Meat firms back farm profit idea

20:45, Jan 29 2013

Southland meat companies have agreed to work together on a $65 million nationwide initiative to help improve profitability at the farm gate.

Collaboration for Sustainable Growth is a seven-year programme that will be co-funded, with $32m from the Ministry for Primary Industries to be matched by the industry.

The scheme aims to lift the country's export income from sheep and beef farming by taking steps to improve farm business management.

It is based on the Red Meat Sector Strategy released in 2011 to improve sector productivity, profitability and farmer certainty.

Participants include Silver Fern Farms, Affco, Alliance Group, Anzco Foods, Blue Sky Meats and Progressive Meats, as well as ANZ Bank, Rabobank, corporate adviser Deloitte and Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Beef + Lamb chairman Mike Petersen said the first move would be research into how to get "behavioural change" from farmers.

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"We're going to have a big range of people contacting farmers.

"An example would be when the banker is discussing things with farmers, they could guide them to online tools around business management," he said.

Ministry director-general Wayne McNee said the scheme would address gaps in technology transfer and ensure stronger co-ordination between organisations and individuals working with farmers.

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff said it would help improve farm performance, productivity and profitability in the sector.

Farmers could use the best available farm and business management practice and tools, which would boost New Zealand's export market, he said.

Blue Sky Meats chairman Graham Cooney said the initiative was a hugely significant step for the industry.

He was hopeful it would lead to commercial discussions on other industry solutions.

Federated Farmers Southland meat and fibre spokesman Andrew Morrison said the scheme was a fantastic step forward but there was still more to be done.

Work still needed to be done on the Red Meat Sector Strategy's suggestions for in-market coordination and aligned procurement, he said.

It is hoped that the programme will be rolled out in the third quarter of this year.

The Southland Times