A turnaround of the red meat sector has been called for; pictured, sheep pause on a bluff of the Dingleburn road, above Lake Hawea. Photo by ODT.
Meat Industry Excellence is calling on Primary Industries
Minister Nathan Guy to convene an urgent industry summit to
address what it describes as a crisis confronting the sector
and the country.
The summit was needed to flesh out areas of stakeholder
commonality as to profitable and realistic reform options,
chairman John McCarthy said.
A consensual approach was needed and the Government had a key
role to play in terms of facilitation.
MIE would be seeking cross-party support on the basis that a
reinvigorated red meat sector was in the national interest.
It was not in the national interest to turn New Zealand into
a ''giant dairy farm''.
That was flawed economically and the environmental footprint
was at odds with the country's national brand, Mr McCarthy
''Dairy is eating our lunch, but in the interests of New
Zealand's environment, and long-term economic diversity, we
need to ensure that the red meat industry turns around and
reaches its potential."
Stud breeders were reporting demand for rams was down by up
to 50% this year, while conversions to dairy farming,
especially in the South Island, were eroding traditional
sheep and beef land at an estimated annual rate of 6% to 7%,
Mr McCarthy said.
''To pretend the red meat sector, and sheep and deer in
particular, is anything other than a crisis is to fool
''It's time the industry got together to take immediate steps
to secure the sector's future,'' he said.
In a recent update to farmers, retiring Beef and Lamb New
Zealand chairman Mike Petersen asked farmers to have
confidence in the future of the sector and not get
''side-tracked'' by comparisons with the well-performing
He urged farmers to focus on the areas where they influence
and control, invest in their farming business, innovate and
adapt. He also encouraged farmers to get involved in what
happened beyond the farm gate.
''Farmers need to stand up and be heard in this country where
we are a very small proportion of the population in spite of
our huge contribution to the economy,'' he said.
Sheep meat supply was down globally and demand was reported
as being firm.
Importantly, price rises were being seen that were not
resembling ''the boom and bust mentality'' seen in previous
He believed the new red meat profit partnership was a
''potential game changer'' for the sector, injecting capital,
commitment and ideas to dramatically lift the profitability
of farmers and the performance of the sector.
ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said lamb prices had held up
well in recent months at a time in the season when prices
That augured well for a further improvement in prices over
He expected 16kg lambs to fetch between $90 and $100 by the
time spring rolled around, from about $80 currently.
That was attributed to improving demand in the key United
Kingdom market, tight local supply and similarly week supply
from Australia. Strong Chinese demand for frozen lamb was
helping further underpin lamb prices.
The UK economy was improving after a grim few years and
increasing consumer confidence was adding to demand for
products like lamb, he said.