7 Mar 2019

Beekeepers turn down proposal for commodity levy

5:50 pm on 7 March 2019

Commercial beekeepers have overwhelmingly rejected a proposed honey tax, with more than 75 percent voting down plans for a commodity levy.

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Apiculture New Zealand says a levy would enable investment in research, biosecurity and market development. Photo: 123rf

The voluntary body, Apiculture New Zealand, wanted all 1730 beekeepers in New Zealand with 26 hives or more to pay a levy of 10 cents on each kilogramme of honey.

It said most other primary sector industries have a levy system, and it would enable investment in research, biosecurity and market development.

Voting ran throughout February. The results announced this afternoon showed of the 1057 beekeepers who voted, 76.4 percent said they did not support the proposal.

Apiculture NZ chairman Bruce Wills said he was disappointed by the result.

"It's no secret that this is not the outcome I, or the board, wanted to see. I believe it will set back the development of the honey industry, but I understand that at present commercial beekeepers are hurting with the erosion in honey prices as a result of over-supply, for all floral types other than mānuka honey," Mr Wills said.

The proposal had caused some divisions in the honey sector - a different industry group, Beekeepers New Zealand had urged its members to reject the levy.

It argued beekeepers were already struggling financially due to poor prices for non-mānuka honey.

Mr Wills today acknowledged several difficult seasons may have put beekeepers, who wanted to minimise extra costs, off the levy.

''With hindsight, even though the levy was considered to be sustainable in either easy or difficult times, it was not the ideal time to put the levy proposition to the vote," he said.

There was only small support from commercial beekeepers who wanted to see the introduction of a commodity levy with 23.56 percent of the vote.

The voting closed on 1 March 2019. Final results as advised by Electionz.com were:

  • Vote count (based on 26 hives or more): 76.44 percent voted 'No' compared with 23.56 percent who voted 'Yes'
  • Weighted vote (based on hive numbers of those who voted): The 'No' votes represented 64.03 percent of the total registered beehives of those who voted; while the 'Yes' votes represented 35.97 percent of the total registered beehives of those who voted
  • Voter turnout: 60.96 percent of all eligible voters voted in the levy referendum (being 1057 votes received from 1734 eligible honey producers)

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