THE livestock industry is outraged at the failure of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to deal with transparency at cattle sale yards in its review of the beef industry, says Victoria’s peak producer group.
The Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group led the charge to mandate pre-sale weighing of cattle at saleyards as a way to stamp out anti-competitive industry practices, but producers have been left dismayed by inaction on the issue.
“We demanded for industry practices to be investigated along the supply chain, and we got a Senate inquiry into the red meat sector, as well as a review from the ACCC,” VFF Livestock President Leonard Vallance said.
“But producers have been badly let down by the review because there was no recommendation on pre-sale weighing, which was why we had the review in the first place.”
Nine processors failed to show at the first sale at Barnawartha Saleyards in February 2015 following a dispute over whether cattle should be weighed before or after a sale.
Mr Vallance said the tactic served to cause instability in the livestock industry but urged the industry to enforce pre-sale weighing in a move to bolster transparency at the point of sale.
“It’s impossible to set a market price for cattle when saleyards don’t use consistent weighing methods and I don’t know any other industry where you can buy a product without either needing to know the volume or weight of that product,” he said.
“Backgrounders and feedlotters rely on pre-sale weighing to manage costs and margins, and determine bids but the post-sale weighing basis stops this part of the market from competing effectively in saleyards.”
“Post-sale weighing is a discriminatory practice, it’s anti-competitive, and the only way to ensure true competition in the sector is by selling cattle with their weight displayed at the point of sale.”
Mr Vallance admitted to being disappointed by the competition watchdog’s review into the industry, which he hoped would go farther in protecting farmer’s interests.
“Central to creating transparency is addressing the pre-sale and post-sale issue, but this has been completely ignored so far,” he said.
“It’s an issue that needs to be dealt with and the industry is running low on patience.”