Monday, February 26, 2024

Ag Proud wants a tastier National Lamb Day

Neal Wallace
Charity aims to put a bit more pep into celebrating the contribution the sector has made to NZ.
Non-tariff measures include everything from restrictive shelf-life limits for chilled meat exports to the costly and unnecessary rubber-stamping of documentation at local consulates before exports can leave the wharves.
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Whatever Australia does, surely New Zealand can do better …

That is part of the thinking of the Ag Proud charity, which has initiated a high-profile celebration of National Lamb Day around the anniversary of the day in 1882 – February 15 – when NZ’s first shipment of frozen meat left Port Chalmers for London on board the Dunedin.

The event will be marked over three days, February 13-15, at Parliament, Southern Field Days near Gore and with free barbeques in NZ’s main urban centres.

Ag Proud chair Jon Pemberton said Australia has embraced its National Lamb Day, and he hopes NZ will also adopt it as an acknowledgment of agriculture’s 140-year contribution to the economy. 

“I think people are ready for a positive message and for inclusiveness,” Pemberton said.

Acknowledging National Lamb Day in NZ has previously been low key and centred on May 24, the date the Dunedin arrived in London.

Ag Proud’s programme starts on February 13 with a lunch for politicians in Parliament organised by the NZ First Member of Parliament, Associate Agriculture Minister and South Otago sheep farmer Mark Patterson, with support from Beef + Lamb NZ.

The next day, at the Southern Field Days, Ag Proud with support from meat companies and BLNZ, will host a free public barbeque.

Pemberton said several noted chefs, including Ethan Flack, a Southland-born and -bred chef who has worked in Michelin star restaurants around the world and recently returned to live in Southland, will be on the stand talking to people about lamb.

The next day, February 15, Ag Proud volunteers will host barbeques in the main centres, providing free food and an opportunity for farmers to meet and have a conversation with urban people.

“It will be exciting to link-up with people.”

Pemberton said like the pioneers who arranged the original frozen meat shipment, the sheep industry faces challenges, in this case low meat prices.

“We have challenges in front of us which may seem insurmountable, but as with the original shipment, we are reminded that there are solutions.”

Lifting the profile of lamb has another function.

“It will also remind all NZers that agriculture has played a large role in building NZ and will continue to do so going forward and we should celebrate that.” 

National Lamb Day is marked in Australia on January 26 and one of the annual features is a high-profile advertising campaign.

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