Some of the nation’s key decision makers were given an inside look at the red meat supply chain during Cattle Council of Australia’s Rural Awareness Tour last week.
Industry stakeholders, government officials and Cattle Council staff took part in the tour of South Australia’s Limestone Coast on April 11-15 to gain a first-hand understanding of the industry.
The tour took in the entire red meat supply chain from grass and grain fed production systems through to the processor, retail and food service sector.
More than 145 decision-makers have taken part in the Rural Awareness Tour since inception in 1991.
Participants inspected the Naracoorte saleyards, Teys Naracoorte processing plant, Struan Agricultural Centre, Oglivie Group’s feedlot, Mayura Station feedlot and went behind the scenes at a major supermarket.
They were addressed by Limestone Coast Red Meat Cluster co-ordinator Ann Aldersey and participated in a Livestock SA producer forum at Lucindale.
Cattle Council chief executive officer Jed Matz said the tour was an opportunity for government officials and key industry stakeholders involved in the development and implementation of federal policies affecting beef cattle producers, to increase their awareness of the role the grass fed sector played in the supply chain.
Sally Standen has a senior role with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as assistant secretary of the crops, meat and horticultural branch, and was keen to be part of the tour.
Ms Standen said key challenges for the government agencies was to ensure producer profitability.
“Farmers are the busiest people in the country so when we do get the opportunity to talk to producers it is valuable for us,’’ she said.
“We work closely with industry organisations. I’ve had consistent contact with Cattle Council for the past 20 years, and they are an important partner and stakeholder in what we do.’’
Ms Standen described the CCA tour as an opportunity to explore supply chain systems and meet producers.
“Industry collaboration across the supply chain is important and what we have seen this week is evidence of that,’’ she said.
“Industry representation is a matter for producers but for us it’s invaluable to have an industry body which can speak on industry’s on behalf.
“It’s not possible for government ministers to meet every producer and make assessments on what the industry needs or the key challenges.
“The best way they can help industry is having industry talk to them with one voice.’’
NAB Agribusiness state manager SA/WA Matt O’Dea had previously connected with CCA through the Rising Champions youth program and Australian Livestock and Property Agents young auctioneer competition.
Mr O’Dea said the opportunity to network with industry stakeholders and government officials on the tour was valuable.
“What has been interesting for me is to find out more about the Cattle Council, who is involved and what they actually do,’’ he said.
“It’s opened my eyes about adding value back to the producer.
“I hear a lot about paddock to plate and rings true for consumers, traceability, been terrific to see right from the grass roots level up through processing to export as well.
“Any form of representative back to the producer, which the Cattle Council appears to be doing on face value, has to be important.
“We need to actively promote and assist primary producers no matter what industry they are in, that Cattle Council is doing a great job.’’
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission agricultural engagement unit analyst Braeden Smith is investigating competition in the beef and cattle sector.
Mr Smith had interacted with Cattle Council while working on the JBS-Primo merger.
“The ACCC has launched a market study into cattle and beef so the idea with the CCA tour was to get behind the scenes to see farms and processing plants – it was perfect timing,’’ he said.
Mr Smith was impressed with the animal welfare standards and processing efficiency at Teys Naracoorte.
“On the tour we got access to places the average punter wouldn’t normally see, such as a feedlot.
“It is rare to have the opportunity to walk through a processing plant, so it was definitely worth it.
“I now have a better understanding of how things practically work.’’
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources national director compliance Sanjay Boothalingham said it was important to understand how the cattle industry operated.
Mr Boothalingham was impressed by the efficiency and innovation at processor level.
“I had no previous connections with Cattle Council but saw this as an opportunity to understand the whole beef supply chain and its challenges, so those issues can be taken into consideration when we develop policies,’’ he said.
“Meeting people from Cattle Council and understanding their perspective has been worthwhile.’’
1. Department of Agriculture and Water Resources staff Nathan Jamieson, left, Canberra, and David Daly, right, Brisbane, with Naracoorte saleyards manager Richard James during the CCA rural awareness tour.
2. CCA CEO Jed Matz with Guy Summers, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Canberra, inspect the Naracoorte saleyards during the CCA tour.
3. Limestone Coast Red Meat Cluster co-ordinator Ann Aldersey, centre, speaks with Anna Willock, left, and Sally Standen, right, both of Canberra, during the CCA rural awareness tour.
4. Braeden Smith, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Canberra, centre, with Department of Agriculture and Water Resources staff Guy Summers and Matthew Cox at the Struan Agricultural Centre.
5. Struan Agricultural Centre farm manager John Cooper inspects the technograzing system with CCA policy officer Will Evans.
6. Andrew Ogilvie hosted the CCA rural awareness tour at his family’s Airlie Feedlot at Apsley.
7. Lotfeeder Noel Ogilvie, Apsley, discusses ration composition with Sally Standen, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Canberra, during the CCA tour.
8. CCA policy officer Will Evans with Sanjay Boothalingham and Scott Brown, all of Canberra, visit the Ogilvie Group’s Airle Feedlot during the CCA tour.[ends]
For further details contact Annabel Johnson on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0430 368 173