SPA June Update

The latest updates from the last month in sheep. 

CEO Update

SPA Policy Council Launching in July
Following an extensive consultation process, the SPA Board has now agreed to the formation of the Policy Council to facilitate all policy generation. Reviewing the structure that has been the foundation of our policy development has been a massive task, and I congratulate my team for undertaking the review with the energy required. By this time, all our members and committee members have been communicated with, and meetings organised to ensure we keep as much input as we can from those fantastic producers and partners that have given their time and energy to industry strategy and policy.

The Policy Council is designed to ensure that members, with the assistance of independent expertise, formulate policy as efficiently as possible, which includes advice from and delivery to our service providers and other industry partners.

The ability to form Taskforces as needed will provide the Council with an effective mechanism to facilitate evidence gathering and expertise on major policy issues. Having our member’s executive staff observing on the Council, as well as the member nominated representatives, will be key in ensuring both transparency and a two-way information flow between SPA and producers.

SPA will also be implementing an annual member conference to enable direct member input into informing the policy priorities of the Council. We look forward to working through the process of forming the Council and putting together the first agenda.

Apply for the SPA Policy Council or Policy Council Chair

The SPA Policy Council enables producer representation, consultation, and input into the development of proactive industry policy in the best interests of the Australian sheep industry. 

SPA is seeking a team of Policy Council Members to formulate policy, analyse advice and providing quality information and leadership for the sheep industry.

Policy Council Independent Chair is also sought to lead the new team.

The membership of the Council includes State Farming Organisation nominated representatives and independent representatives. 
Find Out More or Apply - SPA Policy Council or Chair
Traceability remains at the top of the agenda for SPA and other red meat industries with the conversation around national NLIS reform progressing at the federal level.  Continual improvement of our traceability systems is one of SPA’s top priorities because traceability gives us the ability to verify and promote the provenance and quality of our products and underpins our ability to export- so national consistency is critical. 

SPA supports enhancements to the NLIS to meet the traceability performance standards, and the five interdependent recommendations to improve the system that were presented to the National Biosecurity Committee in March 2020. These recommendations include:

1.    the establishment of a regulatory or statutory entity responsible for managing Australian livestock traceability,
2.    investment into a database capable of handling all FMD susceptible livestock species,
3.    mandating individual digital/electronic identification of livestock,
4.    creating an equitable funding arrangement for both the establishment and ongoing maintenance of the system and
5.    that a consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) be conducted to fully assess the impact of these recommendations to provide a fully costed decision paper to AGMIN.
SPA has developed our position using evidence gathered through research, analysis, and member consultation. Our Policy Committees recognise the need for transparency and independence of any evidence that is collected to assist the organisation’s understanding of an issue. Evidence, facts, and member consultation will always drive the agenda, as they should. We will continue to ask for the process to reach its conclusion in as timely a manner as possible.

The evidence tells us that there are significant efficiencies and accuracies that could be gained by using eID for traceability, and it is a viable opportunity for industry to consider as a vital part of much needed system wide reform. A full consultation RIS is essential to progress conversations about the most appropriate method for implementing the recommendations in consultation with the livestock sector more broadly. We acknowledge the potential cost and logistical challenges associated with the implementation of the proposed reform options for the sheep industry and therefore fully support an extensive and public consultation process. We must examine what investment is required to facilitate a systemic improvement in biosecurity for the livestock sector. 

I am sure most have seen the details of the provisionally agreed FTA (Free Trade Agreement) between Australia and the UK. The initial 25,000 MT increase in non-tariff access for sheep meat and increasing access (combined with decreasing tariffs) over the subsequent years from ‘entry into force’. All up a great result – so far.

SPA is acutely aware that this may not be signed until around November and may not be ratified for another year after that. The interim period may be difficult, which has been demonstrated by RSPCA asking for a laundry list of animal welfare issues to be added to the precedent setting animal welfare clause in this agreement. The red meat industry will need to demonstrate discipline in the following:

•    Consistent messaging to negotiators regarding animal welfare issues
•    Avoiding discussions around the pros and cons of Australian and UK farming systems – they are different, so be it.
•    Declining to comment on what this means for other markets, as the answer is little to nothing. More markets mean more options for more products, which is always good in optimising the value of our product.

Industry will be looking to the next negotiation with the EU. This will present new challenges, be more problematic, which is always the case given the number of countries involved, all with their own interests to represent. The careful navigation of our messaging and negotiation stance will need to continue for a long time yet. Full Media Release.

Plant Based Proteins
The announcement of a Senate enquiry into this matter has been a boost for the red meat sector. SPA has been engaging many Federal Members in the Parliament over the past week. The support for the industry is strong, with a palpable desire to not only blunt, but drive back those that attack the livestock sector with baseless environmental and other claims. The issue is larger than just truth in labelling. There seems to be a raising in awareness that this is another tool being used by animal activists to denigrate the livestock sector in general, which many Federal Members, including some on the cross benches, are tired of going unchecked. You can read the SPA media release here.

Qld Government adopts Sheep Standards and Guidelines
The national animal welfare standards and guidelines were formally approved by Agricultural Ministers several years ago and the standards have recently been adopted as codes of practice under the Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012 (Qld). The Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer has recognised that Queensland producers already maintain a high standard of animal welfare and has advised that the adoption of the standards into regulation will bring Queensland in line with other states and territories by applying consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia. The new codes of practice are available online here.

Logistics and Labour
SPA attended the NFF Trade Committee meeting this month. There is a crunch coming in two areas that indirectly affect our ability to trade, or at least maximise the value of our product. There is little the individual producer can do, other than have their peak body lend political support to solutions.

International shipping will cause red meat exports real issues in the short to medium term. Shipping lines have restricted supply of vessels and containers during CV19. This combined with lack of labour at transshipment ports has meant that shipping costs are rising sharply, at a time when it is increasingly difficult to get product shipped with the short transit times required for perishables. SPA will be lobbying, with the rest of the perishable industries, to keep the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) going beyond the September cut off. There will be more structural solutions required through ports and shipping options if we are to be competitive on the world stage.

Labour is the other crunch point looming. There are enough issues on farm, but the processing sector has an acute problem. They are losing far more employees than they are gaining, and with no access to overseas workers, this will cause sheep producers issues. Firstly, if demand is reduced because processors cannot process them, but secondly, if there is not enough labour to split the carcass into the highest value products, more will be shipped as carcasses, lowering the value that can be passed back to the farm gate.

Stephen Crisp

Sheep Supply Project - What's changing in your flock?

We are seeking your input for important information from people who have recently made a decision or are in the process of making a decision to get into or out of sheep or to make a big increase or decrease in their sheep numbers.
If this sounds like you - Contact us here.
Sheep Supply Project I Can we call you?

Enhance Your Governance Skills with a Scholarship

The SPA Leadersheep Program is sponsoring a range of opportunities for training and development. We encourage you to apply to further your skills in your areas of interest. Scroll down to see what participants had to say about our recent advocacy and media course.
Would you like to learn about key duties and responsibilities of the board and directors
•    Explain how the board fulfils its primary functions
•    Review board meeting protocols and procedures
•    Realise the importance of key performance measures
•    Scholarship is valued at $570.
•    Course delivered by Australian Institute of Company Directors
Apply Now for the Governance Essentials Course

SPA Advancing Industry Advocacy and Media Skills

This month, 14 participants completed an Advocacy, Communication and Media course delivered by Livestock Leaders

The workshop covered topics from how to approach topical issues in one-on-one conversations, thriving in media interview, through to increasing awareness around the livestock industry through social media accounts. Feedback on the content was exceptional.

Since the workshop, we have already seen participants appearing in multiple media interviews, publishing online and positively advocating for the sheep industry.

We look forward to sharing the key learnings over the next couple of months, but for now, here is what some participants had to say:
•    The communication techniques that I learnt throughout the workshop will be invaluable.
•    Fantastic workshop. It taught me how to address challenging questions from the general public in a positive efficient manner which makes me feel confident in being a public voice for this great industry.
•    Opponents of the Australian sheep industry don’t fight fairly; this program gave me communication skills so I can help the industry fight back.
•    It is crucial that we know how to confidently and effectively communicate advocacy for our industry. This workshop has shown me tools and tricks into how to manage my words properly, and how to gain insight into a conversation, simply by breaking things down.
•    The first two words I wrote down were “Be courageous!”.  And this is exactly what the Livestock Leaders program has helped me to become.
Apply for the next Advocacy & Media Program
Rebecca Barry, Sheep producer, Apsley VIC. 
I was over the moon to be offered a scholarship from Sheep Producers Australia to complete the Livestock Leaders course.
As a sheep producer who holds animal welfare to the highest regard, I often get frustrated when consumers don’t know the truth about what we do. The course gave me skills and the confidence to use my voice to showcase the fabulous industry that we’re in, and show consumers how proud and passionate we are about the food and fibre that we produce. Thank you!

Have Your Say on Business and Industry Leadership

SPA’s monthly poll helps us to understand industry priorities and practices, assisting SPA to represent your views with the best industry information.
Please forward to other producers and your networks. 

With the turning of the new financial year, SPA is setting the direction for
2021-22. We’d love your opinion to guide the direction of the professional development programs on offer this year.
Complete the quick 3 question quiz to help lead the way for industry.
Have Your Say with our 2 minute poll

Have Your Say on Lamb Survival Research

This research survey is being undertaken for a postgraduate dissertation at the University of Edinburgh, under supervision from Dr Amey Brassington and Professor Cathy Dwyer.

The aim of this project is to determine farmer opinions on the practicality and usefulness of metrics that could be used to improve neonatal lamb survival during the lambing season, as well as determine a baseline for what metrics are currently collected and used on farms. This project has received ethical approval from the University of Edinburgh.

Lamb survival is important for both animal and farmer welfare. A number of things can influence whether a lamb lives or dies and it is sometimes difficult to identify where the most effective changes can be made to improve survival rates. With time pressures around lambing, measurements recorded to inform managements changes need to be both useful and practical to collect. The survey takes around 20 minutes and will close on 9th July 2021.
Take the lamb survival survey here

Results are in - Is Carcase Data Working For You?

The feedback to the May survey demonstrated overwhelming support for more comprehensive carcase feedback to guide production decisions on farm. Producers said they would use carcase data to inform their genetic selection and put selection pressure on eating quality. 

All producers were keen to receive information on eating quality, and most were keen for lean meat yield. The key concern with lean meat yield was not to “chase” lean meat at the expense of eating quality. 

This desire for more information and better feedback on the quality of meat being produced was supported by producers being willing to be paid on the quality of their product. All producers were willing to consider being paid on quality and lean meat yield. With respect to eating quality, 75% of producers would be happy to be paid on eating quality, and 50% would be happy to be paid on lean meat yield. The remaining respondents were prepared to consider being paid on quality with further information and discussion. 

A key enabler to allow processors to provide meaningful performance data on the carcase is for all animals to be identifiable and traceable all the way through the supply chain. This would facilitate information to move along the supply chain showing the quality of the product and price signals that can flow back to producers to help business improvement and profitability. This has mutual benefits; producers can adjust their ram selection for a balance between yield and eating quality in the lambs they produce; and processors can optimise boning, target specific markets and potentially reward producers. 

What does the A-UK FTA mean for Australia?

In the latest episode of Meat & Livestock Australia's On the ground podcast, they catch up with Chair of the UK Market Access Taskforce, Andrew McDonald, to hear details of the historic free trade agreement. 

Industry Events

eNVD webinar
The electronic National Vendor Declaration (eNVD) system is a faster, easier digital alternative to completing the LPA NVD for accredited producers, feedlots, and value chain stakeholders. It reduces time spent completing assurance and health declarations and means you are always using the latest version, plus it’s free! This session will step through using the eNVD and how it can streamline livestock movements and transactions throughout the supply chain. Have your questions answered and find out what developments are in store for the eNVD in 2021. Find out what you need to know at this FREE one-hour webinar on 7 July 2021. You can register here.

Stand by what you sell webinar series
Do you know the foundations of Australia’s red meat integrity system? Do you need practical tips to help you spend less time in the office to complete your red meat integrity system requirements? Integrity Systems Company (ISC) free webinar series is here.
Graham Centre Livestock Forum
The Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation’s annual Livestock Forum on Friday 30 July will feature new research for beef and sheep producers to apply on-farm and panel discussions with industry experts. Friday 30 July 2021 in Wagga Wagga and online. You can register here.
NLIS Database Workshops 
There are a series of workshops you can attend and you can find out the dates and locations here.

Sheep Nutrition Webinar
Join Geoff Duddy from Sheep Solutions will present on the daily intake and requirements of different classes of sheep and tips to identify sheep in good and poor condition on 7 July 2021. You can register here.

Farm Fit Ewe workshop
Get up to speed on the latest in breeding, feeding and management to get the most out of your sheep enterprise. The Farm Fit Ewes workshop consists of Stay Fit, Fed Fit, Bred Fit and Run Fit. Free event at Yelarbon, Queensland 17 August. You can register here.

Sheep Levies Webinar 

This interview provides an overview of Sheep and Lamb Levies and explains:
•    Lamb & sheep transaction levies
•    What producer levies are spent on
•    How the levy is split between MLA, AHA & NRS

Fact Sheet on Sheep & Lamb Levies is available here.

SPA has moved to a new office

SPA New Contact Details
Office: Level 2, Burns Centre, 28 National Circuit, Forrest ACT 2603
Mail: PO Box 4225, Manuka ACT 2603
Phone: 02 6103 0838  

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