A former Meat Board director says the meat industry is on its last legs, unless companies significantly lift payments to farmers.
Central North Island farmer John McCarthy says that means paying about $150 per lamb, instead of $80.
He says industry consolidation will be essential in the longer term, especially at the marketing end and a proposed partnership between Silver Fern Farms and PGW may help in that.
But in the short term, he says companies have to give farmers a bigger slice of the pie, if they're to survive cost rises such as the price of fertiliser.
In the longer term, Mr McCarthy suggests the Meat Board could play a part in improving meat companies' marketing performance by using quotas as an incentive.
The board manages and allocates quotas for sheepmeat exports to the European Union and beef exports to the United States, which are both controlled by quotas issued to countries such as New Zealand.