MLA releases strategic plan for next five years

Beef Central, 17/06/2020

Meat & Livestock Australia has this morning released a new Strategic Plan charting the direction of the research and marketing body’s investments for the next five years.

The plan has been developed with industry consultation over the past 18 months and uses the Red Meat 2030 10-year red meat industry plan released last year, which laid out a vision to double the value of red meat sales by 2030, as its foundation.

MLA says its Strategic Plan 2025 is centred around delivering transformational change for Australia’s red meat and livestock industry, by prioritising which challenges to address by the impact they can deliver for the industry.

The plan builds on the strategy announced by MLA Managing Director Jason Strong at last year’s MLA AGM in Tamworth where he committed the organisation to ‘fewer, bigger and bolder’ programs of work, in order to achieve greater impact for levy investments.

Helping producers, and their supply chains to make better decisions informed by data, driving greater efficiency in the delivery of MLA’s core services, and identifying new ways to capture value and increase profitability through new revenue streams and developing high value products are at the core of the five-year strategy.

Mr Strong emphasised that Australia’s red meat and livestock industry is in good shape as it embarks on the next critical future phase.

“Our products have a reputation for being the best in world. We are trusted by consumers – who are more interested than ever about how their food is produced – because of the positive way we treat and trace our livestock,” he said.

To tackle new challenges facing the industry MLA has identified two key areas to increase investment in:

  • Adoption and extension: The plan will drive a significant increase investment in funds allocated to adoption and extension and ensure MLA programs have clear adoption and extension pathways from inception


  • Programs that support red meat industry integrity systems: The plan also highlights the importance of strengthening existing systems in support of biosecurity, food safety and traceability. In support of this it aims to drive investment in activities that accelerate data capture, end‑to‑end supply chain verification and knowledge transfer within the supply chain to support business decision making.

The ‘big picture vision’ that underpins the document is a priority to ensure MLA investments help the industry to meet the expectations of customers, consumers and the community around animal health, animal welfare and environmental stewardship.

This will entail an increasing focus on programs designed to help producers adapt to climate variability while improving productivity, delivering world-leading animal health and welfare outcomes, and adopting Carbon Neutral 2030 (CN30) pathways, demonstrated through on‑farm practice change to deliver a global competitive advantage.

“From a global marketing perspective, Australia’s red meat industry has a fantastic story to share,” Mr Strong said.

“MLA’s Strategic Plan 2025 is clear in its ambition as we continue to drive demand for red meat, with activities informed by data, evidence and insights.

“For MLA’s research and development work, we will continue to push our industry forward by building on-farm productivity through improved adoption of research outcomes.

“We must build more sophisticated and efficient supply chains, with a shared commitment from all of industry.”

He said the ambition was to build a plan that ensured MLA can capitalise on the areas in which it already has a competitive advantage, but “also ask some tough questions about what we can do better for producers and how we can turn today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities”.

Australia’s on‑farm assurance, animal identification and traceability systems, which guarantee the integrity of the $28.5 billion red meat industry to its customers; Meat Standards Australia (MSA), the world’s leading eating quality grading program for beef, and MLA’s work to support access to international markets, which has been critical to the growth and competitiveness of our industry were examples of the industry’s existing strengths.

“What these examples show us is to have real impact, we need to be focused, ambitious with our expectations and demand greater impact from the investments we make,” Mr Strong said.

“However, success will ultimately be measured by the ability of red meat producers to create and capture additional value from these investments.”

He said MLA will continue to target major strategic challenges to ensure higher risk but higher reward investments are not being overlooked.

“To be successful, it was important that this strategy focused not just on what we will do, but how we will do it. We developed guiding principles that will ensure MLA is well placed to deliver transformational change and maximise our impact.”

He said the Strategic Plan 2025 will undergo a constant cycle of review and inform MLA’s Annual Investment Plans (AIPs), which outline MLA’s programs and the activities, key performance indicators and budgets for each financial year.

Click here to view MLA’s Strategic Plan 2025.

Key challenge: increasing impact with lower operating budgets

If MLA is going to drive transformational change as outlined in today’s Strategic Plan 2025, it will have to do so with smaller annual operating budgets over the next five years.

MLA is funded principally by compulsory levies paid by producers on each head of cattle, sheep and goats they sell each year.

Successive years of drought have driven livestock populations to historically low levels. An improvement in seasonal conditions  in many areas is now expected to lead to a focus on herd and flock rebuilding which will also mean fewer sale transactions from an already low base, in turn translating to less revenue for research and marketing activities conducted by MLA.

The Strategic Plan 2025 contains detailed forecasts of MLA’s expected annual operating budgets from 2021 to 2025, and the key areas in which it expects to allocate its available funding in each of those years.

In effect current projections suggest MLA will have $42 million less to spend in 2025 than it will in 2021 – $235.3 million in five years time, compared to an anticipated $277.5 million next year.

Clearly that will mean spending will have to be reduced in some areas while it endeavours to increase investment in key areas to meet the goals of its new strategic plan.

According to details in the report released this morning, areas in which annual funding allocations are planned to reduce, stay the same and increase over the next five years are as follows:

    • Areas in which the total amount spent will reduce over the five year period:
      • Animal health and welfare from $9.2m to $4.6m (-$4.6m)
      • Feedlot from $9.1m to $7.8m (- $1.3m)
      • Capability building from $15.4m to $9.4m – (-$6m)
      • Environmental sustainability from $19.5m to $13.6m (-$6m)
      • International markets $47.6m to $40m (-$7.6m)
      • Integrity systems – $27m to $24m (-$3m)
      • Objective measurement $17.9m to $11.2m (-$6.7)
      • Productivity (off-farm) $9.4m to $8.2m (-$1.2m)
      • Productivity (on-farm) $39.9m to $24.9m ($-15m)
    • Areas in which total amount spent will remain largely the same:
      • Communication from $8.8m to $8.7m
      • Product and packaging innovation $4.5m to $5m
      • Eating Quality $7.5m to $8m
      • Domestic market $23.3m to $23.3m
      • Value chain information and efficiency $7.0m to $7.6m
    • Areas in which total amount spent will increase:
      • Producer adoption $12.6m to $19.4m (+$6.8m)
      • Corporate services $17.6m to $18.8m (+$1.2m)



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  1. Paul Franks, 17/06/2020

    Has anyone noticed how now MLA are mentioning environmental concerns. Then the organisation also mentions “adopting Carbon Neutral 2030 (CN30) pathways, demonstrated through on‑farm practice change” Along with “The plan also highlights the importance of strengthening existing systems in support of biosecurity, food safety and traceability.”

    Now when I read all that to me it means MLA will introduce more paperwork, audits and scarily telling us how to run our properties.

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