VFF concerns over integrity of lamb brand

lamb-cuts-4VICTORIA’S PEAK SHEEP BODY is concerned with the decision of Sheep Producers Australia to endorse a change to the definition of lamb to align with New Zealand.

Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Livestock President, Leonard Vallance, said the development and implementation of chain speed objective carcass measurement (OCM) technologies in abattoirs should be completed prior to any change of definition.

“We need this technology in place to underpin our world class product; we’re concerned about the integrity of the lamb brand”.

The VFF believe that OCM technology will enhance and underpin eating quality, improve livestock management and processing efficiency and add value to the entire supply chain and that this implementation be a priority for industry.

“If industry is to move forward to a cuts-based value system for lamb we must have the technology in place to measure intramuscular fat of a whole lamb carcass at chain speed”.

“When cuts-based marketing is implemented the definition of lamb becomes less significant but until then it remains important to ensure integrity of the product”, Mr Vallance said.

The majority of Victorian respondents to the online survey including, farmers, agents and saleyard operators, advocated against the change. A major domestic retail customer is also against the change.

“The reality is that very few sheep producers will benefit from this change; it’s for the processors to have an advantage in the export market, whether or not those returns will flow back to the farm gate remains to be seen”.

“We need a guarantee that OCM technology will be implemented. The Victorian sheep industry, the VFF and NSW Farmers Association and a major domestic customer were ignored, we only hope Sheep Producers Australia hasn’t thrown away our only bargaining chip,” Mr Vallance said.

The new definition, as outlined in the New Zealand Lamb and Mutton Carcass Classification, is ‘young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’.

With a change of definition, the importance of harmonising the compliance schemes that underpins the lamb brand nationally becomes essential due of the subjective nature of the definition.

The VFF encourage Sheep Producers Australia to work with state and national stakeholders and regulators to achieve this important milestone.

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