29 Apr 2013

North Island farmers back call for meat industry reform

10:33 am on 29 April 2013

North Island farmers are planning further meetings to keep the pressure on for meat industry restructuring.

An estimated 600 to 700 farmers met in Feilding on Friday, to support the Meat Industry Excellence Group campaign launched in the South Island last month.

It has a five step plan to overhaul the red meat sector to improve profitability for companies and farmers through more co-ordinated processing and marketing.

Spokesman John McCarthy says there's a strong commitment from farmers to see meat industry reforms through this time, but it is important to take things one step at a time.

Mr McCarthy says at this stage they are seeking farmer support to get a mandate to take the reforms to the next level.

"That will be political, that will be negotiations with companies, that'll be setting up a steering group which is being referred to as the tight five of experts to actually come up with some solutions."

Mr McCarthy says he is in no doubt that consolidation is the right way to go.

He says meat companies have confirmed they are continuing discussions among themselves and the four biggest companies have formed a working group to do that.

He's one of three North Island farmers voted onto the Meat Industry Excellence Group, which is planning further meetings in Gisborne and possibly Te Kuiti.