RMAC releases first Australian Beef Sustainability Framework
Independent chair of RMAC, Don Mackay, said that the framework is about future-proofing for prosperity for the whole of the Australian beef value chain.
“We recognise that consumers and the community have changing expectations of our industry; and we want to satisfy the community – and ourselves – that we are doing everything possible to ensure the longevity of the businesses, the families and the communities the Australian beef industry represents,” Mackay said.
“We must be vigilant and able to respond to any risks or opportunities as an industry. That is why the launch of the framework is accompanied with the clear, forward strategy and a robust governance framework that is focused on driving action and delivering outcomes for Australian beef businesses from the farm, to feedlots to processors.”
It involves a 5-point action plan that will engage the right people to tackle sustainability challenges for the sector, pinpoint key additional information required; and continuously report back to the industry and community.
“The Meat Industry Strategic Plan 2020 shows us if we do everything right; we can add up to $7 billion in value to the sector; but done wrong we can lose up to $6 billion in value. The [Australian Beef Sustainability Framework] helps us strategically and aggressively address these risks,” Mackay added.
The framework has been developed by the Sustainability Steering Group (SSG), following a year of consultation with industry, retailers, regulators, banks, investors, interest groups, customers and the community.
It listed 23 priority areas to enhance animal well-being and health; increase profitability, productivity and market access; improve land management, address climate change and minimise waste; produce safe and nutritious food, build workforce capacity and ensure the health, safety and well-being of people in the industry.
“The framework is a snapshot of our industry, reflecting the priority areas of our customers and stakeholders. It provides a guide for the industry to use when monitoring, measuring and reporting sustainability,” said Prue Bondfield, chair of the SSG.
“[It] is not an on-farm certification system. No input is required from individual farms. Nor is it a scheme that creates paperwork or costs through the value chain. Existing data will be used where possible.
“This report really marks the start of measuring our sustainability. It was always intended to be a living document open to regular review and adjusted in response to the needs of industry and the expectations of customers and the community.”
Bondfield said industry and external stakeholders continuous engagement will lead to delivering their vision for a thriving Australian beef industry, which can improve the lives of people, animals and the environment.
“Within the report there are only a few indicators that currently have measures against them. There are some indicators that require a small amount of work to develop measures, which will occur over the next year. For others where there is currently no way of capturing the information, industry will assess the cost and benefit of investment to develop a measure,” said Bondfield.
“Rather than focusing on the data, the first report has always been about identifying what is important in sustainable beef production. From here we can work with our stakeholders to understand what areas are the highest priorities and develop action plans.”