16 October 1998
New Zealand farms fight deregulation

THE New Zealand Dairy Board is fighting to stop the New Zealand government deregulating farmer-owned co-operative producer boards.

The boards have monopoly rights to sell a range of commodities including dairy products, apples, pears and kiwi fruit, on export markets.

The government has asked the boards to produce proposals within a month to end their monopoly rights. It has hinted at stripping them of their monopolies if they fail to respond.

The Dairy Board is balking at giving up a right which leaves it handling total export sales of NZ$7.7 billion (£2.5 billion). It says changes would harm the country.

Sir Dryden Spring, the boards retiring chairman, called the governments plans a “gigantic economic hoax”.

Other producer boards have also been critical. They argue that the current system has given them the marketing experience to build international brands.

The government says deregulation will boost the countrys earnings and make it a free trade example to the rest of the world.

For their part, farmers are hoping the government will be overthrown if an early election is called by the Labour Party, which is supporting the producer boards.

  • Financial Times 16/10/98 page 30