Friday, February 26, 2010


Seven Resolutions were adopted by more than a thousand cattle producers at the Armidale 'Beef's New Direction' Forum held on 20th February.

The full list can be viewed HERE.

The full text of my speech at the Forum and accompanying powerpoint slides can be viewed on the Hunt Partners Website HERE.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


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.

Friday, February 5, 2010


The “Beef’s New Direction” forum to be held at the University of New England Armidale on 27 February is expected to attract over 1200 beef producers to discuss the challenges facing the beef industry today and to find some workable solutions.

The forum will be chaired by 2GB presenter Alan Jones, and the speakers will include State Member for New England Richard Torbay, Senator Bill Heffernan, Senator Barnaby Joyce and AMIEU President Grant Courtney.

The focus will be on halting the decline in rural and regional Australia, the fall in cattle prices and lifting the burden on producers imposed by government influenced costs and charges and industry levies which place Australian cattle producers at a disadvantage relative to their international competitors.

Despite the industry now spending $160 million a year on MLA, cattle prices have fallen 21.6pc since 1988-89 according to ABARE figures. The fall in domestic beef consumption is equally alarming, having fallen from 43.2kg per person in 1989 to 31.3 kg last year as forecasted by MLA. Since the introduction of MSA in 1998 consumption has fallen by almost 7kg.

MLA Chairman David Palmer’s response is to blame low prices on factors outside the control of producers and the MLA. He cites currency fluctuations and weak foreign markets as the cause of the recent low cattle prices (see The Land, 21 January, “Stop the beef ‘bulldust’”).

But if prices are truly beyond influence from the efforts of producers and industry bodies, what is the point of spending levy money on domestic marketing programs and market access initiatives? What exactly are producers paying MLA to achieve on their behalf?

Most producers disagree with Mr Palmer’s conclusion that the fate of the beef industry is beyond our control.

For those of us who are not willing to throw our hands in the air and allow reasonable cattle prices to become an historical curiosity, the focus must be on efforts to strengthen the domestic market.

This includes implementing the Torbay legislation passed last year, which aims to restore consumer confidence in beef products by ensuring meaningful and truthful labelling.

These and other issues will be the subject of discussion at the Armidale Forum. Further information, bus timetables and maps of Armidale can be found on the Bindaree Beef website:

If you are a cattle producer or otherwise involved in the beef industry and are concerned about the state of your industry, turn up at the Armidale Forum and vote for a new direction.

RSVP can be emailed to: