21 Jul 2010

New meat strategy seen as last chance for industry

6:12 am on 21 July 2010

A farming leader thinks the meat industry's latest move to put together a strategy may be its last chance to turn itself around before farmers give up on it altogether.

The Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb New Zealand have announced a joint plan to develop a five - 10 year strategy to lift the sector's performance.

The announcement follows continuing farmer criticism of low meat returns and a lack of progress in any efforts to co-ordinate or restructure the industry.

The last attempt about two years ago to develop a strategy was abandoned when merger negotiations between the top five companies and then the two big co-operatives came to nothing.

But Federated Farmers' meat and fibre chair, Bruce Wills, thinks there may be a bit more willingness this time round; and Beef + Lamb's chair, Mike Petersen, hopes the strategy project will break the stalemate that he says exists between farmers and meat companies.

Agriculture Minister David Carter has been quick to welcome the strategy move. He says it's widely acknowledged that the status quo is unacceptable and that greater co-operation is critical.