Clear goals for meat sec­tor

Tasmanian Country - - OPINION - Wayne John­ston

TIGHT-KNIT com­mu­nity spirit was on dis­play for the thou­sands who flocked to the Huon Show last Satur­day.

Ax­e­men, an­i­mals, arts and crafts, rides and smil­ing faces packed the Ranelagh show­ground for the event’s 72nd year.

Among the es­ti­mated 13,000 pa­trons was Ryan Geary, who said the fam­i­lyfriendly at­mos­phere was the best part of the day.

“The crowd here is great and it’s just a re­ally fun day out for ev­ery­one,” he said.

Mr Geary’s son Casper, 9, said in­ter­act­ing with the an­i­mals was a high­light.

“I got to hold a macaw and see a dog long-jump­ing show which was re­ally cool,” he said.

Huon Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Mark Jes­sop said the in­creased num­ber of an­i­mals at this year’s show was a big at­trac­tion among pa­trons. LAST Satur­day the Pri­mary In­dus­tries Min­is­ter, Guy Bar­nett, an­nounced a com­mit­tee to look at the red-meat sec­tor.

The re­cent events around the Devon­port abat­toir once again high­lighted that the sec­tor is vul­ner­a­ble to ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences, par­tic­u­larly from out­side Tas­ma­nia.

As a tate we should ac­tively en­sure our in­dus­tries are sus­tain­able and can stand alone in the Tas­ma­nian con­text. This new com­mit­tee is charged with FERGIE FORCE: The grand pa­rade at the Huon Show last week­end. In­set, Dean El­liott with his show cham­pion Aus­tralorp. look­ing at some of these el­e­ments. For its part the TFGA sup­ports any ini­tia­tive which en­hances and pro­duces bet­ter out­comes for the red meat in­dus­try.

To be­gin with, the task will be to have a thor­ough and com­plete un­der­stand­ing of all el­e­ments of the sec­tor in­clud­ing things such as mar­ket seg­men­ta­tion, freight lo­gis­tics, ex­port po­ten­tials and other el­e­ments in­flu­enc­ing the sec­tor.

We must avoid run­ning head on into ac­tions with­out a com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of the prob­lems. We now have an op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress struc­tural deficits and to de­velop a plan for the fu­ture.

We need to bet­ter un­der­stand what mo­ti­vates pro­duc­ers to choose red meat as an en­ter­prise and what mo­ti­vates sell­ing and mar­ket choices. A mul­ti­tude of vari­ables in­flu­ence us as farm­ers and we need to have a very clear un­der­stand­ing of what they are and where they come from. Re­cent re­search into pas­ture and live­stock pro­duc­tiv­ity in Tas­ma­nia has un­cov­ered some sur­pris­ing and con­cern­ing in­for­ma­tion.

It is clear that agri­cul­ture in gen­eral re­quires im­proved busi­ness man­age­ment and a clearer per­spec­tive of goals and pro­duc­tion tar­gets. Farm­ers need to be prof­itable and sus­tain­able and must op­er­ate on sound busi­ness prin­ci­ples.

The idea we can con­tinue to fly by the seat of our pants in a con­tem­po­rary en­vi­ron­ment is un­sus­tain­able in the long run and des­tined to fail. Any de­ci­sions around the red-meat in­dus­try need to be thought through and have a clear fo­cus on what is be­ing achieved and the ex­pec­ta­tions and as­pi­ra­tions of pro­duc­ers, agents and pro­ces­sors. We also need to un­der­stand what con­sumers are look­ing for in a fi­nal prod­uct and their ex­pec­ta­tions of how red meat is pro­duced and pro­cessed. In to­day’s en­vi­ron­ment, if you ig­nore con­sumers, you are ig­nor­ing your mar­ket. The TFGA is ready to as­sist the com­mit­tee and will also be con­duct­ing its own dis­cus­sion on achiev­ing these out­comes.

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