Farmers to vote on dairy levy

NEW ZEALAND - Dairy farmers will be voting on their future next year when they decide how much they will pay to support Dairy Australia, which is coming under increasing financial pressure.
calendar icon 27 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

Dairy Australia, the industry research and marketing body, is facing an increasing funding shortfall because of the impact of the drought and the rising cost of research and development.

Farmers must vote on whether to abolish or increase the levy that supplies the bulk of Dairy Australia's funding. The dairy service levy poll will be conducted from February 12 until March 16.

Dairy farmers will have an opportunity to vote on three levy options — to have a zero rate, to maintain the current rate, and to increase the rate to 15 per cent — in order of preference. Dairy Australia has recommended against an increase at this stage.

However, managing director Mike Ginnivan issued a warning at the annual meeting on Friday. "Depending on the severity of the drought, if sustained, all options will result in a reduction in the real value of investment and a contraction in the level of services provided by Dairy Australia," he said.

Dairy Australia chairman Pat Rowley said the levy poll would show how much farmers wanted to invest in industry services such as research, trade policy, protection and promotion.

"If the dairy service levy goes, and the many services it funds go, it is gone forever," he said. "You'd also lose the Government's $15 million or so in annual matching funds."

Mr Rowley said the production advances for dairy over the next 10 years would be through science, technology and extension.

"It's been estimated, for example, that 80 per cent of the technology that we will see on farms in 10 years from now has not even been invented yet," he said.


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