Processors call for ‘all-industry, coordinated process’ to explore beef language issues

Beef Central, 20/03/2015

Beef Central published an article on Monday highlighting some of the points raised in an industry discussion paper, prepared in advance of the development of a more formal beef language white paper.

The article, based on the discussion paper circulated among some industry stakeholders late last week, has attracted the following response from the Australian Meat Industry Council’s Australian Processor Council.

To the best of Beef Central’s understanding (the AMIC website does not clearly describe the function of each of its many constituent groups) the Australian Processor Council is the college of both export and domestic processors, representing beef, sheep and goatmeat. It is distinct from the similarly-named National Meat Processors Council.

Click here to read the original article.

Here is the Australian Processor Council’s response:


The whole industry last year entered in good faith into a process of establishing a review of the AusMeat beef language in use in the Australian beef industry today.

We agreed as an industry to establish a Steering Committee that represented all sectors of the supply chain that would oversee that review and that would establish the Terms of Reference against which that review would take place.

All parties were aware of the considerable sensitivity that would be generated around this review, but agreed that this needed to be a coordinated process.  The AusMeat language that we were setting out to review underpinned a $16 billion industry and every day of the year, millions of dollars of livestock and meat products were traded on the basis of that language.

 While the consultants were asked to consider all options, the starting point had to be that we all recognised the great track-record of the beef language to date, and its global endorsement as a trading language both commercially and officially through the United Nations Economic Commission For Europe.

The last thing we wanted to do was to undermine that status. 

The Industry Steering Committee encouraged consultation with all stakeholders with the outcomes from that process to be considered by the appointed consultants in their deliberations.

At no time did the committee agree that a paper carrying individual views that had not been endorsed by the steering committee find its way into the public arena. The challenge for the committee has always been to take all of industry with them on this journey with a focus that would establish the scientific basis for any change and at all costs avoid a political debate about its contents.

The paper on the beef language review reported on by Beef Central this week has not been reviewed by the steering committee. While the person or persons who provided access to this paper is unknown, it has been an attempt to by-pass the agreed industry due-process and reflects a disregard for their fellow industry stakeholders.

They have displayed a lack of understanding as to what an ‘all-industry approach’ requires and they have politicised the process from what should have been a high-level debate about the science. They have compromised the steering committee’s ability to achieve the challenging outcome it set itself and have broken the confidentiality of this process for what is an unknown purpose.

As members of this great industry we all have individual views on what should and shouldn’t take place. At the same time it is only through genuine dialogue and agreement across all sectors of industry that we can truly hope to move issues of this nature and complexity forward with consensus.


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  1. David Byard, 21/03/2015

    AMIC have some concerns about enquiry into Ausmeat, to my way of thinking cattle producers should be the ones that are concerned about Ausmeat. My understanding was, when Ausmeat was set up it had a number of purposes one of those being to make sure that consumers understood the quality of beef they were buying and we had a uniform standard across the industry for what every processor could trim off the carcass. It clearly has failed, their language Y,YG,YP,PR,S,A and evenB. How many producers understand what all this B/S is all about and even more important how many consumers A stands out to be the best, most people in beef industry. It is the poorest mature AGED COWS. Ausmeat standards are interpreted in a multitude ways by processing works WHO employ their own graders. The language committee that is held in such high esteem consist of 4 from AMIC, 1 from supermarket, 1 lot feeder, 1 sheep, 1 pork and 1 lonely b eef producer. One could predict supermarkets and lot feeders with AMIC could form a strong bloc to make sure that the lucky dip of inconsistency continues, pork, chicken and lamb producers must be laughing all the way to the bank. The answer, should we be looking at the USDA system where they have independent graders in all plants. We may even look at redirecting some of the producer levies into making sure that we have independent graders employed in all plants.

  2. Raymond Jones, 20/03/2015

    For goodness sake – it says this was a DISCUSSION paper, not some policy document. What’s wrong with people talking about it? This smacks of processors trying to manage the message and stifle healthy dialogue between stakeholders.

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