No room for complacency

Global and internal events may be hurting New Zealand agriculture, but the outlook for beef remains strong.

In Editor’s Note3 Minutes

GLOBAL AND INTERNAL EVENTS may be hurting New Zealand agriculture, but the outlook for beef remains strong.

However, there is no room for complacency on either side of the farmgate. There are market opportunities to be grabbed and new and existing technologies to be used on farms.

In the United States, cattle numbers have fallen and this perhaps offers an opportunity for NZ to capitalise.

That depends on how well the meat industry and exporters seize the opportunities.

The best eating is in younger animals.

Young, grass-fed spring-born cattle should be our beef oysters but heavy, older animals are rewarded (see p87).

The US beef industry has been capitalising on dairy beef since the 1970s. Holstein programme calves are raised on a special ration then go into a feedlot.

Finished steers are sought after because they grade highly and their beef is of a high consistency. Why can’t we do more with dairy beef?

Meat companies have been innovative in China where there are many changes and increasing competition. The competition is coming not just from other countries; local production continues to improve. NZ beef is not regarded as a premium product in restaurants because it is not grain-fed and strongly branded.

Should Taste Pure Nature be more focused on the consumer rather than the retail market?

Other opportunities exist in the United Kingdom with the free trade agreement (FTA). The European Union FTA is under threat of an environmental barrier – deforestation rules. If a product breaches compliance there is a hefty fine which hopefully NZ will avoid.

Back in NZ, weaner market prices have remained strong. Post-Cyclone Gabrielle areas had some disruption, but overall the numbers came through. Blanket forestry is likely to have a big impact on future saleyard numbers.

Another threat is biosecurity and our Mycoplasma bovis series questions whether NZ is ready or not.

Good genomic predictions and the demand from the dairy industry has seen a rise in yearling sales. Good genetic opportunities exist for beef farmers too.

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