Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Welcome cheer for a sector doing it hard

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National Lamb Day has been embraced by the sheep and beef farmers who spend their days producing the celebrated New Zealand product.
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National Lamb Day is about the determination of the pioneers of New Zealand’s sheepmeat exports, says one sheep and beef farmer.

“The determination of those in the past is pretty incredible. National Lamb Day is about digging into special history that helped shaped our industry,” Central Otago farmer Emma Crutchley said.

Crutchley and her husband Kyle Hagen farm Puketoi Station, a 2885-hectare sheep and beef farm in the Maniatoto. The farm has been in the Crutchley family since 1939.     

Running 6500 Romney crossbred ewes and finishing 9000 lambs for the export market as part of the mixed sheep, beef and arable farming operation, gives real reason to celebrate National Lamb Day.

“It is about celebrating our heritage, those that came before us, that played a role in building NZ’s primary sector and food systems from farmers, supporting industries, all aspects of the supply chain, our chefs, retailers and importantly our consumers.

“Everybody that makes it happen, in the past and today.

“It’s about grabbing a mate, your neighbours and family and celebrating with a dish of lamb.

“Let’s make this date, February 15, a pivotal part of our history,” Crutchley said.

North Canterbury Federated Farmers meat and wool chair Sara Black said it’s been a good year for their 4000 Corriedale ewes on Marble Point Station

“It’s been bumper year, we’ve had a few extra lambs on the ground, really good survivability, spring and summer has been kind to us, but our take-home pay is going to be well back given the lamb schedule.”

She is all for National Lamb Day.

“Lamb is a great product. NZ farmers work hard to produce this superior quality protein under very high animal welfare standards.

“We as New Zealanders should be proud of what we produce and we need to promote that to increase demand in both the domestic and export markets.

“National Lamb Day is a great day for celebrating history and recognising farmers for what they produce as well as promoting and growing demand for lamb.”

Black said El Niño is setting in, feed is drying up, it’s uncertain times for finishing lambs, farmers are hurting and the lamb schedule is not acknowledging the quality product that they are producing.

She said that “$150 a lamb has been set in concrete for a very long time, it’s been swings and roundabouts, costs have gone up, the schedule has gone down”.

“We need to promote lamb, grow demand and get New Zealanders eating more lamb. 

“A spike in sales would be much appreciated as would a lift in prices from the meat companies.”

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