Shake-up still has a way to go for saleyards

Zach RelphCountryman
ACCC deputy chairman Mick Keogh says more action is needed to improve saleyards transparency.
Camera IconACCC deputy chairman Mick Keogh says more action is needed to improve saleyards transparency. Credit: WA News

The competition watchdog has doubled down on calls for Australia’s cattle and beef industries to shine a brighter light on its supply chain in an attempt to improve transparency.

An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission-led report released in 2017 included 15 recommendations to address farmers’ concerns about low transparency across cattle and beef markets.

Last year, the watchdog published an updated report describing a “lack of support for and degree of resistance against the recommendations”.

ACCC deputy chairman Mick Keogh noted while some action had been taken to improve transparency, including improved price grid accessibility, more was needed.

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“We are pleased that price grids are now more readily accessible online, which will allow farmers to more easily select the best buyer for their cattle,” he said.

“But while these signs of progress are welcome, we continue to receive inquiries from stakeholders which relate to the ACCC’s recommendations.

“Farmers are especially concerned about the level of information available and objectivity of grading processes.

“These concerns are similar to those raised with us during our market study.”

Establishing a mandatory buyers’ register, which “should be publicly available prior to the commencement of all physical livestock auctions”, was among recommendations.

ACCC flagged a buyers’ register would allow producers wishing to sell livestock to accurately determine the level of competition for their stock by knowing how many potential purchasers there were at a sale.

Mr Keogh said there had not been any progress on addressing the buyers’ register proposal, which is understood to be opposed by the Red Meat Advisory Council.

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