Water management limits could prove prohibitive. Photo
Some meat plants could be closed if the cost of upgrading
to meet new water management limits proves prohibitive, the
Meat Industry Association (MIA) is warning.
In a recently-released document, MIA, a voluntary trade
association representing meat processors and exporters, has
highlighted various ways in which the Government could assist
the red meat industry to ''thrive''.
When it came to the environment, it could help by giving
sufficient time for the industry to respond to changes in
water management regimes.
Its water discharges were already consented activities under
In some cases, the cost of upgrading to meet new limits might
be prohibitive, potentially closing plants and costing jobs,
if not managed properly.
Receiving early signals would help companies adjust
investment decisions, the MIA said.
It has also suggested economic development be included as a
''national value'' that had to be considered in water
While the industry was highly supportive of improving water
quality, it was important to recognise it had an economic, as
well as environmental, value.
Both needed to be considered when communities decided on
their desired ''values'' for water.
It was also imperative that central Government ensured a
consistent, scientific basis for regional plans.
The industry had operations all over New Zealand and was
aware of the inconsistency in water management regimes
applied by regional councils.
The MIA said it was in the country's best interests to have a
profitable sheep and beef sector.
The meat industry had continued to innovate and drive good
export and revenue growth in recent years.
The sector had struggled to be consistently profitable due to
challenges ranging from increasing market access costs,
through to the high New Zealand dollar.
Rising dairy returns continued to drive conversions away from
sheep and beef farms.
In the face of environmental, regulatory and land-use
challenges, it was ''imperative'' central government and
industry worked together to maximise the sector's overall
return to New Zealand.
The MIA highlighted five policy areas: workforce, regulation,
environment, innovation and trade, and suggested ways the
Government could help.
Other suggestions included establishing a long-term
innovation investment strategy integrating the needs of key
export industries, developing a government funding programme
specifically for research in the food safety area, and
committing to continue co-funding industry research
The Government needed to continue an aggressive Free Trade
Agreement agenda, not accepting less than comprehensive
access and and ensuring non-tariff provisions had ''teeth''.
The meat industry was increasingly forced to cater, at high
cost, to markets' prescriptive, non-scientific demands.
Central government, working with industry, should use the
short supply of protein worldwide to motivate key importing
countries to recognise New Zealand's ''excellent'' meat
production regulatory system.
The fourth red meat sector conference will be held in
Wellington on July 28.
Speakers include Mary Boyd, corporate network director of the
Economist Intelligence Unit in China, who will provide
insights into opportunities in China; Parliamentary
Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright, who will
focus on the sector's environmental responsibilities; and the
Agri-Women's Development Trust executive director, Lindy
Political commentator Colin James will share his insights
into what the political landscape was likely to look like
after the September election, and who the sheep and beef
sector needed to influence to ''create the best environment
for doing business''.