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Meat and wool voter turnout low

Voter turnout is low, with only a few days left for farmers to vote in the Farmer's Choice referendum on the future of meat and wool levies.

Warwick Lampp, returning officer from elections management company Ltd said: "The turnout is low, both in terms of farmer numbers and stock numbers, and so we're hoping that farmers who haven't yet voted will do so in these last few days."

Voting closes at 5 pm on August 29, so all voting returns must be with the returning officer by then.

Jeff Grant, Chairman of Meat New Zealand said: "The overall turnout is extremely important, because if too few farmers turn out to vote, the new single organisation may be unable to raise a levy even if the vote is an overall 'yes'."

"And if no levy is raised, industry-good activities for farmers will discontinue, and there will be no single organisation for meat and wool." Grant said.

Grant said that the Commodity Levies Act (CLA), which the vote is held under, doesn't specify how many farmers need to vote, only what proportion of those voting need to vote 'yes' in order to raise a levy. Under the CLA, over half of farmers voting must vote yes in order for a levy to be raised, both in terms of number of farmers voting and stock numbers represent.

"However, it is important to get a good turnout of farmers so that we can show the Minister that farmers want to change to a more accountable and farmer-owned levy collection system." Grant said.

Mike Petersen, SheepCo Chairman said: "This is an important vote for wool and meat, and I wouldn't want to think farmers lost their industry-good activities for the sake of not enough turning out to vote."

Meat New Zealand and SheepCo are also seeking farmer support to form a single organisation to collect meat and wool levies and invest them in industry-good activities for farmers. In addition Meat New Zealand is asking farmers whether they want to retain the reserves to provide income from interest, as well as an emergency fund, and continued investment in biotechnology.

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