NZs sheep flock is declining and is around 25 million – compared with around 70 million in the 1980s. But the US flock is down to just 5 million and a US lobby group is now calling for increased tariffs on New Zealand lamb in a bid to help the struggling local industry. R-CALF USA, the largest body representing producers of cattle and sheep in the United States, says the sheep industry has been decimated over the last three decades with an explosion of lamb and mutton from Australia and New Zealand pushing down returns for local producers. The group is calling on the United States trade ambassador to slow imports of lamb. Group chief executive Bill Bullard says lamb production in the US has declined by 60% in the last 30 years resulting in farmers leaving the industry, packing plants closing and a drastic reduction in the economic viability of our sheep shipping industry in the United States. He says while lamb consumption in the US is increasing significantly imported meat makes up 74% of the market with domestic supply only 26% and that needs to change. New Zealand lamb exported to the US currently faces tariff rates of between 0.7 and 2.8 cents depending on the product.
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