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SPA August Update

The latest updates from the last month in sheep. 

CEO Update

Meeting with Minister Littleproud (including IFAM extension)
Early last month Chris Mirams and I met with Minister Littleproud. I was keen to thank the Government for the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) and stress the importance of the continued wellbeing of the sheep sector. It was more than pleasing to see the announcement on the 21st of August, seeing this commitment extended to mid-2022. There seems a genuine chance that the world may open up to more regular air freight in that time frame.
 
Emergency freight support extended to help Australian businesses | Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment (trademinister.gov.au)
 
Other subjects discussed with the Minister included:
  • The value RMAC is creating for the red meat industry, especially working on issues around Plant based (and cell based) protein labelling, as well as ensuring the red meat sector is not short-changed in upcoming climate negotiations.
  • The importance of the National Biosecurity Committee progressing the SAFEMEAT recommendations, allowing further work to be completed on the costs and implementation plans to improve national livestock traceability.
  • Supporting our processing sector which is facing the dual threats of shipping/logistics availability as well as labour force issues. The labour issues are both from lack of workforce, and restrictions being imposed due to COVID.

Sheep meat very strong
With the pandemic taking hold of food service industries in our export markets, SPA had genuine fears of a price slide for sheepmeat- frankly, it was unchartered territory. What the last drought and now the current crisis has shown, is that the levy spend on marketing and reducing non-tariff investments has provided a major dividend for the sheep industry.
 
Through the recent drought, producers had a higher turn-off of breeding stock and were retaining fewer lambs. This did not result in the price crash that has occurred in previous droughts. The reduced tariffs and increased market access has allowed an absorption of sheep meat around the world in a market that seems only to be growing.
 
Fast forward to today, with prices continuing to rise, there are some questioning the need to expand supply.  The reasons are as follows:
  • The real risk of decreasing infrastructure in many regions to below a critical mass of a major industry that attracts government support.
  • Not being able to support the processors currently in place reducing competition.
  • The current producers can increase productivity into a growing export market, with the current price pressure impacting local consumption of sheep meat.
The results of the sheep supply project will be out later this year, and SPA looks forward to providing insights into both the how and the why behind re-building the national flock.

SPA Policy Council
The Board met last week to consider the recommendations for Policy Council Members made by the independent Board Selection Committee. I would like to thank Ron Cullen for chairing the Committee and Rupert Gregg, Georgina Gubbins, Chris Kemp and Geoff Pearson for taking the time to review and recommend candidates to the Board.

I am also grateful to Maria Thompson for providing excellent secretariat support in what was a thorough process. Successful candidates will be contacted this week, and the aim is to have the first Policy Council meeting before the end of September.
 
Bonnie Skinner (General Manager, Policy and Advocacy) will be managing the Policy Council and ensuring the recommendations that emanate from it are progressed.

Eating Quality Outcome
This week, the Australian Meat Industry Language Standards Committee approved the proposal to establish chemical intramuscular fat percentage (IMF%) as the reference standard for lamb carcase grading and trading language. IMF is a measure of the chemical fat in the loin muscle of a lamb and the visible component is known as marbling. IMF has been shown to have a large effect on the sensory characteristics of lamb, including flavour, juiciness, tenderness and overall liking.
 
Establishing IMF% in the grading language will provide a method for the standardised calibration, accreditation and auditing of emerging technologies that aim to predict chemical IMF% in Australian lamb and sheepmeat. With sheep meat not having the visual IMF that beef displays (usually), the measurement technologies need to be able to operate at chain speed and give producers the feedback they need to ensure our genetic development only improves the eating outcome of our product.
 
SPA would like to see the lamb industry measuring lean meat yield (LMY) as calculated by DEXA and IMF% measured at chain speed during processing so consumers can be guaranteed a quality product; 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.

United Nations Food Systems Summit
I wanted to highlight an important issue that you may not be aware of, the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) is coming up in NYC at the end of September. MLA is involved in ensuring that the positive contribution the livestock industry makes for people and the planet is highlighted at the upcoming Summit. MLA is also encouraging individual companies to make their voices heard on the importance of red meat in society. Further details on the livestock industry’s position and how you can get involved can be found at UNFSS Activation Kit for the Global Meat & Livestock Sector | Trello.

Regards,
Stephen Crisp
CEO

Global Sheep Forum – Next Generation Leadership 

SPA is excited to be hosting the Global Sheep Forum – Next Generation Leadership in October.

The Global Sheep Forum will focus on:

  • Building capacity and capability in the next generation of sheep farmers
  • Identifying future industry leaders and providing them with the experience and knowledge
  • Establish platforms for collaboration on common challenges
  • Build global networks that enable the exchange of knowledge and experiences 

Speaker Applications Now Open
SPA invites speakers to submit talks around the theme of leadership for the sheep industry, for both this event and further workshops later in the year.
We strongly encourage presenters to submit talks ASAP as we finalise the program through September. Presenter Applications are now open until 30 September or until full. More information is available here.

Sheep Producers Leadership and Mentoring Programs Now Open

Connect, learn and grow your business as a mentee or a mentor through the Future Drought Fund’s Drought Resilience Leaders Mentoring Program.  
The program matches farmers with mentors from within industry. The mentor and mentee will share knowledge, experience, and innovation to apply on farm or in their involvement in agriculture.  

Access information, resources, and training including:
  • business and succession planning
  • being a leader within your community
  • managing change to build your business
  • how to grow your career in agriculture
  • health and well-being, and more 
Be part of a national network of mentors and mentees, sharing knowledge and learning from others to support and strengthen the agriculture sector and regional Australia. The program is seeking applications for both mentors and mentees.  

Seeking Sheep Mentees:

•  A farmer, person seeking to enter farming, or someone involved or employed in the agriculture sector
• Has identified a personal or professional goal that could be achieved with guidance from a mentor
• Reside in or have links to an agriculture-based community

Seeking Sheep Mentors:

• A farmer, drought or climate specialist or other industry stakeholders
• Passionate about minimising the impacts of drought
• Willing to share their knowledge and support other farmers

Applications close 30 September 2021 Find out more or Apply here for Mentees and Mentors

Industry Training

Advocacy and Leadership Masterclass
The National Farmers Federation (NFF) is running a Masterclasses with Peter Strong, outgoing CEO of Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) focusing on:

-         an insight into his advocacy styles and techniques
-         managing a diverse membership
-         getting the best results for members from the government
Join here: 10 am Tuesday 14 September 2021

AgriFutures Acceleration Grant looks to make ideas a reality
Applications are now open for the new AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant, which aims to provide leadership and development opportunities for future female leaders. Seven women each year will be granted a learning and development bursary of $7,000 to enable them to bring their idea, cause, or vision to life.

Applications for the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant close on 8 October 2021. Find out more here.
Ever wondered how much gets trimmed off a carcass for pneumonia, injection site reactions, or a rib fracture?
A new virtual reality tool that shows what the most common carcass impacts are, thanks to AHA and PIRSA. Click through here to find out about:
  • Arthritis
  • Sheep measles
  • Grass seed
  • Pleurisy - Pneumonia
  • Vaccination lesions

Industry News

One-stop-shop for spring tools and resources

With the start of Spring, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has compiled this suite of tips and tools to support your on-farm decision making this season.
Key sheep management practices in spring: 
-    Manage spring lambs 
-    Create genetic shopping lists 
-    Take on parasites   
-    And much more…

See more in the Spring Sheep Toolbox
Decreased lamb mortality and increased marking rates will be the major focus of new large-scale research projects announced by MLA.
 
The Sheep Reproduction Strategic Partnership (SRSP) is a sheep industry initiative managed by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) that seeks to profitably and sustainably increase lamb production by increasing weaning rates and decreasing mortality.

Building on existing industry research, development, and adoption (RD&A), the SRSP will increase impact and scale by:
  • focusing on and promoting on-farm best practice management
  • working with producers to apply R&D on farm in a way that is practical, economical, and works for different business models
  • testing and demonstrating supporting technologies
  • identifying and filling gaps in R&D.
The SRSP seeks to improve reproductive performance and weaning rates by providing producers with solutions for their farm businesses across the entire reproductive cycle. These will also deliver productivity, animal health and animal welfare benefits.
More information here.

Agriculture workers are essential workers

Agricultural workers are considered essential workers in most states and territories. This will mean that agricultural workers are exempt from most travel restrictions provided they are traveling for work purposes. The documents you need have been uploaded to the SPA website home page banner 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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