SHEEP meat and beef farmers in New Zealand have lifted their industry levies, targeting the additional funds into international promotion, lifting the livestock industry’s environmental performance, building biosecurity risk management capability and telling the ‘farmer story’ better.
The board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the equivalent of Meat & Livestock Australia, this month raised beef and sheep meat grower levies following significant support from farmers.
From October 1, NZ’s levy for sheep meat increase NZ10 cents to 70 cents per head, a 17 percent increase, and the beef levy by 80 cents to $5.20 per head (+18pc).
B+L NZ said the rise represented 0.4pc of the average slaughter value for prime steer/heifer, 0.7pc for cull dairy cows, 0.7pc of lamb, and 1.1pc of mutton over the last three years.
The industry service delivery company said the additional levies will be invested in accelerating four key programs:
- The international activation of the Taste Pure Nature origin brand and the Red Meat Story
- Helping the sector lift its environmental performance and reputation
- Telling the farmer story better, and
- Strengthening B+LNZ’s capability to address biosecurity risks.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison said there was clear support for the levy proposal, with almost 63pc of producer respondents backing an increase.
More than 1000 livestock farmers attended face-to-face discussions about the proposal.
“In our consultation process we asked farmers three questions: Do you support the proposed levy increase? Do you support how we propose to invest the additional levies? and Do you have any other feedback on how B+LNZ is investing sheep and beef levies?” he said.
“Along with 63pc of respondents backing an increase overall, there were similar levels of support across sheep, cattle, and dairy farmers. This is particularly pleasing as B+LNZ takes its responsibilities towards all levy payers extremely seriously,” Mr Morrison said.
Almost two thirds of respondents (64pc) also indicated support for the strategic direction for investment proposed by B+LNZ.
“Feedback from farmers also showed widespread support for the Taste Pure Nature origin brand and the organisation’s new environment strategy,” Mr Morrison said, “however they also encouraged B+LNZ to work collaboratively across the sector to ensure there wasn’t a duplication of effort.”
While many NZ farmers endorsed the additional investment proposed, noting the small percentage of overall animal sale value, others indicated that they were concerned about potential cost pressures for the livestock sector.
“We’re aware that for some farmers their costs are increasing and that there is uncertainty around the impacts of Mycoplasma bovis and what their share of the phased eradication cost will be,” Mr Morrison said.
In March, New Zealand authorities announced a plan to cull 22,000 dairy cows to try and eradicate the Mycoplasma bovis disease which had been found on the country’s South Island.
“In making this decision, we’ve considered farmer’s concerns carefully. Even though we had a clear mandate from the 2015 referendum to increase levies, we committed to coming back to farmers to ensure they backed the direction we were heading. We’ve listened to the valuable feedback that farmers have given us and we’ll be working hard to ensure that the results of this additional investment will deliver benefits for our industry.”
To implement the levy increase, B+LNZ gazetted the change in September, informing meat processing companies of the rise, and advertising the change to farmers. The new levy formally took effect from 1 October. Australia’s beef cattle transaction levy last rose from $3.50 to$5 a head in 2003.
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