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Recently Beef Central released an article saying “Discussion paper flags mood for change over beef trading language”.

To my way of thinking the whole discussion paper is smoke and mirrors and nobody is prepared for major change, for what is a major problem for the red meat producers. Almost 20 industry stakeholder submissions have been received towards the development of the White Paper which will propose a preferred option for industry consideration. Perhaps people feel that any findings are predictable.

While the current review of the industry language is largely in response to issues raised by Cattle Council of Australia, there remain other stakeholders in the industry who argue that procedures already exists for ongoing refinement of the language through to meet language and standards committee??

At this stage it is interesting to look at the directors of AusMeat’s view, of the role of Australian meat industry language and standing committee as vital to the successful implementation and universal adoption of the standard by industry.

The members of the AusMeat industry language committee are chairman and CEO of AusMeat, Australian meat industry Council 4 members, CCA 1 member, sheep 1 member, AQIS one member, supermarkets 1, pork 1 and lot feeders 1.. In anybody’s language. A completely independent committee, I think not. Processors, supermarkets and feedlotters all have the one agenda to get as much as possible out of the poor producer.

Keeping to the script we have a six-man consultative team chosen to conduct a review, based on their specialist expertise in different areas of the supply chain where the language has an impact.

For Aus meat to work successfully producers must have equal power as the processors and supermarkets, the present status quo sees processors and other sections in industry dominating the whole AusMeat thinking and systems.

Butt shape was probably the catalyst for the so-called review. A large body of researchers concluded that a more convex butt shape is not related to improve carcass yield and is therefore recommended that this trait be removed from the AusMeat beef language. However the paper went on to warn against confusing but shape with masking score which a number of studies have shown that moderate association with meat yield. The paper says using more than 1 million records it was found over 99% of butt shape was C and within some plants some graders scored all carcasses at but shape C with no other scores being given. Seems strange that one company would a start discounting for butt shape at Australian premiere carcass completion?

Some comments on the White Paper in Beef Central are worth noting. As usual all discounts are determined by employees of the meat industry companies, so producers will always come off second best.

The fact is, if it was possible for a producer to get his stock processed at numerous plants he or she would get vastly different results from in dressing percentage from different works. The fact is that individual processors instruct their employees to interpret rules pertaining to AusMeat language in the way that suits that processor. Rules are rules and the theory is the same.  Rules apply across the board from plant to plant and state to state (great in theory terrible in practice)

The indisputable fact is that AusMeat is dominated by processors and gives a huge advantage to processors. Could this be the Fox in charge of the henhouse??

Many people believe AusMeat was originally set up to ensure consumers could identify meat that would eat consistently, whilst ensuring that processors worked by strict standards that ensured all processors abided by the same rules. AusMeat has clearly failed on both counts and a review by the very people who control the whole thing and will never achieve what AusMeats was set up and designed to do.

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