Sunday, June 4, 2017
I don't know the ins and outs of how all this works, but I do know that the money the government puts into a venture is money we give them as taxes, so in theory, this is an investment on our behalf.
I also know that as a shareholder of the Alliance Group (“Alliance”) any money the company contributes to a partnership programme should be an investment on behalf of its shareholders.
Assuming this logic is correct, you would expect any venture entered into by the Government and Alliance and a private company called Headwaters (“the Venture”), would be done on my behalf, firstly as a taxpayer and secondly as an Alliance shareholder.
Headwaters is a composite ram breeding operation, that presumably provides animals, property, and man hours as its share of the Venture. The Government's primary contribution is money. Alliance, I believe, apart from providing killing facilities and data, pays something like 20 cents per kilogram premium ( over and above what the rest of its shareholders get) for lambs killed through the Venture. I understand this premium payment has been paid for many years now.
Recently Alliance publicly lauded the launching of a new brand of lamb produced by the Venture. Apparently, this is fantastic tasting lamb with intramuscular fat, omega 3 etc. I have requested more than once to see the research, data and findings of the Venture only to be fobbed off.
I even had the Alliance chief executive David Surveyor come and visit me, primarily because of an invoice I sent to them for the additional costs associated with having to sell my heavy weight lambs through the Temuka sale yards. As most shareholders would know you would get more money through the yards than killing them through Alliance as lambs over 23 kg were heavily penalised.
I considered this inequitable and ridiculous given that these same lambs were bought from the sale yard and then killed by meat companies, including Alliance. Alliance never paid my invoice, but to their credit (upon receiving the invoice), changed the policy so that loyal shareholders would not be penalised if a small percentage of lambs from a line killed were over this weight. I have been advised recently that non-shareholders, through third party buyers, have also been getting the benefit of this change.
I appreciated Mr Surveyor coming to see me, but again it was made clear that the results, data, workings and findings of the Venture would not be made available to me.
Anecdotally, I understand that they have found that grazing lambs on chicory for the last month before killing, has a positive and significant impact on the quality and taste of the lamb. I also believe that from a genetic standpoint, no advancement or breakthrough has been made and if there is anything worth pursuing that it’s not unique to the Venture but is common to many if not all other breeds of sheep in New Zealand.
My point is that everything from the Venture should be readily available to me, firstly as a tax payer and secondly as an Alliance shareholder. It would stop me guessing and if there are significant developments then it can benefit all of us.
It seems to me the only organisation standing to gain significantly from the launching of this new brand of lamb, and the research and findings, apart from procurement of lambs for Alliance, is Headwaters.