Business as usual for MLA following Red Meat MoU White Paper release

Following the release of the Red Meat Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) White Paper, Managing Director Jason Strong said it’s business as usual for MLA, continuing to deliver the extensive program of research, development, adoption and marketing programs as outlined in MLA’s Strategic Plan and Annual Investment Plan.

Yesterday’s White Paper release, which included a number of recommendations for the future structure of Australia’s red meat and livestock industry, represents the latest step in the review of the Red Meat MoU and is the culmination of 12 months’ work.

While it marks the end of the review process, the wide-ranging recommendations will now undergo a period of careful consideration by industry and Government, with any progression of reform requiring the support of all nine signatories to the MOU, which includes MLA.

Jason said the next steps for MLA would involve working closely with Government and industry partners to review and assess the recommendations.

“While these recommendations are substantive, I understand the challenges having been involved in similar processes, including the establishment of the current MoU and also the merging of three Agri Political organisations in Queensland.

“To be clear, MLA supports reform that is in the best interests of red meat producers, however we believe careful consideration of the recommendations will be the key to ensuring that occurs,” Jason said.

“Together with industry agreement, any variation to the current structure will also require significant legislative change.

“All this will take time so for now it’s business as usual for MLA. We’ll be getting on with the task of delivering our extensive range of programs, which will see over $270 million invested on behalf of livestock levy payers, processors and live exporters during the next 12 months. This investment includes levies, matched research funding from the Federal Government and external commercial investment.

Jason said the focus of MLA’s investment and programs over recent years has been ensuring our industry is focused and capable of addressing the growing consumer trends around sustainability, health and animal welfare.

“MLA’s investments have also sought to ensure greater collaboration and efficient delivery across the red meat supply chain,” he said.

“MLA’s work in driving demand for red meat through understanding consumer trends and insights, supporting market access and business development programs across retail and foodservice channels, is more important than ever in unlocking market growth and diversification across the globe. We must continue to build our work in promoting Australian red meat’s health, welfare and environmental credentials.

The review process

The MoU review was instigated in recognition that no significant changes within the red meat industry had occurred since the MoU was established 20 years ago and that it was important to ensure relevant systems and structures are in place to be successful in the future.

MLA has been actively engaged in the consultation process, and has consistently advocated for a revitalised red meat industry that is fit to meet both the challenges and opportunities today and in the future.

“Given its age, there’s consensus across the industry that the current MoU is outdated. It’s therefore important that industry structures are reviewed to ensure they help position the industry to succeed in a dynamic and challenging operating environment,” Jason said.

“The changing operating environment has been a key focus for MLA – in particular how to continue to drive global demand for red meat, build on-farm productivity and deliver value throughout the supply chain.”

The recommendations

The White Paper recommendations include the establishment of three new streamlined and unified industry bodies within the MoU.

Red Meat Australia, with an independent chair and a board drawn from the peak industry councils and up to three new independent skills-based representatives, would be the single voice of the industry and the conduit for levies collected, as well as be responsible for industry public policy and marketing.

Red meat Research and Development Corporations and Service Providers – MLA, LiveCorp and Australian Meat Processing Corporation (AMPC) – would be merged into one single research body. Existing integrity and quality systems would also be merged into a new Industry Standards body.

The White Paper is available for viewing here.

/Public Release. View in full here.