VICTORIA’S peak farmer group has vowed to work with Australia’s competition watchdog to make sure livestock producers get the best deal following the release today of the ACCC’s interim report into the beef industry.
The Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group acknowledged the report’s findings, but hoped the recommendations of the competition regulator would go further.
"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," VFF Livestock President Leonard Vallance said.
"The ACCC has pointed to pre-sale weighing of cattle as having benefits and increasing transparency in transactions, but it’s disappointing there was no recommendation forthcoming."
Mr Vallance also questioned the choice of industry watchdog Aus-Meat to act as an independent arbitrator between producers and processors.
"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," he said.
"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.
"Some issues need to be given more consideration but the inquiry is heading in the right direction, and we’ll continue to push towards achieving a fairer industry," Mr Vallance said.
The ACCC 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," Mr Vallance said.
"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."
The ACCC is seeking comments on the interim report by 23 November 2016.