Government officials have been learning about the sheep and beef sector from the paddock up in a Speak Meat initiative jointly organised by the MIA and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ).
The two organisations operate the Speak Meat programme, designed to provide government officials who are involved in trade negotiations and market access discussions with overseas regulators with a deeper understanding of the sheep and beef sector.
The programme involves a visit to a working farm and a meat processing plant as a way of highlighting the opportunities and challenges facing the sector through the supply chain.
The most recent Speak Meat event was held in the Waikato in early December. Following a briefing from MIA and B+LNZ, the group of 11 officials from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry for Primary Industries headed off to visit the beef farm of Graham Smith at Waerenga north of Hamilton, explains MIA trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva.
Smith provided an overview of his role as one of the Red Meat Profit Partnership Farm Assurance Programme pilot farms. He also discussed some of the current issues facing sheep and beef farmers, including environmental expectations and commercial relationships.
The following day the group visited Greenlea Premier Meats in Hamilton. The visit included a tour of the plant operations and a discussion with Greenlea chief executive Tony Egan and Affco director Rowan Ogg about the opportunities and challenges that meat processors and exporters face, particularly in the area of non-tariff barriers.
The final stop on the programme was a visit to AgResearch to get an overview of the research and development work its scientists undertake on both sides of the farm-gate.
Karapeeva says the programme is a valuable way for officials gain a better appreciation of the opportunities and challenges facing the sector.
“The programme also provides a valuable opportunity for officials to get first-hand experience of how the sector operates and to meet the people responsible for producing and exporting New Zealand red meat.”