Australia’s leading sheepmeat producer body has welcomed moves by Meat and Livestock Australia to improve consultation for more transparent and efficient spending of levy funds.
MLA this week announced plans to better meet levy payer needs by restructuring its research, development and extension systems, improving consultation with levy payers and establishing a new Livestock Productivity Unit to give a higher priority to productivity and eating quality research, development and extension.
MLA promises local level input into RD&E priorities
MLA managing director Richard Norton has said producers nationally will be invited at a local level to give input into RD&E priorities that feed into regional RD&E investment plans. These plans would then go before research councils in southern, northern and Western Australia.
An MLA efficiency and effectiveness review is expected to be completed within weeks and a new consultation structure is to be operational by October this year.
Refinement possible in MLA structures and systems
Sheepmeat Council of Australia president Ian McColl said, in general terms, the council believed the current structure and systems around marketing and R&D were working for the industry, however refinement is always possible.
“One of our key roles is to direct MLA’s expenditure on R&D and Marketing on behalf of sheepmeat producers which we do through the Sheep Industry Strategic Plan (SISP).
“The internal restructure should not affect MLA’s ability to achieve the objectives in the SISP,” he said.
SCA to work for producer representation on research councils
Mr McColl said the MLA structure announced earlier this week gives a clear and simple outline of the future consultation process.
“We will be working with MLA over the coming weeks on the detail to ensure that sheepmeat producers have access to the southern and western research councils and provide a strong voice.
“The structure and composition of the Southern Australia Meat Research Council and the Western Australia Meat Research Council will be critical to ensuring sheepmeat producers interests are represented,” he said.
“We need to ensure that our northern sheepmeat producers are also represented.”
Mr McColl said SCA welcomed the commitment by MLA to increase engagement at the regional and state levels, providing greater opportunity for SCA, its members and the state farming organisations to engage with producers.
“It’s important that producers have more input into projects to ensure R&D remains practical and can be adopted on farm.”
Wool leader supports input for “best bang for our buck”
WoolProducers Australia president Geoff Fisken had not been able to study the proposed MLA changes, but the industry had to continually look at RD&E bodies to get “the best bang for our buck”.
“My dealings with MLA have always been positive, but I think all their consultation models have always seemed like a bit of a lip service.
“A lot of the times they think they are on the right track and they don’t get back to producers enough and consult with them about whether there is value for money in where they are working.”
Mr Fisken commended Mr Norton for getting out into the industry recently.
“My first impression was that he is making a real effort to get out there to find out what people want done.”
Sheep CRC CEO says MLA is a constructive supporter
Sheep CRC chief executive officer James Rowe had only read a media release about the MLA changes, but said his organisation has had a very productive relationship with MLA to date.
MLA has been a very constructive supporter of the Sheep CRC and had shown a good level of participation, leadership and commitment in the Lamb Supply Chain Group, and in the genetics and genomic areas, he said.
“I think it is a good organisation and hopefully the changes will help make it better.”