A $4.8 million funding injection to fast track value based payment systems and meat eating quality measurements has been welcomed by peak industry body, Cattle Council of Australia.
The grant announced by Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce in Rockhampton today will allow Meat & Livestock Australia to develop new technology for measuring saleable meat yield and identify traits predicting the eating quality of meat cuts.
Cattle Council of Australia president Howard Smith said the funding was a significant step forward for the beef industry, benefiting the entire red meat supply chain.
Mr Smith said the focus on providing transparency and accountability within the supply chain was in line with Cattle Council’s Grass Fed Beef Industry Strategic Plan 2020.
Released in February, the plan outlined a vision to refocus industry efforts and resources to strengthen Australia’s competitive position as a trusted source of premium quality products.
Mr Smith said the move towards value chain thinking outlined in the plan was the key to the industry’s future.
“It will help increase transparency along the value chain, bring greater opportunities for producers to gain premiums and foster the collaboration we know is needed to drive our industry forward,’’ he said.
The research and development grant also comes on the back of the draft recommendations in the Australian Beef Language White Paper, commissioned by MLA and Australian Meat Processor Corporation at the behest of Cattle Council of Australia.
Council has pushed for a reformed beef trading language to improve the system’s accountability and transparency, and be based on objective measurement supported by scientific evidence.
The new language has the potential to send clear market signals to economically reward supply chain members delivering products to consumer expectation.
Mr Smith said specifications with no relevance to consumer requirements, including dentition, were distorting key market indicators, resulting in price discounts for cattle producers.
He said beef was the largest agricultural sector in Australia by land mass and gross annual revenue.
Mr Smith said it was disappointing Meat & Livestock Australia, the industry’s largest research and development corporation, received only $8 million or 21 per cent of total funding under round one of the Rural Research and Development for Profit program.
“Of this, 13 per cent went to two lead projects for MLA, neither of which were high industry priorities,’’ he said.
“Frankly, we will be disappointed if none of our other four projects we proposed are not considered under the $100 million R & D for Profit program within the $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.’’
Apsley producer Laurie Close addressed Cattle Council’s rural awareness tour in South Australia this week, calling for a greater investment in information technology.
Mr Close said grazing enterprises had missed out on the productivity gains delivered to the cropping industry by IT.
“The buzz word for Australia is Asia and China as the economy transitions from mining to a broader base with agriculture as the focus,’’ he said.
“China is seen as a saviour for Australian agriculture – there are enormous opportunities as we compete for market share with our rural commodities.
“Our clean, green product gives us an edge but we need to concentrate on technology because it has largely bypassed the grazing industries.
“We need the tools to do it and are mindful of not being left behind.’’[ends]
For further details contact Jed Matz on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0407 124 479.
Caption: Laurie and Sue Close, cattle producers from Apsley, South Australia.