Farmers voted yes and no in Meat & Wool’s referendum on levies.
They voted for the continuation of levies on sheepmeat and beef but against the continuation of a wool or goatmeat levy.
M&W chairman Mike Peterson said the referendum sent a clear message there was significant dissatisfaction with past investments and the organisation needs to do better.
Under the Commodity Levies Act 1990 (CLA), each levy proposal must pass on both a one farmer one vote test, and also on a weighted or stock unit test. All of the levy streams passed on a weighted basis, but the wool and goatmeat levies were defeated on a one farmer one vote test.
That means the peo0ple with the most stock, who pay the biggest levies were outvoted by those with fewer stock who pay less.
The wool levy would have contributed $6.4 million to Meat and Wool’s budget and the goatmeat slaughter levy would have provided $58,000. The loss of both means the organisation will have to restructure.
The loss of the wool levy will have the biggest impact. Meat and Wool will have to curtail, and possibly stop, some of its core activities. Among these are on farm research, monitor farms and extension, shearer and wool handling training, Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL), and the collection and provision of information relating to the wool industry by the Meat & Wool New Zealand Economic Service.
The current levy orders for sheepmeat, beef, goatmeat and wool are in place until April 2010.
Perhaps the winner was apathy – only 39.0% (7,820 participants) bothered to vote.
The results were:
One Person: One Vote Stock Numbers
Sheepmeat Levy YES 3,280 53.72% 50,071 62.46%
NO 2,826 46.28% 30,090 37.54%
Beef Levy YES 3,566 51.52% 31,919 59.32%
NO 3,356 48.48% 21,888 40.68%
Goatmeat Levy YES 118 46.83% 228 52.29%
NO 134 53.17% 208 47.71%
Wool Levy YES 2,794 45.76% 44,193 55.13%
NO 3,312 54.24% 35,968 44.87%
Agriculture Minsiter David Carter says the result is a blow for the industry.
Agriculture Minister David Carter says the decision by farmers not to support the continuation of a wool levy is disappointing and will create difficulties for the industry.
“I respect the democratic process and the right for farmers to decide, but I am concerned that the ramifications of this decision have not been fully realised.
“The result of the referendum on the Meat & Wool NZ levy gives a clear go-ahead for the meat sector, but effectively leaves the wool industry without a mandated industry-good body at a time when this is desperately needed.
A factor those who voted no may not have understood is that it will now be very difficult for the industry to access funds from the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership initiative.