When analysis revealed an average return on assets over 25 years of just one per cent, grass fed beef producers on South Australia’s Limestone Coast were determined to reverse the trend.

The Limestone Coast Red Meat Cluster grew out of their efforts, with the project pioneering industry linkages and promoting a culture of collaboration to ensure a vibrant red meat sector.

Project co-ordinator Ann Aldersey addressed the Cattle Council’s Rural Awareness Tour during a visit to the Naracoorte Livestock Exchange on April 12.

Ms Aldersey told tour participants the region produced 55 per cent of the state’s cattle.

The Cluster, funded through Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, aims to build innovation, grow profitability and enhance skills in the region’s red meat supply chain.

It has been the first commercially orientated beef group to access NLIS regional data to monitor trends in cattle population movements, gains and losses.

The information will be used to study seasonal fluctuations and market conditions when determining the placement and capacity of red meat infrastructure in the region.

Chaired by Livestock SA’s Peter Stock, a cluster strategy group was formed in 2013 with members comprising regional cattle producers, processors, retail butchers and livestock transport operators.

According to ABARES, the Limestone Coast produced 235,000 beef cattle worth $190 million, with 180,000 cattle processed into 50,000 tonnes of valued at $244 million in 2013-14.

Commodity cattle sales from the region amounted to $73 million comprising 90,000 head, and regional processed beef sales were worth $234 million.

Regional beef consumption totalled $31 million to result in a gross beef revenue of $336 million, or one third of the state’s red meat industry.

But, the average return assessed over the past 25 years had been one per cent – lagging the state average of 1.6 per cent over the same period.

Ms Aldersey said underpinning the cluster was the drive to grow industry profitability, regional prosperity and a higher return on investment.

“Red meat is the cornerstone of this whole economy, from logistics to infrastructure and the service industries,’’ she said.

“We all have an immense source of pride and recognition of the quality of product coming out of this region.

“Our group aims for equality between the people in the value chain. Ultimately the cluster will be the go-to group for the industry to solve problems.

“Our focus is on the barriers to collaboration, and supporting ideas and innovation.’’

The cluster has mapped the regional red meat industry and value chain, and collated detailed regional data analysis to add rigor to member’s arguments.

The cluster is now examining the impact of management performance on regional beef herds.

A pilot workshop has been designed to improve business profitability and return on capital for beef producers.

They receive coaching and mentoring from successful red meat producers.

“We plan to adopt this model to other parts of the state targeting producers in the medium to larger sized businesses,’’ Ms Aldersey said.


Caption: Limestone Coast Red Meat Cluster co-ordinator Ann Aldersey, centre, meets Department of Agriculture and Water Resources staff Anna Willock and Sally Standen during the CCA Rural Awareness Tour.

For further details contact Annabel Johnson on ajohnson@cattlecouncil.com.au or 0430 368 173