Govt commits $4.8m to next-gen carcase assessment technologies

Jon Condon, 14/04/2016

THE Federal Government has committed $4.8 million towards commercialisation of some of the promising ‘next-generation’ objective carcase assessment technologies showcased to industry over the past 18 months.

Emerging technologies such as X-ray and 3D digital imaging  (click here to view earlier Beef Central article) are seen as drivers of the industry’s move to true value-based marketing systems including yield, while also promising to take much of the subjectivity out of current industry carcase assessment for important traits.

Through the Government grant to Meat & Livestock Australia, the new technologies would provide transparency and accountability, and producers will be paid for what they deliver in the beef and lamb industries, a statement issued by agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce a few minutes ago said.

Minister Joyce said MLA would receive the funding under round two of the Rural Research and Development for Profit program.

“The government is helping ensure our farmers have access to cutting-edge research, technology, products and processes so they remain world-class,” he said.

“MLA will use these funds to develop new technology to allow the industry to measure meat yield and identify traits that help predict eating quality of meat cuts.”

“This harmonisation will ensure a closer link through the whole supply chain from producer to processor and finally to consumer, while better collaboration and data management will ensure cross-industry benefits.”

Developing and improving these technologies and systems would lead to better decisions, lower risk and, ultimately, increased profits, Mr Joyce said.

The R&D for Profit Program is a $100 million election commitment, with the government investing a further $100 million as part of the $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to extend the program to 2021-22.

Click on the link below to see a short video of some of the new technology installed in JBS’s lamb plant in Bordertown, SA

Teys welcomes funding commitment

Processor Teys Australia, which has delivered its own vision to producers to move to a full value-based marketing platform within two years, has welcomed the grant approval.

“The funding will assist in developing new technologies and practices which will enhance the nation’s meat and livestock industry,” Teys’ manager of industry and corporate affairs, John Langbridge said.

Dr John Langbridge

Dr John Langbridge

Dr Langbridge said the ongoing financial commitment to the livestock sector would produce outcomes to benefit the entire industry, including meat processors.

“Teys strives for excellence in delivering world class premium products, and more R&D taking place within the supply chain will ensure we deliver on our promise,” he said.

The nation’s second largest meat processor says the funding will greatly assist in developing new technologies and tools which will be used among other things, in meat preparation and grading quality.

Part of this new research involves dual band X-Ray (DEXA) technology which uses wavelengths to penetrate the carcase and differentiate red meat from fat and bone.

“Using state-of-the-art systems, processors will now be better placed to assess the grading and quality of meat, while this type of technology will lead to improved workplace efficiencies,” Dr Langbridge said.

“The information also will be a valuable and necessary tool available for all lines of the meat supply chain, from breeders and vendors, which ultimately improves farm productivity.”

Teys said it remained committed to breaking-out of the traditional commodity cycle by providing product of a high quality and consistency that consumers both here and abroad are prepared to pay a premium for.

Technology delivers multiple benefits: MLA

MLA managing director Richard Norton said the new technologies under development would enable producers to be paid on the objective measurement of the product they supplied, allowing improved compliance to pricing grids, better targeting of markets and maximised profits.

Richard Norton

Richard Norton

“The funding of this project will deliver a quantum leap in the development and adoption of technology, because it leverages the capacity of 19 research and industry partners,” Mr Norton said.

“The project builds on the value already being realised through our world-leading MSA eating quality program in supplying products tailored to our consumers’ needs. It will also help ensure Australia’s global competitiveness, which is in the best interests of every member of our industry.”

Under the project, three measurement technologies will be developed for use on-farm and within the processing sector to reliably and objectively determine carcase composition and even more accurately determine eating quality.

For processors, use of the new technologies to assess lean meat yield will allow for the precise valuing of carcases, optimising market-based cutting and de-boning decisions. The supply of information back through the value chain, and its integration with genetic databases, will better inform producers’ on-farm decision making and profitability.

“Industry has been looking for objective carcase measurement for some time – and paying all sectors in the supply chain on objective performance is a key goal of the Meat Industry Strategic Plan,” Mr Norton said.

“Providing improved carcase composition, eating quality and compliance feedback from ‘paddock to plate’ is vital for a more efficient and market-oriented supply chain. The evolution of this new technology represents a significant leap in the application of leading edge science for the industry, bringing us technology more commonly used in medical science.”

The project will be led by MLA, in collaboration with Australian Pork Ltd, Teys Australia, JBS Australia, Australian Country Choice, Australian Cattle and Beef Holdings, PorkScan Private, Australian Lamb Company, Murdoch University, Melbourne University, University of Technology Sydney, Scott Technology, Carometic, Australian Meat Processor Corporation, Harvey Beef, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Move to value chain thinking a step closer with funding boost: Cattle Council

A $4.8 million funding injection to fast track value based payment systems and meat eating quality measurements has been welcomed by peak industry body, Cattle Council of Australia.

The grant announced by Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce in Rockhampton today will allow Meat & Livestock Australia to develop new technology for measuring saleable meat yield and identify traits predicting the eating quality of meat cuts.

Cattle Council of Australia president Howard Smith said the funding was a significant step forward for the beef industry, benefiting the entire red meat supply chain.

Mr Smith said the focus on providing transparency and accountability within the supply chain was in line with Cattle Council’s Grass Fed Beef Industry Strategic Plan 2020.

Released in February, the plan outlined a vision to refocus industry efforts and resources to strengthen Australia’s competitive position as a trusted source of premium quality products.

Mr Smith said the move towards value chain thinking outlined in the plan was the key to the industry’s future.

“It will help increase transparency along the value chain, bring greater opportunities for producers to gain premiums and foster the collaboration we know is needed to drive our industry forward,’’ he said.

The research and development grant also comes on the back of the draft recommendations in the Australian Beef Language White Paper, commissioned by MLA and Australian Meat Processor Corporation at the behest of Cattle Council of Australia.

Council has pushed for a reformed beef trading language to improve the system’s accountability and transparency, and be based on objective measurement supported by scientific evidence.

The new language has the potential to send clear market signals to economically reward supply chain members delivering products to consumer expectation.

Mr Smith said specifications with no relevance to consumer requirements, including dentition, were distorting key market indicators, resulting in price discounts for cattle producers.

He said beef was the largest agricultural sector in Australia by land mass and gross annual revenue.

Mr Smith said it was disappointing Meat & Livestock Australia, the industry’s largest research and development corporation, received only $8 million or 21 per cent of total funding under round one of the Rural Research and Development for Profit program.

“Of this, 13 per cent went to two lead projects for MLA, neither of which were high industry priorities,’’ he said.

“Frankly, we will be disappointed if none of our other four projects we proposed are not considered under the $100 million R & D for Profit program within the $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.’’

Apsley producer Laurie Close addressed Cattle Council’s rural awareness tour in South Australia this week, calling for a greater investment in information technology.

Mr Close said grazing enterprises had missed out on the productivity gains delivered to the cropping industry by IT.

“The buzz word for Australia is Asia and China as the economy transitions from mining to a broader base with agriculture as the focus,’’ he said.

“China is seen as a saviour for Australian agriculture – there are enormous opportunities as we compete for market share with our rural commodities.

“Our clean, green product gives us an edge but we need to concentrate on technology because it has largely bypassed the grazing industries.

“We need the tools to do it and are mindful of not being left behind.’’

Sources: Ag Minister’s office, Teys Australia, MLA, Cattle Council of Australia




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