Dairy Board needs to prove relevance

  • David Carter
Associate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control

"If the Dairy Board is such an effective international marketer for farmers, why then are farmers receiving lower milk payouts?" asks Associate Minister of Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control, Hon David Carter.

Mr Carter was responding to comments made by Dairy Board officials at their annual general meeting yesterday, that they would fight moves to deregulate producer boards.

Mr Carter, who was present at the meeting with Hon John Luxton, said Dairy Board officials had presented an "extremely one-sided view" of the current debate, and had obscured the fact that dairy farmer's payouts were continuing to slide under the monopoly producer board.

"There's no doubt that the dairy industry has made an extremely important contribution to New Zealand. But at the same time dairy prices continue to fall. How can the Board explain that?"

Statistics collected on the average milksolid payout showed farmers in 1990 were earning more than they earned this year. Prices in 1998 are also lower than they were in 1997 and 1996.

"Government has a duty to review the relevance of producer boards for the good of all producers."

"Improving farmer's incomes has to be a priority. Dairy farmers are having to run to stand still."

"It would be negligent of Government to observe the decline in farmer payouts and incomes and not ask some fundamental questions."

"By continuing to stifle debate on the future of producer boards, entities such as the Dairy Board are doing their suppliers a disservice. Farmers deserve informed and productive debate, and representatives who are genuinely interested in reviewing how best to approach the future," said Mr Carter.