Comment: red meat sector ready for action

The red meat sector is ready for action and to profit from knowledge.

Over 50 gathered at a function in Wellington last night to hear an update on activities from the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP), one of the red meat sector’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP)s. This involves six red meat processors, Beef + Lamb NZ and two banks investing alongside the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

After over three and a half of years of comprehensive and diligent preparation since the $64 million PGP’s establishment late in 2013, guests heard about several new initiatives that will be rolling out later this year that will have wide-reaching benefits in lifting profitability for sheep and beef farmers in years to come.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy speaking at the function.

The Government’s role in the PGP  – which, in common with other PGPs, is partly aimed at achieving the Export ‘Value’ Double by 2025 and also growing New Zealand through increasing the value, productivity profitability and sustainability across the primary industries – was outlined by Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy. He wants to see MPI working even more closely with the programmes. He touched on RMPP’s work with pilot extension farms, electronic Animal Status Declarations (eASDs), touching the “hearts and minds” of more than 600 female farming partners, drawing young people in to the sector and the extension of the rural broadband network, which will make New Zealand, “The most connected country in the world,” he said.

RMPP chair Malcolm Bailey also referred to the new on-line digital resources. These include the eASD pilot that has been underway with one of the meat processors. Another is DataLinker, which will enable farmers to manage their key performance indicators and the sharing of data. It will reduce the need for dual entry of data and supplying information to multiple organisations, he said.

In addition, a new online Knowledge Hub will give beef and sheep farmers a single place to go to find a wide range of material to help solve an on-farm problems.

The successful pilot farmer programme, involving 70 beef and sheep farms around the country has been looking at the best ways to get the farmers to upskill and learn and absorb new technology and information. This is to be extended later this year and is being re-named to The Action Network, with the strapline ‘Profit From Knowledge’. Results from the first year include better condition scoring on the farms, along with improving crop yields, nine percent more meat produced per hectare, a better matching of pasture to lambing and better recording and monitoring.

Sheep and beef farmer Brenda Stewart, who alongside husband John farms near the Manawatu/Wanganui town of Marton, has been a member of the pilot programme for a couple of years and talked enthusiastically of their involvement to date. The Stewarts had benefitted from what they had learned about pasture management and succession planning to enable their farm business to successfully include the next generation in years to come. Stewart has also been one of the 600 women involved in Women’s Workshops being run by the Agri-Womens Development Trust (AWDT).

Head of English at Hutt International Boys School, Jane Dewar, also spoke animatedly about RMPP’s NCEA agriculture resources. These aim to introduce secondary school students (both rural and urban) to the idea of a career in the primary sector through tailored resources for a range of subjects. The programme is reaching out to 70 secondary schools, alongside new NCEA qualifications.

“The resources are brilliant and really well constructed. How great you thought to include English in the pack too,” she said, adding the potential is for so much more. She urged consideration of material for early childhood and primary education as well.

The already introduced NZ Farm Assurance Programme, underpinning the nearly ready to roll out Red Meat Story, adds to the picture of a sector which really is now ready for action.

If you’re going to 2017 Fieldays in Hamilton next week, you’ll be able to see (and taste) the results from the RMPP and the deer industry PGP, Passion2Profit, at a Fieldays showcase, which also features the four other red meat PGPs: Marbled Grass-Fed Beef (led by Firstlight Foods and Brownrigg Agriculture), FoodPlus (led by ANZCO), Farm IQ (led by Silver Fern Farms, Landcorp and Tru-Test) and Omega Lamb (led by Alliance and Headwaters NZ). This will be held at 2pm on Wednesday 14 June at the Mystery Creek Village Green. Attendees will be able to hear from some of those involved in the programmes, including farmers, processors and others. Tasty, premium lamb, beef and venison hot off the BBQ will be another draw-card.

Updated: 12 June 2017.

 

 

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