ACCC reports better transparency in cattle and beef industry

Australia’s competition and consumer commission (ACCC) has noted improved transparency in the cattle and beef industry since it published a report in 2018 calling for changes.

The ACCC said on Tuesday that more processors are now publishing their price grids, which are used to calculate the per kilo price paid to farmers for cattle, online. This makes it easier for farmers to choose the best processor for their own circumstances, according to the ACCC.

“We are pleased that price grids are now more readily accessible online, which will allow farmers to more easily select the best buyer for their cattle,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

The industry is also improving objective carcass grading processes, with the trial of new technologies to provide greater objectivity and transparency in how meat is graded.

The 2017 Cattle and Beef Market Study by the ACCC made 15 recommendations to address concerns about a lack of transparency in cattle and beef markets. An update report followed in May 2018 after “a disappointing lack of progress” on the recommendations.

Keogh said that while these signs of progress are welcome, they say farmers are especially concerned about the level of information available and objectivity of grading processes.

The inquiry identified the need for uniform national licencing standards for livestock agents and recommended greater transparency in the saleyards. It says there has not been any progress on the latter, which could address the concerns some livestock producers have about saleyard selling.

Keogh said the ACCC will continue to advocate for action on its recommendations, and for better transparency across the industry.

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