If any site at the Waimumu field days drew the crowds in today it was No. 8 – the Meat Industry Action Group’s site.
MIAG Vice-Chairman John Gregan said that sheep and beef farmers flocked to the site to hear South Canterbury farmer and businessman Forbes Elworthy speak on the future of the meat industry and to hear what the Natural Producers Company had to offer farmers.
“It was a huge success and it was lucky that the machinery for the vendor next door failed to turn up, as at times the MIAG site could not contain all the farmers.”
Mr Elworthy spoke to large numbers of Alliance and PPCS shareholders about the benefits of a merger between the two companies. Together with a group of farmer-supporters and businessmen, he has formed the Natural Producers Company which is intended for use as a merger vehicle. NPC hopes to consolidate the meat industry and bring increased returns to farmers.
Farmers were highly supportive of Mr Elworthy’s plan, with many questioning the status quo and demanding change.
The other main talking point of the day was the Alliance newsletter to shareholders which mentioned conceptual solutions for the future of the industry.
“MIAG strongly supports this bold move by Alliance and is sure that it is no coincidence that former MIAG members Mark Crawford and Jason Miller, are now members of that Alliance board.
“Everyone who worked hard to ensure Mark and Jason were elected on to the Alliance board, can take credit for helping initiate much of the discussion that has brought us to where we are.”
Mr Gregan said that by this time next year farmers will hopefully see a new structure in the meat industry that will ensure a sustainable future.
“There will be plenty of hurdles along the way and we need to make it clear that we will not tolerate people who stand in the way of a profitable future for sheep farmers.”
Mr Gregan said that it was important that positive change did occur.
“We don’t just need the concept or the plan … we need the result.”
Meanwhile, Mr Elworthy told farmers today that he supported the Alliance concept.
“It will be great if it happens. It is all we could wish for but we have heard grand plans in the past.
“Farmers could think of the NPC plan as an insurance policy to ensure change and consolidation of the industry occurred.
“I would ask that farmers continue to support us and to give us their proxy votes.
“If we have the support and proxies – and the Alliance amalgamation fails – then at least we, as farmers, will be in a position to secure the future of our industry.”