Silver Fern Farms is warning Federated Farmers not to set unrealistic expectations about the prices that farmers can get for their lambs.
The federation launched a campaign on Monday to get a $150 return per lamb, by 2013.
Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre spokesperson Bruce Wills says farmers have been getting $55 a lamb, on average over the past three years.
For the industry to be viable to farmers, he says that has to rise to $150 a head.
Mr Wills says he knows that the price increase will not be an easy target to meet, but the Federation believes it is achieveable.
But Silver Fern chief executive Keith Cooper, says Federated Farmers has set this goal without taking into account the impact of the global financial crisis on exchange rates, which could impact on future livestock returns.
He says the industry is already focused on improving returns, but only within the bounds of economic realism.