The boss of New Zealand's biggest meat company has walked off the board key industry body Beef and Lamb New Zealand calling for a debate on farmer levies.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper has resigned today as a director of Beef and Lamb and the New Zealand Meat Board effective immediately, which he says will allow him to speak freely about the future role of the having such a body.

"I have been unhappy for some time with the direction of Beef and Lamb, the continual intrusion into commercial activities, the divisive outcomes many of their initiatives are causing, coupled with proposals to spend levies and or reserves in competition with the private sector and duplicating what is already being done or is available," Cooper said.

"Whilst I certainly believe farmers should invest by way of levies, the debate should be about who administers and who is accountable for those levies."

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Cooper encouraged farmers to look at what candidates for an upcoming election for directors at both bodies were standing for and to vote for those who would challenge what the Beef and Lamb did.