Brexit happened, but what now?

B+LNZ Director Kirsten Bryant enjoys a working 'holiday' with her family on the farm – but with one eye on beef and lamb export markets, as Brexit unfolds.

The highlight of our family’s winter is the July school holidays. It’s the window of time when our kids are home, doing farm jobs, taking a break from their full school days and reconnecting with the realities of farm life.

No holiday getaways for the Bryant family (unless you count the three days when we head to the Kirikau property for ewe scanning).

With each passing year, we enjoy seeing the improving quality of work outputs from the children. Some may call it slave labour; we prefer to call it life experience.

Meanwhile, outside the bubble that is our family and business, Brexit is happening.

What does Brexit mean for NZ farmers?

I’ve had conversations with many farmers since the vote and most are wondering what it may mean for our sector. While it’s early days, there are good economic reasons for farmers and townsfolk alike to be interested.

Last year, more than $2 billion of red meat and wool exports were sent to the EU (including the UK). These exports were almost four times that of the next largest contributor, horticulture, and seven times that of New Zealand’s dairy exports to the EU. The EU’s current 28 countries represent half of New Zealand’s global sheep meat exports by volume and most of this enters the market under the World Trade Organization (WTO) quota agreement. Both the UK and EU are important markets – by value and volume – and key earners for the New Zealand economy.

Under the WTO rules, our overall sheepmeat and beef access into the EU and UK cannot be eroded as a result of the Brexit vote. However, it is critical that access is top of the Government’s priority list, as the uncoupling is worked through.

B+LNZ in-market relationships to the fore

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is working closely with New Zealand Government ministers and officials to ensure there is no market access erosion. B+LNZ’s in-market relationships are highly valued by our sector and – more than ever before – will be equally valuable to all New Zealand.

In the meantime, global politics, financial markets and economics are all being impacted by the Brexit. The one impacting the most on Kiwis right now is the exchange rate. Great news if your holiday destination is Europe or the UK. Not so relevant if it’s Taumarunui.