RED meat supply chain players post farming have shifted strategy and are trying to engage Canberra less in promises and more in understanding.
They believe the more philosophical approach is working, with their message about the need to include processors, retailers and exporters to the same degree as producers finally starting to get through.
Peak representative group the Australian Meat Industry Council boss Patrick Hutchinson said those sectors were now being consulted far more than ever in policy development across areas which significantly affect meat industries, such as labour for example.
Historically, it has been predominantly producer representatives governments have sought out, he said.
“What we are getting people to recognise is if you invest solely in the production side of the supply chain, it doesn’t help further up,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“If you invest up the supply chain, the benefits to all are obvious.
“It can’t flow up but it can flow back.”
AMIC representatives have met with a number of Federal Government and Opposition leaders in the past month and Mr Hutchinson said the talk was “less about the specific issues and more about the philosophical.”
“There is more to agriculture than farming,” he said.
“It’s about the value chain and what we need to do to ensure we can be not just be sustainable but grow to that touted $100b value.
“That won’t happen if we have an ag manufacturing with major issues around key areas - labour, regulation, cost to operate.”
Mr Hutchinson said efforts to take that message to both sides of politics were getting through and both time and support was starting to flow.
“In order for us to meet the lofty goals each side of parliament sets for rural and regional Australia, the entire supply chain has to be remembered,” he said.
“So if we are working hard around energy or animal welfare or environmental management, we are not doing it in isolation.”
Red meat processing will take those efforts a step further next month when the chief value chain officer of Teys, Tom Maguire, speaks on his sector’s relationship with the Australian public at the Rural Press Club’s Ekka Breakfast.
The iconic event at the Royal Queensland Show last year drew a sell-out crowd of 700 beef and agribusiness leaders, journalists and politicians.
Mr Maguire will deliver the 2018 Malcolm McCosker Memorial Address.
Queensland Rural Press Club managers said while meat processing was the lifeblood of many regional communities, the industry’s relationship with the public did not match its economic significance.
As more Australians settle into suburban and inner-city lifestyles, never has the disconnect with ‘the bush’ been greater. People are losing touch with where their food comes from and are increasingly attracted to social networking sites that question the industry’s environmental and animal welfare credentials, they said.
Mr Maguire will explain why a new way forward is needed, where producers and processors proudly work together to show consumers what they do.
He firmly believes the future ability of Teys in ‘feeding people and enriching lives’ will be determined by how well it engages with people and uses data.
Mr Maguire has worked in the Australian meat industry since 1995, holding senior and representative roles.