• John Luxton
Commerce and Industry

Minister of Commerce and Associate Minister of Agriculture told dairy farmers yesterday that he shared their concerns about dairy farmers who have lost income on average around $50,000 in cold hard cash. (source Dominion article 13/6/97)

"The average dairy farmer producing 50,000kgs of milk solids a year lost about $25,000 last season in income and is expected to lose the same amount next season. I believe serious questions need to be asked about the performance of the existing industry structure, " Mr Luxton told the 250 dairy farmers at the Jersey New Zealand Conference in New Plymouth yesterday.

"My personal belief is that statutory producer boards are outdated. If we are to continue to compete in the international market place while increasing dairy farmers standards of living our producer marketing boards need dramatic change.

"The New Zealand dairy farmer is one of the few groups that are forced by Government to sell the fruits of their labour to only one buyer. I just hope that farmers realise the risks involved.

"It appears to me that in agriculture, like in another important sector, education, politics rather than performance often dominates.

"The inability to see increased investment and greater innovation is costing dairy farmers in New Zealand. Restricting investment and competition, prevents much innovation and the Kiwi ingenuity that New Zealand is famous for.

"It is vital that the dairy industry move forward and progress towards realising its full potential so that dairy farmers can make a good return on their efforts and assets.

"I will to continue to raise what I believe is the most important issue in the dairy industry and that is profit, and getting Government and politics out of the industry. This is not about dismantling the NZ Dairy Board, but seeing where the industry can progress from here.

"We need even more focus on increasing dairy farmers returns irrespective of weather they run Jersey herds or some of those other breeds that we hear about sometimes, Mr Luxton concluded to this Jersey dairy farmers audience.