Federated Farmers options for red-meat reform

Federated Farmers has publicly released its discussion paper on major options for reforming New Zealand’s $6 billion red meat export industry.

“The OECD-FAO expects world meat exports to increase by 19 percent by 2022, so the need for reform has never been clearer,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“The OECD-FAO said last year that meat prices will remain high in real terms over the next decade. This was due to changing market fundamentals of slower production growth and stronger demand and represents the opportunity we have.

“What New Zealanders need to understand is that red meat could be so much more. If it was a schoolchild then it would be the C+ pupil. The one with massive potential but has issues with concentration and does not play well with others.

“A central message of our paper is for greater cooperation. While we fight each other we’re missing the point that global protein competition comes from white meat.

“Federated Farmers has given our industry plenty of time to reform itself, but with falling stock numbers and more attractive land use options, we have to get off the sidelines.

“This is what our paper is about It has generated discussion internally among our members but now is the time to take that discussion wider into the media, academia as well as with the analysts.

“Federated Farmers is not yet plumping for a preferred option. We wish to be informed by feedback that continues to come in from our members and from the wider industry.

“That said if we are to take a leaf from the dairy industry it is not Fonterra but Tatua. Our industry has its own Tatua’s because big is not always beautiful.

“It is easy to confuse a commodities wave for genuine value-add performance. Our industry rode the post-war commodities waves for meat and fibre but crashed onto the beach in the 1970’s. All because we’d failed to develop a value-adding surfboard to ride it out.

“That’s why I am personally enthused by the possibility of one of our options which will need legislative support. That’s adopting a Uruguayan style INAC to provide precise information about the industrial and trading activities of our national meat chain.

“Uruguay has the most precise handle on meat industry performance anywhere in the world and that’s led to an enviable world-beating red meat industry.

“Given INAC promotes coordination along the entire meat chain to find business alternatives that add value to products, it is the type of legislative intervention which could massively boost our industry without costing the taxpayer a cent.

“With the Red Meat Profit Partnership looking inside the farmgate for better farm performance, our paper shows how farmers are looking outside the farmgate for ways to boost the wider industry.

“Can we do it? Yes we can,” Mrs Maxwell concluded.

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