Training cheaper without Meat & Wool

July 1, 2010

Meat and Wool New Zealand is no more. From today farmer levies fund only meat and the industry good organisation is now Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

One of the major concerns about losing the levy from wool was training for shearers and wool handlers. However, the ODT reports that training fees have been agreed which could cost farmers as little as a cent a sheep.

Woolhandlers and shearing contractors are hailing the agreement, which will see Tectra set new training course fees to take account of the absence of wool levy funding, which will also ensure the industry can continue to leverage some taxpayer funding for training.

New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association president Barry Pullin said how each contractor implemented the new regime was up to them, but it reflected the fact other industries expected their staff to contribute towards training costs.

Those costs would be as little as 1c a sheep, substantially less than the 21c a sheep wool growers paid as part of their wool levy to Meat and Wool New Zealand.

“What’s wrong with that? If we can do it for 1c a head when previously under the name of wool harvesting it cost 21c a sheep, it’s got to be better,” Mr Pullin said.

With wool prices in the doldrums still, a reduction in the cost of training the people who shear and handle it will be very welcome.


Women win Meat Board elections

March 11, 2010

The board of Meat and Wool New Zealand  has two new directors – both of them women.

Anne Munro of Fairlie has beaten long-serving director David Douglas of North Otago in the Central South Island electorate and in the Western North Island, Kirsten Bryant of Fordell beat Tony Gray of Pohangina Valley. Sitting director Ron Frew hadn’t sought re-election in that electorate.

The defeat of a sitting director, following the vote against wool levies last year which means Meat & Wool will soon just be Meat, reinforces the message farmers aren’t happy.

However, I think M&W is bearing the brunt of farmer frustration with the industry as a whole and there’s little if anything M&W can do about that.


Lamb drop up

November 24, 2009

The national lamb flock increased  6.2% this spring  Meat and Wool NZ’s tailing survey shows.

A total of 28.95 million lambs were tailed this year, 1.7 million more than last spring when numbers reached a 51 year low.

North Island lamb numbers were up 9.1 per cent (1.1 million head) to 13.15 million head. South Island lamb numbers were up 4.0 per cent (0.60 million head) to 15.80 million head

Fewer ewes were put to the ram but good stock condition and generally favourable weather resulted in more multiple births and better lamb survival.

We had a 123 percent lambing nationally. This was 10.5 percentage points better than last season’s 111.1% when drought affected fertility. 

An increase in the conception rate for ewes, plus good weather conditions in early lambing led to excellent lamb survival boosting the number of lambs tailed.

The export lamb slaughter for 2009-10 is estimated to be 23.5 million head. This is an increase of 4.4% on last season and represents one million more lambs available for slaughter. However, some of these lambs will be retained for replacements to make up for the drop in stock numbers last season.

New season lambs have been receiving similar prices as last season. However farmers are expecting the price to fall off rapidly after the Christmas export trade due to the strength of the dollar.

Last season gave a welcome boost in returns for sheep meat but while international demand is strong it is not expected to translate into prices which are high enough to compensate for the relatively high value of our currency.


Where to with wool?

September 2, 2009

Merino has got it right.

By itself or with possum, now renamed paihamu, it is a premium product.

Crossbred wool can’t match that and has been losing ground to synthetics for years.

Too much of the world prefers tiles to carpet. Too many of the parts which do like their floors covered have found cheaper and/or harder wearing alternatives to wool.

Alternative uses have been tried. The stab proof, fire proof vest and insulation both have promise but have yet to make enough traction to improve the value of crossbred wool.

The fibre pushes the right buttons for the environmentally concerned times: it’s a natural product and it’s renewable.

But in spite of that prices are so low the return barely covers the costs of shearing.

Frustration over that is no doubt part of the reason behind the vote against paying levies on wool to Meat and Wool New Zealand.

The organisation may well become Meat New Zealand now it’s lost farmers’ funding for its wool related activities but the loss of half its name is the least of its worries.

Loss of funding for wool research means the budget for meat research will have to go further. Some studies, in genetics for instance, would have been funded from both the meat and wool levies.

Another valuable resource paid for by the wool levy was shearer training. It might be possible for some of the people who did that to set up a separate business and continue the service, but it will be more difficult than it was under M&W’s umbrella with AgITO funding.

Sheep returns made a much-needed recovery last season when the price paid by meat companies went up. A shortage of stock here and overseas is expected to keep this season’s price at a reasonable level but the industry can’t afford to stand still.

Research and education in both meat and wool are still needed. Meat and Wool still has a mandate, and funding, to undertake industry-good activities for meat, but who’s going to do the work for wool?


Yes for meat no for wool – updated

August 31, 2009

Farmers voted yes and no in Meat & Wool’s referendum on levies.

They voted for the continuation of levies on sheepmeat and beef but against the continuation of a wool or goatmeat levy.

M&W chairman Mike Peterson said the referendum sent a clear message there was significant dissatisfaction with past investments and the organisation needs to do better.

Under the Commodity Levies Act 1990 (CLA), each levy proposal must pass on both a one farmer one vote test, and also on a weighted or stock unit test. All of the levy streams passed on a weighted basis, but the wool and goatmeat levies were defeated on a one farmer one vote test.

That means the peo0ple with the most stock, who pay the biggest levies were outvoted by those with fewer stock who pay less.

The wool levy would have contributed $6.4 million to Meat and Wool’s budget and the goatmeat slaughter levy would have provided $58,000. The loss of both means the organisation will have to restructure.

The loss of the wool levy will have the biggest impact. Meat and Wool will have to curtail, and possibly stop, some of its core activities. Among these are on farm research, monitor farms and extension, shearer and wool handling training, Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL), and the collection and provision of information relating to the wool industry by the Meat & Wool New Zealand Economic Service. 

 The current levy orders for sheepmeat, beef, goatmeat and wool are in place until April 2010.

Perhaps the winner was apathy – only 39.0% (7,820 participants) bothered to vote.

The results were:

                                                              One Person: One Vote                     Stock Numbers

Sheepmeat Levy                      YES                   3,280   53.72%                   50,071   62.46%

                                                         NO                    2,826   46.28%                   30,090   37.54%

 Beef Levy                                 YES                   3,566   51.52%                   31,919   59.32%

                                                         NO                    3,356   48.48%                   21,888   40.68%

 Goatmeat Levy                        YES                      118   46.83%                       228   52.29%

                                                         NO                       134   53.17%                       208   47.71%

Wool Levy                                    YES                   2,794   45.76%                   44,193   55.13%

                                                         NO                    3,312   54.24%                   35,968   44.87%

UPDATE:

Agriculture Minsiter David Carter says the result is a blow for the industry.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the decision by farmers not to support the continuation of a wool levy is disappointing and will create difficulties for the industry.

“I respect the democratic process and the right for farmers to decide, but I am concerned that the ramifications of this decision have not been fully realised.

“The result of the referendum on the Meat & Wool NZ levy gives a clear go-ahead for the meat sector, but effectively leaves the wool industry without a mandated industry-good body at a time when this is desperately needed.

A factor those who voted no may not have understood is that it will now be very difficult for the industry to access funds from the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership initiative.


The other referendum

August 29, 2009

Meat and Wool NZ’s referendum on its levy proposal closed yesterday.

It has been very contentious with several campaigns urging people to vote “no”.

However, it is possilbe apathy won because by Thursday there’d only been about a 30% return.

The announcement on the result will not be made until Monday. Read what you will in to that.


Fewer ewes but more lambs expected

August 6, 2009

It’s less than 20 years since New Zealanders had more than 20 sheep each – there more around 70 million sheep and only 3 million people.

The human population has risen to more than 4 million and the ovine population is now around half what it was at its peak so we now have fewer than 8 sheep each.

Meat and Wool New Zealand’s latest survey  records a total sheep population of just 33.14 million.

The ewe population has dropped 3.4% in the past year to 22.7 million, the lowest since 1951-52. The number of hoggets dropped 2% to 9.4 million.

The decline in numbers was casued by drought and dairy conversions. But in spite of fewer ewes and hoggets this season’s lamb crop is expected to increase 2.1% to 27.81 million.

Beef cattle numbers also dropped. There were 40.7 million of them at the end of June, 1.7% fewer than last year.

The fall in numbers while demand for lamb remains firm should give farmers reasonable prices this season.

But price rises based on falling supply aren’t nearly as good for the long term health of the meat industry as those based on increased demand.

Falling numbers will also focus attention on the problem of excess capacity at freezing works.


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