SPA February Review

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 Sustainability Framework
As the Framework enters its final period of consultation and development, it is interesting to her the commentary about what it will mean for industry. For SPA it will be a constant point of reference as we measure ourselves against agreed indicators, not just on environmental or welfare issues, but on margins for producers and sustaining a profitable sector.
What has been a pleasant surprise is the stakeholders that intend to use this work to show that being transparent can assist our cause as an industry. This may cause some short term heart-ache, but the sheep industry story is a good one to tell, and the more open we become the less of a target we become with so-called exposure pieces from organisations whose only goal is to stop livestock production.

MLA Annual Investment Plan Consultation
Watch the update from the MLA consultation with Peak Industry Councils.
Watch Now: SPA's take on the MLA AIP - Feb 2021
Trade prospects improve
This is always a risky headline and given the number of risks outside producers control, perhaps a foolish one. The fact remains that the us market has held up much better than expected in a CV19 world, albeit with different mix of products. The change in administration brings a less isolationist stance and should assist in maintaining access to this vital market for Australia.
The EU FTA progresses at the usual slow pace, however it looks likely the animal welfare and environmental ‘chapters’ will be handled sensibly. The UK is moving at an even slower pace and using the same play sheet as the EU. The outcome may be slower than expected, but that is the world of FTA negotiation.
It is also encouraging to see nations now lining up to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). If some of those nations meet the requirements of the Partnership, it could level the playing field in some significant markets for Australian sheep-meat.

Red meat single body for levies officially off the table
The Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) has led the review of the structure of the red meat industry. Whilst it has been decided that the options of NewCo1 and NewCo2 are not feasible, there are now a lot more linkages between industry bodies that allow co-investments and joint consideration on policy matters.
The review of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) itself is essential. Not only does it need to be modernised in terms of its language, but needs to be certain that all arrangements are fit for purpose and allows its members to succeed when fulfilling their roles of  ensuring levy payers needs are met.
As the Chair of RMAC has stated, "The next stage will look at more challenging issues and will require PIC (peak industry council) consultation," This in turn will require consultation from the State Farming Organisations and other stakeholders. Read more...
NFF Trade Committee
Watch the outcomes from this weeks NFF Trade Committee meeting with Minister Dan Tehan.
Watch Here: NFF Trade Committee - Feb 2021
Plant based proteins
Minister Littleproud set up a Working Group to explore the labelling of plant based proteins. We know they are using terms like meat, chicken, bacon etc. To promote what they feel their product will taste like, whilst belittling the product attributes of the actual met products themselves.
We are aware the Department, Federal Government, and some other parties would like a voluntary code of practice, with all parties acting in good faith. What the red meat sector has seen is food companies taking whatever ground is given and pushing the boundary as far as they can in their labelling. SPA is working with RMAC and other meat commodities, to push for regulation to stop the misuse of terms. As an industry we do not lie to support extra regulation of anything, but on this issue, there will be no stopping the attack on the meat sector unless it is written into law.
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 | 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. 

Tell us your thoughts in the one question quiz... 
Please share with your members, networks, and friends. 
What are the biggest opportunities for the sheepmeat industry over the next 10 years?  Tell us now...

Here is what you said last month...

Leadersheep 2021

The Sheep Producers Australia 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.

Thanks to those who have already voted on the topics that will be most valuable for you in development leadership skills for the sheep industry.

There is still time to have your say while we're finalising the upcoming topics.

Tell us the most useful topics for you and we'll make sure they are part of the 2021 Leadersheep program.
What leadership topics are most useful for you to learn about now? Check they are on the list and vote here.
Improving your ability to Managing Change and Innovate

Managing Change and Innovation is a topic that is showing substantial interest in the polling results so far. 

Check out the SPA Change Challenge series of 6 videos to update you skills.

SPA Policy Committees

The first Policy Committee meetings of 2021 were held in mid-February, some highlights are presented here as the policy priorities are refined and advanced.
Animal Health and Welfare
  • AH&W Committee
  • APVMA Review
  • National Feral Pig Action Plan
Animal Health and Welfare Committee
A major focus for the committee for this month has been aligning the committee’s priorities with that of industry, and ensuring policy positions are defensible and responsive to threats and opportunities that exist beyond the farm gate. The committee also discussed producer demonstration sites and how they deliver animal welfare and biosecurity outcomes and the Sheep Reproduction Strategic Partnership.
APVMA Review
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Agency is going through a significant review of Australia’s pesticides and veterinary medicines policy and delivery. SPA has worked with the National Farmers Federation on how the review will lead into practical implementation, reduce costs and improve services for sheep producers.
National Feral Pig Action Plan
The National Feral Pig Action Plan was recently sent out for consultation. As a member of the Wild Dog Action Plan Working Group SPA was keen to ensure that policies on lamb survival and predation was consistent across both working groups, despite the differences between the two policy groups. SPA has worked closely with Wool Producers Australia, who are members of the National Feral Pig Working Group, in ensuring that predation and lamb survival issues are adequately managed when it comes to feral pig risks.
Market Access and Trade
  • International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM)
International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM)
Following on from last month's report, SPA is contributing to an RMAC submission looking to retain the IFAM until there is some sense of what the new normal may look like when the world starts travelling in a vaccinated setting. SPA feels that Australia has invested heavily to keep our export markets during CV19, and it would be a shame to cease that support just beofre we determine if international travel can be partially normalised. Flights are still at the same level now as when the crisis commenced.
The issue is also being taken up by NFF, and submissions will be shared between commodity groups to assist in backing up the case for some continuation of this program. The agriculture sector should be grateful for the support received, but IFAM has also gone a long way to supporting agriculture and the regions.
Product Integrity
  • PI Committee Strategy
  • Sheep Traceability
  • Integrity Systems Company
PI Committee Strategy 
At its first meeting for the year, the Committee developed its strategy and priority activities for 2021. Key priorities are focused on working towards a national and harmonised NLIS system, working with service providers that monitor the performance of product safety and compliance (the National Residue Survey) and that provide systems for meat safety and quality assurance (MLA, Integrity Systems Company), and advocating the evolution of industry value chains to support objective measurement of sheepmeat.
Sheep Traceability
SPA has initiated discussions with the jurisdictional traceability group (state government traceability managers) and the Integrity Systems Company to discuss viable solutions that could be explored and implemented to improve property-to-property (P2P) recording on the NLIS. Incomplete recording of livestock movements on the NLIS database, specifically P2P movements, remains an area for improvement within the NLIS for both sheep and cattle. An agreed action has been the formation of a working group of industry and government representatives to progress solutions that could be implemented within the next 12-24 months.

Integrity Systems Company (ISC)
A desktop audit model for the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program which allows producers to submit records and evidence electronically, continues to be rolled-out. ISC has developed a central desktop audit portal that AUS-MEAT, producers and ISC can access to upload documentation in preparation for an audit but also submit documents to address issues regarding a non-conformity. To date, 146 digital audits have been conducted. The desktop audit model will continue to be expanded to cover around 25% of LPA audits. In conjunction with the desktop model, ISC has for producers to upload their Farm Biosecurity Plans and Property Risk Assessment, as well as images and records, to their individual service management accounts. ISC will be circulating some supporting communication on the new functionality in the coming weeks.
Research, Development and Adoption
  • Red Meat Panel
  • MLA Strategic Plan
Changes to the MLA Annual Investment Call - 2022
SPA participates on MLA’ Red Meat Panel, which provides the strategic oversight of MLA’s Regional Consultation model. Through this model, research priorities that are identified by grass-roots producers through regional committees and industry forums are consolidated by NABRC, SALRC and WALRC which are then developed into form Terms of Reference (ToR) for MLA’s Annual Investment Call. The Red Meat Panel is focused on enduring that producers are continually consulted to ensure R&D priorities are being addressed and that outcomes remain relevant and impactful for industry. There are currently 52 active projects from MLA’s Investment Call process.
MLA’s latest Strategic Plan seeks to direct resources into fewer, high-impact programs of work that will deliver the best outcomes for industry. Through this principle, the Red Meat Panel supported the strategic approach to develop longer-term, collaborative, multi-disciplinary programs to tackle some of industry’s major priorities, such as lamb survival and sheep reproductive performance.
Last year’s investment call was reflective of this strategic approach, with a focus on longer-term (3-5) year projects, including investments into improving lamb survival through the sheep reproductive strategic partnership; implementing plans to address the spread of pasture dieback; and producing new tools such as the Pasture Trial Network to compare the performance of pasture varieties.
These larger-scale, longer-term projects are now underway and utilise a significant portion of the research funding for 2022-23. The regular investment call which is conducted annually will not be the vehicle to call for new projects. Any new research will be aligned with the strategic partnerships and calls for projects proposals will be timed to suit these programs.
Therefore, the major focus and priority of the Red Meat Panel and RAC’s this year will be to ensure that current strategic partnerships are progressed and funded appropriately. This year, the RACs will still be asked to submit regionally specific issues and challenges. This information will be used to help MLA provide targeted information to regions to help with addressing these. The focus will be on engagement and feeding information back, helping producers understand what tools and research outcomes are available already and what is relevant to them in the pipeline. This is also in-line with the focus in improving the uptake of research outcomes by producers.

Meet Your SPA Staff: Melissa Neal

Melissa coordinates leadership training and development for the sheep industry through her role as Industry Leadership Manager at SPA. She manages the SPA Leadersheep Network to accelerate the development of current and future leaders to ensure strong leadership for the long-term success of the Australian sheep industry.

Melissa also undertakes a range of strategic, governance and business management for the organisation and works closely with SPA staff, board and policy committees to provide opportunities to enhance the leadership capability of the organisation.

Melissa is an experienced agribusiness and community development professional, having delivered training and events for over 15 years. Her main projects have been in leadership, community development and engagement, as well as ag-finance and agricultural research, development and adoption.

She began her career as a Red Meat Industry Development Officer at the Department of Primary Industries in Bendigo, Victoria, delivering educational activities to producers and supply chains in the southern beef and sheep industries. She also led state and national development projects to improve productivity, profitability and quality for the red meat industry and consumers.

Melissa is inspired to influence and empower rural and regional leaders through challenging people to grow and develop themselves, their community and their business.

Industry News

Summer Lamb Campaign Podcast
Episode six of MLA’s Feedback Podcast is now live featuring a ‘behind the scenes interview, with Nathan Low on MLA’s summer lamb campaign to date, uptake of the latest National Vendor Declaration and coverage of MLA’s upcoming MeatUp Forums. Listen Here 

Webinar: Producer Demonstration Sites (PDS)  
Learn about MLA’s PDS program and how to set yourself up for success in the upcoming PDS call – opening 1 April.
Register now for the ‘PDS – your questions answered’ webinar on 10 March.

Carbon Neutral Livestock Production
Producers around Australia have recently participated in a pilot series of MLA-organised workshops on carbon accounting to support the Australian red meat industry's goal of being carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30). Find out more.

Kicking off the season with healthy, fertile soils
MLA has launched a new soil resource hub for beef and sheep producers in southern Australia. The hub is a go-to for tips, tools and practical resources to get your soils into shape in preparation for a successful season. Visit to find out more.

Job Opportunity: Manager – Red Meat Industry Corporate Affairs Unit
The recruitment process to find a Manager, Red Meat Industry Corporate Affairs Unit (ICAU) is underway. This management role will oversee the day-to-day operations of ICAU, including extensive collaboration with industry to support them in technical, strategic and operational aspects of corporate communications, media and issues management in line with the objectives of the red meat industry’s Strategic Plan, Red Meat 2030. Details at: MLA Careers pageSEEK or LinkedIn.

Agricultural Leadership Scholarships

Rural & Regional Leaders Scholarship Program

Applications are now open for the Rural & Regional Leaders Scholarship Program 2021. 20 scholarships are available for emerging regional and rural leaders to attend the AICD Foundations of Directorship Course.
Scholarship applications close Monday 22 March AEDT 
Women in Agriculture Leadership Development Grants
Funding is available through Women & Leadership Australia to support the development of female leaders across Australia’s agriculture industry.
The initiative is providing grants towards three leadership development courses designed for emerging through to senior leaders.

EOI closes 19March:

Annual Report 2019-2020

Consultation Links and Have Your Say

Don't forget to have your say on the following events and consultations...
What are the biggest opportunities for the sheepmeat industry over the next 10 years?  Tell us now...
What leadership topics are most useful for you to learn about now? Check they are on the list and vote here.

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