The Origins of Statutory Producer Control Legislation in New Zealand Agriculture 1914-1925
This thesis investigates the origins of statutory producer control that emerged out of the Board of Trade (Wool Industry) Regulations 1921, The Meat Export Control Act, 1921-22 and The Dairy Produce Export Control Act, 1923. Most histories have traced the formation of statutory producer organisations to the economic conditions that prevailed during the British Government's 1915-1921 bulk purchase agreement with New Zealand known as the 'Imperial Commandeer' and the commodity price slump that marked the Commandeer's conclusion. Analysis of agricultural income series and output data suggest that the popular view of a 'boom' and 'slump' cycle is overplayed. This thesis argues that net real farm incomes remained relatively static during the Commandeer while output contracted. The slump cycle beginning in 1920/21 was particularly severe given the interaction of key demand and supply variables. The contemporary argument for statutory intervention may have been based on misconceptions in some cases, yet when the economic arguments are evaluated a strong case emerges. The central role played by W.F. Massey and his Reform Party Government is also important to an understanding of how this legislation came about.