Red Meat Profit Partnership formalised

The $64 million Red Meat Sector Partnership programme, aimed at the future growth and sustainability of New Zealand’s red meat industry, is set to boost farmer productivity and profitability as the contract is signed by co-investors, the hunt for a new general manager starts and the seven-year programme gets underway. Two banks are supporting the initiative.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership, announced in January this year, is the newest programme to get underway in Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI)’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), following a contract being signed between MPI and co-investors. It is a $64 million sector development programme of which $32.1 million is funded by the PGP and the remainder by industry and sheep and beef farmers.

MPI director-general Martyn Dunne says the Red Meat Profit Partnership aims to boost the capability of our red meat sector by ensuring it has ready access to best practice information, tools and support.

“The Red Meat Profit Partnership is the most comprehensive collaboration across the red meat sector that has ever been undertaken,” says Dunne.

Co-investors include Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, ANZ Bank, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (on behalf of sheep and beef farmers), Blue Sky Meats, Greenlea Premier Meats, Progressive Meats, Rabobank and Silver Fern Farms. The programme is designed to be open, enabling others to invest and provide support throughout its duration.

“The red meat sector is such an important contributor to our economy and I’m excited at the potential of this market-led programme to lift productivity in the sector and provide valuable support to farmers and others involved.”

The seven-year Red Meat Profit Partnership comprises four core projects aimed at researching the information requirements of different farm businesses, developing and supporting sheep and beef farmers and their advisors, capturing and benchmarking key business data to inform business decisions and developing technical resources.

“The Red Meat Profit Partnership will enable more consistency in farm performance and profitability, through assisting farmers to extend their capability based on best practice information and resources, sharing information, and providing suitable tools and support,” says Dunne.

“The level of interest by the red meat sector shows the importance it places on ensuring the sustainability of the sector and the commitment to this exciting PGP programme.

“This will also build on the work currently being led as part of the existing PGP programme ‘Transforming the Dairy Value Chain’,  and pave the way for much needed and sought after sector-wide benchmarking,” he says. “We will be monitoring the programme to ensure it delivers on the expectations of all programme partners.”

Partnership independent chair, Malcolm Bailey says the programme is about helping farmers to improve their productivity and profitability.

“We’re planning to get underway without any delay and the first 100 days of activity will be very busy. The priority is to appoint a general manager, establish advisory structures and immediately initiate the first pieces of work. Work is already progressing on those points,” he says.

“The partners are well aware of the need to hit the ground running. There are many aspects to begin working on, but overall the key idea is to develop a deep understanding of how sheep and beef farmers want to receive and apply information that can drive the profitability of their business.

“This is not about ‘telling’ farmers – but treating them as customers and placing them at the centre, delivering customised services that fit their farm needs, rather than a one size fits all approach.”

The programme will develop a range of pilot ‘extension programmes’ around New Zealand, where farmers, processors and advisors will trial techniques for delivering new information to support profitability. The programme will develop multiple, coordinated channels to support sheep and beef farmers.

“We will also immediately begin developing common data standards for the sheep and beef sector.  This will support the easy transfer and consistent analysis of data between the many new, data-driven farm management tools appearing on the market,” says Bailey.

RMPP welcomed by bankers

The news has been welcomed by the banker co-investors Rabobank and ANZ.

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Ben Russell saying the bank is “very pleased” to play its part in this very important initiative for New Zealand agriculture.

“In order for the meat sector to maximise its potential growth over the long-term, farmers must be profitable, competitive and sustainable in the tough environment of the global animal protein sector.”

While good seasons and high prices are obviously important, Russell says that so too is the adoption of new technology and the continued development of skills and capability across the industry. The imperative for change and innovation in the red meat industry is at an all time high, with the industry along the entire value chain facing challenges, he comments.

The seven year programme of investment to transform the transfer and adoption of best practice on-farm, aims to develop stronger relationships from the farm gate, processors and trusted advisors, Rabobank says.

ANZ says that the PGP programme will contribute to getting industry participants working together for the benefit of the red meat sector.

“One of the goals of this project will be increase volume and certainty over the supply of livestock which will support initiatives to increase our market opportunity,” says ANZ’s managing director commercial and agribusiness Graham Turley.

As the largest banker of the agricultural sector in New Zealand, ANZ undertakes dedicated red meat industry research and invests heavily in improving management skills and development of best practices across the sector to support the new generation of farmers.

As part of RMPP ‘go early’ arrangements ANZ has, in recent weeks, collaborated with B+LNZ to include red meat sector farmers in the ANZ Privately Owned Business Barometer Survey, Turley says.

Farmers with good business management and who have adopted new technologies are already positive and profitable and the RMPP will help them capture a greater share of a significant opportunity, he says.

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