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Yet another great ‘Battle Cry’ to go with the ambitious and idealistic strategic plan being mooted (yet again) for the Australian Red Meat Industry.

Producers, as yourselves, “What year is this?”

The MISP (Meat Industry Strategic Plan) has been developed by the Meat Industry Council, which was established in July last year to formulate policy for the AMLC and Meat Research Corporation (MRC)…..and it envisages a transformed industry within five years!!

As the plan sees it, by year 2xxx, Australian marketers of beef will be regarded as the world’s best.  The image of Australia domestically and overseas will be stronger.  And consumers will buy red meat accurately described as to its palatability.

The Plan also assumed: The new breed of professional producers will receive accurate market signals on what consumers want, the red meat processing industry will be more concentrated and efficient, and the new culture will see new investment and better management and stronger leadership.

The Plan stated: The result will be an industry worth $4.2billion more than it otherwise would have been. By year 2xxx the gains in the value of the industry will total $11.4 billion.

The Plan decided:  To achieve these goals this plan identifies six strategic imperatives.

Those of:    a). achieving best in class marketing;    b). describing the palatability of beef accurately;    c). guaranteeing the safety and supplying of a more consistent product;                 d). achieving optimal industry structures; and finally e). improving management and leadership.

The Plan emphasised that these issues were inter-related.

It was planned:  that a voluntary system of beef grading based on palatability be delivered to consumers, and that the objective measurements of this grading should be established and operating by the end of year 19xx. 

Product consistency was a catchcry, with the Plan seeking implementation of a value-based marketing system, with reduced variability in the quality and availability of both beef and lamb.

Wow, great plans!  Will it be achieved?  We asked.

This article about the Meat Industry Strategic Plan appeared in ‘The Land’ in June 1996!!

As producers look back now, they may well ask “What have we actually achieved?”  

Could it be possible that the same drivel will be written in 2016 in the new MISP (which comes out every five years) because in reality, very little has changed for producers since 1996?   ‘The Plan’ has failed the heavily levied producers, not delivered many outcomes, and seen the power of processors increase through the establishment of ‘production schemes’ which actually have led to producers being discounted heavily for ‘failures’ on those schemes. 

The AMLC may have been replaced by MLA, who of course were going to become much more efficient and help producers and industry achieve all of the above.

After over 15 years of asking for accountability, for correct representation, the reality is that the producers STILL DO the bulk of the funding of MLA and of much of the industry costs. Producers still have all their levies given to MLA with no recourse to establishing their own reserves, while other sectors of the industry do most of the controlling of MLA, and as such reap the rewards.

Consumers still buy beef without any knowledge of what they are buying, good bad or indifferent.  AusMeat, still funded by grass fed producers, still part owned by the processors, still using inexplicable ‘meat language’ to grade our beef, continues unassessed and unaudited. 

Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on MSA for what?   For processors and retailers to water down the key pillars that made MSA such a world beating system.  

The fact is that the ‘lucky dip of consistency’ is worth a fortune for processors, supermarkets and retailers, but it is constantly used to beat down producers on their carcases.   Once these carcases enter the killing system, they are subject to NLIS, LPA, MSA standards, EU, ECAS, and PCAS. 

After hurdling these ‘standards’, the producer is then subjected to ‘company specs’…..the farce being that the company specs are privately owned, scripted, and graded.  Nothing to do with working with industry, working with MSA or ensuring the producer gets a pre-ordained price for their cattle.     

Remember, MSA is supposed to be a national standard of meat grading and description that ‘controls’ the slaughter process, but the processing industry has superseded the MSA with their own ‘company specs’ – which just goes to show their abuse of their power and positioning in the industry establishment. 

Consumers in 2015 are still shying away from beef in droves, because of price and inconsistency. Average consumption of beef per person in 1996 was over 40kg (the year the first BISP was written!!). 

By 2015 the average of beef consumption per person has dropped to 29kg in 2015, and continues to reduce, whilst chicken rises from 25kg per person in 96, to 45k in 2015.  

And still the drivel of those MISPs are being written and promoted!!

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