Plans for a red meat industry summit appear aborted with Meat
Industry Excellence chairman John McCarthy saying farmers are
''on their own'' if they want to sort out the industry.
In March, MIE called for an urgent summit to address what it
described as a crisis confronting the sector and the country.
But, having canvassed some stakeholders seeking support for a
summit, it became quickly apparent it was ''going nowhere'',
Mr McCarthy said this week.
''Whilst we have not spoken to all stakeholders, from our
initial approaches it was obvious that we were unlikely to
get sufficient buy-in to attract government support, let
alone get a positive and enduring outcome.''
MIE had been looking to Primary Industries Minister Nathan
Guy for organisational and ministerial support to enable the
Mr Guy has previously encouraged all members of the industry
to collaborate, talk and resolve issues, saying any
meaningful event must have the commitment of all players in
Mr McCarthy said the lack of support reinforced that if
farmers ''genuinely want to turn this thing around'', they
had to do it themselves.
''As it was with the predictable failure around tradeable
slaughter rights, it is obvious that, beyond the farm gate,
this is an industry model defined and limited by patch
protection and individual company self-interest.
''This should not be construed as a criticism, it is quite
simply yet another illustration of why we cannot rely on, or
indeed have expectations that the processor/exporters can
effect any major changes.
''They are limited as to what they can do by their individual
balance sheets and corporate responsibilities.''
MIE believed that ''destructive competition'' was a limiting
factor in terms of the opportunities required to keep sheep
and beef farming competitive with alternative land uses.
The group was now looking at the opportunities for farmer
incomes under a model with scale, stable procurement patterns
and in-market co-operation.
One figure it had identified as an aspirational goal was $8 a
kg for lamb in order to be ''on a truly profitable footing''.
''We believe this to be achievable but not under the current
model,'' Mr McCarthy said.
The biggest hurdle to ''much-needed'' change would be the
predicted increase in farmer incomes in the coming season, he
''What we should be aware of is that the fundamentals have
not changed; this roller coaster pattern is the reason MIE
''If we take our foot off the pedal now, in another three to
five years there will be other farmer meetings in Gore and
Feilding and another MIE or MIAG (Meat Industry Action Group)
will be born.''
The industry could be turned around but it was up to all
farmers to keep the pressure on.
• A delegation of red meat exporters, led by the Meat
Industry Association, has headed to China this week.
The group, responsible for more than 95% of New Zealand red
meat exports, would meet Chinese regulatory agencies,
industry bodies and customers.
It was about building relationships in a key market, MIA
chairman Bill Falconer said.
''While individual companies travel regularly to the market,
it is rare for the meat industry to travel together in such
force. This delegation is testament to the importance we
place on China.''
There has been rapid growth in meat exports to China over the
past five years.
In 2013, New Zealand sent 36% of all sheepmeat exports and
10% of beef to China.
Total industry exports to China were worth almost $1.3