The Government is spending nearly $6 million to stop Australian beekeepers marketing their products as ‘mānuka’ honey.
Just 23.56% of beekeepers voted for the introduction of a commodity levy led by industry organisation Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ).
While ApiNZ is disappointed, family beekeepers Rural News spoke to have welcomed the news, saying they are already under enough financial pressure in a market flooded with non-manuka floral honey. "We were worried the corporates with their tens of thousands of hives would outnumber the traditional family beekeeping businesses," says one long-term beekeeper.
ApiNZ chair Bruce Wills says, “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.”
“We understand that affordability is a real issue for beekeepers at this time. The current season has been disappointing, and many beekeepers are in survival mode and don’t want to incur any extra cost when their revenues are under such pressure.
“The whole of industry must accept the decision the beekeepers have made, but it is a disappointing result for future development of the industry, particularly given the experience and examples of other successful primary sectors who are collectively focused and funded based on everyone contributing financially to industry good outcomes.
“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. However, despite the outcome the challenges and issues faced by the industry remain the same and ApiNZ is committed to continuing to work on these through its work programmes and industry focus groups.”
Final results as advised by Electionz.com are:
Vote Count (based on 26 hives or more): 76.44% voted No compared with 23.56% who voted Yes.
Weighted vote (based on hive numbers of those who voted): The No votes represented 64.03% of the total registered beehives of those who voted; while the Yes votes represented 35.97% of the total registered beehives of those who voted.
Voter turnout: 60.96% of all eligible voters voted in the levy referendum (being 1,057 votes received from 1,734 eligible honey producers).