Your money, your vote

meat‘WE NEED the resources to keep the drive for change moving.’ That’s the plea from meat industry reform lobby group MIE (Meat Industry Excellence) in asking farmers to support its remit for funding from Beef + Lamb NZ (BLNZ).  This and other remits will be voted on at BLNZ’s annual meeting in Feilding on March 14.

MIE is seeking $200,000, on top of the $40,000 it has already been given by BLNZ, to continue its work on “addressing procurement and marketing issues” in the sector. The funds are for travel expenses and the cost of meetings and other activities.

MIE chairman John McCarthy claims this is no gravy train, but a continuing push for reform. Most of the expenses to date have been carried by individual MIE members.

He says MIE is the only group with the mandate and focus to drive meat industry reform, a bold claim, as is the request for $200,000 – you can bet your life it will grow – of red meat levy funds.

There is no doubt MIE and its proponents are passionate drivers of their proposed meat industry reforms, even managing to get aligned directors voted onto the boards of Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms. But they draw a long bow in claiming an overwhelming mandate for support from red meat producers for their reforms and/or open access to levy funds to further promote these. Such boasts and demands border on arrogant pride, a turn-off to farmers that has hampered past calls for industry reform.

MIE does itself few favours in this regard: notice its insistence that Fonterra director John Monaghan be appointed to the board of Alliance Group without going through the correct constitutional process demanded of other candidates.

It now rests with red meat producers to give MIE proponents the mandate and funds they claim for meat sector reform, or send them back to the farms they come from. Either way it needs to be a clear message. It is your money and your vote: exercise it!