THE Red Meat Industry Council has recently announced a review of the Red Meat Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) – the document that outlines the structure of industry groups and service providers and binds how they work collectively for the betterment of our great industry.
The current red meat industry was defined in the MoU some 20 years ago. It was born out of the 1998 restructure when the functions of the then Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation (AMLC) and Meat Research Corporation (MRC) were combined to form Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) – a single body funded by producer transaction levies and responsible for delivering research and marketing.
The role of peak industry councils was also defined at this time and have centred around providing leadership, formulating policy, setting strategic imperatives through collectively developing the Meat Industry Strategic Plan and determining MLA’s overall level of expenditure through its annual operating planning process.
In 1996, when I was a university student working for MRC parttime, later taking up a full-time position with MRC and then securing a job with the new MLA, I distinctly remember the period of change as one of excitement and opportunity.
The document called the Red Meat Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sets out the roles and responsibilities of industry service providers and recognised peak industry councils, including ALFA.
However, ever since the ink dried on the MoU there has been wide ranging discussion about industry structures.
Questions about effective industry representation, satisfactory returns on levy investment and the complexity and the number of industry bodies have been ongoing topics at MLA annual general meetings and other industry gatherings. In more recent years, senate committee and ACCC inquiries into the red meat and livestock industry have fuelled further questions about the appropriateness of the industry structure and its ability to deliver for producers.
A very well-regarded sheep meat processor once said to me that if you’ve been doing the same thing for 10 years then you’re not doing it correctly – a nod to the everchanging environment we operate in and the need to always reflect on the appropriateness of our actions.
And so too has the Red Meat Advisory Council recognised the need to take a critical look at the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders by announcing in September 2018 a review of the Red Meat MoU.
See the full January edition of the ALFA Lotfeeding Journal here.
The process commenced with the appointment of Jim Varghese AM as the lead reviewer and chair of the Red Meat Reform Taskforce following a transparent recruitment process. Members of the taskforce were appointed on a skills basis and assembled to reflect the diverse nature of the industry – from paddock right through to the consumer.
Members of the taskforce include:
• Will Barton, CEO of Gundagai Meat Processing
• Gary Burridge, former-CEO of Northern Cooperative Meatworks Company
• Jane Kellock, deputy mayor of Goyder, sheep farmer and woolgrower
• Kara Knudsen, Knudsen Cattle and Nuffield scholar
• Paul Lucas, former attorney general for Queensland
• Fiona Nash, former Nationals senator for NSW
• Troy Setter, CEO of Consolidated Pastoral Companies
• Allister Watson, managing partner of Pasadena Partners Pty Ltd
• Stacey Wordsworth, general manager of agricultural communications business Cox Inall
An initial consultation process commenced in September 2018 and will be followed by a green paper. The green paper process will include a period for stakeholders to make formal submissions through a public comment period before a final green paper is provided to the taskforce in early 2019.
It is intended that a final white paper will be provided during the first half of 2019, with these timeframes being subject to change.
So, what does all this mean for ALFA and its members?
ALFA Council will need to consider the content of both the green paper and the white paper and as a member of RMAC will have input into the process. A key component of the existing MoU is that all signatories need to agree to any change.
One thing’s certain, there will always be a need to have an organisation looking after the interests of each sector, including the feedlot sector.
ALFA is the feedlot industry’s peak industry council; the role of which is to represent and promote the views of the feedlot sector, guard members interests and improve industry settings.
ALFA is whole heartedly committed to working in the best interests of its members.
For more than 20 years I’ve worked in agri-political and service organisation positions in the meat and livestock sector and I’ve participated in many industry and government meetings aimed at improving the operating environment for the supply chain.
Throughout my career, and well before joining the ALFA team, I’ve always observed the fantastic reputation ALFA has had in those discussions.
Led by industry greats, the ALFA point of view has always been progressive, forward thinking, commercially focused and ahead of the curve. Examples include improved environmental and animal welfare management systems via the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS), establishing the foundations of Meat Standards Australia and more recently the Grain Fed Finished standard and the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program.
ALFA’s elected councillors – dedicated men and women who all have day jobs and families – volunteer their time to support the industry in continually moving forward. The highly dedicated team of professionals that make up the ALFA staff are a committed crew who strive to deliver better outcomes for members and the industry.
Collectively, their contribution and that of many councillors, feedlot industry leaders and ALFA staff before them, have built-up the highly valued reputation that ALFA enjoys today.
ALFA is also distinct in that it is a direct membership model – each year we have the ultimate litmus test by asking you to voluntarily contribute membership fees to the running of your representative body. We are proud that we represent over 70 per cent of industry capacity through our direct membership.
Our value proposition is sound – ALFA seeks to improve the profitability, professionalism and community standing of the cattle feedlot industry via representation, strategic levy investment, industry development activities and membership assistance.
ALFA does this by representing and promoting the views of the cattle feedlot industry; directing the expenditure of the grain fed cattle transaction levy; and improving the industry through the development and delivery of standards, training, events, leadership, awards, career development and employment opportunities; and providing membership services.
And so, while the Red Meat MoU review may bring new opportunities and possibilities, ALFA will stay steely focused on the best interests of our membership and the feedlot industry.
The story ALFA focused on members in red meat industry reform first appeared on The Land.