September 5, 2003
New Zealand Farmers Vote ?Yes? on Referendum
?New Zealand farmers have voted resoundingly to continue funding red meat and wool industry-good activities through a compulsory levy,? reported 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: (1) decisively approving the formation of a single meat and wool organization, (2) setting aside the Meat Board?s $108 million reserves and (3) continued investment in biotechnology. Officials have begun working with the meat and wool industry leaders to prepare legislation to implement the changes by July 2004.
Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33