New partnerships are helping build a future, writes Carmen Hall.

The Government is investing heavily in the red meat and wool sectors to try to make it a $14 billion industry by 2020.

It's rolled out funding for a Primary Growth Partnership scheme that encourages major players to team up, share knowledge and build a more profitable future.

The latest organisation to join is Beef + Lamb New Zealand, which partners Alliance Group, ANZCO Foods, Blue Sky Meats, Greenlea, Progressive Meats, Silver Fern Farms, ANZ, Rabobank and Deloitte.

Its programme will run over seven years, with $64.3 million being invested. Farmers will pay $19.3 million, the industry $13 million, with the Government picking up $32 million.

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Other programmes, including FoodPlus, generating more value from the beef carcass, FarmIQ, Merino - more than wool - and Marbled Grass-fed Beef, are already running.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand communications manager, Jan Keir-Smith, says the main goal of the programme does not represent a traditional "production push" strategy.

"It signals a move to a more capable, agile and responsive farm base, better equipped to respond to market signals delivered by programme partners, other PGP investment programmes, and the wider agribusinesses involved in the sector," she says.

Sheep and beef farming in New Zealand needs to be more competitive against alternative land uses.

"That failure to address fundamental issues around the farm gate will substantially limit the ability of all market-led value chains in the red meat sector to realise their full potential."

The industry operates in a risky environment with no control over the weather nor exchange rates and it is some distance from key markets, she says.

The Red Meat Sector Strategy, which concentrates on market co-ordination, efficient and aligned procurement and sector best practice, is being followed closely: "To ensure it's best placed to take advantage of the significant opportunities ahead, we must address the issues and opportunities identified in the Red Meat Sector Strategy."

The financial gain and creation of job opportunities is a big incentive. "In real terms, the size of the prize is another $3.4 billion or $420 per ha for every hectare under sheep and beef farming today."

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Federated Farmers' meat and fibre national vice-chairperson, Rick Powdrell, says any programme that brought industry groups together to work towards a common goal had to be of value.

"If you can pull groups together that can share their expertise and knowledge it's got to be beneficial," he says. "The Government is also making significant contributions so that tells us it values the value of primary production for the country."

Ministry for Primary Industries growth partnerships director Justine Gilliland says, "As a result of this programme, farmers will have the tools, knowledge and information that will enable them to develop businesses with greater long-term profitability that are responsive to market requirements. The focus of the programme is to drive best practice on-farm by addressing performance issues that are within the control of farming businesses."

Meat processors and marketers will benefit from a consistently high quality red meat supply and industries that support the sector will benefit through its improved and sustainable profitability.