Those in the primary industry need to shift their thinking on commodity levies as "just another tax", writes Federated Farmers Arable spokeswoman Karen Williams.

Primary industry sector groups are in the midst of pushing to renew their commodity levies.

Some are finding success and others are not.

The apiculture industry recently voted down a proposal to reinstate their commodity levy, while the wool industry is investigating establishing a new commodity levy despite having voted their original levy out in 2009 and voting down a proposal to reinstate the levy in 2014.


The Commodity Levy Act framework provides a mechanism for primary sector organisations to raise funds from industry members to fund industry good activities.

These activities can include research and development, quality assurance and work around plant health.

The arable industry has the benefit of a number of organisations that hold a commodity levy, who not only provide scientific advice and development, they also provide an inductance scheme and maintain cultivars for public use.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), formed in1995, invests in research, development and extension to support positive change in the arable industry.

It has a levy on 40 plus crop types and an extensive work programme for the betterment of the arable industry.

FAR's work on the use of plant growth regulators has increased industry knowledge on the use of the chemistry and increased seed yields by 50 per cent.

The Herbage Seedgrowers Subsection of Federated Farmers collects a levy on Non-Proprietary and Uncertified Seeds, known as the Commons.


The levy income is transferred to Grasslands to maintain the Commons for future use by New Zealand farmers.

This helps protect our nation's food security and is an invaluable tool in the face of climate change.

United Wheatgrowers Limited maintains a commodity levy which provides a disaster relief insurance scheme for all wheatgrowers in New Zealand.

The scheme does not provide full cover, but enough disaster relief to provide farmers with cover for the cost of production of that crop.

Arable farmers' incomes have fluctuated in recent years, but despite this, there remains a commitment from those in the arable industry to continue to support the commodity levies because they recognise the value they bring to industry.

I understand many people view a levy as just another tax and question how they benefit from it.

However, when it comes to research and development I encourage those in the primary industry to shift their mind set.

A commodity levy is an investment in the protection of your livelihood.

Once the levy is gone, it is awfully hard to reinstate.