Graham Alder wants to help improve the profitability of
sheep and beef farming.
Mr Alder was appointed general manager of Beef and Lamb New
Zealand Genetics earlier this year, after a successful vote
at Beef and Lamb New Zealand's annual meeting to combine the
organisation's genetics investments.
The new entity draws together Sheep Improvement Ltd, the Beef
and Lamb New Zealand central progeny test and Ovita, with
added investment in beef genetics, and was created with the
aid of government funds.
Mr Alder, who was previously genetics business manager of
animal health company Zoetis, said the job was ''going really
The attraction for him was being able to make a meaningful
difference ''to New Zealand as a business'.
With a background largely working for multinational
companies, in previous roles he had enjoyed working with
sheep and beef farmers.
While at Zoetis, he came to Dunedin from Auckland regularly,
and enjoyed collaborating with the scientific and genomics
team at AgResearch's Invermay research centre, and with the
team at AbacusBio.
When the new genetics entity was formed, he thought it would
be a ''great opportunity''. He described Dunedin as a
The driving theme of the entity was building stronger
genetics, through focusing on industry-relevant outcomes and
Investment would be made in a range of research and finding
the traits suited to hill country would be a particular focus
as that was where sheep and beef production was increasingly
based, as flatter land changed to dairy.
A consultation phase was in progress with parties, in terms
of the new entity's programmes, and it needed to get
stakeholders on board. Other parties which wanted to be
involved and invest in the programme were being sought and he
was encouraged by the response, Mr Alder said.
Meetings had been held with meat processors, breed societies,
representatives of large commercial farming operations and
beef stakeholders, in which the new entity's plans were
The next step was finalising those plans and contracting out
His role included making sure Beef and Lamb Genetics
delivered in terms of developing better breeding genetics and
a better evaluation system, and making it accessible to end
Work would be done on a communications strategy
to keep parties informed about progress and the value being
In October, a two-day forum for sheep breeders would be held
in Dunedin ''to share the vision of what we're proposing''.
It would also be an opportunity for breeders to outline their
The goal was to improve the profitability of sheep and beef
farming by making sure the right genetics were available to
farmers and that they were easy to select.
At the moment, the right genetics were available but they
were not easy to find and not easy to select, Mr Alder said.
Prices for both beef and lamb were very strong at the moment
and the season was looking very good.
Information available from Beef and Lamb New Zealand's
economic service showed probably 10% to 15% of sheep and beef
farmers' operations were just as profitable, if not more so,
than dairy farmers' operations, he said.
Part of the challenge of his role was how to use genetics to
help more farmers be ''in that space''. He also wanted people
to see that it had a future and to attract young people into