Pres­sure on red meat in­dus­try

Se­nate com­mit­tee re­port rec­om­mends study into pre and post-sale weigh­ing at sales

Myrtleford Times - - News -

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.

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