13 Mar 2013

Farmers called to amalgamation meeting

1:53 pm on 13 March 2013

Southern farmers are again trying drum up support for amalgamation in the meat industry.

South Otago farmer Allan Richardson says sheep farmers have had enough of the small price peaks and massive troughs they endure because of the fractured nature of their industry.

He says there are more than 20 companies competing to buy farmers' stock, and they compete against each other again when selling meat abroad.

Mr Richardson has organised a farmer meeting in Gore next week to determine exactly how much support there is for a grass-roots farmer movement to force consolidation in the sector.

He says the current situation is not working.

Mr Richardson says farmers can't survive with two good years in every ten and the sheep industry needs to look to Fonterra as a model.

"Thirteen years ago people in that industry, which was just as divided and competitive as the red meat industry, decided there had to be a better way," he says.

Mr Richardson says through a lot of hard work and a lot of challenges, dairy farmers overcame those issues.

He says a similar attempt by farmers in 2008 to force amalgamation in the red meat sector failed because not enough farmers got in behind the initiative.

Mr Richardson says if farmers don't turn up in large numbers to Monday's meeting in Gore, the momentum for change in the sector will once again be lost.