14 Mar 2013

Farmers give support to on-farm improvement programme

6:44 am on 14 March 2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it has received the farmer support it needs to confirm its share of funding for a seven year collaboration programme to boost productivity and profits on sheep and beef farms.

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 money.

But their backing depended on farmers agreeing to fund 30% of the cost through the use of reserve money held by Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The proposal has received 77% support from farmers who voted.

It was another low response though. Votes cast represented just over 21% of the total potential poll, based on livestock numbers.

Chairman Mike Petersen says while the result allows it to contribute to the programme the low level of farmer participation remains a concern.

He says there was a lot of publicity leading up to the vote and there was a lot of debate in the farming media, but still only 21% of total stock units voted.

However, Mr Petersen says the fact that 77% of those who voted were in favour is a good mandate to proceed.

"Our ongoing frustration is just getting farmers to engage, everyone gets the opportunity to engage and we just wish more of them would do so."

Mr Petersen thinks farmers may have been distracted by more pressing issues such as the drought this time.

He says a number of farmers voted against the proposal because in their view the meat industry needed to do more.

Mr Petersen says farmer frustration with meat industry performance and the returns they are getting has reached a new level.

That's behind a resurrected campaign by southern farmers to push for an amalgamation of meat companies.