I received so many comments (for my fledgling blog) on my post Protectionism in our backyard that I thought I would respond with another blog post. Flattered as I was to discover how many Zespri growers are apparently among my readership, I thought this comment at least required response:
What absolute uninformed and unresearched dribble.
Put some skin in the game and I doubt you would barking on about philosophical rhetoric….
Unresearched dribble?! Can any serious participant in this debate be unaware of the enormous amount of research done by the Business Roundtable on agricultural marketing regulation, in general in this ACIL report and then later in a specific study on kiwifruit in this report? This research was highly influential in the decisions taken by past governments to deregulate producer boards. Export monopolies for dairy, pipfruit and kiwifruit were all to be removed. Kiwifruit was stated to be only a matter of time.
Other respected organisations such as the Productivity Commission in Australia have advised against single desk regulations. With one or two exceptions they have been dismantled worldwide. Why should kiwifruit in New Zealand be an exception to well-established research findings and governmental decisions?
More recent arguments for kiwifruit deregulation were made in the 2009 report by NERA Economic Consulting here. The 2025 Taskforce called for the monopoly to be removed.
Turners and Growers have presented facts about pipfruit deregulation here. There are no serious calls for the pipfruit industry to be re-regulated, yet nothing stops the government from doing that if it were desirable. The profitability of land use is the basic reason for the growth or contraction of land-based industries, not marketing arrangements. Wool has contracted relative to the deregulated dairy industry for this reason.
Bottom line: it is an extraordinary restriction on the freedom of a producer to ban them from selling something they have produced to a willing buyer in New Zealand or anywhere in the world. We do not impose that restriction on hundreds of thousands of other New Zealand producers, including horticultural producers. It would be ludicrous to argue that they should have to get the consent of a competitor for the right to export. If Zespri is as good as it says it is it may lose no business – but potential competition will keep it on its toes and protect growers.
National as a party and in its 2009 Government Statement on Regulation states that it is for free enterprise and against monopolies. Where is the serious piece of independent analysis showing a case for restricting freedom of commerce in kiwifruit exporting? Here is a challenge to Zespri and like-minded growers: if you think the arguments for the monopoly stack up, ask the government to seek advice on them from the New Zealand Productivity Commission when it is set up next year. It is being established for exactly that kind of inquiry.