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Sheep and beef industry confidence – a tale of two species

Sheep and beef industry confidence – a tale of two species

20 December 2016

While overall sheep and beef farmer confidence in their industry has taken a dip in the last four months, there is a solid core that remains upbeat about the future.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand commissions UMR Research to gather a range of confidence and performance indicators to understand three main topics. These are the mood of the industry, to assess the key areas farmers’ want their organisation to deliver on for them and to assess Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s performance.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Sam McIvor said the latest 2016 quarterly report shows that farmers with high beef numbers are more confident than the sheep dominant enterprises.

“Unsurprisingly the strongest level of confidence was recorded in the far North of the North Island, a strong beef area and the lowest confidence was recorded in the Southern South Island, a strong sheep area.

“Uncertainty over sheep meat markets, on the back of Brexit and declining wool prices had an effect on confidence. Throw in a difficult late spring across the country where young stock haven’t been ‘doing’ and drought a not too distant memory, and it’s understandable that farmers are feeling uneasy right now,” McIvor says.

“In several regions farmers are facing uncertainty around where environmental regulations are going. The 1000 farmers we’ve had at our environmental workshops in Waikato and Southland over the last month are testament to that.

“There is confidence in the long-term fundamentals of the sheep and beef industry.

“New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are producing a high quality, safe product for an ever-increasing and discerning global customer and Beef + Lamb New Zealand is focused on helping farmers improve the bottom line today, but also advocating for the future too.”

UMR Research Director Marc Elliott said: “We track farmers’ satisfaction with the performance of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and this quarter 53% (up 7%) said they were satisfied with the job Beef + Lamb New Zealand was doing on its behalf.

“We’ve also seen increases in farmers’ awareness of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, attendance at events and use of their digital services like the website.”

McIvor said one area where farmers want the organisation to step up is in promoting beef and lamb products in international markets, with 79% rating this as very important and only 37% of farmers thinking we’re doing a good job – obviously there’s room for improvement.

“Following farmer and industry consultation we’ve just started a new market development plan and we’ll be targeting market segments known to have good growth potential.

“The first part of that work is developing our unique red meat story that explores New Zealand sheep and beef farmer values and the ethical drivers for producing the best beef and lamb.

“We’ve just completed 45 in-depth interviews with farmers nationwide who collectively farm around 120,000 hectares. We’ve heard their stories – and I can say it’s absolute gold.

“I’m really confident that we’re going to be able to build a story that trumps others around the world and will be equally effective in getting our local population on board. Our farmers will be at the centre of it.”

The UMR research highlights are:-

• Farmer confidence in the sheep and beef industry 32% - down 11%

• Farmers with 5000 or more stock units were more confident in the future of the sheep industry

• Farmer satisfaction with Beef + Lamb New Zealand 53% - up 7%

• Awareness of Beef + Lamb New Zealand 78% - up 5%

• 32% of farmers have attended as Beef + Lamb New Zealand event in the past three months (28% said they had in August)

• 42% of farmers have accessed information from the Beef + Lamb New Zealand website in the last three months (32% said they had in August)

• From a prompted list of issues the ones farmers agreed that they’d like Beef + Lamb New Zealand to focus on are:-

1. Telling consumers the unique NZ red meat story (78% agreed)

2. New ways to introduce farm practices to farmers (66% agreed)

3. Better online resources for helping improve farm practices (62% agreed)

4. Develop new pasture species for hill country (59% agreed).

*Results of the report are based on a representative sample of n=770 sheep and beef farmers. At the 95% confidence level the margin of error is + or – 3.5%.

About Beef + Lamb New Zealand:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd is the farmer owned industry organisation working for a confident and profitable sheep and beef industry. It works to help farmers make informed business decisions and promote their collective interests. Priorities include investing in research and development that meets the needs of farmers and the sector, developing farm and farmer capability and delivering knowledge that drives farm performance. It also works to attract and retain talent for the sector, supports the sector’s market opportunities, advocates for farmers ability to operate and builds sector confidence and profile within communities.

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