Beef producers call for ambition over political expediency

Beef producers from the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) are calling for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) leaders and their negotiators to secure ‘gold standard’ outcomes for beef. 

New Zealand beef cattle. Photo B+LNZ Ltd.In so doing, the level of import reform ambition must not be sacrificed for political expediency, the group says.

The FNBA met in Austin, Texas USA last week and reaffirmed its position in relation to the TPP negotiations.

FNBA’s overarching priority is that TPP members do not compromise on the high level of ambition envisaged by TPP leaders in 2011.

A trade liberalising and comprehensive TPP agreement must be secured – an agreement which delivers transparent, plurilateral, non-discriminatory beef market access outcomes.

This necessitates addressing border protection measures coupled with clear disciplines and consultative mechanisms to deal with non-tariff barriers to trade – such as non-science based sanitary and technical impediments.

The FNBA is a group of beef producers from New Zealand (represented by B+LNZ), Australia, United States, Canada and Mexico. Together these five nations account for about half of the world’s beef exports.

Scott Champion

TPP is a priority, says Champion

Speaking last week, ahead of the meeting, B+LNZ chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said while the TPP negotiation doesn’t look like it’s going to conclude soon, it is the one thing that would give all five countries better market access for  beef exports and so it’s a priority.

Champion says the group’s focus is improved trading conditions and the elimination of tariffs. The work the alliance has been doing in relation to the TPP negotiation is a particularly good demonstration of how it can be useful for Kiwi farmers to work with other farmers offshore.

“The FNBA, as a group of beef exporters, has been able to stand together and put forward a coherent and united view. We are a much stronger force together than we would be as individual organisations. That includes the weight that we add to US beef farmers’ lobbying efforts with US lawmakers on the Hill in Washington.”

Champion says negotiating trade deals takes time and farmers would rather see a good deal than a quick one.

“You only get one shot at a big regional free trade agreement like this one and we’d rather the focus stayed on the best deal for New Zealand beef farmers than on rushing it through.”

This year’s FNBA meeting included a young leaders’ programme. New Zealand had two people taking part: James Bryan and Lauren McWilliam.

Bryan works for Ravensdown as a technical advisor and is actively involved in the management of his family farm – a 660ha sheep and beef property in the heart of the King Country.

McWilliam is a field officer for New Zealand Young Farmers and helps to manage a sheep and beef property in the Wairarapa, where she and her partner are building their own beef herd.

Other topics of discussion during the alliance meeting included sustainability, animal welfare, farmer communications and extension, and the current state of the global beef industry. Champion said it was also a good opportunity for New Zealand participants to get a better understanding of the state of beef supply and demand in the USA – New Zealand’s largest market for beef – where demand is strong at present.

The FNBA is represented by the Cattle Council of Australia, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, B+LNZ and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  Together, FNBA represents producers from countries that account for one-third of global beef production and approximately half of global beef exports.

Material supplied by B+LNZ Ltd.

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