18 Jun 2014

Onus on farmers to overhaul industry

8:31 am on 18 June 2014

Farmers who want a comprehensive overhaul of the meat industry will have to do it themselves, a farmer group campaigning for change says.

Meat Industry Excellence chair John McCarthy said its push to get all the industry stakeholders to a summit to find some common ground on reform measures had gone nowhere, and it had become clear farmers could not rely on the industry to restructure itself.

"For years farmers have relied on industry to fix their problems for them," Mr McCarthy said.

"The fact is, and I'm not putting the blame on the industry model, it's just how it is. The industry model is so diverse they can't fix our problems. "

All companies in the industry had their own balance sheets and areas of responsibility, and they could not effect a change which would impact on themselves, he said.

"They have to look after their own company first.

"So, if farmers want to effect change, we are the only body in the whole sector that can do it."

The biggest threat to change was the prediction of a good year next year, with $100 being suggested for a 17kg lamb, Mr McCarthy said.

"But we don't want farmers to take their foot off the pedal in terms of getting this change."

That was because the fundamental problems undermining the meat industry's profitability and performance would still be there if they were not addressed, he said.

Meanwhile, inflation on sheep and beef farms has eased a little in the past year.

Figures from Beef and Lamb New Zealand's Economic Service show prices for inputs on sheep and beef farms fell by 0.6 percent in the year to March. There was no change in the previous year.

It said the decrease was driven by the lower cost of fertiliser, down by more than 6 percent, as well as reduced interest and fuel costs. That out-weighed the higher price of electricity and repairs, maintenance and vehicles.