Tony Baldwin
Business | Policy
Producer Board Project Team
November 1998 - October 1999

Producer boards

For many years, New Zealand's agricultural sector has been governed or strongly influenced by a group of statutory boards exercising a range of coercive powers. Some boards had monopsony exporting powers - which is to say, only the board could export particular products overseas. These included:

  • The Dairy Board
  • The Apple and Pear Board
  • The Kiwfruit Board
  • The Raspberry Board, and
  • The Hop Board
Other boards retained only mandatory powers to levy growers. These included:
  • The Wool Board
  • The Meat Board
  • The Pork Board, and
  • The Game Board


In May 1998, the Government invited each Board to produce a plan for deregulation. Most Board's provided plans that effectively retained their statutory powers, with any change expressed in vague terms without clear timeframes. A General Election was due in early November 1999.


In August 1998, the Government formed the Produce Board Project Team, an interdisciplinary group comprising:

  • Officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Commerce (now MED), and Inland Revenue; and
  • Consultants in law, economics, international trade and merchant banking, market development;


The objective was to develop and implement for each board a reform package toward a more open and efficient market for exporting, which included removing the Board's statutory protections.

Key steps

The key steps in the project were to:

  • Assess each Board's plan and report to the Government
  • Design a strategy for facilitating change in each Board
  • Negotiate with each Board, and their various consultants, at a senior level to explore options for deregulation
  • Address a wide range of complex issues relating to pricing and financial structure, enterprise and share value, tax implications, contractual legal risks, international trade and quota rights, intellectual property, export licensing, compulsory levies and 'public good' activities, organisational governance, alternative corporate forms, Board strategies and business plans, corporatisation processes, Commerce Act authorisation, and legislation design
  • Develop a reform package for each Board
  • Liaise closely with industry organisations, stakeholders, members of Parliament and individual growers
  • Consult with Maori groups under the Government's Treaty obligation
  • Report to Cabinet on reform proposals and seek approval to proceed
  • Prepare reform legislation for each package
  • Support the Select Committee process
  • Liaise on communications issues

My role

As Project Leader, I was responsible for:

  • Managing the project team to deliver each of the steps above to a high standard
  • Operating within the project budget
  • Providing intellectual and personal leadership at all levels in relation to each Board


As project leader, I reported to:

  • A senior officials group, comprising the chief executives from the Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce (now MED), Treasury and Foreign Affairs
  • A group of senior Ministers, including the Prime Minister
  • The chief executive of the Ministry of Agriculture (by whom I was contracted)

I consulted with a Ministerial Advisory Group comprising, which included Sir Peter Elworthy, John Palmer and Joe Pope.