Minister invites meat industry collaboration

Nathan Guy
Nathan Guy
New Zealand's red meat industry is not ''on the way out'' but innovation, collaboration and development of market opportunities are needed to lift profitability, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

Addressing Beef and Lamb New Zealand's annual meeting, Mr Guy said the industry had some serious challenges.

Profitability would not be improved by ''doing more of the same, or by simply selling more of the same''.

Not a week went by where he did not hear how dairying was taking over the sector; how the red meat sector was on a downward spiral and how New Zealand was becoming a ''giant dairy farm''.

''This is not what New Zealand wants, and it is not what I want,'' Mr Guy said.

He was optimistic about the red meat sector's future, saying it was capable of leading the world in its innovative and profitable approach to selling high quality meat.

Earlier this month, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) called on Mr Guy to convene an urgent industry summit to address what it described as a crisis confronting the sector and the country.

In response, Mr Guy encouraged all members of the industry to collaborate, talk and resolve issues.

''I don't think anyone wants another talkfest or a meeting where only a few turn up and those that do aren't prepared to fully engage.

''I believe any meaningful event must have the commitment of all the players of the industry including MIE, Beef and Lamb, MIA (Meat Industry Association), Federated Farmers, the processors and the banks,'' he said.

If MIE or any other group organised a pan-industry summit, committed to resolving issues in the sector, he would attend and engage in it, he said.

If a significant portion of the sector agreed on a solution of how they wanted to better the industry, his door was open.

Any substantial change needed to come with a very clear and very broad level of support.

''I am not prepared to interfere in the structure of a sector without the support of that sector. The Government doesn't own the sector, you do,'' he told the meeting.

''I doubt that anyone in this room wants the heavy hand of government dreaming up bureaucratic solutions that haven't come from the ground up,'' he said.

It was an industry where farmers could have a say and it seemed very clear that if an overwhelming majority of people wanted change, there was the ability to bring it about, he said.

Northland farmer James Parsons has been elected chairman of Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

Mr Parsons and his wife, Janine, farm a 478ha sheep and beef property between Whangarei and Dargaville.

He takes over from Mike Petersen, from Hawkes Bay, who did not seek re-election to the board.


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