21 Mar 2014

Farmers vote for meat reform group

10:32 am on 21 March 2014

Sheep and beef farmers have voted to fund a group calling for red meat industry reform.

While farmer voting participation was very low at the Beef + Lamb annual meeting, more than 60 percent of the votes received on the farmer remit asking for the Meat Industry Excellence group's work to be funded by Beef and Lamb were in favour.

MIE is calling for consolidation and more collaboration in the sector and chairman John McCarthy says the group's delighted the farmers that did vote backed them.

John McCarthy.

John McCarthy. Photo: SUPPLIED

"Unlike our efforts around the endorsed candidates where we went all out with 26 farmer meetings and a follow up phone campaign to really lift participation," Mr McCarthy said, "on this particular remit we made a conscious decision not to try and influence the vote as we really don't want to be there if farmers don't want us to be there so it's a real endorsement of our efforts to date, and the group is really chuffed."

Mr McCarthy says MIE believes the industry's single-minded focus behind the farmgate isn't enough to turn it around and that procurement and in-market behaviours need to be addressed.

And he says MIE is still looking to convene a national red meat sector summit and it hasn't given up hope that Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will give it his blessing.

"And we will be asking the minister to endorse this to give it the ministerial seal of approval and will give it a bit of mana."

Beef + Lamb chairman James Parsons says says he's not surprised at how few eligible farmers voted. He says while it's unfortunate - it's not unusual and he believes Beef + Lamb still got a fair cross-section of farmer's views.

Farmers also voted to use left-over money from the old wool levy for a business case and farmer referendum to see if there's any appetite for a new one.

They also gave the nod to amalgamate the industry's genetics programmes.

However, overall farmer participation in the Beef + Lamb vote was truly woeful - with just 14 percent of eligible sheep and beef farmers taking part. Beef + Lamb says that's disappointing.