The cattle and beef industry is back in the spotlight over its lack of speed implementing recommendations to address transparency concerns within the sector.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission commissioner Mick Keogh said little has changed in the 12 months since the ACCC’s cattle and beef industry market study asked the Red Meat Advisory Council to oversee the implementation of 15 recommendations.
“Given the RMAC’s reluctance to engage with the recommendations during the past 12 months, we no longer believe it should have this leadership role,” Mr Keogh said.
“We will instead engage with Commonwealth and state governments through the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum to push for implementation of the recommendations.”
The advisory council rejected the claim, saying the recommendations were not fit for purpose, but grass fed beef producers welcomed the ACCC update report.
Cattle Producers Australia implementation committee chair Paul Wright was pleased the ACCC recognised the reform process had stalled.
The recent update report clearly demonstrates the ACCC’s surprise at the degree of resistance against their recommendations from the many national industry bodies that represent the interests of some producers,” Dr Wright said.
“It goes on to provide the view that much of the inaction relates to entrenched industry positions and a desire to keep the market impenetrable, limiting the bargaining power of producers and their ability to push for change.”
Advisory council chair Don Mackay, said the RMAC had repeatedly offered to fix problems with the industry where the ACCC could provide evidence of specific issues.
“As food producers, food manufacturers and food exporters the Australian red meat and livestock industry supports prosecution of anti-competitive behaviour,” he said.
“We reject commentary from the Agriculture Commissioner that industry lacks understanding of transparency or that transparency does not suit the interests of industry.”
The ACCC’s Agriculture Unit conducted the study of the cattle and beef sector throughout 2016-17.
It came after a Senate inquiry into the effect of market consolidation on the red meat processing sector after processors boycotted the first prime cattle sale at the new Northern Victorian Livestock Exchange selling centre at Barnawartha.
Hundreds of producers met at Barnawartha in March 2015 to push for a senate inquiry into the red meat processing sector after NVLX switched to post-sale weighing after pressure from buyers.