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Research and Development

MLA believes and claims:
“Innovatively producing more with less has long been a hallmark of the livestock industry with productivity growing between 1% and 2.5% per year over the past few decades. MLA’s investment in R&D . . . . . have yielded returns of $3.40 and up to $3.70 for every dollar invested” ~ Managing Director MLA, Scot Hansen, Corporate Plan 2012-15, August 2012

The reality is:

  • Australia’s cattle inventory has varied around 24m since 2000 and possibly increased to 26m in 2011. Production of beef is about 2.1m tonnes pa. It has varied around this value since 2000
  • The most fundamental measure of productivity is: production of beef per unit of livestock. In 2012, Australian is producing the same amount of beef from the same number of cattle as it did in 2000
  • There is absolutely no evidence that there has been any improvement in productivity in Australia over the past decade
  • The poor management by MLA of levy payers’ and tax payers’ R&D funds, as summarised in submissions to the Productivity Commission inquiry into R&D in 2010.
  • MLA claim of 10% to 25% gain in productivity over the decade is simply not true.
  • Australia’s cattle industry productivity contrasts with the global productivity data, which suggests a 10% productivity gain (more beef from less cattle) over the decade.


    • In the decade since 2000, rural debt has increased from $30billion to $62billion, while the value of farm production has remained unchanged at about $10 billion.2
    • In the Queensland cattle industry, debt was $1billion in 2000. It is now $9 billion.3 (Note that cattle numbers and the area of land has remained unchanged)
    • On a per head basis, in 2000 the debt was about $70 per head. Today, it is about $750/head.
    • It is estimated the first $350 of each animal sold in Queensland is needed to service debt. (This number is in addition to a 30% increase in operational costs).
    • RBA, QRAA

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