Farmers say shift focus of meat plan

22:38, Feb 21 2013

Frustrated Southland farmers have spoken out against a plan to spend almost $20 million of farmer reserves on a programme to save the meat industry, saying the focus needs to change.

About 130 farmers and industry leaders attended the Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmer meeting in Gore on Wednesday night to discuss farmers' contribution to the Collaboration for Sustainable Growth programme.

The $65m programme, which is based on the 2011 Red Meat Sector Strategy, aims to improve profitability at the farm gate through information sharing, education and stronger relationships between farmers and processors.

Farmers have been asked to vote on whether $19.6m of reserves from Beef + Lamb NZ and the New Zealand Meat Board should be used for the programme.

Federated Farmers Southland executive member David Rose said the industry needed a change that was beyond what the programme looked at.

"Farmers are deeply concerned about where the sheep industry is going. There needs to be a quantum shift bigger than what they're talking about," he said.


Contracted supplies and collaborative marketing between meat companies would help restore trust and commitment to the industry, he said.

Beef + Lamb southern South Island director Leon Black said farmers wanted a more stable industry, and last year was a massive wake-up call for processors.

In the future there could be contracted supplies between farmers and processors, amalgamation of meat companies or consolidated companies, he said.

Beef + Lamb NZ chairman Mike Petersen said they would stop funding the programme if the milestones set out in the Red Meat Sector Strategy were not being met.

The programme partners are Silver Fern Farms, Affco, Alliance Group, Anzco Foods, Blue Sky Meats, Progressive Meats, ANZ Bank, Rabobank, corporate adviser Deloitte and Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

Voting closes on March 8 at 3pm.

The Southland Times