A draft report on Australia’s beef supply chain has identified four key areas “for industry to tackle progress” in achieving a sustainable red meat sector.
The draft Australian Beef Sustainability Framework, released on Wednesday, pointed to environmental stewardship, economic resilience, people and the community, plus animal welfare, as priority areas of focus for our nation’s cattle and beef industries.
Sustainability Steering Group chairperson Prue Bondfield said the report had identified key priority areas and potential measures in attaining long term, sustainable beef production systems.
“It’s now open to the industry and the community to comment on whether the areas identified to date are the right ones,” Ms Bondfield said.
“The framework will be used to help guide continual improvement by industry, so it’s critical that we have the right priority areas.”
It’s about a shift towards proactively managing our beef industry, rather than being reactive to crisis scenarios
With Australia’s Beef Sustainability Framework report nearing completion, the Red Meat Advisory Council is now calling for general industry feedback on the focus group paper.
From livestock producers to red meat eaters, all are being invited to share their comments and opinions about the draft report on our nation’s beef industry through an online consultation platform.
The web based feedback site will run for the next six weeks and aims to give all members of the beef industry an opportunity to comment on the proposed beef sustainability framework draft.
SSG chairperson Prue Bondfield said Australia’s beef industry potentially “came a little late” to developing a sustainable framework.
“We have caught up now or even ahead because of a process in which we have consulted so widely,” Ms Bondfield said.
“I certainly think that the Australian beef industry can hold its head up after March and say this framework is very robust, and it has been well researched with broad consultation and engagement.”
A final Australian Beef Sustainability Framework report is expected to be released in March.
“It’s about a shift towards proactively managing our beef industry, rather than being reactive to crisis scenarios,” Ms Bondfield said.
She added that the report never set out to investigate if Australia’s $18 billion beef sector ‘was or was not sustainable’.
“Sustainable beef is a process, it’s over time, it’s continual improvement,” she said.
“You can stop at a point in time and ask the question ‘are you sustainable or not?’ but it actually doesn’t give you a very good answer.
“Expectations of stakeholders will change all the time and I think that is something that we’ve realised now.
“There will never be a defined moment where everyone has the same opinion on whether beef is sustainable or not.
“Sustainability is very much an ongoing process, but this framework report is a very good start.”
RMAC Independent Chair Don Mackay said the draft framework paper was the culmination of extensive consultation.
“The draft framework has been developed following discussions with industry, retailers, regulators, financial organisations, special interest groups and customers,” Mr Mackay said.
“We now want all members of the beef value chain, from producers to consumers, to help us define what sustainable Australian beef means; and how we measure and report this to the wider community.”
Go to www.sustainableaustralianbeef.com.au to view the draft Australian Beef Sustainability Framework report.
Industry and community consultation runs from January 11 to February 17.