11 May 2018

A week after the Queensland Parliament passed contentious native vegetation laws, a new report shows a sustainable and thriving Australian beef industry committed to better social, animal welfare, environmental and economic outcomes.

Queensland beef producer and chair of the Sustainability Steering Group Bryce Camm said the launch of the inaugural Australian Beef Sustainability Annual Update 2018 (the Update) could not have come at a better time.

“We have seen last week in Queensland how policy can be introduced that doesn’t meet the needs of industry or the community,” Mr Camm said.

“The Australian Beef Sustainability Annual Update, on the other hand, prioritises collaboration and evidence-based policy making and is a great opportunity for industry to elevate the debate.”

“The Update shows the industry working towards a collective future through establishing $35 million in research partnerships in animal welfare, launching a proactive antibiotic monitoring program in Australian feedlots, having research pathways in place to Australia towards a carbon-neutral beef industry by 2030 and putting in place an action plan for environmental stewardship, particularly tree and grass cover.”

Mr Camm said the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (the Framework), as a whole-of-industry initiative, had appointed an expert third-party panel of eminent scientists to help industry define and report on the balance of grass and tree cover.

“We’ve appointed a team of world-leading remote sensing experts, biologists and conservationists to our expert panel because there is no agreement on what is or how to accurately measure the tree growth and tree/ pasture changes in vegetation managed by the Australian cattle industry – and, indeed, the related expectations of our customers,” he said.

“We have agreement from industry, retailers, banks and environment groups to review the advice of key technical experts in order to develop a longer-term solution to managing vegetation for the mutual benefit of industry productivity and environmental outcomes.

“We believe we can achieve better industry outcomes that honour our commitment to customers and voters and we sincerely hope governments start to recognise this.”

The Australian Beef Sustainability Framework is an initiative of the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) in partnership with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and prioritises six key areas: animal husbandry techniques, profitability across value chain, balance of tree and grass cover, antimicrobial stewardship, managing climate change risk, and health and safety of people in industry.

Independent Chair of the RMAC, Mr Don Mackay, said the ABSF addressed issues that could be very emotive from an industry and community perspective, such as land management, animal welfare and more.

“We must clearly communicate how we as an industry manage issues that our customers and stakeholders are interested in and concerned about.

“The Annual Update tackles these issues head on and provides the platform for discussions with government, investors, customers and other stakeholders,” he added.

“As an industry the time to act on sustainability is now. We must continue working together to ensure the longevity and prosperity of our industry and defend challenges presented to us.”

“We may never satisfy an environmental or anti-animal-industry activist agenda, but we must do better for our own businesses and our customers and Australian voters. Our industry depends on it to continue to live up to our claims we are producing sustainable Australian beef.”

Mr Mackay thanked all the people within the industry and external stakeholders who contributed to the Framework’s development and its first Annual Update.

“The Annual Update is an exciting milestone for the industry and we sincerely appreciate the input of all of those involved.”

“Our customers and consumers are demanding more information so they can be confident to continue buying our beef, and our Framework provides that information,” Mr Mackay said.

“It’s a great resource that provides evidence on how our industry is progressing on animal welfare, economic resilience, environmental stewardship, and people and community.”

The 72-page Annual Update reports on how the beef industry is progressing on indicators that were developed through extensive consultation with industry and external stakeholders over 2016-17. It follows on from the initial Framework report (2017) and has data for 29 per cent more indicators than when the Framework was launched last year.

ENDS