Jim Cudmore to lead beef industry sustainability process

James Nason, 01/09/2014
Jim Cudmore 3

Jim Cudmore

The Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) has confirmed this morning that Jim Cudmore will lead the development of a ‘whole-of-industry’ approach to defining and reporting on Australian beef sustainability.

The appointment of Mr Cudmore, a former Australian Lot Feeders Association president and well known industry identity, is the latest step in the Australian cattle industry’s push to develop and promote its sustainability credentials to beef consumers around the world.

In late May, 27 Australian beef industry leaders met in Brisbane for a so-called “Squaretable” forum initiated by the Nationals.

The gathering was held in response to opposition from some cattle producer groups about the Australian cattle industry’s involvement in “Global Roundtable” talks, which brought together international beef industry customers, stakeholders and the World Wildlife Fund to develop a global definition for sustainable beef production.

The Squaretable forum discussed whether Australia’s cattle industry should effectively ‘go it alone’ and develop its own definitions for sustainable beef production and delivery framework.

There was unanimous acknowledgement that the Australian beef industry had a responsibility to respond to increasing customer interest in production processes.

All forum participants agreed that a national, industry-driven initiative would be the most effective method to ensure the sector was able to direct what information is needed to be collated, how it would be presented to customers and how to ensure it remained relevant to the future strategic direction of the red meat industry.

The Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC), the peak body representing the collective interests of Australia’s red meat and livestock industry, was given responsibility for governing the process.

Beef Central asked RMAC chairman Ross Keane about how work to develop a sustainability definition for Australian beef was progressing since the Australian industry taskforce on sustainability was formed in late May.

In comments to Beef Central this morning Mr Keane confirmed that Jim Cudmore had been appointed to lead the sustainability process.

Mr Cudmore has more than 20 years experience in the cattle industry, initially with Mitsubishi Australia and from 1996 to 2013 as general manager of beef operations with Kerwee Lot Feeders on Queensland’s inner Darling Downs. He served as the president of ALFA from 2008 to 2012 and became a director on the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) in 2008.

“Jim Cudmore is well respected right across industry, and is the ideal person to lead this process,” Mr Keane said.

Mr Keane said it was essential that the Australian industry took the lead in the sustainability area.

“While the Australian beef industry has a reputable ‘clean and green’ image, it faces increasing public scrutiny of the environmental, animal welfare, and health impacts associated with its production, processing and distribution practices,” Mr Keane said.

“Increasingly, stakeholders, including customers and environmental and welfare groups, are calling for more evidence that the industry is monitoring and working to improve its sustainability credentials.

“We want the industry to take the lead by first defining what is important, and then we will seek external input to ensure we are meeting the expectations of consumers, and the community more broadly.”

Mr Cudmore said that over the coming months various sectors of the industry would be engaged to provide input into a practical and meaningful approach to driving and demonstrating our sustainability credentials.

“Essential to this process will be feedback from across the supply chain on our sustainability credentials.  We are still working through the detail, but we want to ensure that we have significant industry input.  We also want everyone to see the value in us clearly defining and communicating the sustainability of our practices, and the products we produce.

“Most importantly, however, we want to frame the parameters of sustainable beef production utilising existing data.  We want to avoid any additional costs on the supply chain.”

Mr Keane said the industry is seeking to develop and implement a process that will help:

  • Define whole-of-industry measures required to build a sustainability profile;
  • Demonstrate the industry’s current sustainability credentials, as well as our commitment to their continuous improvement;
  • Build consumer and community trust through engagement and transparency around our practices;
  • Build global recognition of the industry’s place as a responsible producer of food;
  • Constructively influence policy including to negate additional regulatory burden across the value chain; and,
  • Design RD&E programs that enhance, industry engagement, productivity and resilience.

Central to these outcomes will be a focus on:

  • Collating and using existing data and information to minimise cost on producers, and the broader supply chain;
  • Focusing on industry productivity and resilience through innovation, information and engagement; and,
  • Utilising the next Meat Industry Strategic Plan (MISP4) as the vehicle for framing and driving sustainability on a whole-of-supply-chain basis.

Mr Keane reiterated the importance of using MISP4 as the most effective mechanism for encapsulating the industry’s aspirations and performance across all elements of sustainability.

“The Meat Industry Strategic Plan frames the collective interests of the production, processing and live export sectors of Australia’s beef, sheepmeat and goat meat industries”, he said.

“Supported by the combined resources of our industry’s policy bodies, its levy-funded Service Companies and other co-investors, MISP4 will define and drive a range of strategic priorities, of which sustainability is but one,” Mr Keane said.

The MISP4 development process will start in Sydney tomorrow, with a gathering of 80 stakeholders from across the red meat and livestock supply chain.

“Indicative of the importance of the sustainability issue, and MISP more broadly, to the industry’s future, RMAC and our industry partners will be hosting a number of regionally-based consultation workshops throughout September and October,” Mr Keane said.

“I invite those with an interest in our industry’s sustainability, and indeed its broader strategic direction, to take up the opportunity to participate in the upcoming workshop program.”

Mr Keane said workshops are scheduled in the following areas, with further details to be provided in coming days:

Date Region(s) Workshop location
17/09/2014 Northern Territory Katherine
17/09/2014 Tasmania Launceston
23/09/2014 Southern QLD Toowoomba
25/09/2014 Central QLD Rockhampton
26/09/2014 Northern QLD Townsville
30/09/2014 Northern NSW Armidale
1/10/2014 South-western QLD Charleville
 2/10/2014 South-western WA Perth
9/10/2014 Western NSW Broken Hill
13/10/2014 Southern NSW / Northern VIC Wagga
 14/10/2014 Central / Eastern VIC Attwood
16/10/2014 Western VIC / South-east SA Hamilton





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