MLA at their annual general meeting announced that they are going to borrow $150 million to assess the lean meat yield on a given carcass.
It appears this announcement is thick with spin and very lacking in detail,$150 million is a lot of money in anybody’s terms, and for that reason alone, I feel it is very important that levy payers are fully informed about the whole concept especially as they going to fund this initiative.
Does MLA have a business plan that levy payers can see, I’m sure there will be a lot of producers out there who would like to read it.
So far there seems to be little information available just a lot of rhetoric. From public responses in the media and from some sectors the industry especially processors it appears there were limited discussion prior the announcement.
Steps have been put in place to assist in identifying a new approach on how the interests of levy payers in the grass fed sector could be represented more effectively in having more influence and control over how levies are spent. MLA it seems has obtained support for the project from cattle Council (CCA) without a broader discussion with the grass fed levy paying sector. It has been recognised by CCA and other groups that the current approach, re-consultation with MLA need to reviewed. The approach to date on this project would appear to validate the necessity for a different way grass fed levy payers have input into the expenditure by MLA on their behalf.
Surely we need to get a definitive view from the processing sector before rushing out and announcing adoption of the technology, individual processors will be the ones who must decide if they going to participate in this initiative to be for it to be successful. This raises the question why levy payers should be funding this initiative without processor funding commitment.
There are many questions which need to be answered before the levy payers can provide feedback to MLA on their willingness to fund this project.
What audible results can be used to conclude this new technology will work and achieve the aim of more objective carcass measurements for payments by cattle by processors? From MLA’s announcement it seems that commercial trials have not been finished as yet. Surely there are milestones which need to be reached before making such decisions which underpins his recent MLA announcement. Report of the Minister has been consulted and has endorsed this initiative. How is it possible that these endorsements have been given to MLA and cattle Council prior to the results of such trials being assessed?.
Is the new technology being used for the purpose of other countries and is working effectively? What does this new technology deliver to the producer which is currently not available by other measures by processors. Will this information be available to all intrested parties.
What seems very clear is that the technology is there to measure the amount of meat that can be harvested from any given carcass, will it measure things like colour marbling? Can it assess meat quality grades? Saleable meat yield is a useful measure, however meat yield on a Wagyu might be worse than a British or euro breed but the yield of high-value cuts may be better for a Wagyu.
Clearly there are several value parameters which may not be covered by this technology. There is some indication that is expected that new technology evolves then or marbling may be measurable using this technology. What is the urgency to implement a technology which is still evolving?.
Is it possible MLA through levy payers are going to pay the full cost of buying and installing these machines, is that is the case who will pay the maintenance and wages of the operators and maintenance people.
Would it be possible to get one machine up and running preferably in a large plant and ensure the whole thing actually is viable and then everybody can sit back and assess whether producers are indeed getting value for such large investment.
This is not the first time we have been down this path and it seems the last it was Via Scan which promised so much and ended up costing so much.
Simple fact is MLA directors and staff have enormous responsibility to producers and on the face of it they may not be as diligent as required.
What if processors decide they don’t want new machines on their plants can they be forced like producers to install? What if machine slows chains down? It may be this initiative has excellent credentials however the question remains why levy payers should be funding this initiative without processor funding commitment or commitment to install or fund.