Farmers are being asked to have their say on the future of their industry in Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) 2021 sheepmeat and beef levy referendum.
Voting packs are arriving in mailboxes this week and farmers have until midday on 9 July to vote.
B+LNZ Chairman Andrew Morrison says it’s important farmers think about what a strong future looks like when answering the three questions on the voting papers.
“It’s more important than ever that industry-good organisations such as ours exist to represent farmers’ needs, make it easier to get on and farm and to take our world-beating red meat story across the globe.
“Among other things, over the next six years, B+LNZ has planned an ambitious programme to support farmers. We will be rolling out our new free farm plan covering water, climate change, biodiversity and soils.
“We will be investing in genetics to improve farmers’ productivity but also to reduce their environmental footprint. We’ll be attracting, training and retaining people across the sector. And we’ll be ramping up the Taste Pure Nature country of origin brand across our global markets.
“Farmers now have an opportunity to decide if they want B+LNZ to continue to exist.
Without a sheepmeat or beef levy – if there’s a ‘no’ result – there will be no organisation solely dedicated to working on behalf of sheep and beef producers. Despite the challenges I firmly believe there’s an exciting future for our industry and that by working together we’ll be best placed to achieve that.
“I’m a farmer too and I’m keenly aware of the challenges our sector is currently facing, and I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale of regulatory changes our industry is experiencing.
“This is however what motivates me to work on behalf of farmers, and with other industry organisations, to try to do something about it.
“I recognise there has been a lot of conversation about advocacy lately. B+LNZ regularly surveys farmers about what they think our priorities should be and the message is clear that farmers want us to continue advocating for their interests – most recently, advocacy topped the list of B+LNZ’s different functions at 91 percent – although not at the expense of other areas of focus.”
Mr Morrison says the voting packs contain information outlining how farmers’ levies will be invested over the next six years.
As part of the referendum sheep owners are also being asked to vote on a specific question about a small proposed increase in the sheepmeat levy. This would see the levy increase five cents to 75 cents per head, from 1 October this year.
“This is based on what farmers told us they wanted,” says Mr Morrison.
“We need to help farmers deal with a period of significant change. Farmers told us they want us to continue our core investment in telling our farmer story domestically, securing improved market access, and capturing greater value from our exports.
“However, they also want us to lift our research and development investment in key areas, particularly the control of internal parasites and facial eczema.
“We haven’t made this decision lightly and to minimise the increase we’ll also be utilising reserves and leveraging government funding.”
The referendum is held every six years, as required under the Commodity Levies Act 1990.
The key documents in the voting packs are available online.
- Levy Proposal – this sets out B+LNZ’s role in investing collectively on behalf of farmers and B+LNZ’s work to help farmers meet current challenges. You can find this online here.
- Levy Information – this contains important information on voting, covering the individual levies and general levy information, as required under the Commodities Levies Act 1990. You can find this online here.
Key voting dates:
- Tuesday 6 July: last day to get postal votes in the mail.
- Friday 9 July (midday): all voting (postal and online) closes.
The referendum results are expected to be available around ten days after voting closes.