It’s certainly been a challenging start to the year for many farmers, with extremes of wet and dry. What has impressed though is how farmers have planned, prioritised and been decisive selling stock. It’s been good to see beef and sheepmeat prices supporting those decisions.
The spread of M.Bovis continues to be a major concern. We know it’s a tough time for all affected farmers and your communities and very disruptive to value chain relationships between beef and dairy farmers. B+LNZ is continuing to work closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ, Feds, DCANZ and MIA in response to the disease. We have just appointed a dedicated person Paul McCaulay to support affected farmers so please call Paul if you’d like assistance.
The outbreak has put the spotlight on biosecurity, both systems and compliance. B+LNZ has been working actively in the NAIT review and invested through RMPP in the development of E-ASD which we believe in combination can improve the practicality and efficiency of our traceability system.
You may have seen recent media reports about environmental concerns related to red meat production. An article in the Sunday Star Times last weekend was the first in a three-part series on the future of red meat.
The article contends that health, animal welfare, and environmental concerns were driving down meat consumption. Though there are discrepancies in the OECD meat consumption figures quoted, there was also significant acknowledgment of what sheep and beef farmers are doing environmentally. It backs up my observations and conversations with farmers.
Farmers are actively seeking to understand the issues on their farms whether that be sediment, phosphate or nitrogen and taking action. At the heart of this is a Land and Environment Plan (LEP) and I’ve had numerous farmers tell me that their LEP is a foundational document on which their farm business is built. The environmental strategy B+LNZ is developing aims to support every sheep and beef farmer to build their own LEP over the next three years. The strategy vision is for our farmers to be recognised as world leading environmental stewards. My discussions with farmers tell me we have many environmental exemplars already, and B+LNZ will be actively telling those stories to the NZ public and international customers.
I alluded earlier to meat production concerns that are leading to disruption in the red meat sector. The emergence of alternative proteins is one such disruption. B+LNZ has invested in a large research project to better understand the threat and we’ll announce those results shortly. The early conclusions indicate alternative proteins are a challenge but that the same forces that are driving alternatives protein investment also offer a tremendous opportunity to differentiate New Zealand red meat internationally. It reinforces the need for the Red Meat Story, supported by the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) to validate the quality of our farming systems and provide assurances to our global customers and consumers.
I look forward to talking to you soon with more detail around these initiatives.