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Meat sector PGP could halt 'race to the bottom'

29/01/2013 5:18:00 p.m. 

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre is excited by Beef+Lamb New Zealand and its partners winning Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) funding that could supercharge New Zealand’s red meat exports.

“We should not be in any doubt that the international demand for red meat is there but the problem is articulating that into the returns our farmers and our country need,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson.

“In the year to December 2007, red meat exports represented around 58 percent of dairying’s export value. But in the year to December 2012, that figure has fallen to 45 percent.

“If we had kept up the percentage recorded in 2007, our exports today would be some $1.4bn greater. That difference is more than what the entire fishing industry earns so this “Collaboration for Sustainable Growth” PGP stacks up, whichever way you look at it.

“We often hear talk about the need for ‘new’ exports and ‘new’ industries but what about taking what we do and doing it a lot better. Meat is the proverbial ‘better mousetrap’ and the PGP is the key to inventing it.

“What we have traditionally lacked is unity but now we have a “Who’s Who” of the processing sector engaged in the Beef+Lamb led PGP; AFFCO, Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, Blue Sky Meats, Progressive Meats and Silver Fern Farms.

“Then we have ANZ Bank, Deloitte and Rabobank also signed up.

“Right now the rural media is abuzz with negative news reflected in Federated Farmers soon to be released, mid-season farm confidence survey. I know of farmers getting returns for prime breeding ewes that are 50 percent down on the same time last year.

“Experience like this has generated a lot of comment about the need to cut over-capacity. While there is some merit to that, it is to me the wrong argument because we need to grow and fill global markets.

“This in turn would create an industry young people aspire to. Farmers sorely need better returns to create sustainable and viable businesses. At times our revenue has seemingly resembled an oscillograph.

“When we did put some good consecutive seasons together, we not only saw sheep numbers stabilise but farmers investing in productivity.

“A lot rides on this PGP shaping a united and valued adding export front. If we can get that and the returns to match, farmers will reciprocate by buying into initiatives growing the sector benefitting not just us but all New Zealanders.

“That starts with farmers voting to support Beef+Lamb’s proposal. Early next month farmers will start receiving information packs with the vote closing on 8 March at Beef+Lamb’s annual general meeting,” Mrs Maxwell concluded.

For further information contact:

Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson, 027 357 4464, 03 302 8860

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