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Red meat exports help New Zealand Grow

Meat New Zealand says sheep and beef farmers are putting other industries to shame by increasing agriculture's contribution to GDP.

Jeff Grant, Meat New Zealand's chairman said that agriculture’s contribution to GDP has risen from 14 to 17 percent in the last fifteen years.

"If other industries had kept pace with the growth of the sheep and beef industries, the New Zealand economy would be reaching the Government’s target growth rates." said Grant.

Grant said that lamb prices at the farm gate have increased by 6 percent since 1990, and the long-term outlook for sheepmeat is good. "There is now a shortage of sheepmeat worldwide, and with New Zealand exporting 90 percent of our sheepmeat production, worth over $2 billion, we are in a good position to take advantage of this strong demand."

The exceptional growth has been achieved even though New Zealand’s total sheep numbers have fallen from a peak of around 60 million in the 1980’s to 39.5 million currently, Grant said. "New Zealand now produces almost 20 percent more beef and veal than it did in 1990-91, and 14 percent more lamb. However this increase has been achieved with 32 percent fewer sheep."

The dramatic increase in New Zealand’s national lambing percentage has helped this significant production increase, Grant said. "Last year we had a record national lambing percentage of 123.7 percent, up from 100.4 percent eleven years ago. The average lamb weight has also increased over two and a half kilos since then."

When the Government announced the deregulation of the New Zealand economy in 1984, it was thought that farming was a "sunset industry", and would disappear into the background while other industries came through. However, agriculture has risen from the ashes of deregulation and gone from strength to strength, says Grant.

"Although deregulation was announced in November 1984, most subsidies didn’t go until 1986-87. Despite recent changes in land use, the sheep industry has rocketed away and proved more durable than many other investment options."

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