25 Jun 2009

Federated Farmers hope meat report will be catalyst for change

12:49 pm on 25 June 2009

Federated Farmers hopes a newly-released report on the meat industry will be a catalyst for change in the sector.

Eleven industry experts have been surveyed by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Their comments highlighted problems such as a lack of incentive for farmers to invest in their co-operatives, overcapacity in meat processing and spot market relationships between farmers and processors as among the main obstacles for the sector.

They also said the sector's culture and structure are major constraints to it becoming a sustainable industry within the next decade.

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre chair Bruce Wills says the sector needs less talk and more action.

He says this is a time when returns are at their worst in 50 years.

Mr Willis says without profitability, the decline of the sector will continue.

Graeme Harrison, who heads the ANZCO foods company, says the key issue for processors and exporters is raw material supply.

He considers that the real achilles heel is the way farmers supply their cattle and sheep to processors.

Mr Harrison says the only way meat companies can make their livestock supply more secure, is to take more control at that end of the business.

For any changes to be lasting, Agriculture Minister David Carter says they need to come from within the meat sector.