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The ACCC’s 13 recommendations

Beef Central, 31/10/2016

The ACCC released the following recommendations as part of its draft report this morning:

Transparency in cattle markets

Recommendation 1: Availability of price grids
All processors and major cattle purchasers should routinely make price grids publicly available in
a timely manner to increase market transparency.

Recommendation 2: Price grids
a. All buyers should consider whether their price grids can be improved to make it easier for the
industry to understand and compare grids.
b. Buyers, agents and producer representative bodies (led by the Cattle Council) should
improve their engagement with producers to enhance industry understanding of price grids
and their interpretation.

Recommendation 3: Improvements to existing market reporting
The ACCC encourages Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to make changes to the way
existing cattle sale prices are collected and published to improve transparency and usability,
including specifically:
a. standardising cattle types for reporting across channels
b. publishing time series data of saleyard prices in a format which allows for easy interpretation
(prices are currently only reported weekly in .pdf files, making comparison through time
difficult)
c. producing a co-products index for comparison with cattle prices, and
d. improvements to the domestic retail beef price series.

Recommendation 4: Additional market reporting
The ACCC encourages MLA, ALPA and ALMA to work together to expand data collection and
reporting of prices, including specifically:
a. direct (paddock) sales prices
b. actual prices paid for OTH sales
c. saleyard prices for additional saleyards of regional market importance which are not currently
reported, and
d. actual prices paid for cattle sold to the live export market.

Recommendation 5: Mandatory reporting of non-saleyard transactions and prices
The ACCC considers the arguments for and against mandatory reporting of all non-saleyard
cattle sales are finely balanced, and does not recommend its implementation at this time.
If market participants do not take steps to improve market reporting in line with
recommendations 3 and 4, the arguments in favour of mandatory reporting will become more
compelling over time.

Over the hooks transactions and grading

Recommendation 6: Objective carcase grading
The industry, led by the processing sector, should allocate a high priority to the adoption of
technology to enable objective carcase grading to be introduced as soon as possible. This will,
of necessity, include the development of appropriate auditing and verification systems that instil
confidence in the integrity of such systems.

Recommendation 7: Dispute resolution for OTH sales
• Processors and buyers should review, and in many cases improve, their internal processes for
responding to inquiries and complaints about OTH sales.
• Cattle processors should develop a uniform and independent complaints and dispute
resolution process, with AUS-MEAT filling the role of an independent and binding arbitrator.

Recommendation 8: Auditing of carcase grading
The industry should implement a more robust auditing system for carcase grading, with
AUS-MEAT implementing random and unannounced audits in addition to the current
audit regime. The result of these audits should be made publicly available on a regular and
timely basis.

Recommendation 9: Carcase feedback and producer education
a. All buyers and agents should consider whether carcase grading feedback can be improved.
b. Buyers, agents, and producer representative bodies (led by the Cattle Council) should
increase their communication and education surrounding the current grading and feedback
system to ensure that producers better understand cattle market trends and why some
cattle attract a premium compared to others.

Conduct in cattle markets

Recommendation 10: Saleyard buyer register

The ACCC encourages the introduction of a mandatory Buyers Register to be publicly available prior to the commencement of all physical livestock auctions. This register should include details of commission buyers and livestock agents intending to bid at the sale and the principals that those commission buyers will be acting for. ALPA should work with its members to have this requirement incorporated into auction terms and conditions at saleyards.

Recommendation 11: Terms of sales at auctions

The ACCC encourages MLA to work with ALPA to introduce a mandatory requirement that the terms of auction be displayed in a conspicuous position at all saleyards. This should include a notice about the penalties for collusive practices under the CCA, in addition to any notices required by state and territory legislation. The ACCC notes that many saleyards and agents are already demonstrating industry leadership by doing this.

Recommendation 12: Livestock agent licensing

Legislation should be introduced requiring standardised national licensing of livestock agents and professional buyers (applying to commission and salaried buyers), in order to raise the levels of CCA compliance and general professionalism within the industry.

Recommendation 13: Implementation of recommendations

The ACCC encourages the Agriculture Ministers meeting (AGMIN) to consider the above recommendations, particularly with a view to monitoring their implementation. This will be especially important to ensure that recommendations are progressed, given the diverse industry interests. Ministers may wish to consider alternative approaches if progress is not made.

 

  • An earlier version of this article stated there were 14 recommendations. This was incorrect, 13 recommendations were released, we apologise of any confusion caused by the error.

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