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Christmas greetings from Richard Norton

18 December 2015

As 2015 draws to a close and we come to our final edition of Friday Feedback for the year I think about the tremendous changes that have occurred in our industry: record production, exports, cattle and retail prices; the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement; and the release of new Meat Industry Strategic Plan.

MLA, too, has changed.

We’ve become more efficient. Following  MLA’s restructure, more than $6.5 million in fixed cost savings have been achieved in 2014–15 to be channelled back into research, development and marketing in future years.

We’ve changed the way we engage with levy payers – I’ve enjoyed meeting with thousands of levy payers at more than 40 forums across the country. The common themes at these forums have included MLA’s role, an overview of some of our most exciting research and marketing projects, emerging technologies and the bright future of the industry. You’ll also see senior staff on the road more, speaking with levy payers.

We’re providing greater transparency on how your levy is invested. MLA’s renewed commitment to transparency was evident this year with our new-look website providing a clear breakdown of levy streams and key investments across MLA’s work programs. Another way to ensure greater transparency was to change MLA’s Constitution, adding an additional grassfed producer representative to the Board Selection Committee.

We’re also consulting more. One of the steps towards greater consultation and transparency this year has been the creation of a regional consultation model to encourage more producers to have their say on the direction of research and development investment.

And we will continue to work on these four areas of change.

Next year MLA’s technical experts and I will continue to travel the country talking with you on how your levies are working for you. Please take the opportunity come along and ask questions.  Also, I encourage to you have your say at one of the more than 20 regional consultation committees and share your views on the research priorities in your area. Next year we start piloting a new adoption model to further encourage producer uptake of research outcomes. This will consist of groups of producers working with a coach and focusing on profitability drivers.  Keep an eye out for more on this in Friday feedback and Feedback magazine next year. We need your participation in all of these programs.

Aside from helping to secure free trade agreement wins this year, your levies have helped roll out the new international True Aussie brand in more than 30 countries and have assisted MSA to deliver $200 million in farm gate returns annually. Read about other highlights here.

While many of you continue to battle very difficult drought conditions, the fundamentals of the red meat industry are very good: tightening supplies, strong demand, a competitive Australian dollar, market access breakthroughs – all strong signs the future of our industry is a buoyant one.

We look forward to sharing more of what your levies are delivering in Friday Feedback next year, with the first edition due on 22 January.  

My best wishes to you and your families for a safe and happy festive season.

Richard Norton