THE possibility the way the red meat industry is set up and run could be driving division between sectors of the supply chain is what has fuelled a review of the document that governs it, the Memorandum of Understanding.
In a rare and comprehensive insight into what is behind the forming of a high calibre taskforce to pick through the structure and operations of the industry, the man at the helm of industry umbrella body the Red Meat Advisory Council has spoken candidly about how resources and investment levels are perhaps being constrained.
Don Mackay says it is supply chains that produce food for customers, not farmers or processors operating in isolation.
And it is supply chains that will take our industry as a cohort to the next level, he says.
“What is widely understood but rarely acknowledged is that as a supply chain, farmers, lotfeeders, manufacturers, retailers and exporters are all customers to each other and the interactions are intensive,” Mr Mackay said.
This translated to the relationships between the service providers and peak industry councils that sat astride the supply chain, he said.
“After 20 years, the Red Meat MOU could be seen to drive division between segments of the supply chain, organisation by organisation, and provide different levels of authority, funding and resources to each,” Mr Mackay said.
“Our resources and investment levels can potentially be constrained by the provisions of the MOU.”
Mr Mackay acknowledged a continued levy framework and Federal co-investment was never a guarantee that resources would be directed to the areas of greatest need for industry.
“The simple fact is that our industry faces many more challenges than it did 20 years ago,” he said.
“Some would argue we are standing on a burning platform.
“Significant parts of our supply chain could disappear completely due to costs-to-operate, whilst others could be simply regulated out of existence to address at times poorly advised community concerns.”
Reform to a higher-end, more premium product would only be achieved with genuine supply chain collaboration and any future Red Meat MOU needed to address that,Mr Mackay argued.
He said we need only look at the $1-dollar milk scandal to see how damaging a supply chain constantly at odds with one another could be.
Mr Mackay has penned an opinion editorial on the topic for Fairfax Media’s one-of-a-kind red meat agenda-setting publication Rare Vision.
The 48-page overview of the pathways taken this year by Australia’s beef and sheepmeat industries will appear in this week’s agricultural newspapers.