THE deadline for submissions for the beef industry language white paper review has been extended, in response to a strong level of engagement from stakeholders and concerns over the tightness of the original December 30 deadline, with holidays fast approaching.
Meat & Livestock Australia’s project steering committee has agreed to extend the deadline to Monday 16 February next year.
MLA general manager livestock productivity, Dr Alex Ball told Beef Central that a surprising level of interest had been received so far, from all sectors of the industry. More than 50 stakeholders had already made contact, inquiring about registering a submission.
“The interest so far has come from producers and producer groups, processors, right through the chain to retailers and other end-users,” Dr Ball said.
“Many have indicated that this is a time to examine where the future of the beef industry language may fit, realising that change is coming, in many forms, including new technologies,” he said.
“A lot of stakeholders have told us they wanted to spend more time making sure that they have good clear information and facts in their submissions, about how they see the language moving forward.”
“A point that came out of yesterday’s steering committee meeting is that the review is not just about the language that exists for the trading of meat on domestic and international stages. It’s also about how that information is fed back to producers so they can make more informed decisions, what new technologies may offer in terms of offering new methods of assessment, and a host of other aspects,” he said.
“It’s not how we measure, describe and value a carcase. It’s how we measure and describe cuts that go overseas; and how producers and processors can use that information to improve the transaction. Even simple things like how beef grids would have to be redesigned if the language changed.”
Some of the recent carcase and animal assessment technologies, such as those highlighted in this earlier Beef Central article, would also have an influence over the direction of the language review, Dr Ball said.
“If this project is about determining where we want the beef industry language to be in 2025, what are some of the enabling technologies that are becoming available that will allow us to get there?” he said.
“Some of the technologies are things we have not really yet even thought about. The industry currently uses ossification and dentition to measure animal maturity, but another way to measure maturity is bone density, using hyper spectral cameras or dual-emission X-ray analysis. We don’t have all the answers yet, but now that we have some of the technologies on our doorstep, what can we do with them? That’s some of the thinking that’s gone on over the past couple of months.”
There were also a lot of parallel issues like animal welfare raising claims, provenance, environmental management claims and labelling laws – which would also start to influence where the beef language review process goes.
Dr Ball said despite the fact the submissions deadline had now been push back, it was still envisaged that a first draft would be made available for further industry scrutiny and discussion by the end of March.