Sweep of new ideas for Broome

Rebecca TurnerCountryman

The Beef Council is planning a delegation to Broome in the next two months to highlight options for northern cattle producers in the wake of the Indonesian live export crisis.

Beef Council chairman Tony Hiscock said council members had been heavily involved with helping the WA industry through the problems it had faced during the ban placed on live exports to Indonesia and more recently, the entire council had been investigating alternatives to develop for the industry.

He said the planned industry forum would involve both workers within the northern cattle industry and Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) representatives.

Mr Hiscock said the Beef Council had also been taking part in the Bill Farmer independent review into the live export industry and it was important those working on plans to take the industry forward did not “throw the baby out with the bath water”.

“There are some very good verifiable quality control systems already in place as part of the existing live export supply chain; it is important this is not forgotten, ” Mr Hiscock said.

Mr Hiscock said despite the recent setbacks, WA’s northern beef industry had a promising future.

“The council is working on a number of projects that aim to help the industry reach its full potential, ” Mr Hiscock said.

Investigations are continuing into the possibility of a new abattoir operating in the State’s north, with the second stage of WA’s northern abattoir feasibility study being finalised.

“Tim Hoffman and his crew are interviewing people in the processing industry to gauge their level of interest and opinions, ” Mr Hiscock said.

“An abattoir in the State’s north would provide real opportunity, but its success depends heavily on whether the northern industry thinks it is ready for a full-time abattoir.”

Mr Hiscock said that having the right type of cattle (that could meet specification) and a constant supply, would also be essential for a northern abattoir to be successful; therefore new management practices and improvements in the genetics of stock would also be needed.

“The recent live export scare could provide people with more interest in the project, ” Mr Hiscock said.

“An abattoir won’t provide a silver bullet; industry has to make the investment.

“I can’t see someone investing $35 million plus without knowing the destination markets and being assured of supply, therefore having all the key ingredients for such a project sorted out is essential.”

Mr Hiscock said it was often this level of detail in planning required when it came to improving WA’s beef industry that frustrated producers.

He said those on the Beef Council were involved in a range of projects, from building a metropolitan truck wash bay to understanding why WA producers were not achieving eastern states values for cull cattle.

Investigations into accessing the lucrative EU 100-day grain-fed, chilled boxed beef market are heading into their final stages and development of a WA Meat Standards Australia 4 and 5-star beef product is also now at the trial stage in some WA processors, thanks to the Beef Council’s work with MLA.

A progress report on this and other projects would be made at the August Beef Council meeting.

“Work by a group we formed to look at reducing red-tape issues in the industry has also since resulted in the development of new structures and systems that is putting the industry in the best position ever for future development, ” Mr Hiscock said.

“There has been some success already in the area of feedlot development applications and this could now transfer to assessing processor developments.

“This group has also been used to resolve serious issues relating to effluent management in the industry.

“We are working on a variety of projects, but it takes time.”

Mr Hiscock said the Beef Council used the Stocktake Report as a reference document for its projects and continued to look at areas in the industry which need to become planning priorities.

At the end of June 2012, the Beef Council will reach its sunset clause and its future will then be revised by industry.

“Beef council was never intended to be a permanent body. The decision may be made for it to continue past the sunset date as it does do a different job to the other producer groups in WA, ” Mr Hiscock said.

“If it is not continued, some of the projects we are working on will need to be progressed by the industry.

“It has been a big task that was set to create an environment enabling the improvement of WA’s beef industry. I would like to have put a foundation together and reached a number of milestones where industry folk can later look back and agree that we have achieved numerous benefits for the industry.”

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