Former Meat Industry Excellence members (from left) Don
Morrison, of Waikaka Valley, Richard Young, of Tapanui, and
Dan Jex-Blake, of Gisborne, address people attending a
meeting in Omakau last week to meet the candidates who are
standing for the Alliance and Silver Fern Farms boards.
Photo by Timothy Brown.
The future of the red meat sector lies in the hands of
farmers, a meeting in Omakau was told last week.
It was one of a series of meetings held from Te Kuiti to
Tokanui last month which were organised by Meat Industry
Excellence. Those present could meet and discuss the future
of the red meat sector with the candidates Meat Industry
Excellence was backing to be elected on to the boards of New
Zealand's co-operative meat companies.
Tapanui farmer and former Meat Industry Excellence chairman
Richard Young and Gisborne farmer Dan Jex-Blake are standing
for the board of Silver Fern Farms, while Waikaka Valley
farmer Don Morrison is standing for the board of Alliance.
About a dozen farmers attended the Omakau meeting. However,
Mr Jex-Blake said the meetings had been attended by 30-50
people on average.
He told the meeting the red meat sector was ''in trouble'',
lacked ''vision'' and was ''totally bereft of leadership''.
''It's a strategy of survival and a race to the bottom,'' he
''The status quo is unsustainable and the situation we find
ourselves in is an indictment of us all.''
Farmers needed to regain control of the industry and the
first step was getting farmers who were active about industry
reform on to the boards of the co-operatives, he said.
Mr Morrison said a large voter turnout was important to show
the companies that those elected had a mandate for reform.
A turnout of 20%, as had been the case in past elections,
would not suffice and farmers needed to speak to their peers
to encourage them to vote, he said.
Mr Young said reforming the industry needed all participants
to be involved and adding value to the sector and it was not
just a case of merging Alliance and Silver Fern Farms.
Meat Industry Excellence adviser Ross Hyland said a large
voter turnout would send a clear message change was wanted
and, if farmers supported change, he was ''very positive
about political support''.