Focus on environment and exports at Beef + Lamb NZ annual meeting

Andrew Morrison
Andrew Morrison.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Annual Meeting in Timaru on 21 March has focused on how the conversation on food has changed, with consumers thinking more about the provenance of their food and how the country’s sheep and beef sector is using that to build a premium for New Zealand beef and lamb. 

“Meat’s role in the diet is under scrutiny because of environmental and animal welfare concerns, but there is also growing demand for grass-fed, naturally raised beef and lamb, which is what New Zealand produces,” said B+LNZ chairman Andrew Morrison.

“We are uniquely placed to capitalise on these growing trends and more strategically position our product in the market.”

Farmers at the annual meeting were treated to an exclusive look at B+LNZ’s Taste Pure Nature country of origin brand, which is just about to begin its pilot rollout in California, hearing from both consumers and advertising agencies in the US about their perceptions of New Zealand and getting insights on why B+LNZ is targeting a group they’ve dubbed as the “Conscious Foodies”.

Morrison also reinforced the importance of our environmental credentials in underpinning the work Taste Pure Nature will do to build preference for New Zealand beef and lamb overseas.

“Over the past couple of decades our focus was on being the most productive and efficient producers in the world. Going forward, we need to remain productive but everything has to have an environmental perspective.”

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor focused on the work that the organisation is doing to support farmers on the ground to further lift their environmental performance.

“The environment is at the heart of everything sheep and beef farmers do. It’s why in 2018 we launched our environment strategy with the goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, having clean freshwater surrounding our sheep and beef farms, having thriving biodiversity on farm, and healthy and productive soils,” said McIvor.

“Throughout 2018, we’ve been focused on delivering more resources and tools to farmers to help them proactively manage environmental impacts but also capturing the good work that they are doing.  For example, we’ve identified that our farmers have conserved 1.4 million ha of native bush, 24 percent of New Zealand’s native bush is on our sheep and beef farms – an outstanding achievement that enhances New Zealand’s biodiversity.”

Farmers were also updated about the challenges facing the sector in 2019 with insights from the Ministry for Primary Industries, National Party climate change spokesperson Todd Muller, and B+LNZ’s Environmental Reference Group chair Mark Adams, on issues such as climate change, water quality, and biodiversity all set for regulatory change in the months ahead.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand has been engaging proactively with government and our partner organisations across the rural sector to advocate and develop policy responses to the challenges facing our sector that address the issues but also work for farmers, and we’ll continue to do that throughout 2019,” said McIvor.

Attendees had the chance to see both of these themes in action too when they visited Geoff and Joy Hayward’s Mt Horrible farm, a highly productive and profitable mixed cropping and sheep and beef farm outside of Timaru that is part of the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme and supplies premium product to the United Kingdom through ANZCO.

Morrison and Mr McIvor also acknowledged the difficulties faced by farmers directly affected by Mycoplasma bovis (Mp. bovis) as well as those impacted by the knock-on effects of the outbreak and the hard work of those involved with the response.

“I want to acknowledge what a difficult year this has been for many farmers who have been affected by Mp. bovis. Dealing with Mp. bovis has been a major priority for Beef + Lamb New Zealand since 2017 and will continue to be so,” said Morrison.

The Annual Meeting also saw changes for B+LNZ’s board of directors, and chairman Andrew Morrison paid tribute to those who were leaving the Board as well as congratulating new Board members.

“As a farmer-led organisation, the participation of our farmers in the governance of Beef + Lamb New Zealand is vital to ensure we keep delivering for our farmers. I’d like to thank our outgoing directors Kirsten Bryant, Bill Wright, Sam Lewis, and Kate Acland for their work. I’m also excited about the new perspectives our new directors Nicky Hyslop, Scott Gower, Tony Egan, and new associate director Anna Nelson will bring to the organisation,” said Morrison.

Two resolutions were also passed at the Annual Meeting. These relating to an increase in the total aggregate amount payable by way of directors’ fees and the reappointment of KPMG as B+LNZ’s auditor.

The resolution to increase the total aggregate amount payable by way of directors’ fees from $336,400 per annum to $342,000 per annum, representing an annual increase of $1,000 for the Chairman and $650 for each director passed with the support of 66.20 percent of votes.

The resolution to reappoint KPMG as B+LNZ’s auditor passed with the support of 94.20 percent.

The voting percentage is 11.25 percent, being 1,707 votes received from 15,167 farmers, of which 61.73 percent voted by post and 38.27 percent voted online or at the Annual Meeting.

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