Wednesday, October 28, 2009


MLA’s David Thomason’s claim (QCL Oct 22, read HERE) that Richard Torbay’s NSW Meat Labelling Bill “could set the industry back 20 years” shows how out of touch he is.

Australian cattle producers currently receive about 30% less in real terms for their cattle than they did 20 years ago and prices continue to fall.

Twenty years ago Australians each ate 43.2kgs of beef every year compared to the MLA forecast of 31.3kgs this year.

Despite the continued increase in our population, the total volume of beef consumed in Australia is falling with Australian domestic beef consumption now down to 33% of our total production.

Only about 20-25% of the cattle destined for the Australian market are MSA graded and cattle from the Top End, the Channel Country, cattle sold through saleyards and cattle from non-MSA accredited properties, which would eat well, can’t be MSA graded because of the MSA rules.

A system has to be worked out to grade the beef that would eat well that is not eligible for MSA as well as the beef that does not make MSA grades.

MLA has spent a fortune on MSA but where are the results?

If we could encourage Australians to eat as much beef as they did 20 years ago and cattle producers were paid the same price for their cattle in real terms that they were 20 years ago, then producers may believe that they had received good value for their levy dollars.

Here's what readers of QCL thought about the article...

Ted O'Brian said:

"One thing we know for sure is that the lack of labelling has not been good for producers. It would be thirty years now since Ian Steele-Park told us that beef grading was just around the corner, waiting only for the fixing of problems with the device that measured the fat depth. Thirty years. Clearly somebody was being paid for thirty years to drop this jigger on the concrete."

Mac said:

"It is high time that we caught up with the USA and had a complete grading scheme not just for the upper echelons of the market; if it is good enough for them, why not the rest of us? I have been buying some meat lately as it is too dry to kill, it really is disgraceful that you have no idea what you are buying. Pig and poultry producers market their products much better than the beef industry. I wonder why that is? Someone may be able to tell me."

Les said:

"When you see 26-28 month old bullocks off oats making $1.60, & 8 &12 year old cows making $1.40 in yards recently, we need meet grading. All cows, know matter what age, should be mince. The wagons are circling - QCL editorial, Jon Condon, MLA, Cattle Council, AgForce, 2 abattoirs ... they stick together like glue. The day QCL & Jon Condon ever criticise MLA, AgForce, or Cattle Council on any issue, I'll send them a bottle of blue label Johnny Walker each. Go for it Richard Torbay."

Qlander said:

"The issue of generic description and labelling of beef has always bumped into the competition for brand marketing between the breeds."

To post your comment click HERE.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Tony Windsor, the Independent Federal Member for New England, has released his survey results of 431 cattle producers in New England on Beef Grading and Truth-in-Labelling.

The survey found that "New England Beef Producers want the industry to introduce a Compulsory Consumer Orientated Beef Grading System and to better educate the consumer about the Beef Grading System".

"82% of New England producers want a better consumer education program" it found.

Mr Windsor was very pleased with the response by small and large producers to the survey.

“431 cattle producers ranging in herd size from less than 100 head to over 1,000 head kindly participated in the survey to let me know their views of their industry.

I thank those who took the opportunity to provide me with their thoughts”, Mr Windsor said.

Mr Windsor will now pass the survey results on to the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke and it will also be available on his website:

Alternatively, you can view the survey results HERE.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We welcome support from QCL which has endorsed a grading system 'describing all beef descriptions from end to end'. Torbay's draft grading model embraces MSA and has been designed to encourage continued increased uptake of MSA grading by processors.

As the QCL editorial points out the problem is the 'lack of product descriptors between existing MSA grades and the budget beef end'

The challenge facing industry is how to fill the gap and grade the product in the middle so consumers know the quality of the beef they are purchasing before they make their decision to buy. Currently consumers are being asked to enter into a lucky dip - they get a good steak one week and a tough and tasteless steak the next, vote with their wallets and don't come back for repeat purchases.

Only 12,500 cattle properties out of approximately 160,000 cattle properties in Australia are MSA accredited and as David Thomason from MLA points out cattle from Northern QLD, the Channel Country, the Northern Territory and cattle sold through saleyards will often eat very well but can't be MSA graded because of MSA's 24 hour transport and saleyard rules.

A system has to be worked out to grade the beef that is not eligible to be MSA graded.

The Peak Councils need to work constructively with the politicians to achieve this.

Read the full article HERE

Monday, October 12, 2009


The need for greater consumer protections from mislabelled beef products was the subject of a front page article this week in the weekend edition of the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Shoppers have little way of telling the true quality of the meat they are buying", readers were told, "because there is no grading system for locally sold beef, nor any onus on retailers to inform their customers of the quality of a cut".

The Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, expressed his concerns about truth in labelling of meat products. ''The beef market is a national market" he said, "and we would like to see a national approach that can be adopted by all states and territories.''

The Minister has indicated the NSW Government is preparing to take the first step and introduce AUS-MEAT accreditation for NSW abattoirs.

The article can be viewed on the SMH website HERE.