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Independence key in fight for transparency

THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s interim report into the beef industry has confirmed the concerns of the production sector.

The report has exposed the transparency transgression plaguing the industry, including bid rigging and collusive practices at saleyards.

Pre-sale vs post-sale weighing, which was the catalyst for the whole investigation, seems to have been diluted by a myriad of supply chain issues.

The ACCC has pointed to pre-sale weighing of cattle as having benefits and increasing transparency in transactions, but it’s disappointing there is no recommendation forthcoming.

We also have to question the suitability of Aus-Meat, an industry owned organisation, to act as an arbitrator between the processors and producers.

It’s vital that we have a fully independent arbitrator to ensure the integrity of the system, and we’re unsure that Aus-Meat is the best fit for that role.

We need to seek more clarity around their proposed role and provide our feedback to the ACCC for further consideration

The VFF policy of mandatory price reporting of all livestock transactions was also flagged by the ACCC as the next step if progress isn’t being made to improve price discovery.

While many would agree that the inquiry is heading in the right direction, these issues need to be given more consideration and the VFF will continue to push towards achieving a fairer industry and higher returns at the farm gate.

The inquiry into the red meat industry was initiated after an incident at the Barnawartha saleyards last year where up to eight processors boycotted a sale, wiping 20-30c/kg off the price of most cattle and leading to a third of export-weight cattle being passed in.

The Barnawartha boycott showed us that there is no level playing field in the Victorian livestock markets.

We’ve been fighting for more transparency in the livestock industry for 18 months and there’s still some way to go, but this report is an indication that we are having an impact.

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