Red meat industry strategy needed for sustainable future

Thursday 14 May 2009, 7:20AM
By Federated Farmers of New Zealand

Last week’s release of the Strategy for New Zealand Dairy Farming, produced by DairyNZ in conjunction with Federated Farmers and the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, should serve as a wake up call for the red meat industry.


“Farmers know where we need to be, but how to get there is not clear, so an inclusive pan industry strategy is needed,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairman.


“We started down this path last year with the Meat Industry Taskforce but as not all parties contributed, this came to an abrupt and disappointing end. The work behind Federated Farmers T150 campaign highlights the desperate need for a strategy.


“Farmers and others in this vitally important industry want and need a profitable and sustainable future. A comprehensive strategy is the best way to achieve this outcome.


“Dairy’s ‘rainbow’ approach presents a great model for how to engage with and involve the entire sector. I must say Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre is impressed with what they have produced by working together.


“I think Meat & Wool New Zealand, as our industry-good organisation, is best placed to lead on this. Federated Farmers is similarly placed to be as involved as our dairy counterparts have been with their industry’s blueprint.


“Meat & Wool is best placed to bring together the processors and Federated Farmers around one table. We see this process being taken to all parts of New Zealand to create a future we can all buy into.


“I know most of the meat companies are keen to get behind a pan-industry strategy.


“The red meat community has been through some incredibly tough years. The industry has survived by decimating the national flock. As farmers we have just endured the toughest year in two generations.


“While sheep farmers in particular are seeing much improved prices and prospects, in real terms we have actually gone backwards. Yet looking backwards is no solution. That’s why a pan-industry strategy is the way ahead.


“Average lamb prices this season are thankfully near to $90, which is a great improvement over last season. To be sustainable so that we can farm for generations to come, we need returns to grow in real terms.


“A strategy is therefore a key plank for giving farmers the confidence to invest in our industry,” Mr Wills concluded.