That confidence comes on the back of high prices for sheepmeat and beef as well as a weakening New Zealand dollar. As we’re all aware, neither of those two factors are givens long-term, though indicators are that demand for New Zealand’s red meat should remain strong.
There’s also headwinds for the industry too that will could dampen farmer confidence going forward, such as the rise of alternative proteins, changing government regulations, environmental pressures, uncertainty on the trade front, major droughts in other red meat producing countries, and Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).
B+LNZ also used the August quarter’s survey to ask farmers how they were responding to M. bovis and what measures they were taking to protect their herds.
The survey showed that 57 per cent of sheep and beef farmers have taken precautions against the disease, while 71 per cent feel they have a high level of knowledge on how to protect their stock.
Around a third of farmers (34 per cent) said they had implemented a buffer zone between them and their neighbour’s stock, as well as communicating with their neighbours about stock on the boundary.
Other changes identified included an increased focus on yard hygiene (19 per cent) and not buying any calves or cattle this year because of concerns about the infection (17 per cent).
Of those farmers who had made few or no changes because of M. bovis, these were predominantly farmers who ran closed or isolated systems, such as breeders, or were sheep farmers who had no cattle.
The survey also identified areas for improvement with 41 per cent of farmers having or working on a biosecurity plan, while a significant number wanted to implement a biosecurity plan but weren’t sure where to start. Farmers were also interested in receiving more up-to-date tracking information on the spread of the disease.
While the survey showed that farmers are generally comfortable with the level of support they’re receiving, B+LNZ will be providing more resources to help farmers both apply for compensation as well as speed up the processing of claims, and we will be rolling our biosecurity workshop events to help farmers start and improve their biosecurity plans.
As part of the survey farmers are also asked about their satisfaction with and awareness of B+LNZ. For the August 2018 quarter satisfaction increased 5 percentage points to 56 per cent, with those neutral at 35 per cent and those dissatisfied at 8 per cent. Awareness of B+LNZ increased 17 percentage points to 88 per cent, the highest level recorded in the survey and 10 percentage points higher than the previous high in November 2016.
The survey was in the field from 21 August to 2 September 2018 and is based on a representative sample of n=770 sheep and beef farmers. At the 95 per cent confidence level the margin of error is ± 3.5 per cent. Figures shown are rounded, therefore added totals may not necessarily equal 100.