We received 1794 submissions. Of those 61% were supportive of DairyNZ managing the Biosecurity Response Levy and increasing the maximum rate to 3.9 cents per kilogram of milksolids per year.
Some common themes raised during the consultation include:
General Support for the levy and wanting DairyNZ to have a seat at the table instead of a mandated biosecurity levy under the biosecurity act was by far the strongest theme.
Farmers are already paying too much/need understanding length of and cap on the levy/agreement in principle, but 3.9c is too much/suggested alternatives for calculating levy. There was some confusion about the maximum amount vs what would be implemented, and for how long that was to be applied. The cap sets the maximum levy rate. The rationale is to pay back what we currently owe, and then to match the levy with the same timeframe as costs are being incurred. By setting the maximum you are not agreeing to an ongoing levy at that rate. The rate will be communicated annually prior to implementation. Find out more in the following videos:
Parity with other sectors/who should pay and who shouldn’t have to pay. The beef and dairy split was raised a number of times at the farmer meetings. The 94%/6% was recommended by an independent panel, as dairy is most impacted by the clinical impacts of the disease and therefore the reduction in income from the disease. Beef and Lamb NZ have promised that the beef levy will only be levied on the beef sector, not of dairy cull cows. The dairy Biosecurity Response Levy will be set at milksolids, so the split between sharemilkers and owners will be the same as the milk cheque split – this is the fairest way to apportion the levy as this is a production/income-based disease. The bigger the herd, the bigger impact on production and therefore income if your herd is found positive.
Farmers expect strong fiscal accountability. We completely agree with this and are working with MPI to ensure that the books are open and that decisions continue to be made jointly. The move to a joined up Programme rather than an ongoing Response is one we welcome, and we are currently working through the governance group to ensure this is overseen responsibly. Find out more in this video:
Attempted eradication is a waste of time vs eradication is working and the levy is supported to continue this success. A number of the negative responses were due to the belief that eradication, and the way it was tracking, was not worth pursuing. There is a lot of misinformation about the eradication process and the success to date. While it is extremely difficult for anyone involved, and systems and process can be, and are being, improved – the actual results from the programme are more positive than even the Technical Advisory Group were expecting.
The spring bulk milk testing, for example, confirmed that the disease is not endemic and wide-spread throughout New Zealand, and lead to only three new properties being identified as positive for M. bovis, and a small number of low-risk farms being put on further surveillance. This could have been much more widespread, we were expecting more properties to be identified through the testing programme. The testing is complex, but the layering of tests gives a strong level of comfort that eradication is still possible. The loss to the sector of doing nothing far outweighs the costs expected from the response – $1.3b compared to $870m (of which Dairy contribute $270m).
Consultation process can be improved. We acknowledge that this was the start of the process, and we should have taken a longer period of socialisation, prior to supplying the feedback forms – this would have helped with the level of misinformation that was circulating on social media in particular. We take that feedback on board.
Other comments were more general and about the levy and biosecurity/disease eradication in general/support for the levy to be continued later for other responses, and we appreciate these comments for any future responses – it was great to get feedback and ideas through.
The next step is for us to prepare a recommendation to go to MPI with this feedback and we will be in touch with farmers on the 29th March to confirm the approach we will be taking.