Friday, April 12, 2024

Five BLNZ remits for farmers to mull

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Ahead of annual meeting, only three proposals have board support.
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Farmers will be asked to vote on five Beef + Lamb New Zealand remits ahead of its upcoming annual meeting.

Voting packs will be arriving in farmers’ mailboxes over the coming days.  If farmers previously received annual meeting or referendum materials, they’re on the roll and do not need to re-register.  

The remits farmers will be asked to vote on are  NZ ruminants’ effect on global warming, policies on genetically-modified organisms, cross-sector consensus on climate change policy, low-methane sheep genetics, and making all remits binding. 

BLNZ board chair Kate Acland encouraged farmers to read the annual meeting pack contents in detail.  The annual meeting is on March 19.

 “This is an opportunity for farmers to let BLNZ know their views on the issues and areas that are most important to them. It’s vital farmers make an informed vote,” Acland said. 

 “While the results of remits are not binding, any remit that passes is seriously considered by the board, as shown by the actions BLNZ took following the 2023 remits.” 

 Acland said that while the board is comfortable with the first three remits, there are two BLNZ does not agree with and in response to farmer feedback as part of last year’s remits process it is providing more explanation about its positions. 

 “We do not support a remit calling for a review of the low-methane sheep genetics programmebecause we believe there is sufficient justification for this work and we’re concerned about incurring significant additional costs on further cost-benefit analyses. 

 “BLNZ’s role is to provide a diverse range of farmers with tools to help address the issues and challenges they face on farm.  

 “BLNZ does not support the pricing of emissions and will continue to advocate for a review of targets based on the latest science. However, we believe it is likely that farmers will need to show progress in reducing their emissions at some stage in the future, whether this is led by the market or regulation. 

 “Low-methane sheep genetics is one of the few tools available to extensive farmers to reduce their emissions profile should they need to do so.” 

 Acland said they do also not support a proposal to make all remits binding. 

“Making remits binding risks significant change being immediately effected by a minority of farmers who may not reflect most farmers’ views.   

 “The alternative is when a remit is supported by farmers, the board then takes this out to the wider farmer community for further consultation before making a final decision.”  

 Farmers are also being asked to vote on a proposal to raise directors’ fees, following a recommendation from the Director Independent Remuneration Committee (DIRC). 

“DIRC’s benchmarking shows that BLNZ’s director fees lag significantly behind other industry organisations like Federated Farmers and DairyNZ,” Acland said.   

 The aim is to align fees with these similar organisations and recognise the significant workload and time off farm required from a BLNZ director. The DIRC recommendation is a “catch-up” year to bring director fees to the lower end of the industry benchmark with the recommendation for future reviews to be smaller and more regular to avoid significant one-off adjustments. 

Voting packs also contain materials for the NZ Meat Board Annual Meeting. While the NZMB is a different organisation, with a distinctly different role from BLNZ, the materials were combined so costs weren’t duplicated. 

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