SPA May Update

The latest updates from the last month in sheep. 

 CEO Update

Sheep Supply Project

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. Many of these decisions are likely to be made as a sheep farmer comes to the end of their management career. If there is succession, the next generation may change the enterprise mix. If the property is sold, the new owner may want a different enterprise mix. This is where large changes in sheep numbers are likely to occur. There will also be some changes in sheep numbers from farmers increasing or decreasing their sheep numbers in a less than drastic way, and we are interested in interviewing some of them too. Also any formerly mixed farmers have got out of sheep and are now doing only cropping,  we would like to talk to some of them too. If this sounds like you - Contact us here.

42% probability of significant animal disease outbreak in the next 5 years

During May, SPA staff and interested producers attended an Animal Health Australia session featuring a presentation from Mark Schipp (Australian Chief Veterinary Officer). The messages provided a sobering commentary on the probabilities of Australia suffering an incursion of an internationally notifiable disease within the next 5 years. The work was facilitated by the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis. We are all aware that African Swine Fever is on Australia’s doorstep, and this was rating a 21% probability. What was interesting for the sheep sector is Foot and Mouth Disease rating 9%. For a disease that would literally shut the trade doors, have a massive impact on stock and their producers, costing tens of billions of dollars, that number seems worryingly high.

As the information sheet shows, there are many factors that are working in our favour and some against. One of the negatives, over which we have some level of control, is Biosecurity Complacency or Fatigue. This is one of the many reasons SPA has been pushing for the recent SAFEMEAT recommendations on biosecurity reform to be followed through. Australia must have an ability to both defend our shores and quickly bounce back from an incursion, or we risk being shut out of international markets for an extended time if our fears are realised.

Value Based Marketing

There has been some recent press (some by SPA) on the looming ability to measure Intra-Muscular Fat (IMF), at chain speed in a processing plant. For decades Australian producers have been turning out high quality lambs, and have been compensating for lower numbers, with higher weights. The risk has always been around ensuring we do not lose our tenderness and flavour, so valued by the consumers, in our changing genetics. IMF is a key indicator that we can measure, that will allow feedback flow (and even payment systems) to guide the genetic path and shore up future returns for the sheep meat sector. SPA is looking forward to working with industry to ensure everyone in the supply chain can benefit from this.

Plant Based Proteins

Another issue that has generated commentary is how Plant Based proteins are labelled and marketed. There is no doubt liberties have been taken with the use of terms such as meat, chicken, bacon, beef etc.

The Working Group (arranged by the Minister and DAWE and chaired by NFF), into this topic ended by concluding that a majority of Group members determined that a voluntary code of conduct, with some level of enforcement, was appropriate. The two RMAC Working Group members objected to that sentiment (as did the RMAC members themselves), and the fact that chicken and pork were not represented meant that action was required. Through lobbying by RMAC and associated commodities, a Senate Enquiry into the issue will occur.  SPA rarely advocates for increased regulation, but in this case, we are not pushing for additional regulation of the sheep meat sector. Food manufacturers are looking to obtain a free ride on the good name of the red meat sector, along with the high cost of regulation that underpins it. To stop the behaviour, regulation seems to be the only option.

UN Food systems summit

The global meat sector will be holding a Food Systems Dialogue on Wednesday 26 May (AEST) to inform the first-ever United Nations Food Systems Summit which will take place in New York in September. Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) are co-convening a Dialogue (alongside the Global Meat Alliance and in partnership with the International Meat Secretariat) to ensure the role meat protein plays in healthy, sustainable food systems is heard. The speakers will explore the role of the global meat sector, collectively, in creating sustainable food systems. The five Action Tracks of the Food Systems Summit will guide the direction of discussion with the outcomes being how industry can deliver progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and in identifying ‘Game Changing Solutions’.

Stephen Crisp

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

Sheep Supply Project I Can we call you?

Leadersheep I  Professional Development Scholarships

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 negotiation skills course below.

Apply for SPA Professional Development Scholarships
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.
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 helps advance negotiation skills across the industry 

Last week 9 participants completed an Advancing Negotiation Skills course delivered by Scotwork. We look forward to sharing the key learnings over the next couple of months, but for now, here is what the participants had to say:

•    Excellent! Ben is a great leader and teacher. Personable, funny, patient, and understanding.  
•    Fantastic, negotiation 101 which very few of us know, but need
•    … the perfect way to introduce and teach the principles of negotiation to any person in any industry.
•    Excellent, learned a great deal about myself and the way that I approach the negotiation table
•    My key takeaways were … to not be afraid to ask for what I want out of the negotiation
•    Extremely thorough covered all aspects of the process in great detail.
•    … having a negotiation system that has been tried and tested for 40 years is very reassuring.
Sign Up to the next Advanced Negotiation Skills

Monthly Poll I How do you use Carcase Data?

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.
Have Your Say with our 2 minute poll

Monthly Poll I Results from April I NLIS Database 

The National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) encompasses traceability of sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs. The SPA April Poll asked producers about the NLIS database and how they use it. All responders to the survey were registered with the NLIS and all interacted directly or indirectly through their agent or processer with the database. 

It is the buyer/receiver of the livestock’s responsibility to record the movement.

30% of the respondents incorrectly said that it is the seller or dispatcher of the stocks responsibility to lodge the records with the NLIS where it is actually the buyer/receiver of the livestock’s responsibility. There was also a number of respondents who lodged the sale of their own livestock with the NLIS to ensure that the transaction had been properly recorded. 

75% of the producers expressed a willingness to engage in training on using the NLIS Database. 

With a significant positive response from the survey, SPA will facilitate more help for producers to understand how to use the NLIS Database. To be notified of these opportunities, please let us know.

New single sign-on at myMLA makes life easier.

The new single sign-on at myMLA enables one user name and password to access all your Integrity and Information Systems in one place.

So forget the hassle of multiple log-ins for:
-    National Livestock Identification System (NLIS), 
-    Livestock Production Assurance (LPA), 
-    National Vendor Declarations (NVDs), and 
-    Live Data Link (LDL)

Enhancing traceability is a priority for industry and government

The Federal Government recently announced a commitment to invest over 400 million dollars into modernising Australia’s biosecurity system. The National Farmers Federation media release is here.

Have Your Say - Consultations

Biosecurity Readiness Survey 
Producers are encouraged to take part in a short survey to inform the development of an app that will predict and alert producers to biosecurity threats affecting the Australian red meat industry.
The survey takes about five to seven minutes and asks producers a range of multiple-choice questions about the biosecurity practices they have in place within their sheep, goat or beef. The survey will help to inform a collaborative research project being conducted by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and Integrity Systems Company (ISC) in conjunction with research partner ExoFlare. As part of its first phase, the project seeks to gather a range of information on biosecurity practices employed on-farm from producers and other stakeholders in the red meat industry enterprise. Biosecurity Readiness Survey

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
  • Sheep Health Project
Sheep Health Project
The Sheep Health Project Steering Committee met this month to review the work of the Sheep Health Project, including the National Sheep Health Monitoring Project (NSHMP) and the National Sheep Industry Biosecurity Strategy (NSIBS). Health and welfare project updates were also provided by Australian Wool Innovation and Meat and Livestock Australia.

The NSIBS is currently preparing for an extension project in the Riverina, and a pilot group of producers has been identified by the NSIBS NSW Extension Manager, Dr Sophie Hemley. Once underway, this project seeks to improve biosecurity preparedness on farm and throughout the supply chain.

Access to disease information is improving through the NSHMP as producers with access to sheep health data are being notified via email. Veterinarians can access aggregated data on the prevalence of disease in regions of interest by contacting Animal Health Australia.
Market Access and Trade
  • UK and EU FTA
  • Live Export Regulation
UK and EU Free Trade Agreements
In terms of making news, the UK FTA hit the airwaves with a bang in May. The key for sheep producers is to refrain from getting upset regarding the claims around Australian lamb or how we manage our operations. This will equally apply when the EU FTA comes into focus. Australia has been sending lamb and mutton to the UK and EU for a very long time. Regulators and negotiators are aware of the high standards we work to, and the quality of our products. The red meat sector is an open book in Australia, and the case for trade has been well made. We are in the toughest period now, of letting the negotiators complete the process without buying into any distractions.

Live Export Regulation
SPA has written to Minister Littleproud regarding the massive increases in the cost recovery being considered in the current CRIS, and the implications for the viability of the Live Export sector. The context outlined was around the increased regulation reducing stocking rates and placing a moratorium on the time periods where shipping is allowed. Both measures have greatly reduced economies of scale for the industry (quite properly), however, the immediate increase in the recovery of costs for independent observers and the closer management from Government, does place a question mark over the ability of the trade to absorb so many shocks in a short space of time.

The Committee agreed with the approach of SPA to challenge the timing and request efficiencies to be found in all meat sector regulation to reduce the farm gate impact and assist the sustainability of the overall industry.

SPA also wrote to DAWE regarding the regulation requiring lambs to be segregated based on sex. SPA explained that wethers and ewe lambs can be run together without issue on properties and the regulation led to unnecessary handling and imposed a large labour and logistic cost on live export operators. A favourable response has been received and a solution is being worked through for the next regulation review, as well as interim measures.
Product Integrity
  • Chemical Intramuscular Fat Standards 
The Product Integrity Committee had its meeting on 17 May to discuss a wide range of issues ranging from chemical intramuscular fat (IMF%) grading language, increasing the uptake of the eNVD, and the exploration of a national electronic tag tender for the sheep industry. 

Chemical Intramuscular Fat Standards 
The Committee recommended their support for a proposal seeking to establish the IMF% trait as a trading/grading language as the reference standard for lamb carcase grading and trading language. This 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. IMF% is the measure of the chemical fat percentage in the loin muscle of lamb, where the visible component is known as marbling. Research shows that IMF% has a very strong correlation with eating quality. 

Currently, lamb carcase grading is based only on carcase weight and Grade Rule (GR) tissue depth or fat score, with no method of directly or indirectly identifying or segregating lamb carcases based on eating quality. The beef industry uses the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) beef grading scheme to grade individual cuts within the carcases. The MSA grading scheme uses a range of variables known to influence eating quality, including marbling score. For the lamb industry to implement a similar MSA model, commercially available technologies that predict chemical IMF% at processing line-speed are required. Therefore, to further progress the production and delivery of commercial solutions, the IMF% needs to be agreed to as a new trait for the lamb and sheepmeat grading language.

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.
Research, Development and Adoption
  • Red Meat Panel Update
Red Meat Panel Update 
The RDA Committee met on 21 May to discuss project proposals submitted to the FY21 Investment Call to advise SPA in preparation for the upcoming Red Meat Panel meeting. 

The Red Meat Panel, comprising members from NABRC, SALRC, and WALRC, SPA, CCA, and MLA, advised the 2021-22 research, development, and adoption (RD&A) priorities for investment of sheepmeat and grassfed beef levies through the 2021-22 MLA investment call. The Panel considered the 2021-22 RD&A priorities from regional consultation, past and current sheepmeat and grassfed beef RD&A investments, and RD&A gaps to identify priorities for the 2021-22 MLA. SPA’s role as a member of The Panel is to review, guide, and recommend projects for funding based on feedback received from producer and expert panels, impact and adoption, and important alignment to strategic objectives outlined in RedMeat 2030.

The FY21 investment call for R&D projects were asked to respond to Terms of Reference for the following priorities: 
•    A scour worm vaccine for sheep
•    Driving on-farm practice change to increase whole of life cow productivity for southern beef production systems
•    Matching feed supply in a variable landscape to a Changing Climate.

The Panel will consider the projects at their next meeting at the end of the month.  Find more information on MLA’s regional consultation process here

Industry News

Gundagai launches world-first meat yield and IMF lamb grid | Sheep Central
In a world-first lamb grid paying producers on lean meat yield, weight and intramuscular fat, with feedback on animal health at an individual carcase level has been launched here

ISC Stand By What You Sell - Overview Webinar I Integrity Systems
This webinar is ideal for anyone in the supply chain seeking an overview of the red meat integrity system – from producers wanting a refresher, people new to the livestock industry and small producers and hobby farmers. Tuesday 1 June free to register here

Growing your flock? I AWI
Joining ewe lambs is one way to do it but has many pitfalls Learn from the ThriveAgri new course here

Red Meat, Green Facts | MLA
MLA has created Red Meat, Green Facts it brings together clear, evidence-based messages to empower Australia’s red meat advocates here

Ryegrass triple treat I MLA Producer site
Introducing annual ryegrasses has delivered a triple win for central Victorian sheep producer Lachie Green, by filling the winter feed gap, preserving perennial pastures and supporting quicker lamb turn‑off here
Budget supports farmers to continue to supercharge Australia’s economic recovery I NFF 
The Federal Budget has delivered a shot in the arm for agriculture and regional Australia with welcomed investment in biosecurity, infrastructure, trade, telecommunications, climate change adaptation and health services here

Victorian MP calls for 1080 ban and alternative dingo control I Stock and Land
A Victorian politician has called for 1080 to be banned in bushfire-affected areas, but those in the industry say the bait is the only way to protect both livestock and native species from wild dogs 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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