I’ve been home for over a week now but have had a dead modem so have been out of the cyberspace loop, and suffering withdrawals, but getting used to the idea and starting to like it now. Had to duck over to my neighbour’s place today to bludge an internet connection to email our accountant so thought I’d finish off my blog.
In LA California I met up with the New Zealand Lamb Company. They import and distribute both NZ and Australian lamb and goat. It was a productive meeting discussing potential opportunities for supplying the restaurant trade with a premium goat product that is suited to the western palette. It was interesting to see that goat and lamb were comparable in pricing. After a few rough figures, I’d estimate that on average producers are realising about 30% of the end price.
Our strong dollar and sheep supply shortages will impact on both lamb and goat prices, but just how much more stretch there is in US consumer spending remains to be seen, however, I feel pretty confident that the Muslim market will tolerate prices we haven’t got close to yet due to the fact that goat meat is such an important part of their culture and necessary for religious celebrations.
A real supply concern though is the potential impact that Australia’s increasing wild dog/dingo numbers will have on the size and distribution of the feral goat herd. Low sheep numbers and subsequent high prices may improve rangeland (farmed) goat numbers as producers look for alternatives.
I filled in the afternoon on Hollywood Boulevard and I guess, flavoured from the meeting I was struck by how much money this society is willing to spend on entertainment but expect food to be cheap. Overeating is the plague of the poor, which is entirely illogical and frustrating from a farmer’s perspective.
LA really didn’t impress me much, the public transport was terrible, although I did have one fantastic bus driver though on a trip out to Santa Monica pier. I’m sure she was Whoopee Goldberg’s long lost daughter and offered to be my personal tour guide for the day.
Some thoughts on America: from a livestock producer’s perspective we run absolute rings around them despite our lack of government investment in research and development. We are far ahead in animal welfare and efficiency of management. From a societal point of view, there is an element of farce that grates on me somehow, a lot of chest puffing and pride but I was left to wonder how deep it actually was. But in saying that I met some fantastic people, made some great new friends and am really grateful for the hospitality that was extended to me. There is a lot we could learn about politeness and hospitality from America, but I still think their beer is pretty damn bad.
The highlight of my trip was my time with Bud and Eunice Williams in Bowie Texas and I’ll treasure my memories of sharing Eunice’s fantastic supper in their kitchen while finally understanding the attitude change that was necessary for it all to work.
It was great to get home and back on a bike, even better to start planning out the next leg of my trip, which I think will be Malaysia and the Mongolian Gobi Desert in late July and August then the Nuffield global focus tour in September/October. Better get some goat chasing done before then.
There has been more rain since I’ve been home and the place is wall to wall grass, hard to find the goats but absolutely bloody wonderful!
I’ve been reminded though of just how isolated this place is. With rain and flooded rivers we haven’t had any mail get through since I’ve been home and all but one road out of the area is closed, the power has been on and off, the phone has been unreliable and the internet is down. To top that off, we weren’t able to buy supplies on the way home from the airport as it was Good Friday and nothing was open in Broken Hill. I’m told the Gobi will be better because I’ll have mobile service and internet there. I can hardly wait…