Forest owners will vote in March on a plan that aims to give all commercial forest and woodlot owners a say in the future of their industry.
The Forest Voice referendum is being conducted by a new organisation, the Forest Growers Levy Trust (FGLT), an incorporated society. It has the backing of the two established players in the sector, ourselves (FOA) and the Farm Forestry Association.
The FGLT will be responsible for managing the funds raised by the commodity levy. FOA and NZFFA will continue as membership organisations, still collecting a subscription from members. However, many of their functions are likely to be funded via the FGLT. This means non-levy paying sectors of the industry (young forest owners for example) will continue to have access to an industry organisation.
The plan aims to create a fairer, more cohesive and more profitable sector. The referendum will be held from 1-22 March 2013.
The referendum is being conducted under the Commodity Levies Act. If it is successful, most products sold from a plantation will be levied initially at a rate of 27c/tonne, with the option to increase the levy up to 30c/tonne. The funds raised will be administered by the Trust and used to fund activities for the benefit of all forest owners.
The members of the Trust board are well-known in the sector: Geoff Thompson, Peter Berg, Hamish Levack, Paul Nicholls, Charles Schell and Steve Wilton.
To vote in the referendum, forest growers must first register, even if they belong to an industry organisation. This is to ensure all growers, whether or not they have been involved in sector organisations in the past, have a fair say in shaping the industry’s future.
Full details of the referendum proposal are published on the Forest Voice website www.forestvoice.org.nz.