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Meat New Zealand listening to farmers

Meat New Zealand and SheepCo are listening to farmers and have shaped their respective proposals to reflect farmer's views on the future of levy-funded industry-good activities, says Meat New Zealand chairman Jeff Grant in response to recent comments by Federated Farmers.

Grant said 4,000 copies of the Meat New Zealand draft proposal have been released into circulation since it was published. "We have attempted to make the draft proposal as easy as possible for farmers to get their hands on. All those that attended consultation meetings got mailed copies of both proposals. Those that didn't could either free-phone and get copies mailed to them or read it on the web."

When the draft proposal was released we invited farmer's submissions on its contents, Grant said. "Lets remember that this was a draft proposal. We wanted farmer's input into the shape and structure of their future levy-funded industry-good organisation and what type of programmes they want that to fund, and we got that. Between Meat New Zealand and SheepCo, we received almost 200 submissions on our respective draft proposals." Grant said.

The respective Meat New Zealand and SheepCo proposals will be released in mid June and farmers will have plenty of opportunities to comment on its contents, Grant said. "Farmers will still be able to comment on the proposal almost right up until voting begins in August."

Because Meat New Zealand and SheepCo are seeking a levy under the Commodity Levies Act, farmers will have a chance to vote every five years on the amount of levy they pay and what it should fund, Grant said. "The proposed new combined organisation will be responsive to farmer's wishes. If it doesn't perform up to their expectations, they can always vote to discontinue paying red meat and wool levies."

Grant said both he and SheepCo chairman Mike Petersen have been consulting with farmers personally since November last year. "In our discussions with farmers we have tried to establish where their support lies in terms of what types of activities they think should be funded by the levy, and have put together a draft proposal that reflects the outcomes of our consultation."

All sheep, beef and goat farmers will be mailed a copy of the proposal before voting begins. Farmers will also have a chance to discuss the proposal with Grant and Petersen. Forty meetings will be held throughout New Zealand in July, ahead of voting in August. "It needs to be remembered that farmers have the opportunity to vote at the end of this process. It is incumbent upon us to put up a proposal that reflects what farmers will support," Grant said.

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