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MSA: MLA’s Greatest Achievement or Failure?

Recently Meat and Livestock Australia came out to respond to criticism by ABA of the so-called meat eating quality program MSA.

MLA made some interesting points; an independent evaluation described MSA as one of the MLA’s biggest success stories. It amazes me that MLA can claim the evaluation is independent when they fund, define parameters of the project, appoint and manage the consultants to conduct reports. Additionally, they have the ability to review and potentially change the report prior to release.

Could it be possible ex-MLA executives may have been part of the evaluation? It would be very interesting to know if any of these people were associated with the MSA program when they were employees of MLA. If this is the case then the evaluation of MLA’s success has to be potentially biased, for not only MSA, but a range of project evaluations.


For the beef industry to remain viable the rate of decline in per capita consumption must be arrested; this simply hasn’t happened despite all the hype and the downward trend continues.

Rules for the MSA Grading



Nominal age limit 30 months for MSA

No age limit

Cows that have calved not eligible MSA

Cows having calved are now MSA graded

DNA testing to retain traceability

DNA testing not compulsory

3,4 and 5 to give consumers an idea of range

3,4 and 5 star gone

Independent graders employed by the MLA

Company graders now used

Minimum average daily weight gain

No daily weight gain required

Arrest the current 1.7% annual decline in beef consumption

Decline has continued at same rate

Ensure 90% of consumers are satisfied by annual survey

No Annual survey!!!

MSA purchased at random at retail for QA testing

No mystery shoppers under present rules

Anybody can make a program look good by reducing rules and regulations. The fact is that MSA has had the foundations ripped out from it and now what we see are a vast number of cattle being graded that would never have made the cut under the original rules.

MLA maintains that for every dollar spent $12 is returned. Can anybody calculate these figures because it is beyond my comprehension? (Fantasy figures?)

One thing I know is that the producers do the paying, however, I’m not sure if producers get an advantage from a scheme like this. Cost by 2007 is $200M. How much by 2016?? 

The simple fact is MSA under its original format was a brilliant scheme and something that all Australians could be very proud of. However, what we see now is only a shadow of the original rules.

To me beef consumption falling is due to a number of factors; the inconsistency in eating quality and price has a lot to do with consumption. Surely the best way to destroy a market is price ourselves out and make false promises, with an inconsistent product.

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