Get in behind …

Pressure is building as Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) moves closer to its levy payers’ vote on 8 March on whether to spend Meat Board reserves on just under a third of the $65 million red meat Collaboration for Sustainable Growth PGP programme.

Looking to the future, a new approach is needed to survive, says Young Farmers’ chief executive Richard Fitzgerald this week in NZ Farmers Weekly. The PGP is the one opportunity to address the wider perspective and give the red meat sector a positive and sustainable future, he’s quoted as saying.

His comments follow those of Jeanette Maxwell, his organisation’s Meat & Fibre chair who is excited about the funding that could “supercharge New Zealand’s red meat exports”. She pointed to the ‘Who’s Who’ of the processing sector involved in the initiative and urged farmers to vote to support the initiative.

Built on the findings of the 2010 Red Meat Sector Strategy, government and processors have already thrown their hats in the ring and are ready to work together and get behind it. This is evidenced by major names on the list AFFCO, Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, ANZ Bank, B+LNZ Ltd, Blue Sky Meats, Deloitte, Progressive Meats, Rabobank and Silver Fern Farms.

Several, including Alliance, Silver Fern Farms and B+LNZ Ltd have come out publicly since urging farmer support of the initiative.

Banker ANZ has added its weight too saying the industry “risks oblivion” in the coming decades unless it adopts the programme, which it believes is critical to the sector’s survival and which will position New Zealand farmers, processors and exporters to take full advantage of growing global demand for beef and sheepmeat.

“The danger we face is that we are not alone in seeking to exploit the international market for red meat,” says Graham Turley, ANZ’s managing director commercial and agribusiness.

“If we are serious about wanting to develop vibrant, globally dominant and highly profitable agricultural industries, we will need all stakeholders in the industry to bring about change.”

ANZ released a report Greener Pastures: The Global Soft Commodity Opportunity for Australia and New Zealand recently that found New Zealand has the potential to capture $1.3 trillion more in agricultural exports between now and 2050 if targeted actions are taken and the red meat sector can play a major part in realising this potential.

Rabobank NZ chief executive Ben Russell says his bank is also pleased to play its part in this very important initiative. The meat sector will only grow in the long-term if farmers are profitable and competitive in the rough environment of the global animal protein sector, he believes. “While good seasons and high prices are obviously important, so too is the adoption of new technology and the continued development of skills and capability across the industry.”

B+LNZ farmer meetings are being held all around the country to discuss the red meat PGP in the run-up to the 8 March meeting. The farmer-funded organisation has produced an excellent PGP programme at a glance factsheet and more information is available at the website, where registered beef and sheep farmers can also vote online, or by post or in person (or by proxy) at the annual general meeting.

With just over two weeks to go, get in behind the campaign to support the red meat PGP. Add your thoughts below or on Twitter using the hashtag #redmeatpgp. Or, vote, if you are eligible to do so.

B+LNZ’s annual general meeting is to be held at 3pm on Friday 8 March at Wanaka Showgrounds, Ardmore Street, Wanaka.

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