Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ Ltd) yesterday launched consultation on a proposal to increase sheepmeat and beef levies to accelerate investment in a range of key programmes.
B+LNZ is seeking farmers’ views on the plan to increase the sheepmeat levy by 10 cents to 70 cents per head and the beef levy by 80 cents to $5.20 per head.
If adopted, the rise would mean an average sheep and beef farm would pay an additional $260 per annum and an average dairy farm an extra $55 per annum.
The additional levies would be invested in 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.
B+LNZ chairman Andrew Morrison says sheep and beef farmers are facing unprecedented challenges including environmental pressures, trade issues, the rise of alternative proteins, biosecurity incursions, and eroding public confidence in farming.
“But there are strong opportunities for beef and lamb exports if we are able to tell our story. There is growing demand globally for grass-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free red meat for which consumers are willing to pay a premium.
“Following feedback from farmers about what is important and what support farmers need, B+LNZ has developed a new strategy, re-organised our structure and refocused resources to combat these challenges, and realise our opportunities.
“So far this year, we have launched a range of initiatives aimed at positioning the sector for the future including a report on alternative proteins, the Taste Pure Nature origin brand and Red Meat Story and a new Environment Strategy.
“However, given the scale and speed of change, we believe a modest increase to the sheepmeat and beef levies is necessary so that we can accelerate these programmes. We see a window of opportunity to get ahead of the curve in these areas if we increase our investment now.”
“This includes investing more in the roll-out of Taste Pure Nature. The additional funds would be used to support greater targeted promotion in key markets such as the United States and China to capture more value for farmers before alternative proteins gain traction and our competitors cement their positions.
“There is also risk of significant regulatory change in the environment space. This investment will give farmers the tools to make on-farm changes, measure environmental progress and provide evidence for telling their story. This will help us engage with government to ensure they develop sensible policies.”
The Mp. bovis incursion and phased eradication programme is obviously a concern for farmers and B+LNZ has lifted its support to farmers with additional resources and advice.
“Alongside this response, it is clear that extra investment is required to strengthen B+LNZ’s capability to better assess biosecurity risks, drive improvements in NAIT, and help farmers improve their on-farm biosecurity systems.
“It’s important to note that this proposed levy increase is separate to the ongoing negotiations around what our industry’s share of the costs of the Mp. bovis eradication programme will be.”
Morrison says the additional investment being sought by B+LNZ falls within the range supported by farmers in the B+LNZ Commodity Levies Act referendum in 2015.
“The launch of the consultation today reflects our commitment stated in 2015 to go back to farmers in the event we wished to increase the levies.”
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the proposed levies increase would raise just over $4 million to invest on farmers’ behalf in the priority areas.
“We have reprioritised resources over the last two years, allowing us to save approximately $1.4 million. We’ve reallocated those savings to the most pressing issues for farmers, however, to fully realise the opportunities and deliver better outcomes for farmers, B+LNZ does require additional investment.”
The consultation runs from today (7 June) through to 13 July with farmers being able to have their say on the proposed levy increase in a variety of ways.
Consultation packs will be arriving in farmers’ mailboxes in the coming days with detailed information on the proposal and a submission form.
Farmers will also be able to share their views at www.beeflambnz.com/levy2018, by attending one of the local meetings that will be held around the country, or by contacting B+LNZ directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0800 233 352.