Meat Standards Australia's latest report shows the program has delivered $130 million in additional farm gate returns to beef producers. Picture: MLA.

MSA $130m farm gate boost

The Meat Standards Australia program has delivered commercial benefits to many sectors of the supply chain last financial year, with now more than 40 per cent of the adult cattle slaughter being MSA graded and more than 25pc of lambs following MSA pathways.

This delivered an estimated $130 million in additional farm gate returns to beef producers.

More than 2.7 million cattle and 5.7 million sheep were graded through the MSA program in the 2016-17 financial year.

Compliance to MSA minimum requirements improved with the average MSA Index increasing to 57.59, while across the country compliance averaged 94 per cent.

The annual 2016-17 MSA Annual Outcomes Report is a reflection of MSA’s progress towards achieving key industry objectives by the year 2020.

MSA producers can now benchmark the performance of their cattle against other producers using the myMSA feedback system. The new myMSA Benchmarking tool provides producers with the opportunity to benchmark their cattle’s compliance and MSA Index results against other producers in their region, state or across the country. Parameters can be refined by selecting for feed type, hormonal growth promotant status and time frame, providing more meaningful feedback about producers’ own enterprises and performance, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.

As consumers of Australian beef and lamb are asked to pay higher prices than other proteins, it is imperative their expectations are consistently met for eating quality. To do this, there are now 156 MSA-licensed beef and lamb brands underpinning their products with the independent eating quality endorsement of MSA, and 11 of these actively taking the MSA message to their customers in export markets. Beef producers have continued to embrace carcase feedback with one-third of producers consigning MSA cattle during the year accessing the myMSA feedback system. In turn, compliance to MSA requirements has improved from 92.6pc to 94pc, according to MSA program manager Sarah Strachan.

“More resources to support producers to continue to strive for excellence were released throughout 2016–17, with Benchmarking now available within myMSA,” Ms Strachan said.

“This allows producers to compare themselves for compliance and eating quality performance against other producers in their region, state or the country.

“This new resource offers more meaningful feedback to assist on-farm decisions.”

Throughout the year, significant eating-quality research projects commenced to ensure that the year 2020 goals of the MSA program are achieved. That includes all cattle in Australia being eligible for MSA grading and their eating quality being accurately predicted, as well as developing a cuts-based program for MSA sheepmeat using objective carcase technologies.

Throughout the year, the MSA program received an update by removing meat colour as a minimum requirement based on research using our world-leading consumer sensory testing protocols that confirmed meat colour does not have an impact on eating quality.

“MLA’s sights are set on more than 50pc of the cattle slaughter being MSA graded and 43pc of lamb slaughter following MSA pathways by the year 2020, so there is still work to be done,” Ms Strachan said.  

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