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Price Transparency???

“Assessment of price transparency in the beef supply chain” has just been released. In fact there have been 2 very similar reports released within hours.

Milestone 4 marked confidential, date published was 13th of April 2015: where has the report been for the last 13 months? Milestone five is a variation of milestone 4 with confidential not stamped on and different team members.

MLA acknowledges the matching funds provided by the Australian government to support research and development detailed in this publication. Surely when the government has matching funds we should have seen this report a long time ago. (What was the cost of the report? Do levy payers and tax payers have a right to know?)

For their part the CCA were quick to put out a media release saying their preferred option for voluntary price transparency.

One thing that I have watched over the years whenever money is involved voluntary systems never work, that’s why we employ a police force.

To my way of thinking we can have as many reports as we like however we are a commodity and as such we have highs invariably followed by huge troughs. How long ago was it that we were told the dairy industry was going to take over from the mining boom and banks were more than happy to help out generous loans?

If anybody believes this can’t happen to the beef industry they are in denial of the facts.

Of the domestic market we see supermarkets having huge control over local meat prices. In the past we have been able to tell parliamentary enquiries, ACCC, etc. facts that simply don’t add up. E.g. producers get 54% of the retail price while processors get 13% and 30% goes in retail costs. This is simply rubbish and people should know better!

For my point of you, I am very proud that the ABA had managed to get a beast slaughtered, boned and sliced into case ready meat with all the costs along the way and overseen by University and professionally filmed. A calculator spreadsheet was then developed so one can put in prices to purchase animal, slaughter animal, dressing percentage from live to dead, then the cost of bone and then the cost to slice and pack into case ready meat. Then retail meat prices is collated and put into the spreadsheet.

I just wonder how much the MLA would spend to find out the cut-out value of a given beast, when we already know.

If ANYBODY feels the spreadsheet in not accurate, please come forward and tell me where I am wrong. Perhaps Mr. Norton or CCA could arrange this? 

On a shoestring budget the ABA has managed to achieve what the MLA, CCA have failed to do with all the resources of the MLA.

Whilst I can accept and go along with the fact that producers must have more information one could ask where has MLA and CCA been, especially when the prices of beef cattle dropped to below the cost of production.

It should be noted a Senate enquiry by the Rural and Regional Affairs Transport Reference Committee into industry structures and systems governing levies on grass fed cattle and the meat processing sector made recommendations on price disclosure and reporting. It just amazes me why it has taken CCA so long after the seven recommendations made by the Senate to actually call for one of the recommendations to be adopted.

What about the fact that we still have no idea of what nearly half of our beast is worth and the fact that producers don’t get anything from by-products and hide. Producers are only paid for 52% of the animal while processors get 48% for free.

The real problem is in company graders who are judge, jury and executioner all tied into one and even worse being almost totally under the control of their employers or the processor plant manager . Nobody seems interested in the elephant in the room, perhaps it is too difficult!

Surely the time has come for everybody, including MLA and CCA, to get serious about some of the real problems facing our industry and until we do that we will face the consequences of greed & stupidity.

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