Deputy prime minister and Minister for agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, has just announced a grant of $4.8 million for high-stakes research.
We are told that new technology will provide transparency and accountability through the grant from the Federal government to MLA. The result will be that producers will be paid for what they deliver in the beef, pork and lamb industries.
Over the years producers have contributed many millions to new technologies on the promise that there will be more accountability and they will be paid for what they deliver. Unfortunately these promises have never been delivered on.
The government states they are helping to ensure our farmers have access to cutting-edge research, technology, products and processes so they remain world-class.
The government through a statutory levy take in excess of $70 million from producers every year. $67 million goes into the MLA for R&D and marketing on the supposed premise that it will help producers’ bottom-line; so far it has failed to deliver despite all the hype.
The MLA will use these funds to develop new technology to allow the industry to measure meat yield and identify traits that help predict eating quality of meat cuts.
MSA: a great example costing probably half $1 billion and still doesn’t assure consumers that they are getting a top-quality eating experience.
They say that developing and improving these technologies and systems will lead to better decisions, lower risk and ultimately, increased profits.
So far new technologies and systems have led to bigger margins for processors and retailers as well as working against producers’ interests.
The fact is that we have technology out there that can measure a lot of things; however processors choose to use antiquated out of date methods to pay producers.
For a start we have COMPANY employees who grade for companies to actually assess and impose penalties which are of great benefit to the processing companies and work against the producer.
The simple fact is that once a beast has been slaughtered and assessed by a company grader there is simply no redress and no correspondence is entered into. The simple fact is once a beast has its’ head cut off you can’t simply drive the truck up and tell the processor you want to take the carcass back.
Once you drop your cattle off at the processing works you have no ability to change and appeal against a company grader. Put simply the company grader is boss and of course his employer is his boss.
The simple answer before we can get technology up is to take a lead from the US and employ independent graders funded jointly by producers and processors. These independent graders could have regular audits and be interchanged regularly amongst processing works.
Ridiculous, I think not, however I can see the processors camping on the Minister’s doorstep in order to stop such a radical move taking root. With an election on I can see processors even making contributions towards political parties. Nobody should underestimate the lengths processors will go to keep the status quo which is so lucrative for them.