Pressure on red meat industry
Senate committee report recommends study into pre and post-sale weighing at sales
TIME FOR CHANGE: A Senate committee report into the red meat industry has just been released. Senator Bridget McKenzie, one of the key players in the inquiry, will be at the Barnawartha saleyards today at midday. PHOTO: Emma Hillier
A STUDY into pre and post-sale weighing to provide an evidence-base on which to consider selling methods at saleyards was one of the key recommendations of a Senate Committee Report into the Red Meat Industry.
The Senate Committee inquiry and report into the red meat industry came following concerns about a culture of collusion at cattle saleyards.
In its report, the committee said it shared the concerns of stakeholders, particularly producers in relation to a number of saleyard practices, including the behaviour of commission buyers.
The purpose of the inquiry was to examine the red meat processing sector in response to meat processors’ boycott of the Barnawartha Saleyards in Victoria in February 2015.
“When nine meat processors all decided not to turn up to the Barnawartha Saleyards, it was a watershed moment for producers, prompting me to initiate this Senate inquiry following an outcry from local farmers,” Senator Bridget McKenzie said.
Senator McKenzie said the committee inquiry, which received 122 submissions, is a key way forward for the red meat sector to regain the confidence of processors and farmers.
“This is the eighth inquiry into the red meat sector and the time to get it right is now, farmers and others in the sector are relying on us and we will not let them down,” Senator McKenzie said.
Another key recommendation is that the government provides immediate support to the grass fed cattle sector in its efforts to replace the Cattle Council of Australia with a transparent and accountable producer-owned body as the sector’s Peak Industry Council.
The committee recommends that a joint industry and government meat and livestock task force be established to conduct a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Red Meat Moratorium of Understanding within the industry to consider options for reform.
Senator McKenzie said this report along with an inquiry by the ACCC calls for urgent changes to the way business is conducted at cattle saleyards.
“There must be simple, easily interpreted price grids ahead of livestock auctions, post-sale weighing and general transparency across the sector.
“That is the only way to return confidence to the red meat industry, a call echoed by the ACCC and supported by the Victorian Farmers’ Federation (VFF).
“I call on the industry peak bodies in the red meat industry to take up the challenge and support these recommendations to the sector.
“They cannot ignore the evidence to the Senate over the past two years or the recommendations of the corporate regulator.
“There must be transparency, there must be changes and there must be ownership of these problems to resolve them and move on,” Senator McKenzie said.
The Senate committee report is available at: rrat.sen@ aph.gov.au.