Red meat reforms needed say farmers

TERRI RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 13/03/2013

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Hundreds of frustrated Southland and Otago farmers will ask meat companies to develop a Fonterra-like structure at a rally in Gore next week to try to save the red-meat industry.

Sheep, beef and venison farmers will vent their feelings at the meeting run by a newly formed Meat Industry Reform group.

Group spokesman Allan Richardson said farmers would ask that 80 per cent of red meat be processed and marketed under one roof.

"Farmers throughout New Zealand have demanded that all aspects of our fragmented industry must finally be addressed," he said.

"Rather than competition, we need co-operation."

There was a need for farmers to commit to one supplier instead of "shopping around" for the best farm-gate price.

The farmers wanted an industry-wide amalgamation, he said.

The meeting comes after a group of frustrated Southland farmers objected to a plan to spend almost $20 million of farmer reserves on a programme to save the meat industry last month, saying the focus needed to change.

There needed to be one strong player before the strategies in the Red Meat Sector Strategy could be addressed, Mr Richardson said.

"I think the red-meat sector has danced around the issue . . . What we're doing is not impossible, it's been done by the dairy industry."

Andrew Morrison, Federated Farmers Southland meat and fibre spokesman, said it was great to see that people had passion for the industry.

It was an opportunity for the industry to develop a clear vision for the future and set goals and steps to get there.

Speakers at next week's meeting will be Massey University professor Hamish Gow, Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly and ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie.

The meeting will be held on Monday, March 18, from 1pm at the Gore Town and Country Club.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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