In undertaking its inquiry into the effect of market consolidation on the red meat processing sector, the committee continues its long tradition of investigating issues of concern to meat industry stakeholders – particularly producers. In this, its final report, the committee focuses on several issues within the terms of reference which remain a primary concern to industry stakeholders:
- price transparency and accountability across the industry;
- greater producer representation within and across the governing structures of the red meat industry; and
- mechanisms for independent grading and the lack of a complaints mechanism in a system that is not designed around producers
List of recommendations
The committee recommends that the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources consider requesting Meat and Livestock Australia to conduct a study into pre- and post-sale weighing to provide the southern industry with an evidence-base on which to consider selling methods at saleyards.
The committee recommends that the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association (ALPA) lead the development of industry Standards of Practice that cover all commercial transactions in relation to livestock – including online, paddock and saleyard transactions. The Standards of Practice should include guidelines which encourage all parties to conduct transactions in good faith, do not mislead other parties, and ensure that all such transactions are negotiated under the law.
The committee recommends that the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources conduct a review into the operations and capability of AUS-MEAT to determine whether it is the most appropriate body to oversight the installation, inspection, calibration, replacement and quality assurance auditing processes of the new DEXA technology. The review should also identify what reforms and resources AUS-MEAT would require to fulfil this role.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government provide immediate support, including appropriate financial assistance, to the grass-fed cattle sector in its efforts to replace Cattle Council of Australia with a transparent and accountable producer-owned body as the sector's Peak Industry Council.
The committee recommends that the Australian Government officially recognise Cattle Australia as the grass-fed cattle sector's Peak Industry Council under the Australian Meat and Live-Stock Industry Act 1997 and Red Meat Memorandum of Understanding once it is operational and has a membership structure in place.
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 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
As part of the Red Meat MOU review, the joint industry and government meat and livestock task force should consult widely across the industry and consider options for reform.
The task force should present a report to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources within two years of its establishment. The report and its recommendations should be made public.
To ensure full transparency and encourage industry ownership over the reform process, the task force should endeavour to publish its preliminary findings during the review period as well as bi-annually.