2015 is shaping up to be one to forget for sheep farmers, particularly those in North Canterbury and Marlborough.
Discussing what’s happening internationally Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ Ltd) farmer director Phil Smith has been urging farmers to get support if they need it. He says the dramatic decline in the lamb schedule and store lamb prices so early in the season is alarming sheep farmers.
“We were expecting prices to be better this season, given the weaker New Zealand dollar and the promises made at processor roadshows. These prices are unsustainable and not good for lamb as a product – or the industry,” he says.
Smith explains that while New Zealand’s sheepmeat exports to the UK are similar to last year, to date, volumes of chilled lamb are back 10 percent. “To make matters worse, UK sheep farmers have increased production by seven percent on last year and the pound has strengthened against the Euro, making British exports to the Continent less competitive.
“Consequently, the UK market has been over-run with British lamb, farm-gate prices are operting at a low £3.50/kgCW while costs of production sit at £4/kgCW.”
In addition, he says, the younger generation that is emerging won’t eat lamb, let alone cook a roast.
He noted the figures showing that by 2050, the world’s farmers will need to produce enough food to feed nine to 10 billion people.
“We have been hearing these stories for a number of years, but we really need the returns from the increased demand for food to flow back to the producer,” he says.
“While 2015 is shaping up to be one to forget for sheep farmers, particularly those of us in North Canterbury and Marlborough, beef prices have remained relatively strong.”
As industry heads in towards Christmas, he urges farmers to take time out to spend with family and friends.
“The combination of poor returns and ongoing drought is putting huge pressure on all of us. Keep talking and please don’t be afraid to ask for help, there is plenty of support out there,” says Smith.