October 1, 2003

 

 

New Zealand Meat Board Restructured

 

The New Zealand Government has agreed to introduce legislation allowing the Meat Board to be restructured, but wants to maintain some involvement at a board level.

 

Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said the industry restructuring initiative, which farmers backed in an August referendum, met the Government's main criteria.

 

Meat New Zealand and wool industry body Sheepco plan to form a single pastoral organisation to levy farmers for industry-good activities.

 

But the Meat Board restructuring bill, which will be heard in Parliament before July next year, will create a residual board of directors with statutory powers to manage quotas and industry reserves. That residual board will include all the directors of the new industry organisation as well as two or three Government-appointed experts in meat trade and quota management.

 

Sutton acknowledged yesterday that he and Meat NZ management disagreed on the need for the Government to retain a role in the administration of quotas. But he argued that quotas belong to the nation rather than industry. Their administration was an internationally sensitive area, with potential spillover effects extending beyond the meat trade, he said.

 

"The specialist understanding of this and a clear national perspective cannot be guaranteed on a 100 per cent industry-elected board," he said.

 

Representatives from Meat New Zealand were in a board meeting yesterday and unavailable for comment.