Making sheep a tri-use animal could ''greatly aid'' the
rejuvenation of New Zealand's sheep industry, Federated
Farmers meat and fibre vice-chairman Rick Powdrell says.
With Landcorp - the country's largest corporate farmer -
eyeing the potential of dairy sheep, the United States could
be to New Zealand's sheep industry what China was to dairy
cattle, he said.
In a recent speech, Landcorp Farming chief executive Steven
Carden outlined the state-owned enterprise's plans, which
included exploring farming new products, such as sheep milk.
Mr Powdrell said that news was exciting, when put together
with the sheep genome being mapped and a Trans Pacific
Partnership ''edging ever closer''.
Nothing less than the full elimination of agricultural
tariffs in the TPP was acceptable to Federated Farmers
members, he said.
The United States imported about half of the world's sheep
cheese last year, and dairy sheep played an important role in
the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries.
Mr Powdrell said New Zealand had a small but thriving dairy
sheep industry. Southland-based Blue River Dairy milks more
than 10,000 ewes daily, produces butter, cheese, ice cream,
milk powder and infant formula and exports to seven
countries. There is also the Matatoki Farm brand in the North
''The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation puts
the global share of sheep milk at 1.4% but, in terms of who
we are actively trading with, or seeking to develop trade
relationships with, the potential is huge,'' Mr Powdrell
Sheep milk accounted for 3.9% of milk production in South
East Asia, 4.2% in China, and 7.5% in North Africa and the
Sheep played a ''significantly bigger'' role than dairy goats
in those markets. Sheep's milk contained more solids than
cow's milk, hence its popularity for cheese, and it also
commanded a premium with consumers as it was more easily
digested, Mr Powdrell said.
Given environmental factors, dairy sheep could play an
important role in the industry's future and Federated Farmers
was very keen to explore that with its members, he said.
• Beef and Lamb New Zealand chief executive Dr Scott Champion
stressed the need for comprehensive tariff eliminations in
the TPP during a visit to the United States last week.
He met leaders of several major trade and farming
associations, including Beef and Lamb's US counterparts, the
National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the American Sheep
Industry Association, along with state and federal government
agencies, members of the US Congress, and US and New Zealand