VICTORIA’S peak farmer organisation is continuing to lead the call for the livestock industry to open up its operations to independent scrutiny and improve competition.
The Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group made the call in anticipation of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s report into the red meat sector, due to be released at the end of January.
An interim report, released by the competition watchdog last October, highlighted the need for transparency across the whole livestock supply chain.
“We’re expecting the final report to be vital in creating a fairer livestock industry, and we’re committed to working with the ACCC in ensuring its recommendations are followed across the supply chain,” VFF Livestock Councillor Mark Ritchie said.
“We’d still like to see important advantages such as pre-sale weighing at livestock saleyards and the introduction of mandatory price reporting, but we’re optimistic that the approach taken by the Commission will pave the way for a level playing field.”
Mr Ritchie said there also needed to be a compulsory requirement to report carcass dressing percentage for all “over the hook” sales.
“Industry has proposed introducing objective carcass measurement but there also needs to be a measure of dressing percentage to provide additional benefits to producers and the wider industry,” he said.
“The variation in carcass trim across the industry is a real sore point. Transparency in this area would help alleviate that.”
The meat industry committed in its latest strategic plan to ensuring by 2030 that 35 per cent of all Australian cattle and sheep supplied direct to works are paid on a quality and yield basis.
The VFF has suggested that any value producers would gain from objective carcass measurement could be limited unless this Value Based Marketing target is fast tracked by processors.
“We need mandatory carcass feedback and we need to be paid for what we produce; this will improve the quality of the Australian beef herd and keep us on top in the international marketplace.” Mr Ritchie said.
Mr Ritchie said while the red meat supply chain was multifaceted and complex, the VFF would continue to lobby for beef market sector reforms to ensure viability for future generations.
The VFF pushed the ACCC to take action on the power of processors in the wake of Barnawartha saleyards being forced to abandon pre-sale weighing in late 2015.
The campaign led to the formation of the ACCC’s Agriculture Enforcement and Engagement Unit which mounted the investigation, as well as a Senate Inquiry into the consolidation of the red meat processing sector.
“We encourage the ACCC to continue to monitor industry’s progress in implementing their recommendations.” Mr Ritchie said.