was counted in two ways: by one-farm-one-vote numbers and by weighted stock numbers. Of the more than 33,700 farmers who were sent voting papers, 37 percent responded representing 62 percent of stock numbers.
The votes in favor of the levy were as follows (given as one-farm-one-vote then weighted stock number):
- sheep-meat 72 percent and 76 percent;
- beef 74 percent and 77 percent;
- wool 68 percent and 72 percent; and
- goat-meat 67 percent and 67 percent.
The increase in levy rates was established from the current rates, which are based on a one-time payment at slaughter. These existing rates per head are:
- sheep-meat - $.40;
- beef - $3.60; and
- goat-meat - $.55.
The vote also established a maximum levy farmers would pay for each commodity in the five years between referendums. The maximums are:
- sheep-meat - $.50;
- beef - $4.40; and
- goat-meat - $.60.
The current levy on wool is $5.25 NZc/kg greasy with a maximum levy of 6 NZc/kg over six years between referendums. Sheepskins will have a levy of 1 percent of the value of the skin.
Farmers also voted in favor of three other issues:
- decisively approving the formation of a single meat and wool organization;
- setting aside the Meat Board?s $108 million reserves; and
- continued investment in biotechnology.
Officials have begun working with New Zealand meat and wool industry leaders on the preparation of legislation for implementation of the changes by July 2004.
SENATORS QUESTION USDA'S COST ESTIMATE OF COOL
Nov. 2003 -- Sens. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) called into question during a press conference on Sept. 10, 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s
(USDA) cost estimates for Country of Origin Labeling, slated for implementation in September 2004.
The press conference was prompted by the release of a report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) in which the GAO questioned USDA?s projected $1.9 billion price tag for the first year of the COOL program.
The report specifically called into question an hourly rate of $50 utilized by the department in estimating program costs, noting that the hourly rate is more than double those recently used by USDA in determining other program costs.
The GAO report may be viewed in its entirety at http://johnson.senate.gov/legispage/090903GAOReportonCOL.pdf
on the World Wide Web.
Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Craig Thomas (R-WY) also participated in the press conference.