There’s a brighter future ahead for the sheep meat and beef industry a report into the sector by the Ministry of Agriculture found.
It drew on the views of people in the sector to look at opportunities and challenges in the next 10 to 15 years and concluded:
Despite the obvious challenges that the sector faces over the next 10 to 15 years, this study has identified a general positive slant to people’s perception of the industry’s future. It is clear though that this rosy outlook will not be achieved through inaction or simply “carrying on as normal”. New Zealand has a comparative advantage across much of the value chain. Leadership, vision and action are required from the sector to ensure this comparative advantage delivers a successful and sustainable industry into the future.
One point everyone who thinks they have a solution for the meat industry overlooks is that it comprises many competing parts.
The processing sector alone includes co-operatives, private companies and public ones. No-one can impose anything on them and too much co-operation between them could risk attracting accusations of collusion.
Fonterra was held up as a shining example of what the meat industry could aspire to, although I’m not so sure it’s regarded quite so highly now. But milk and meat are very different products.
Dairy farmers have to sign up for a season and their milk has to be collected every day.
Sheep and beef farmers have more licence and more choice. That gives them a lot of power when there’s a lot of feed but can leave them in trouble in difficult seasons.
There isn’t an easy answer for the sector, especially when a decline in the sheep numbers has led to excess killing capacity.
But those looking for improvements should start by looking back because solutions which didn’t work in the past aren’t likely to work in the future either.
The Bull Pen has a related post on the report.