AUSTRALIA’S red meat and livestock industry held its second virtual round table on Monday to ensure all parts of the supply chain adapt to the evolving COVID-19 response and ensure high quality and nutritious meat for all Australians.
The representative bodies have committed to ensuring the health and safety of staff and customers by doing everything they can to limit transmission of COVID-19, the Red Meat Advisory Council said in a statement.
RMAC chair Don Mackay said the industry was working together to keep the supply chain open.
“COVID-19 has created great uncertainty for business and customers alike, but consumers of our product can be confident that our biosecurity and food safety practices are second-to-none,” Mr Mackay said.
“We will rise to the challenge and keep our red meat supply chain – retailers, wholesalers, processors, livestock exporters, lot feeders and producers – secure. We have the experience and the systems to do it.”
For exporters, Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chairman David Galvin said to date Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments have committed to keeping supply lines open and we must work together to keep it that way.
“Our industry is currently exporting red meat to over 100 countries globally, and we have a responsibility to continue to support our regional neighbours and their food production systems at this critical time” Mr Galvin said.
“We are committed to keeping the industry running so we can support the communities that support us. Federal, State and Territory Governments can help support industry immediately by waiving fees and charges on the industry to help offset increased public health costs.”
Where finishing livestock was concerned, Australian Lot Feeders Association President Bryce Camm said the industry can easily supply Australians with protein during the COVID-19 response.
“Red meat is justifiably considered ‘prime’ meat by consumers as it is viewed as the most superior and delicious. But we export about 75 per cent of what we produce so there is no shortage of meat domestically,” Mr Camm said.
“The volume of meat exported also highlights how critical is that trade remains open so we can continue helping feed the world.”
For processing and retailing, Australian Meat Industry Council CEO Patrick Hutchinson said it was important Government worked with the supply chain to keep Australians fed and supporting regional communities.
“The supply of high quality and nutritious red meat is an essential service for our customers both at home and overseas,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“We are also the largest manufacturing sector in Australia, with most of our people employed in regional areas, so keeping the industry strong was vital in making sure these economies bounce back after the pandemic.”
From the production level, Cattle Council President Tony Hegarty said the industry’s top priority is keeping its people and the community safe.
“We are working with producers to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone working in the industry.
“A strong and healthy workforce is the foundation of a secure supply chain,” Mr Hegarty said.
Goat Industry Council President John Falkenhagen said the industry’s response would continue to adapt as the situation evolves.
“We’re not using a ‘set and forget’ approach to the coronavirus,” Mr Falkenhagen said.
“Industry will keep working together through the Red Meat 2030 partnership and remain flexible during the response.”
Sheep Producers Australia Chair Chris Mirams said Industry was working with Government to put measures in place to make sure animals got the care they needed.
“We have a responsibility to make sure farm animals stay fit and healthy,” Mr Mirams said.
“A core focus is ensuring producers can continue to access fodder, water and vets for at least the next six months.”
The prosperity of Australia’s red meat producers, lot feeders, processors, exporters and retailers and our allied bodies are dependent on an effective and highly functioning supply chain at all times.
The red meat and livestock industry representative bodies are: Australian Meat Industry Council, Australian Livestock Exporters Council, Australian Lot Feeders Association, Cattle Council of Australia, Goat Industry Council of Australia and Sheep Producers Australia, which collectively form the Red Meat Advisory Council.