SPA March Update

Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) is the peak industry organisation for sheep and lamb producers. It works to represent and promote producers' interests and view to position the Australian sheep and lamb industry for future success.

CEO Update

Sheep Supply Project
There has been a lot of media comments regarding the Sheep Supply Project. Some in the industry believe that the reasons for the long-term decline of the flock numbers are obvious, however, those obvious reasons are different depending on who you talk to, along with the relative weightings people would assign to any given issue.

What is obvious is that processing capacity will not be fully utilised on current trends, which spells uncertainty, as far as keeping healthy competition for sheep and lambs, as well as maintaining the infrastructure and associated businesses for the industry, (saleyards, agents, etc). If we are to maintain our share of world markets, we are aware that the flock size will need to grow to approximately 75 Million in the medium term.

As SPA has been publicly stating, we need to reverse a trend, which takes more than just a change in the seasons over the short term. To achieve this SPA has commissioned (with the assistance of MLA and AHA), the following components of the project:

•    Flock Decline Analysis
•    Social Science (behind producer motivations to enter, expand, reduce or exit industry) 
•    Flock rebuilding strategies (in the seasonal upswing, how do we build a better flock)

The project will conclude in the 3rd Quarter of 2021 and will inform much of the strategic input SPA provides into the industry Strategy (Red Meat 2030).

Cost Recovery
Looming as one of the biggest issues for 2021 is the determination of the Federal Government to recover the costs of providing resources to both the Live Export and Processing sectors to facilitate trade (compliance and documentation etc).

There is no doubt that the increasing burden of complying with market requirements in addition to the need for transparency, has increased the costs for the Government and Industry. The level of cost recovery that is being proposed has raised serious questions about the efficiency of the services being provided as well as the impacts on the sectors if it is to go ahead.

Having a strong red meat sector supporting businesses and employment in regional areas has a huge public benefit. Government also provides services that facilitate many industries that are not burdened with a heavy cost structure. At a time when all levels of government are promoting regional development, and large levels of incentives are being provided to keep the economy growing, it seems a strange moment to place a significant extra cost burden onto a key agriculture sector.

SPA will be consulting with all parties involved in an attempt to gain a fair outcome that does not significantly impact the farm gate price for sheep producers. Especially at a time when a pandemic is raising costs in shearing and harder to get inputs, which may be difficult to retrace when life returns to ‘normal'.

Plant-based Alternatives Labelling
The Plant-based Alternatives Labelling and Marketing Working Group held its last meeting last week. A consensus position was not reached between the Working Group members. Both AMIC and RMAC (with full support and bidding from SPA) strongly advocated for a position to pursue minimum regulated standards through FSANZ and Consumer Law. Regrettably, other Working Group members supported the development of non-binding voluntary standards. 

Anticipating the outcome of the Working Group, RMAC undertook a number of government relations meetings on the issue over the past few days (listed below). Meetings were overwhelmingly supportive of efforts to pursue minimum regulated standards. While the process to achieve regulatory protection of our product categories will take time, we should not waste the strong support from government legislators. 

Letters to Ministers and next steps in Government Departments will be reviewed as a matter of urgency. The Minister has also suggested we start engaging with the NZ, state, and territory governments to secure the required support to enable change through FSANZ and Consumer Law. 

Meetings Held by RMAC
•    Assistant Minister Michelle Landry MP
•    Damian Drum MP, Chief Nationals Whip
•    George Christensen MP, Chair TIG Joint Standing Committee
•    Minister David Littleproud
•    Secretary Andrew Metcalfe
•    Senator Bridget McKenzie, Leader of the Nationals in the Senate
•    Senator James McGrath, Deputy Government Whip
•    Senator Perin Davey, Nationals Whip in the Senate
•    Senator Susan McDonald, Chair RRAT Legislation Committee

If there is anything you would like SPA to be discussing or any concerns you have, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Stephen Crisp

Monthly Poll I We want to hear from you

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, networks and friends.
What is the max sheep levy you pay per animal ($/head)? Which areas do your levies currently contribute to? 

Monthly Poll I Results from February

The survey results for February can be grouped into 4 main themes, farm management including scale and pasture management (25% of responses), animal performance and genetic gains (22%), marketing and brand recognition paying attention to maximising the returns for low value products (21%) and social and environmental responsibility (22%).
The use of on-farm technology to support productivity and animal monitoring will also have a flow-on benefit supporting traceability and marketing. Utilising these technologies more effectively will allow for more efficient genetic gains to take place. Being able to better monitor and record worm resistance in sheep, for example, will allow for more efficient breeding to minimise chemical/veterinary intervention reducing the cost of production into the future and maximising productivity. 

With continued uptake of these technologies the cost, accuracy, and efficiency will continue to improve and make it more affordable for producers to adapt their system and production strategies to include these technologies. Improved on-farm traceability of stock and production practices such as reduced chemical/veterinary intervention has the potential to assist in maintaining access into existing markets and new and emerging markets. It should not be overlooked the benefits that this traceability can have on low-value products such as skins. Many of the challenges facing the industry which were outlined in the January survey have the potential to be managed through productive and efficient farming practices. Producers should consider capitalising on the current market opportunities to invest in their business for productivity gains.  

Leadersheep 2021 I Scholarships and Opportunities

It's Easy to Apply Now - All Programs & Dates Here!

The Sheep Producers Australia 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.

The SPA Leadersheep Network connects sheep producers and people working in the industry who share the goal of driving industry growth and success. It’s your opportunity to develop, connect and contribute.

National Agricultural Leadership Program 
The National Agricultural Leadership Program is a 9 month leadership and capability development program for Australian agriculture. It leverages the NFF’s position as the peak body for Australian agriculture to provide targeted activities and unique experiences in policy development, advocacy, governance, and communications and media.

With a national, whole-of-agriculture perspective, it will provide key skills and experience to create effective advocates for the sector. The program consists of several components. Each component improves participants ability to influence policy and decisions facing Australian agriculture.

The program components include:

  1. Policy and Thought Leadership Project – April to early August
  2. Emerging Leaders’ Summit – 23-25 August
  3. Agricultural Leaders Mentoring Program – 1 Sep to 31 Dec & beyond

 Scholarships Valued at over $5000.

2021 Program Details available here.

Expressions of Interest are now open for places supported by SPA and NFF – closes 6 April 2021.

Apply Now - National Agriculture Leadership Program

Livestock Leaders – Influence and Advocacy – The Livestock Collective

Do you want to create content to share your red meat story?

Learn how to promote and defend the red meat and livestock industry.
Build your brand on social media and gain tips on how to thrive in difficult conversations - from the dinner table to social media.The Scholarship is valued at $2000 and the course is run by the Livestock Collective. Find out more...
Apply Now for Livestock Leaders Program

Governance Essentials – Your first step to the boardroom

Examine the fundamental roles and responsibilities that contribute to good governance.

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 Information is delivered by Australian Institute of Company Directors
Apply Now for the Governance Essentials Course

Agricultural I Scholarships and Opportunities

Get involved with Leading Sheep – Queensland
This is a chance to meet with other forward-thinking industry leaders, gain access to the latest sheep and wool industry findings and get out of your paddock for a moment to join the Producer Advisory Panel.
Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program
This mentoring program is designed for aspiring female leaders, 25 years and over, with a passion for agriculture, organised by the National Farmers Federation. Scholarship applications are now open.
Regional Australians Scholarship
Scholarship applications are now open. 
AIM Business School Regional Australians Scholarship enables regionally based leaders and managers to develop business capabilities through the MBA and program. Scholarship applications are now open. 

Up to $20,000 for producer groups to boost on-farm technology adoption

Want to take technology on-farm to the next level but don't know how? The Producer Technology Uptake Program provides producers with a practical pathway to evaluate the role and value of new technology in their farming operations.           Applications now open.

NFF Regional Forums

The National Farmers Federation (NFF) is partnering with State Farming Organisations to hold regional forums in each state. These forums are a great opportunity to keep leadership participants engage in the broader agriculture representative network. As such, we’d like to extend an invitation to anyone from in the leadership program who may be close to each of the forum locations.

NFF Regional Forums - Dates & Locations - Expressions of Interest Now Open 

Sheep Industry Projections Webinar I MLA + SPA

Monitoring livestock numbers and lamb production expectations through regular producer surveys forms the basis of MLA’s Industry Projections.

This forward-looking information allows producers to make more efficient decisions in their business.

This webinar delves into the story behind the numbers:
•    Outlines how information is collated and fact checked
•    Details on how projections are created
•    Deep dive into major state projections and what that may mean for business
•    You can contribute to improve the accuracy of this data (Feb, June and Oct)

SPA Policy Committees

SPA's policy priorities can be reviewed here.
Animal Health and Welfare
  • Animal Health & Welfare 
  • Animal Plan
Animal Health and Welfare 
As part of SPA’s commitments to the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA), the Animal Health and Welfare is reviewing industry’s biosecurity preparedness through a benchmarking exercise later this year. Through this audit process, the Committee will be able to monitor the areas where biosecurity could improve and link in with MLA and AHA extension programs to ensure risk is minimised.
Animal Plan
The Department of Agriculture led ‘Animal Plan’ is reaching its final stages of consultation and SPA has provided input all the way through its development. Animal Plan intends to bring together the various biosecurity systems across industry and government and provide a structure for how each system can work together to deliver preparedness, surveillance, and response activities in the most effective way.
Market Access and Trade
  • International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM)
  • UK FTA
International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM)
SPA pushed hard through the RMAC forum for an extension to be considered in the above program. The reasons that the Mechanism was put in place in the first place, still exist today. As the vaccination program rolls out, it seems premature to stop the investment in keeping our valued export customers, until we can ascertain what the new ‘normal will be in the supply and cost of freight.

The result was positive with the Federal Government continuing the program into September. This was a very well targeted initiative to guide export industries through the CV19 minefield, and we are hopeful that access to markets via the usual freight mechanisms can occur in the next couple of quarters. Full Details Here.

Attending the UK FTA update further enforced how far this agreement is from coming to a conclusion. Most of the discussion revolved around data transfer protocols and how Intellectual Property will be handled. Australia’s position is for full liberalisation, whilst recognising that this may have to come in a "staged approach". There were no (and none were expected) offers relating to agricultural goods.
The only mention of goods was around the Geographical Indicators and the number of concerns from different industries on this front. It is interesting that the UK has applied for membership of the CPTPP. This is a very positive sign as the IK will have to demonstrate significant opening of their markets and ease of trade mechanisms for this to occur (and get the approval of those that are already members – which includes Australia).

Marketing, Market Access and Trade I SPA Webinar

Have Your Say I Consultation FMD Scheme

Your feedback on the outcomes, impacts, costs and benefits of the FMDS will support government decisions on the ongoing implementation of the FMDS. Have your say.

Industry News

Refreshed Blueprint to support SA sheep industry's 2030 growth plans I Livestock SA 5 March 2021
South Australia’s sheepmeat and wool industry aims to boost revenue to $3 billion annually with the launch of the updated South Australian Sheep Industry Blueprint

Ag degrees boom with a jobs market to match I NSW Farmers 8 March 2021
Agriculture-related degrees are booming in popularity with 40 percent more acceptances recorded this year. Read more here

The reasons Australia no longer rides on the sheep’s back are well known I Stock Journal 14 March 2021
Australian farmers believe the reasons many of them ended their love affair with sheep are simple. In fact, they wonder why their industry body needs to invest precious sheep levies looking into it at all? SPA CEO said the industry could not afford to make more assumptions on what went wrong “we have to know”.
Read the Full Article Here

Lamb slaughter figures indicate rebuild is underway I MLA 18 March 2021
Softening prices for eastern states lambs are incentivising producers to hold onto stock, reducing throughput, and signifying a rebuild has commenced.
•    Victorian and NSW lamb slaughter figures ease year-on-year to indicate rebuild priorities
•    Lower saleyard volumes and prices deliver unexpected opportunity for producers to focus on rebuild
•    Restocker lambs continue to demand high prices in NSW compared to other states.
Find out more here

Lamb yardings lift significantly year-on-year I MLA 11 March 2021
Lamb yardings in both NSW and Victoria lifted sharply last week and are now sitting well above year-ago levels as producers turn their attention towards cropping programs. Find out more here

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