Lambing is fast approaching and so far, we have enjoyed a kind winter with good feed utilisation.
Recent moisture is setting us up for a good spring and all going well, we should have a good crop of lambs and calves on the ground by the end of October.
The challenge then becomes how to maximise the value of those lambs and calves.
Telling our story
I recently attended the Red Meat Sector Conference and it was interesting hearing speakers from outside the sector share their views on where they saw future opportunities for this country’s red meat industry.
An overwhelming theme was the need to get better at telling our stories – these are the stories of farming families producing the world’s best grass-fed beef and lamb to the highest standards of animal welfare and environmental responsibility.
International consumers are becoming more aware of the attributes of grass-fed protein, and appreciate livestock raised without hormones or antibiotics – or any other form of chemical enhancement. New Zealand's red meat producers have the opportunity to differentiate their product on the global stage and target those consumers who appreciate – and can afford – grass-fed red meat. New Zealand’s beef and lamb contains naturally high levels of iron, omega 3 and nine essential amino acids, which makes it appealing to increasingly health-conscious populations.
Then there is the people factor
There is real strength in rural communities – as is always apparent during times of adversity. While they tend to be independent, farmers are also community minded and family orientated – and the tradition of the farming family is still alive and well, irrespective of ownership structures. These are the values that appeal to our international consumers.
I will be discussing Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s marketing strategy as part of my Director Consultation meetings and would welcome any feedback. We’ve been engaged in a major review of market development and have been talking to farmers, meat exporters and marketers, the government and industry stakeholder groups – wanting to understand if B+LNZ (on behalf of farmers) has a role to play in market development.
Coming into a new season, farmers and industry will all be looking to see what impact, if any, Brexit will have on lamb prices. The most immediate concern is currency fluctuations in the wake of market uncertainty, but how the uncoupling of Britain from the EU will impact on sheepmeat trade is as yet unknown.
B+LNZ is working closely with New Zealand Government ministers and officials to ensure there is no market access erosion. What I do know is that there are a lot of talented people working very hard to protect the interests of New Zealand sheep and beef farmers. Our trade negotiators are world renowned, so we can rest assured we are in safe hands.
Bill Wright is Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Central South Island farmer director.