Beef producers hope the return of a Senate Inquiry into red meat processing will bring more transparency to cattle prices.
The vast majority of cattle sold in Australia are sold direct to abattoirs and processors and around 20 per cent through saleyards.
Farmer Loretta Carroll said market indicators should not be using just saleyard prices to monitor prices.
“The last few weeks the EYCI (Eastern young cattle indicator) has been $7.00 to $7.10 (K17); even that we believe is not accurate,” Carroll said.
“So going by the market prices and what agents are telling us, we tend to think it is not accurate and we don’t know because they’re not pulling those figures from all the sales.”
It is 18 months since nine meat processors boycotted a sale at the opening of the new Wodonga saleyard complex at Barnawartha.
It was an event that created outrage among farmers and farm lobby groups who pushed for structural change to the beef industry.
- A Senate Inquiry into the red meat processing industry was started but stalled at the Federal election, with an interim report that was criticised for lacking detail;
- An investigation found some competition concerns but not enough evidence to demonstrate a collective boycott;
- A widespread study has been launched into the beef industry that is due to report by November.
None of the much called for structural change has so far happened within the industry.
Now it has been confirmed that the Senate Inquiry will reconvene and is scheduled to report by March 2017.
For Carroll, it is time to get the change farmers have been fighting for.
“It’s the best opportunity we’ve had for a long time to get real change in the industry; it’s crucial,” she said.
Nationals Senator Bridget Mc- Kenzie believes there will be changes once the Senate Inquiry reports.
“Look, I think there are real issues around transparency,” McKenzie said.
“We need our producers, our community and indeed some of buyers to have some confidence about the prices that are being paid.”