Historic: Honey Industry Trusts

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Through the life of the HMA - early 1950s to late 1970s - the HMA held moneys back (esp in a good year), with the concept that these funds went into an 'equalisation fund'. Theoretically, that fund would be used to increase the payout in bad years.

Remember, the HMA's payout to beekeepers pretty much dictated the price packers' had to pay for honey - if a packer was not willing to meet the figure, the bkpr could always send it to the HMA.

When the HMA was to be wound up, there was a lot of discussion about where the money should go. Should it go only to those who supplied the HMA? Should it be apportioned by volume supplied, or by contributions over the years, or what.

David Kay, a Wellington accountant, did a significant report that found that the moneys of the HMA should really belong to all beekeepers, not just the HMA suppliers. The HMA, in carrying out its trading with some of the advantages it had, was in effect operating for all NZ beekeepers, not just its suppliers. So out of this came the creation of two trusts, with trustees to spend the money in ways that would benefit all beekeepers. (Two funds for tax reasons: if any grant could be made under the educational trust, it didn't get taxed so badly. I'm not certain if there are still two trusts or not, but I would presume so.)

The trusts started with something like $700,000 (back in 1982). Through those first years, the NZ Honey Co-op had access to up to $600,000 of that by way of a loan that they subsequently repaid in full.

Today, the trusts are still used to provide funding for all sorts of research and development, education and industry improvement activities. Dr Peter Molan's Honey Research Unit was set up in 1995 with funding from the trusts. A lot of research into both AFB and varroa was made possible by these funds.

I'm sort of surprised that the history and value of these trusts is not more widely known - it is a real bright spot from the history of NZ honey marketing, IMHO.

Originally posted