Thursday, 20 June 2024 10:55

Innovators need to step up

Written by  Mark Maitland
Mark Maitland, Gallagher business development manager. Mark Maitland, Gallagher business development manager.

OPINION: Collaboration between farmers and industry innovators will be at the heart of helping New Zealand’s red meat sector move forward from one of its toughest years since the Global Financial Crisis.

Reports of significant financial losses by Silver Fern Farms and Beef & Lamb NZ forecasting certainly make for grim reading. They predict that farm profits could plummet 54% or $62,600 on average for the 2023- 24 financial year. These are profit levels not seen since the 1980s, except for during the Global Financial Crisis between 2007-2009.

While New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are widely recognised as having one of the most environmentally efficient farming systems in the world, our farmers are struggling.

In Putting Meat on the Bone, a briefing to the incoming Government Ministers in August last year, the Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) set out the strategic challenges our farmers face and put forward recommendations about how we can turn it around.

These included putting the red meat sector at the centre of New Zealand’s economic strategy, and allowing streamlined, enabling regulation underpinned by robust impact assessments.

Aligning science & innovation

The points that really stood out for me however were the need to align New Zealand’s science and innovation to strategic outcomes for the sector, and the need to partner with industry to improve sustainability.

New Zealand’s red meat sector needs industry innovators to step up to the plate. They not only need to offer farmers products to solve their challenges, but also actively engage with them to co-create the solutions they need.

Farm tour highlights challenges

This became apparent to me on a recent tour I did with Angus New Zealand. The farmers we visited are facing a diverse range of challenges, from high input costs and environmental regulations to market volatility and labour shortages.

Despite these challenges, there was also unanimous belief in the potential of technology and innovation to drive positive change within the industry.

The role of technology & data

The simple truth is technology and data-driven farming hold the key to unlocking profitability and resilience in the red meat sector. But this transformation cannot be achieved through off-the-shelf solutions alone.

Farmers need tangible solutions that deliver real value on the ground. This requires a concerted effort by industry innovators to understand each unique operation and develop targeted solutions that address their specific pain points.

Innovative partnerships

Gallagher has partnered with Angus New Zealand to raise the stakes for the industry. Partnering to educate, assist and create value for New Zealand’s Angus beef sector. Our approach goes beyond simply offering products because we believe in the power of technology and data to transform farming systems and unlock new opportunities for growth and efficiency.

Driving farm profitability

This type of tech enables farmers to make strategic decisions based on data, ensuring the optimum management of every animal in their herd to maximise profitability.

We have also developed other bespoke weighing and EID solutions for farmers in the sector. These solutions allow them to capture unique data fields that can drive everything from their genetic gains on farm to helping them breed an elite performing herd. They can also make animal management decisions at the absolute optimum time to mate, keep or cull animals to drive farm profitability.

Our red meat sector is under a wave of pressure. It is crucial we leverage our technology and innovation alongside them to drive efficiency and, in turn, profitability.

The red meat sector makes a massive contribution to our economy, $12b of export revenues in 2022. As industry innovators we owe it to them to step up to the plate.

Mark Maitland is business development manager, Gallagher

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