Future of project in farmers' hands

19:24, Jan 29 2013

A $65 million project aimed at lifting the nation's income from sheep and beef farming will stand or fall on a farmer poll at Beef + Lamb New Zealand's annual meeting at Wanaka on March 8.

The project, which brings together leading members of the highly competitive meat industry, aims to improve farmers' business management and facilitate "behavioural change", according to Beef + Lamb chairman Mike Petersen.

Beef + Lamb wants to fund its $19.7m share from a combination of existing funds and by drawing on $10m of Meat Board reserves.

The $82m reserves include $55m set aside to cope with the aftermath of a foot and mouth disease outbreak.

If the vote did not favour the project it would not go ahead, Petersen said. "But I've heard nothing but enthusiasm for it from farmers."

The seven-year project includes meat companies Silver Fern Farms, Affco, Alliance Group, Anzco Foods, Blue Sky Meats and Progressive Meats, ANZ Bank, Rabobank, corporate adviser Deloitte and Beef + Lamb.

Under the Government's Primary Growth Partnership programme, the Primary Industries Ministry will put in $32.4m.

Petersen said talks to bring together the partnership had been "very collaborative, very collegial". Fairfax NZ

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