Sheep leader backs red meat sector reform vision

Sheep Central, July 5, 2019


Sheep Producers Australia chair Chris Mirams.

SHEEP Producers Australia has supported a new vision for the red meat sector that would merge its research and development corporations into a single RDC, led by a body tentatively called Red Meat Australia.

The peak sheep producer body’s chair Chris Mirams said the white paper for the Red Meat Advisory Council – A better red meat future – has outlined a bold and visionary option for the industry, which was exactly what SPA had called for in response to the initial consultation phase.

“The white paper highlights the need to create a new fit-for-purpose structure to provide effective national industry leadership.

“This is a once in 20-year opportunity,” Mr Mirams said.

The recommendation for three separate entities covering industry leadership and oversight, service delivery and industry standards – Red Meat Australia, a single red meat research body and an industry standards forum – is outlined in the white paper released yesterday. Under the preferred structure, the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) would cease to exist and a body would be created to coordinate and manage red meat industry integrity systems including AusMeat, SafeMeat, NLIS and MSA. See more details on the review process here.

The research and development corporations – Meat & Livestock Australia, the Australian Meat Processing Corporation and Livecorp – would become one entity under the preferred vision released yesterday by the chair of an independent taskforce reviewing the Red Meat industry Memorandum of Understanding.

Mr Mirams said Red Meat Australia would be the high-level body responsible for industry leadership, policy and strategy, and in charge of the central Memorandum of Understanding and Meat Industry Strategic Plan.

“The peak industry councils would still exist and some of their functions might change under the new structure, but the white paper recommendations have been, I suspect, quite purposeful on leaving that open to allow the PICs to find their own space within that new ecosystem.”

Mr Mirams said the main taskforce recommendation concerning the peak industry councils is that the dividend that they receive out of the Red Meat Investment Fund be directed to fund NewCo1 operations.

“And peak industry councils will have to create to some degree their own value proposition and different funding streams, which provides challenges.”

Under the preferred structure, levies that fund MLA, AMPC and Livecorp will flow through Red Meat Australia, which will pass these down to the service providers based on the priorities outlined in the MISP.

Mr Mirams said the recommended structure would involve less duplication of effort, a more streamlined flow of levy funding responsibilities, and unification from a whole-of-supply-chain skills-based New Co1 board and at the service level.

“Looking forward that whole-of-supply-chain focus is a really important focus to move us forward rather than the risk of siloed operations and duplication of effort.”

Mr Mirams said SPA is particularly encouraged by the unity that could be achieved through a single voice at the strategic level for leadership and governance and a single research and development corporation at the service provider level, which will be whole-of-supply-chain.

“We acknowledge that the white paper provides both challenges and opportunities for the peak industry councils, which we will need to consider in redefining our future purpose and value proposition.

“There will need to be new funding streams sought as a result of this restructure.

“As a sector, we will continue to face unprecedented challenges and opportunities in the next decade and while we have achieved a tremendous amount through our current national representation model, industry recognised it is now not fit-for-purpose going forward,” he said.

“We cannot continue to fight today’s and tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s structure and expect the best outcome.

“SPA is looking forward to working with participants in the current Red Meat MoU, namely the other peak industry councils, service providers and the Australian Government, through RMAC as the next phase of consultation begins,” Mr Mirams said.

“SPA is excited about the benefits of unity and what collaborations along the value chain will deliver for producers.”

Reform is in the best interests of producers – MLA

MLA managing director Jason Strong welcomed reform as in the best interests of red meat producers and the wider red meat and livestock industry.

“MLA has been actively engaged in the MOU consultation process and has consistently advocated for a revitalised red meat industry that has the systems and structures in place to be ready for the future.

“Given its age, there is consensus across the industry that the current MOU is outdated,” Mr Strong said.

“It is therefore important that industry structures are reviewed to ensure they help position the industry to succeed in a dynamic and challenging operating environment.

“This changing environment has been a key focus for MLA – in particular how to continue to drive global demand for red meat, build on-farm productivity and deliver value throughout the supply chain.”

Mr Strong said further review and careful consideration is required from industry and government before proceeding to the next step, including endorsement from all nine MOU signatories.

“Importantly, substantive legislative change will be required to implement a number of the reforms identified in the White Paper.

“Given this, it is business as usual for MLA,” Mr Strong said.

MLA will be investing over $270m on behalf of livestock levy payers, processors and live exporters over the next 12 months, including levies, matched research funding from the Federal Government and external commercial investment.

Mr Strong said the next steps for MLA, as an MOU signatory, will be to work closely with industry partners to review and consider the recommendations put forward.

AMIC commends taskforce

The Australian Meat Industry Council said it would engage with members over the coming weeks to discuss the recommendations in the Red Meat Advisory Council’s (RMAC) White Paper ‘A better red meat future’.

AMIC chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said members have taken an active interest in the development of the White Paper.

“We commend the Independent Taskforce for its work in gathering and assessing the wide feedback from across the sector.

“We support the broad aims of this exercise, which is about promoting a stronger, more competitive and streamlined industry,” he said.

Consideration of Australian Wool Innovation’s structure was outside the Memorandum of Understanding review’s terms of reference.


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  1. Kim Haywood, July 9, 2019

    How about breaking down more RDC silos and include Australian Wool Innovation and Dairy Australia into this new and exciting structure. Now that would be a powerful resource for the industry.

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