Red meat sector launches manifesto ahead of election

25 January 2023  – New Zealand’s red meat sector has launched a comprehensive package of proposed policy changes, ahead of the general election, aimed at growing export revenues and increasing jobs.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association’s summary manifesto spans five key areas – climate and environment policy, workforce and industrial relations, trade, biosecurity, and innovation, research and development.

The manifesto has been sent to every Member of Parliament and relevant officials.

B+LNZ chairman Andrew Morrison says the summary manifesto should be compulsory early reading for new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins to inform what policies should be shelved or changed.

“Farmers are absolutely willing to play their part in improving the environment, but the Government has tried to do too much too quickly. 

“Because of the scale and pace of change, we’ve ended up with a lot of poorly crafted and conflicting rules that have significant negative financial implications for sheep and beef farmers, rural communities and the wider economy, when there are better ways of achieving good environmental outcomes.

“Farmers are feeling overwhelmed and confidence in the future of farming is at a record low.

“The sector is urgently seeking progress on curbing the sale of sheep and beef farms into carbon farming. The Government has to commit to fix this issue before any price is imposed on agricultural emissions. 

“We also want the methane targets amended in line with the latest science, a cautious approach taken to any price on agricultural emissions, and continued support for processors as they transition away from coal to renewable energy. On water, while there has been some progress, we still need to fix some things like the low slope map for stock exclusion. 

 “We strongly urge the Government to pause the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity and work with industry on a narrower definition of Significant Natural Area (SNA) that protects our precious biodiversity.

“The Government also urgently needs to carry out an assessment of the cumulative impact of all these policies. We’d like to see a pause on any new regulations like biodiversity and RMA reform until this review has been done.

“For us, pragmatic policy and regulatory settings are critical if we are to continue to lift productivity, foster innovation and produce world-class, sustainable and premium food. Our sector’s success is New Zealand’s success and we want to work with all political parties to find a way to make this happen together.”

Nathan Guy, chairman of the Meat Industry Association, says workforce and immigration are significant priorities for the red meat sector with an estimated $600 million of value left on the floor as a result of labour shortages in the industry.

“The sector wants to ensure immigration settings help address genuine labour shortages where they can’t be filled domestically and a special visa category should be established for halal butchers.

“The Fair Pay Agreement legislation should also acknowledge and respect the mature employment relationships and agreements we already have in place in the industry.

“The sector is an economic powerhouse for the New Zealand economy, returning more than $11 billion in export revenue to the country, supporting approximately 92,000 jobs and making a real difference to rural and regional communities.

“As New Zealand’s second largest goods exporter, we make a vital contribution to the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of New Zealand, and this is a responsibility we take extremely seriously.

“Our industry wants to play our part to make New Zealand a better country for every Kiwi, but there is clearly frustration in the sector about the scale, pace and ad hoc nature of regulatory reform in recent years.

“Our sector is experiencing significant economic headwinds so it’s more important than ever that farmers, processors and exporters have certainty and clarity so they can make informed decisions for the benefit of our businesses, communities and the country. Our policy manifesto provides a clear road map with simple solutions to do just that.

“I believe it’s critical the Prime Minister leads a business delegation to China this year. Visiting our biggest trading market should be a priority, especially as the country begins opening up after COVID-19 lockdowns.”

The summary manifesto can be viewed here.