People don't appreciate how difficult it is to change farm systems quickly, says Pāmu chief executive Steven Carden.
This has been revealed in answers to an Official Information Act (OIA) request by Rural News to the Government-owned farmer (trading as Pāmu Farms).
“Each ERG member and the chairman is paid a flat fee of $1500 per day they attend the ERG meeting,” Landcorp’s OIA response says. “In addition, the chair is paid an hourly rate for meeting preparation.”
During the 2017-2018 year, the state farmer also paid $2740.11 in travel costs and another $2451.43 in accommodating out-of-town ERG members for the four meetings it held in Wellington.
Landcorp set up the ERG in 2015 after protests about the state-owned farmer’s Wairakei Estates forestry-to-dairy farm conversions north of Taupo.
Its members over the years have included several high-profile farming critics, including two controversial environmentalists – freshwater ecologist Dr Mike Joy, farming critic and now Landcorp’s head of environmental; and former Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson.
Current members of ERG include outspoken freshwater campaigner Marnie Prickett who also chairs the committee, Forest and Bird campaigner Anna-Beth Cohen, earth systems scientist and Māori specialist Dr Daniel Hikuroa, well-known ecologist Guy Salmon and the ubiquitous Mike Joy.
Meanwhile, it looks like members of Landcorp’s ERG are on a pretty good wicket at $1500-a-day, compared with other Government-paid bodies. Members of the Primary Sector Council are paid $500 a day, with chair Lain Jager earning $800 a day. The Tax Working Group members earned $800 a day and chair Sir Michael Cullen earned $1000 a day.