At long last New Zealand is to have a single farm assurance programme for its sheep, beef and deer farmers. Lowering farmer costs and reducing duplication are at the heart of a new farm audit system being introduced this month.
The New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) was trialled with 34 beef, sheep and deer farmers across the country with positive results, including 98 percent of the trial group believing a quality assurance programme would add value to their business.
Gareth Isbister, who farms near Oamaru, was part of the pilot and can see real benefit to farmers and industry alike.
“It is a great idea having a single standard across the whole industry. We need to satisfy our overseas markets and a standardised farm assurance programme will help us do this. Further, as a multi-processor supplier, the time saving with only having one audit in future as part of the requirements to meet the NZFAP will be really helpful.”
New Zealand currently has a range of industry audit systems operating and the new programme will streamline the process for farmers and ensure everyone is working to the same baseline standard.
“The current system isn’t broken, but it is inefficient and adds costs and confusion, particularly where a farmer supplies multiple companies,” says Michael Smith, general manager of the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP). RMPP funds the NZFAP and is an industry-government Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme helping the red meat sector increase productivity and profitability.
The new farm assurance scheme will enhance the already high customer confidence in the New Zealand supply chain, he says.
“In addition, farmer feedback from the trial shows it’s not going to increase paperwork – with at least 80 percent of the new audit content being based on existing material,” says Smith.
Industry collaboration was important in the development of the new system with Alliance, ANZCO, Blue Sky Meats, Greenlea Premier Meats, Progressive Meats and Silver Fern Farms working together with AsureQuality and Beef+Lamb New Zealand Ltd on the streamlined approach.
“The involvement of ANZCO’s pilot farmers was essential to ensuring the industry standard and associated quality assurance programme was robust and comprehensive, while also being streamlined, not too onerous, reduced costs and saved time,” says ANZCO’s agricultural manager Alan McDermott.
According to Progressive Meats, the programme comes with assurances in terms of integrity, origin, traceability, biosecurity, environmental sustainability and animal health and welfare, all essential ingredients when it comes to maximising product returns and meeting the expectations of our diverse International consumer audience.
Greenlea Premier Meats chief executive Tony Egan says his company is pleased to be a part of the NZFAP. “Industry collaboration is vital in areas where we can work together to remove costs to farmers and at the same time build a stronger sector through a programme that underpins our assurances to customers,” he says.
Blue Sky Meats believes the Farm Assurance Programme assures the origin, traceability, animal health and welfare between farm, processor and international consumer.
The development of new Farm Assurance standards reduces industry duplication and cost and aligns with Silver Fern Farms’ plate to pasture strategy, says chief executive Dean Hamilton. “This gives our consumers a further guarantee of the quality of our product and the standards of our farmer partners.”
The new farm assurance programme is also pivotal to developing the New Zealand red meat story and positioning New Zealand’s sheepmeat and beef as premium products, desired by affluent consumers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s general manager market development Nick Beeby.
As well as being a sheep and beef sector collaboration, RMPP has also teamed up with the deer industry Passion2Profit PGP programme, to create an across-the-board and robust approach.
For farmers who are already farm assured through their meat processor, there will be very little change in terms of what will occur the next time they are audited. It will be a gradual transition from existing to the new industry standard. Support will be available from participating processors for those farmers new to farm assurance.
The ultimate goal is that all sheep, beef and deer farmers will be involved in the NZFAP. The national rollout will occur from this month with many farmers being accredited during the next three years.
More information will be available through participating meat processors and RMPP during the coming months.