Monday, 16 May 2011

The Red Meat Sector Strategy launch

# Big Farming Story of the Week: The Red Meat Sector Strategy launch.

People in black ties gathered to talk about red meat in Wellington. King Keith Cooper of Silver Fern Farms was right on the money with his proclamation the report contained “no silver bullet”, rather it was laying out where a panacea could be. There were lots of well-intentioned platitudes but haven’t we heard it all before?

From an outsider looking in, it would appear there’s a fundamental flaw in the structure of the red meat industry. Until the meat companies stop fighting each other for stock at the farm gate, stop competing to sell meat to the same customers off shore, and until farmers are prepared to show absolute loyalty and invest in their cooperatives, the industry will remain fractured.

The dairy industry structure is not perfect. But it’s less flawed than its sheep and beef counterparts.

# Big Political Story of the Week: The Budget.

On Thursday Bill English will deliver the third Budget of the first John Key government. Unlike the stealth attacks of Rob Muldoon’s beer and ‘baccy budgets, most of the significant announcements have been well signaled. We are borrowing a whopping $380 million a week to keep the country afloat. Either we spend less or earn more. Farmers are doing their bit to make the latter happen but severe spending cuts will be the order of the day for whoever gets the Treasury benches on November 26. This week’s Budget could be a stroll in the park compared to next year’s when election promises about KiwiSaver, student loans, tax cuts and the sale of state-owned assets no longer have to be adhered to.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: The injury toll in Super rugby.

A lot of old-timers, myself included, have often the lamented how easy the modern rugby player gets it compared to “our day”. Don’t fool yourself. Rugby is now a brutal gladiatorial physical contest. In the good old days skinny blokes could play on the wing, fat guys could prop, little chaps could play halfback and those shy on the tackle could be hidden at first five-eighth. Nowadays there’s nowhere to hide. I’m glad I played when there was somewhere for the faint-hearted!

# Brickbat: Hone has a first, second and third mortgage on this title.

Here’s a great e-mail I received this week from well known Canterbury farmer Stu Loe:

As a rule, I don't pass along these "add your name" lists that appear in e-mails, BUT this one is important. It has been circulating for months and has been sent to over 22 million people. We don't want to lose any names on the list so just hit forward and send it on. Please keep it going! To show your support for the MP, Hone Harawira, and the job he is doing, please go to the end of the list and add your name...

1. Titiwhai Harawira

# Bouquet: Beef and Lamb New Zealand.
It’s always difficult to quantify the effectiveness of industry-good organizations such as the aforementioned. When you’re spending farmer levy-payer money it’s doubly difficult to please all of the people all of the time. For what it’s worth I reckon Beef and Lamb New Zealand do a sterling job promoting red meat with their two marquee events – the Glammies (at the Wanaka Show) for lamb and the Steak of Origin for beef.

Tomorrow night in Fielding at the Beef Expo the most tender and tasty sirloin steak in the land will be decided from twelve farmer finalists, seven from the North Island, five from the South. Judges include the beauty and the beast, Allison Shanks and Richard Loe, chef Graham Hawkes, food writer Julie Biuso and yours truly.

It sounds like an easy job but swallowing twenty mouthfuls of steak (there are also eight entries in the Best of Brand section) and picking the best from the best of the 400 original entries, is anything but.

# Bugger: The weather.

Some townies reckon you can never please a cocky. To the uninitiated that might seem to have some validity but my experience of farmers and farming is that you’re at the mercy of three elements you have no control over, whatsoever. International commodity prices, the exchange rate and the bloody weather!

Footnote: Jamie Mackay is the host of the Farming Show which airs on Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB. In a past life a Southland sheep farmer, these days he comments on farming, politics and sport for a living from the relative safety and comfort of his radio studio in Dunedin.


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