NSW comes into line on traceability measures
NSW Primary Industries minuster Katrina Hodgkinson announced this week that from September 1, all land carrying livestock will be required to obtain a Property Identification Code (PIC) regardless of whether or not they are trading or moving animals. Previously an exemption was available for small landholders, which has now been removed. The legislation will cover cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, bison, buffalo, camels, horses, donkeys, llama, alpaca or 100 or more poultry birds. Industry groups had lobbied the NSW government for several years over mandatory PICs for livestock producers. The NSW DPI and NSW Food Authority have introduced a “No PIC, No sell, No Slaughter” policy across the supply chain. The announcement brings NSW into line with other jurisdictions, improving the state’s capacity to respond to animal disease and food safety incidents. PICs are one of the cornerstones of industry programs like NLIS and LPA, and smaller, ‘hobby’ scale livestock owners were seen as a relatively high biosecurity risk.
McLamb burger hits the streets
In line with its ‘farm-to-table’ marketing theme promoting local products and spotlighting some of the farmers and producers it works with around the world, McDonald’s is working with Meat and Livestock Australia in the development of the Serious Lamb Burger. The new burger will be unleashed in Queensland on August 14, and other states the following day. Training materials for McDonald’s staff feature Sam Kekovich, the face of MLA’s seasonal lamb marketing campaigns. In the training film, Kekovich calls it “one of the best creations of this mighty meat that I have ever had the chance to savour!” McDonald’s has tried lamb patties in several European countries previously, but this is a first for Australia.
New Primesafe members appointed
Victorian agriculture minister Peter Walsh recently announced the appointment of four new members to the board of the State’s meat and seafood safety regulator, PrimeSafe. Dr Caroline Barrett, Zoe Attwood, Gary Hardwick from Hardwick’s abattoir at Kyneton and Leonard Vallance, a director of the Cattle Council of Australia are the new appointments to the Prime Safe board. Reappointments include Dr John Carnie, Tim Mirabella, retail butcher Frank Russo, Chris Turner and Frank Whitford. Mr Walsh thanked departing board members Ailsa Fox (CCA), Jillian Francis, Frank Herd (AMIC) and Paul Conway for their contribution to PrimeSafe and their commitment to the red meat, poultry and seafood industries.
Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul wants animal ID
The Government of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul wants to invest about A$30 million in restructuring animal health protection in the state and electronically identifying every beast in its 13 million cattle herd, in a project designed to provides a full traceability system. The project will buy and distribute devices such as ear-tags, chips and readers, and equipment for Government inspectors. The government says traceability will ultimately become mandatory, as it is in the neighbouring South American country of Uruguay.
Meanwhile, in Uruguay itself, the nation’s National Meat Institute will trial a system where all vacuum packed rump tri-tips (known locally and much prized as picanha) carry a QR code labelling system. QR codes, accessible via an App on an I-phone, are a variation on conventional bar codes, but can carry a great deal more information. Each time a consumer scans the QR code using their mobile phone, they will be able to navigate to a website page that will exhibit a video with information about the attributes of Uruguayan beef, and how best to prepare picanha. The plan will apply to all suppliers of beef within Uruguay, both domestic and imported, which could potentially include Australian supplies. The three-month trial will start on August 1.
More wins for Atron brands
Beef brands controlled by Victoria’s Atron Enterprises continue to perform well in branded beef competitions around the country. The company’s Spring Grove grassfed MSA brand program won a silver medal at the prestigious Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show in June, and backed up with a bronze medal at the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards last month. A second Atron brand, Condabri MSA grainfed Beef also won a bronze award in Melbourne. These world-class Royal shows are fast becoming Australia’s premium fine food events, growing in reach and prominence each year and attracting exhibitors from across the nation. The shows promote excellence across the fine food industry, celebrating boutique producers and regional specialists. Conducted annually, they present a valuable opportunity for producers to benchmark their products and establish their credentials in the Australian fine food industry. Atron chief executive, David Larkin, who recently returned from an overseas trip promoting Atron’s brands in the international market, said the results were a “fantastic achievement” for a young Australian company, as well as the brand supply chain partners. Atron Enterprises is also a finalist in the NSW Premier’s Exporter of the Year Awards for 2011. This is the third consecutive year that Atron has been awarded finalist status. The awards celebrate excellence in the export of goods and services by NSW business.
Vaccination focus for field day
A southern Queensland beef production information day with particular focus on pestivirus, leptospirosis, vaccination programs and parasite control will be held on Thursday August 23 at Bunjurgen Charbray Stud, on Behrendorff Road, Bunjurgen via Boonah. Speakers will include Pfizer Animal Health vet, Dr Lee Taylor. The day will kick off at 10am, with lunch and refreshments provided. Intending visitors should RSVP by Monday August 20, for catering purposes. Contact: Ray Parker Elders Kalbar 07 5463 7209.
US beef import projections may need to be cut
If current trends persist, US beef import projections for 2012 may need to be cut by about 90,000 tonnes, according to recent comments in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Daily Livestock Report. Currently USDA expects US beef imports in 2012 to be up 20pc on the previous year. In the first five months of the year total imports of fresh/frozen and cooked beef were up 22pc from the previous yearly cycle, but since then, imports have slowed. The Daily Livestock Report says that partly reflects lower slaughter levels in Australia as well as some modest recovery in sales to Australia’s other export markets. The A$ also rose steadily in June and July and is now trading well above parity against the US currency. Finally, there is the issue of imported prices relative to US domestic manufacturing product. Imported beef is trading at a discount and there were times in July when the discount was as much as 10pc versus equivalent domestic hamburger beef.
Meanwhile, there appears to be no significant fallout in terms of buyer resistance from April’s announcement of a fourth case of BSE in the US. May and June were the first months in which any BSE-related decline could be detected in US beef export statistics. Neither month showed any major impact, although global totals were slightly affected by the market closure in Saudi Arabia and negative media coverage in some Asian markets. With the exception of Saudi Arabia, the US Meat Export Federation said it had not suffered any significant setbacks in terms of market access.
Refrigeration company admits to false carbon tax claim
ABC news reported last week that consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said a South Australian refrigeration company had admitted to making false carbon tax price claims. The company involved has accepted a legally-enforceable undertaking that it will not make further false statements linking price rises to the carbon tax. The company sent emails to customers which attributed the entire increase of a refrigerant gas price to the carbon tax, when this was not the case. The refrigeration contractor agreed not to make similar misleading claims in the future and to send out a corrective notice to its customers advising them of the false claims. ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the company avoided potential fines because of its full cooperation with the regulator once concerns about the statements were raised. “Businesses must carefully consider the basis for any pricing claims to ensure such claims are truthful and have a reasonable basis," Mr Sims said. He said consumers may be less likely to question price hikes if they are blamed on the carbon tax.
Governor opens new Droughtmaster HQ
One of Australia’s biggest beef cattle breed societies has a new headquarters, to be opened on Friday by Queensland Governor, Penny Wensley during the Royal Queensland Show. After almost 20 years of being based at the University of Queensland Vet School Farm at Pinjarra Hills, the Droughtmaster Society recently moved its headquarters to Ipswich. The Society needed more office space and after a lengthy search purchased a federation style residence on the edge of the Ipswich CBD, which was converted into professional offices. This move has additional significance, given the Society is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year. Her Excellency will be hosted by Society President Rob Atkinson, who is a grandson of one of the breed’s founding fathers, Monty Atkinson.
Japanese cattle herd in decline
High feed costs, and subdued carcase prices and food safety concerns continue to impact on the Japanese cattle industry, with herd numbers falling 1.6pc year-on-year to 4.13 million head as at 30 June. Holstein (used for both dairy and beef) and Japanese Wagyu numbers eased by 2.5pc and 2pc respectively, year-on-year, to 1.81 and 1.73 million head. Slaughter numbers for these categories in 2012 have been up compared with last year. Looking forward, forecasts by Japan’s Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corporation suggest total beef production during July and August this year will increase, compared with the low volumes in 2011, due to last year’s radioactive contamination issues and subsequent decline in slaughter numbers.