7 Mar 2013

Farmers angry at low lamb prices

6:36 am on 7 March 2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has had to deal with some angry and frustrated farmers as it seeks their support for a new meat industry initiative.

The object of their anger has been the dramatic drop in this season's lamb and sheep prices.

Beef + Lamb has been holding farmer meetings to outline a programme designed to boost farm productivity.

The Government has committed more than $30 million from the primary growth partnership fund to cover half the cost. Meat companies and banks are also contributing.

But their backing depends on farmers agreeing to fund 30% of the cost through the use of reserve and levy money.

Beef + Lamb chairman Mike Petersen said the feed-back from farmers has been mixed.

He said a lot of farmers have been very frustrated at the level of pricing for lamb and sheep meat this season compared to last and there's anger, disappointment and a lack of confidence about the sector's direction.

"Many farmers have said to us, look you know we think there are bigger issues to deal with than necessarily those issues that we're talking about on this programme which is about increasing performance and profitability behind the farm gate."

Mr Petersen said Beef + Lamb New Zealand has taken that on board and will be considering how to address it.

A postal vote running is being held on the funding proposal and the outcome will be announced at Beef + Lamb's annual meeting in Wanaka on Friday.