Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SFF Landcorp and PGGWrightson, is this partnership benefitting the industry or just these three entities?

Like many people in the last few weeks I have been hearing and reading about this new three way partnership between Silver Fern Farms (SFF), Landcorp and PGG Wrightson, whereby as I understand the Government is contributing $59.5million from the Primary Growth Partnership.

The cynic in me is wondering is this a scheme designed to benefit the industry or principally to benefit each of these entities?  Why do I say this, well:
  1. From my reading of the article in the High Country Herald dated August 25 2010, SFF want farmers on board, they can sign up to contracts etc, in other words, you must supply lambs to SFF to be involved in it.  Sounds to me like a pretty self serving use of the 59.5 million put up by the government does it not? Further I have just recently attended an Alliance meeting and it would seem they have starting with what the consumer wants and working backwards for many years, surely  SFF has been doing the same, so why all of sudden is there some amazing plan now?; and
  2. Again from the same article it would seem Landcorp's role will be in genetics and developing the database.   In the sheep industry Landcorp breed Romneys, composites and Texels.  I am fairly confident that there are many better Romneys in the Country than Landcorps, composites probably also, and you must remember that composites are most certainly not the hot property they were five years ago, as farmers have discovered that there are some major issues with them, there has and is a major trend back to using purebreds or first crossing.  As to their Texels, I have not seen them, but  a Texel breeder mate of mine, assures me that there are better texels around than Landcorps.  So if this partnership is indeed for the industry good as claimed, wouldn't you try and source the best genetics available, get a cross section of breeds and not limit yourself to a small cross section as described above, which are arguably inferior to other genetics that are available in NZ.
  3. I also note Landcorps role is developing the database, what does this mean.  Why does Landcorp have its own database in the first place, why is it not already all incorporated into  Sheep Improvement Limited's database ("SIL"), a partially funded database by Meat and Wool (now Beef and Lamb), particularly given that it has been struggling for funding in the last few years  Wouldn't the time and money in this regard be better served in incorporating Landcorp and other breeds and breeders into SIL who are not already there and then developing SIL to better serve the whole industry, not just Landcorp? (As clearly SIL is of value in some areas, but rather meaningless or misleading in others).
  4. PGG Wrightson's role is apparently to "advise farmers how to become more productive, such as the use of grasses for higher stock weights."  This is a bit revolutionary is it not, I guess this is based on trials to see what grasses are better and in fact achieve higher growth rates, then you patent them, and sell these proprietary grasses, brassicas etc to farmers for these purposes at a good price, i.e AR1 grasses are not too shy of $5kg.  I am being rather sarcastic here, isn't that what they do now, or are we going to be able buy these grasses for $2kg, given that $59 million of tax payer money being poured into this partnership, I suspect not.  Are they using this money to carry out the research, which they now charge a high price per kg to recover such cost? What in fact are they going to do that is indeed different or new and as such a major benefit to the industry?  Or is this just a lock of those farmers who want to be part of the SFF's contracts in that they now must also get their advice from PGG and buy their grasses etc?
Apparently they want others to join, well who are these others, is that me, they will source my genetics and incorporate my database, or is it Alliance so they can sign up farmers to the same contracts or is it CRT so it can give me advice on what grass I use.  I would dearly love to believe that this programme will indeed benefit the whole industry given the injection of tax payer money, but I would have to say from what I have read to date, the big winners in this project will be the three entities above.

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