ENGAGE, articulate and refrain from name calling.
It’s a seemingly simple recipe for success but as presented by Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud at a big red meat industry event in Canberra this week, producers felt it made plenty of sense.
Mr Littleproud said providing confidence to markets, and society in general, that Australian livestock producers looked after animals in the most ethical way and farmed in the most sustainable way was more important than ever in a world where dynamics were fast changing.
Speaking at a business breakfast as part of Red Meat 2018, run by Meat and Livestock Australia, Mr Littleproud said market access should be among Australia’s highest priorities because “engaging with the world” was what would sustain regional and rural areas in a country that relied so heavily on exporting agricultural product.
And he said it’s not constructive to call your opponents names. In fact rather than rundown his political opponents, Mr Littleproud said it was his strategy to “bring Joel Fitzgibbon with me on policy because I know I won’t be here forever as Ag Minister and my legacy needs to be that the policy dial doesn’t shift on you.”
“I’ve failed you if the other mob get in and they shift completely in another direction,” he said.
Mr Littleproud described the red meat industry as an important cog in the nation’s economy.
“We produce the most environmentally and ethically sustainable food and fibre in the world. We are the best, the very best and no one should forget that,” he said.
“There are times when we don’t get everything right, such as with sheep live-ex but we’ve fixed that.
“We’ve reset the industry. There was fault on all sides but it is important to show our marketplace we are going to get it right.
“When you do the wrong thing you will swing.
“There will be accountability by a regulator that will ensure the industry’s culture is set to the standard to which the marketplace, and our society, expects.
“We now have the former CEO of the national crime commission making sure the last stones are unturned and names that come out will be dealt with.”
Mr Littleproud said producers needed to “articulate what we are doing and how we do it every day of the week - if we don’t we will get governments that impose a social will on us that is ignorant to our values.”
On drought, Mr Littleproud said he worried about the Sydney media’s hysteria.
It’s not our first rodeo, he said.
“Yes there is pain. I was a bank manager and I’ve sat at farmer’s kitchen tables through drought. More droughts will come but so will good times.”
On climate change, he said red meat was doing the heavy lifting.
“MLA have set the course to be carbon neutral by 2030,” he said.
“We don’t have to cut our herds, we can do it through science and technology, by using the brightest minds in the nation.
“Our human capital is the most important we have.”
And on trade agreements, he promised money would continue to flow with the purpose of ensuring red meat has the market access it needs.
Six more agricultural councillors had been appointed to embassies around the world, on top of the 16 already at work, “and their job is to get market access, commodity by commodity, and to break down technical barriers.”
For the first time, two will go into South America.
The aim, Mr Littleproud explained, was to allow red meat suppliers to be in a position to “say to the big supermarkets here, there is someone else now. I can send it off in a boat or plane so you are going to have to negotiate on different terms.”