I have spent my life focused from the farm through to global customers and in business and on industry bodies looking for efficiencies.
It is glaringly obvious that an industry that is trying to be represented by no less 50 bodies is inefficient, but as importantly has no chance of a coherent voice, strategy or policy.
The Australian sheep industry as meat, wool, skins and co-products is an $8 to $9 billion export industry – making it one of the largest agricultural industries in Australia. After it does its job of feeding Australia it’s an equal industry to beef.
It’s time for these bodies to come together as a single entity to represent the whole sheep industry. We are the world’s largest sheep meat and wool industry and it will be as one that we best advance the industry into the future. Only people with skin in the game and merit based qualifications need apply.
We owe it to future generations to drive and grow, and to think 30 years ago we nearly lost it all. Government’s should not be in commercial business yet nearly every local council in Australia with an abattoir, all propped up with tax payer money.
The combination of the Australian sheep industries farming assets, livestock genetics, nutrition, processing, marketing, science and supply chain capabilities are the best in the world. Opportunities in the coming 25 years are endless in market access, innovation, productivity.
Our single voice to government has a big role to play: market access through continued free trade agreement negotiation with EU, UK, India, Turkey, Taiwan and the Middle East; Development of strong Government relationships and policy position; Minimise the costs of export from every part of the supply chain; Research and development, public and private investment with world class educational, scientific and commercial providers; Levies, a federal tax could be reduced under one body; Excess funds could be diverted to productivity and risk management for drought preparedness, water infrastructure and environment.
We are nothing like the commodity business we were 30 years back. We are a luxury supplier of world’s best meat, fiber and protein to discerning customers in any country of the world.
We know that our industry can grow by 20 per cent in the short term, the challenge is that we have the capability and markets to absorb this product while giving customers and farmers confidence in the industry’s leadership.
In short, one board of experienced industry professionals and business leaders with skin in the game, given direct lines to the most senior ministers and departments to deliver the consensus of the sheep industry.