ABOUT 110 producers and processors heard about the latest and greatest in the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) world, at a forum in Tamworth recently.
At the last in a series of MSA Eating Quality forums across Australia, the Tamworth crowd heard from MSA and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) representatives, a UNE meat scientist and even Newcastle Knights ex-skipper, guest speaker Danny Buderus.
MSA program manager Sarah Strachan said the event had “great questions, a lot of engagement from the producers; great success all around”.
The audience at the Quality Hotel Powerhouse heard about MSA benchmarking and how to use it; the role of animal genetics; the impacts of seasonable variability; and the value of ‘big data’.
The attendees’ questions included some about the marketing of the MSA logo, benchmarking and a pathway for saleyards to meet MSA requirements.
“There was a question around why we aren't seeing the MSA logo, given there’s so much product being graded,” Mrs Strachan said.
“Our marketing efforts over the years show it’s not an effective use of producers’ levy dollars for those campaigns [and it’s better to] invest the same effort to working with brand owners, who can get closer to consumers with their brand stories and MSA education.
“I had some questions asked about some of the research we were doing in the saleyards, and our answer is we’re looking at reviewing the saleyard pathway to see if we can make it a workable pathway for cattle going direct to slaughter.”
MSA operations manager Hayley Robinson spoke about compliance to MSA requirements and some of the benchmarking tools now available.
“People in the New England region can actually benchmark themselves against other producers in the New England region,” Mrs Strachan said.
“People know their cattle get graded, but some of them haven’t gone onto MyMSA, our feedback system, yet.”
Mrs Strachan said the eating quality forums would probably be held every two or three years after this second round.
“Last time we were able to share where the MSA program is looking to go, and we’re now halfway through that, so it’s a good midpoint check to show people how we’re progressing.
“Come 2020, be great to say, ‘This is where we are’.”
The event also celebrated producers who had outstanding compliance rates to MSA specifications, as well as high eating-quality performance.
During an awards night that followed the afternoon forum, Jac Wagyu of Bingara was named the state’s most outstanding beef producer.
Angus and Lesley Tink of Tarawong, Mebul, won the inaugural progress award for NSW for showing the greatest improvement in their MSA results since 2014-15.
Mrs Strachan said they were all to be congratulated for their commitment to produce beef that consistently achieved exceptional compliance rates to MSA’s strict specifications.
MSA was developed by the Australian red meat industry to improve the eating quality consistency of beef and sheepmeat.
The system is based on almost 700,000 consumer taste tests by more than 100,000 consumers from nine countries.
It takes into account factors that affect eating quality from the paddock to the plate, such as feeding, finishing, genetics, health and handling.
MLA supports MSA program participants by helping businesses adopt eating quality principles.