MARKETING AND PRICE POLICIES FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
Marketing and price policies for New Zealand farm products are complicated. They vary among the products. The general trend has been away from free marketing towards varying measures of control and price support. This is a world-wide trend which shows no sign of being reversed. It is difficult for New Zealand, with only a few main products, to operate complete and continuing price-support measures against prolonged falls in prices. It has been possible, however, to shield the producer from the worst effects of price variations. The essential features of the schemes for the main export products are the limited amount of Government assistance, often merely a statutory blessing; the schemes are financed essentially from producers' money; and, in the main, the producers control the marketing of the product.
With products for local sale, such perishables as milk, potatoes, eggs, and some types of fruit present most difficulties. Since 1936 these products have been subject to varying degrees of control by a State Department or by a producer authority. The practical effect is substantially the same. At times there is a longing for the “good old days” of free marketing, and in one or two products “open markets” have been set up to try to bring the producer and consumer closer together. But this move is largely anachronistic in western countries. With people concentrated in cities and products coming often hundreds of miles, there is limited opportunity for direct contact between producer and consumer.
by John Vaughan White, B.A., Rural Economist, Department of Agriculture, Wellington.