The chairman of Meat and Wool New Zealand has said that UK and New Zealand farmers are in the same boat when it comes to low farmgate prices and they should work together to create better market demand for lamb.

Mike Petersen, a farmer from Hawkes Bay on the east coast of North Island, has spent the past five days in talks with UK and EU farm leaders to ease tension over the state of the lamb market.

Talking to journalists on Friday (15 June), Mr Petersen said the view in the UK seemed to be that NZ farmers were doing well financially.

But although this was true for the dairy sector, it was not true for the sheep industry.

The average lamb price was around NZ$50/hd – about the same as the direct costs involved in producing each animal, he said.

Mr Petersen said UK producers seemed to be blaming NZ imports for a depressed market, but the issue was much more complicated than that.

It had been a difficult 12 months for the sheepmeat market world wide, with drought in Australia leading to large numbers of animals being killed.

The NZ lamb kill had been up during the first half of the year because of climatic reasons, he admitted, but it would be down 15% for the rest of the year. A decline in lamb consumption in France was also hitting UK exports.

“It is very easy to point the finger at NZ imports and say that is the issue. But I think we need to understand that this is a complex market,” he said.

To find out what else Mr Petersen had to say see Farmers Weekly magazine out on Friday, 22 June.