The past 12 months have been extremely difficult for both UK and New Zealand sheep farmers, with difficult weather, high input prices and volatile markets.Â But UK and New Zealand sheep farmers are looking to develop a better understanding of the difficulties facing them both by sharing experiences.
Representatives from the NFU, NSA and Eblex met with Don Morrison, director of Meat Industry Excellence, a lamb industry reform body in New Zealand, to understand how genetic developments, production systems, market drivers, contracts and farmer co-operation around the world can help farmers build a sustainable industry at home. Both UK and New Zealand representatives believed that the key to improving the lot of sheep farmers starts with a better understanding of the pressures faced by each industry.
Speaking after the meeting, NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said:Â â€œWe speak regularly to farming representatives in other countries like New Zealand, and it never ceases to amaze me just how much we have in common, and how we as sheep farmers in the UK face the same challenges as sheep farmers all around the world. Like sheep farmers in the UK, sheep farmers in New Zealand want a sustainable industry that allows farmers to invest, provides opportunities for the next generation, and delivers a quality product to the consumer.
â€œWeâ€™ve all been hard pressed this year, with bad weather, high input prices and a volatile market, with many farmers getting prices below their costs of production.Â Thatâ€™s not sustainable for the industry, and itâ€™s not going to secure top quality lamb product for consumers for the future.
â€œThere is considerable appetite in New Zealand to reform the meat industry to restore confidence to the primary producer after a very difficult 12 months over there.Â They are also looking at their marketing strategies, after their strategy this year failed to deliver for grass roots farmers.â€
Phil Stocker, Chief Executive of the NSA, said: â€œThe New Zealand farmers are keen to understand the pressures facing farmers in the UK, and to understand the drivers in the UK market.
â€œWe thoroughly support the aims of the MIE to reform their industry, and for the reform to be driven by the primary producer.Â We will be taking a close interest in how the industry works with Mr Morrison and his colleagues as their plans progress.â€
The meeting took place on Monday June 10.