Smith to Meet Bay of Plenty Farmers & Growers

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

The Government's progressive change management process for producer boards will allow the Dairy, Apple & Pear and Kiwifruit boards to become the three most sophisticated producer-owned food marketing organisations in the world, Agriculture Minister Lockwood Smith said today.

Dr Smith was commenting before his visit to the Bay of Plenty today to discuss producer board reform and other agriculture issues with local farmers and growers.

"These three organisations have developed into successful New Zealand exporters of food products, but politicians and bureaucrats currently restrict the range of products they can export overseas," Dr Smith said.

"Those restrictions have to remain in place for as long as they have export monopolies because it wouldn't be fair to allow them to compete with the rest of the export industry, while not allowing the rest of the export industry to compete with them.

"But the restrictions hold back their potential, and the potential return to their producer owners."

Dr Smith said the Government's progressive change management process provided the necessary time to allow the current strengths of each industry to be maintained. He cited the proposed Dairy Alliance and the Kiwifruit Marketing Board's moves towards corporatisation as examples of careful planning for the future.

"Careful planning like this will help to ensure the industries concerned remain farmer- and grower-controlled, and integrated."

And he said branding strategies would ensure the statutory export monopolies of the 20th Century could be replaced with branded export monopolies for the 21st Century.

"While no one will have an old-fashioned export monopoly for milk powder, apples or kiwifruit, intellectual property law will provide modern export monopolies for Anchor, Enza and Zespri."

The removal of the restrictions associated with old-fashioned export monopolies would allow the organisations to expand their operations into new product lines, enabling them to compete with the multinational food giants, Dr Smith said.

"I have every confidence that these farmer- and grower-owned organisations of the future will be able to become among the most sophisticated food marketing companies in the world. That can only lead to higher dividends to the producers who own them.

"No longer will parliament be telling our top marketing executives what they can and cannot export. The Dairy, Apple & Pear and Kiwifruit industries will be able to export whatever they believe will enable them to best compete internationally and deliver the highest possible returns to their owners."

At 12.15 pm today, Dr Smith will meat with dairy, meat and wool farmers at the New Zealand Dairy Group in Edgecumbe.

At 2.30 pm, he will meet with kiwifruit growers at Hort Research in Te Puke.