SPA April Update

The latest updates from the last month in sheep. 

CEO Update

Sheep Sustainability Framework

The launch of the SSF saw 40 industry participants representing the major sectors of the meat and wool supply chains. With a united voice, we were all keen to demonstrate how two commodities are one animal when it comes to achieving sustainability outcomes. The Seep Sustainability Framework is a living document and that's important to allow flexibility and changes to be made. It is a starting point and will be good to see how as an industry we use utilise the credible data. This can shine a light on where industry is both doing well and where it could do better, and will also solidify the knowledge of all the positive aspects of the industry, and the factors that underpin our reputation and trade requirements.

SPA understands that this is the only Sustainability Framework worldwide that includes both wool and sheep meat. There may not be that much competition in that space, but it does show what can be achieved together.

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

Reasons for the long-term decline of the Australian flock numbers have been hotly debated. We’re looking for producers interested in chatting about why you are making a change in your sheep flock.

If you are considering, or have you recently made, a big change in your sheep numbers, we are keen to understand your plans, ideas and why you're changing.
Your contribution will help us understand why the industry is changing through the Sheep Supply Project work into understanding producer motivations to enter, expand, reduce or exit the industry.

Please provide your details here for a confidential call over the next 2 months, email or call the SPA office 02 6103 0838.

Live Export to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

It is understandable that there is some reticence from some quarters regarding the re-opening of this trade. The fact is that to re-start a long dormant trade takes very careful crafting of the protocols that are acceptable to both countries. This trade does place some extra requirements on producers in terms of vaccination and record keeping, as well as additional requirements for the exporters in terms of checks on the animals in the registered premises and how they are managed.

The major point for Australian producers is that the sheep will be discharged in KSA, even if there is a perceived issue with the shipment, which will ensure that the animal welfare needs of the sheep will be met. The sheep will be in the ESCAS system, which is important for the trade. This gives another option for the marketing of sheep from Australia, as well as working in with the food security needs of a major trading partner.

Thank you to those sharing the SPA Update with their members and industry. We’d like to mention and thank AgForce, VFF,  WA Farmers and ALEC for consistently sharing this update with their members and helping SPA to keep our stakeholders informed about the latest news and developments in the sheep industry.

Stephen Crisp

Leadersheep I  Professional Development Scholarships

The SPA Leadersheep Program continues to provide training and professional development for the sheep industry. We encourage you to apply to further your skills in your areas of interest.

Could you or your contacts benefit from professional development in these areas?

Final opportunity for May and June – please register quickly to secure your place.

  • This course provides the ultimate in negotiation skills development.
  • Experience five opportunities to learn: From the lecture, By preparing to negotiate, By watching others negotiate, By negotiating and From video analysis and expert coaching.
  • Scholarship valued at $5000. Course delivered by Scotwork
Apply Now to Master Conflict Resolution& Negotiation
  • Create content to share your red meat story
  • Engage and speak to the media confidently
  • Promote and defend the red meat and livestock industry
  • Build your brand on social media
  • Thrive in difficult conversations – from the dinner table to social media
  • Scholarship valued at $2000. Course is run by the Livestock Collective.
Apply Now for Livestock Leaders Advocacy Program
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

Monthly Poll I The NLIS Database

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.
The NLIS Database – is it working for you? Have your say with our 2 minute poll.

Monthly Poll I Results from March


Last month SPA sought to understand producer awareness of the levy system - how much is payable, and where the funds are spent in industry investments.

Currently, the maximum transaction levy is $1.50 per lamb and $0.20 per adult sheep. About half of respondents identified this, with some potentially combining a state based levy or other costs in with the Sheep Transaction Levy. 

The responses showed that awareness of the levy may not be as extensive as it could be and that as the peak industry body, we have a responsibility to explain to producers the purposes of the levy system and why it is important. It is, after all, coming from producers to fund research, marketing, and residue detection to advance the industry into the future and protect it from trade interruptions and disease risk.

Whether these levies are adequate, both in their size and what they are applied to, is an important question to ask and SPA welcomes comments and suggestions on improving the levy system or asking how industry funds can be better collected and invested..

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 Policy Committees

SPA's policy priorities can be reviewed here.
Animal Health and Welfare
  • Biosecurity Strategy
  • Footrot Vaccine
  • Facebook Group launched
Biosecurity Strategy
The AHW Policy Committee is developing a five year animal health and welfare strategy with Animal Health Australia. In combination with the Industry Animal Health Benchmarking Tool, this strategy will guide industry investment in animal health, welfare and biosecurity programs. It is important that levy funds collected by AHA can be directed in a way that delivers the most effective result for industry, and the establishment of this strategy will set up investment for the next five years.

Footrot Vaccine
Virulent footrot remains a significant threat to sheep health and welfare. Alongside Animal Health Australia, SPA has re-established the Footrot Working Group which brings together jurisdictions to report on footrot policy and control.
The most recent working group meeting discussed the availability of vaccines, and SPA is currently drafting correspondence to support broader vaccine availability, and ensure producers have options available to them to protect their flock in the most appropriate way.

Facebook group launched
“The Flock Round-Up" Facebook page has been launched this week under the National Sheep Industry Biosecurity Strategy (NSIBS). This page has been created by our colleagues at AHA to assist producers with communication and information on all things biosecurity. The NSIBS will continue to develop resources that are of assistance to producers across the country.
Market Access and Trade
  • UK FTA
  • EU FTA
  • India
Many would have noted the breathless race to a UK FTA with a mooted signing date in June (at the G7 Conference). This would definitely be far sooner than many observers would have expected, and we are aware that there may be some late positioning on a sensitive commodity like sheep meat. It was more than heartening to hear the only products mentioned in our Trade Ministers speech this week on the FTA, were ‘porterhouse and lamb chops’. At least we know we are front of mind in this negotiation.
I would like to highlight the graph that MLA put out this week, that shows the amount of products that are now covered by a FTA. Many may say ‘so what’. However, if you look at the sheep prices during droughts before we had FTA’s, there were significant price crashes, as an excess of product was pushed largely into a domestic market and limited export market with onerous tariffs. Compare that with the latest drought, where producers still received very solid per kg prices, largely due to the access to diverse markets, many of which have an FTA in place which have, or will have a zero against the tariff column.
I highlight this, as there is understandable pushback against the red tape producers endure to market their product. Where this red tape is required to underpin our commitments under an FTA, and we receive the price benefits, this is not always a bad investment.

As we all know the EU FTA negotiations are running in parallel with UK discussions. There is a major difference between the markets. The UK imports in round numbers about 100,000 MT per annum in a normal year, however, it exports about the same amount. It is mostly about product mix, as to what comes in and out of the UK. The EU however, has a genuine overall shortfall and has allocated quotas across the globe to fill its requirements. NZ has by far the largest quota allocation at over 110,000 MT with Australia reduced to almost zero since the Brexit split.

It is vital that Australia does not miss the opportunity to put some proportion into the ability to trade in this market and engaging officials and elected representatives is vital to ensure that sheep meat is one of the top priorities in these negotiations. It is possible no one thought the arrangements that were negotiated 40 years ago would still be in place today, and this is a genuine opportunity to rectify a long overdue legacy issue.

Since the signing of RCEP, no commodity lamented the withdrawal of India more than the sheep meat sector. In an attempt to salvage any possible outcomes for mutual benefit, SPA has been pushing for bi-lateral discussions and trips have been planned. Obviously, the whole enterprise is on hold while the CV19 disaster unfolds. As soon as India starts to recover and has time to discuss trade matters again, we ask for the communications to start again.
Product Integrity
  • Property to Property Movement Recording
Incomplete recording of livestock movements on the NLIS database, specifically property-to property (P2P) movements, remains a significant area for improvement for the sheep in the NLIS. SPA’s members have been requesting that SPA consider changing the responsibility of transferring livestock on the NLIS database to the seller (rather than the buyer/receiver of the stock) to improve the completion of P2P recording on the NLIS database. SPA has written to the SAFEMEAT Jurisdictional Traceability Group (JTG) to request advice as to whether implementing this change would achieve any improvement in compliance in P2P recording.
For electronic NLIS tags utilised by cattle nationally and sheep in Victoria, a ‘system transfer’ is automatically triggered when livestock are not transferred onto a property before they are sold or move. This flags a gap in traceability, and lifetime traceable status is lost. Sheep that are tagged with visual tags under the mob-based system do not have this function available and therefore do not have the same availability of data to identify where and when P2P movements do not occur. Currently, there is no metric to establish the total size of sheep P2P sales and movements that do not involve an agent or a levy payment. 

SPA wishes to progress viable solutions to improving P2P recording for the sheep industry in collaboration with the jurisdiction and Integrity Systems Taskforce. Whilst SPA is currently consulting with members on national eID for sheep, the issue of P2P will still need to be addressed through a national strategy. SPA has provided a paper to both the JTG and the IS Taskforce to discuss viable solutions that could be explored and implemented to improve property-to-property recording and the role of peak industry councils, state governments, and the Integrity Systems Company in implementing these strategies.
Research, Development and Adoption
  • RDA Committee Update
  • Red Meat Panel Update
The RDA Committee has confirmed the strategic objectives and key activity areas for the portfolio for 2021: 

1.    SPA has a reputable Research, Development and Adoption Committee which develops RD&A policy and oversees research levy expended by MLA.
a.    Red Meat Panel: participation in Red Meat Panel ensuring MLA Investment Call Terms of Reference address industry strategic plans and associated national priorities and adoption focused research.
b.    Monitoring MLA Quarterly Reports: provide feedback on the results of the preceding quarter and input into ongoing plans and industry priorities.
c.    Sheep Reproductive Strategic Partnership: provide input and monitor to contribute to the program achieving a 5% reduction in reproductive losses on a minimum of 500 properties.

2.    Service providers, academic and government researchers are conscious of the sheep industry’s research, development, and adoption priorities advocated for by SPA.
a.    Sheep Supply: Using the outputs of the sheep supply project, identify and articulate the critical issues that can be mitigated, resolved, or improved through existing or new extension and adoption programs, as well as identify knowledge gaps to inform further research and development.

3.    Support the increase of both funding and prioritisation of extension and adoption by service providers and RDCs. 
a.    Undertake advocacy activities for increasing extension and adoption budget allocation with service providers.

Red Meat Panel Update 
The projects submitted to the FY21 Annual Investment Call were due on 19 February and will be reviewed by the RMP at the May 2021 meeting. The RDA Committee will review the proposals to provide SPA with the feedback to take to the RMP meeting. Find more information on MLA’s regional consultation process here

Industry Consultations - What's Changing in your flock?

Sheep Supply Project I Have Your Say

Industry News

Sheep Sustainability Framework opportunities for industry growth | MLA
In the latest MLA On the ground podcast, hear from Bruce Allworth, chair of the newly released Sheep Sustainability Framework, about the opportunities it presents for industry growth.

Sheep and goat trade reopens to Saudi Arabia I MLA 
The Australian live export industry has received promising news in the past fortnight here

Costing a national sheep EID system is one thing I Sheep Central 
A major livestock tag manufacturer believes a national electronic identification system for sheep and goats could be quickly costed without an expensive inquiry or consultation process here

Livestock supply chains with Liz Jackson | AgWatchers Podcast
A chat with SPA board member and lecturer in supply chain management covering wool selling, livestock supply chains and the retail share received by Australian livestock producers here

Preparing your soils for a winning season I MLA Feedback Podcast
Boosting carrying capacity through soil testing Download here 
Carbon neutral from paddock to plate I MLA 
The links in the lamb supply chain between the Simpson family's ‘Binginbar Farms’ and the dinner plate are very few. here

Peer to peer learning the focus as new Producer Demonstration Site applications open I MLA 
Funding applications are now open for cattle, sheep and goat producer groups throughout Australia who are interested in running local projects to validate the on-farm benefits of research and development findings. here

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