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Meat Board restructuring bill to be drafted

The Government will introduce a bill to restructure the Meat Board, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said the Meat Board had asked that it be restructured, as agreed to by farmers in a recent referendum.

The proposed changes would mean that the quota management functions and management of industry reserves would be retained in a residual board with statutory powers. The Meat Board's industry-good functions would be undertaken by a new company, currently known as Single Organisation Limited, under the Commodity Levies Act. Both organizations would be owned by a shareholding trust.

Mr Sutton said that Cabinet had agreed to introduce a bill to provide for the restructuring of the Meat Board, so that its quota and industry reserves management functions were undertaken by a residual statutory board, and its levying and industry-good related functions were removed.

The bill would provide for the Agriculture Minister to appoint to the residual board all the directors of the new industry-good body and no less than two and no more than three additional directors with in-depth expertise in meat trade and quota management.

Mr Sutton acknowledged that he and Meat NZ management disagreed on the need for Government to retain a role in the administration of country specific tariff quotas, that is, the need to have some government-appointed directors on the residual statutory board.

"My view is that CSTQ belongs to the nation, rather than the industry. Its administration internationally is very sensitive, with potential spillover effects extending well beyond meat, and affecting a broader public interest. The specialist understanding of this and a clear national (rather than sectoral) perspective cannot be guaranteed on a 100 per cent industry-elected board."

Mr Sutton emphasised that the industry would be consulted throughout the legislative process.

He said it was planned that the bill would be introduced into the House by the end of this year, and referred to the Primary Production Select Committee.

"It is hoped that the bill will be enacted by 1 July next year."

Mr Sutton said the Meat Board restructuring proposal fulfilled the Government's criteria: it was supported by a majority of growers, as shown by the referendum; it was fair to minority interests; and it was in the national interest.

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