Rural: Summit plea to aid meat trade

By Laurel Stowell

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John McCarthy wants a summit meeting of the meat industry. Photo/File
John McCarthy wants a summit meeting of the meat industry. Photo/File

Sheep and beef farmers must commit to supply particular processing companies, and those firms must co-ordinate their marketing, Meat Industry Excellence chairman John McCarthy says.

The Ohakune farmer is pushing for an industry-wide summit to work toward those two objectives.

He said it needs to happen soon, because people are leaving the industry at the rate of six to seven per cent a year.

He hoped to get backing for the national meeting from Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

Mr Guy stopped short of that, but he did praise the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group for its efforts at the Beef + Lamb annual meeting on March 14.

It wasn't an acknowledgement there were serious problems in the red meat industry - but it was a good starting point for future negotiations.

"It's an election year. I suppose he doesn't want bad news stories," Mr McCarthy said.

Farmers were asked whether their organisation would contribute towards MIE's expenses. Sixty per cent voted yes, which delighted Mr McCarthy.

The estimated amount, based on last year's expenses, will be $200,000 to $250,000. "That's not salaries. It only reimburses costs. We're still basically a volunteer organisation."

Mr McCarthy would also like more money from the combined government and farming sector Primary Growth Partnership to be put into improving what happens to meat after it leaves the farm.

MIE will also continue to put candidates up for the boards of New Zealand's two big meat processing co-operatives, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance.

It succeeded in getting four candidates on to those boards last year.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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