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Recently the ABA held a forum in Casino New South Wales, 98 people turned up.

The ABA presentation was a representation of prevailing issues confronting industry and the position that producers are experiencing was presented in slide form. Click to download PowerPoint Presentation.

For the second part of the meeting we had a panel discussion with panellists made up of politicians Joel Fitzgibbon ALP, Kevin Hogan NP, Janelle Saffin ALP, who is running against Mr Hogan for the seat of Page, and Richard Norton managing director from the MLA.

Joel Fitzgibbon was careful not to make any commitments if the Labor Party got into power. Richard Norton fielded a barrage of questions. In view of many in the audience he talked around most of questions and used the opportunity to promote his work on the MLA.

Mr Norton’s ability to handle the difficult questions brought praise from Vince Ptolemy, who complimented Mr Norton on his ability to talk around questions without giving a straight answer. After listening to Mr Norton I would agree with Vince that Richard has got that uncanny ability to avoid issues raised in questions and instead sell his own message.

One point that I was very interested in was when Richard says “despite all the problems the MLA has managed to stop the slide in beef consumption by Australian consumers”. The figures that I have seen published by ABARE and OECD makes you wonder where Mr Norton gets his figures from.

This chart is published by the MLA. The fact is I cannot find any validated figures which show me that the MLA has stopped the decline in beef consumption in Australia. MLA has done some modelling into the future which shows that future consumption will level out and I sincerely hope their modelling is correct; history will judge the level of accuracy.

The second table is very confusing and I’m sure not sure what the chart is indicating.

One other point made by Richard is that Australians are eating more beef per head of population than the US. Clearly all the data I can find refutes this assertion.

Data published by OECD seems to put a different context on the relative levels of beef consumption in the US and Australia. Could it be possible that MLA got their wires crossed? May be they have used the figures based on bone out rather than bone in which is in contrast to Australia where our consumption is based on carcass beef. OECD base their figures on ‘bone-out’ while ABARE base their figures on ‘bone-in’ carcass.  However, the latest figures suggest that we are consuming 27.5kg.

Increasing these figures by 30% to obtain the per capita consumption figures for “bone-in” cuts would give per capita consumption figures of 28.08 kg for Australia and 31.85 kg for the U.S.

I have been told that Richard will not attend any more ABA meetings. This is his right.

Unlike some well-funded producer organisations the ABA operates on a shoestring budget and always leaves the door open whether we agree or disagree.

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