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Meat & Wool New Zealand Chairman To Address International Sheepmeat Forum

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Meat & Wool New Zealand Chairman To Address International Sheepmeat Forum

An initiative of Meat & Wool New Zealand to bring together the world's sheepmeat producers to address some common issues will come to fruition in Europe next week.

Meat & Wool New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen, is to address the International Sheepmeat Forum for Producers and Industry, being held in Brussels on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 October.

The idea of a forum to discuss problems and issues facing the international sheepmeat industry had been raised during a visit to Europe in late 2008. This had then been followed up with a proposal to sheep producer and industry organisations in the European Union, Australia and Latin America and there had been overwhelming support for the idea.

"There is widespread recognition now that sheep farmers in Europe and in the other major sheepmeat producing and trading countries face many of the same challenges and cost-generating requirements," Mr Petersen said.

"That is reflected in the fact that almost wherever you look, be it in Spain, France, Ireland or New Zealand, national flocks have been contracting and so the volume of lamb offered to consumers is declining.

"Lamb remains the highest value meat to consumers in many markets internationally, yet the return to producers has been inadequate. There is a risk that if production continues to fall, some consumers will cease to see lamb as a mainstream meal choice and demand will further decline. Even now lamb is a niche meat product in traditional lamb consuming markets.

"The purpose of the forum is to examine the causes of the decline in production, to address the threat of escalating costs and, together look for ways to increase demand and profitability as the basis for a long-term sustainable industry," Mr Petersen said.

The forum will be opened by Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General of the European farmers' organisation, COPA-COGECA. There will be a key note address from Paolo De Castro, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Chairman of EP's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

Mr Petersen's address will follow, providing an overview of the sector and to set the scene for the remainder of the event. Four sessions will focus on production trends and constraints; costs arising from environmental and other requirements, including the implications of greenhouse gas policies; changing consumer expectations and ways of stimulating demand and increasing profitability.

The forum's organisers include COPA-COGECA; UECBV, the European meat processing and trading union; Meat and Livestock Australia and Meat & Wool New Zealand.

Mr Petersen said the forum's organising partners recognised the urgency required to ensure the industry was both profitable and sustainable.

"This will not be a talk-fest and I am confident we will emerge from the forum with a sense of common interest and purpose."

Speakers have been drawn from many countries and will include the European Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, MEP Liam Aylward and Rolf Eriksson, State Secretary for the Swedish Ministry of Agriculture.

Mr Petersen will be accompanied at the forum by Silver Fern Farms Ltd Chief Executive, Keith Cooper, Progressive Meats Ltd Managing Director, Craig Hickson and Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Chairman, Bruce Wills.

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