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MLA Strategic Plan 2025: The sheep perspective

03 April 2020

Consultation with industry is a critical component in the development of MLA’s five-year Strategic Plan. Throughout our strategy development, we have been using different models to ensure we capture the voice of our stakeholders.

In early March, MLA brought together representatives from across the sheep industry supply chain in a workshop to explore their priorities for the next five years, within the context of MLA’s strategic planning co-design framework.

Here is an overview of what they told us were some of their key issues. During the workshop, each of these issues was examined to better understand the problem the sector was trying to solve.

Original issue

Problem to be solved

New workforce and access to labour

Different skills will be required across the supply chain into the future. How do we change the industry narrative to ensure it is attractive?

Sustainability across the supply chain, as perceived by the customer and/or consumer

How do we change the industry culture and demonstrate leadership around practice change to ensure our consumers keep seeing our product as natural and green?​

Sheep supply and lamb survivability

How do we optimise current and use novel production systems to ensure supply can meet demand?

Changing community expectations, particularly around live export and lot feeding

How do we ensure our practices meet with future community expectations?

Traceability and biosecurity, and how these link to market access

How can we evolve our systems so that they:

  • are simple to use
  • have a clear and understood value proposition
  • support both industry and customer needs?

The rising cost of inputs into production

Cost of inputs are high across the supply chain – reducing profitability and competitiveness, so how can we optimise the things within our control?​

Reframing the issues in this way enabled the participants to then explore potential solutions to address these problems.

Some of the ideas and solutions that were proposed and discussed during the workshop include:

  • Mapping barriers to adoption to different producer needs to develop relevant, regional and customised adoption packages.
  • Re-imagining sheepmeat to take advantage of high value opportunities presented by changing consumer and customer needs.
  • Collecting and translating carcase trait data across the supply chain so all participants can realise value/be rewarded.
  • Investigating novel production models tailored to address region-specific challenges and opportunities.
  • A model or system to capture environmental and sustainability data across the supply chain that could verify to consumers that Australian red meat is good for the environment.
  • Business models that would allow the capture of additional revenue through the provision of environmental services.

A clear theme emerging from the workshop was the need for a whole-of-supply chain approach to addressing the new and different opportunities and challenges the red meat industry is facing.

The balance between managing short-term issues and planning around long-term strategic priorities was also acknowledged, particularly within the context of achieving the Red Meat 2030 Vision and in developing the MLA five year Strategic Plan. 

The priorities, issues and outcomes from the workshop will be considered, along with those from other red meat sectors, in relation to MLA’s purpose, and will form an input into the development of the MLA Strategic Plan 2025.

Using the industry’s strategic plan, Red Meat 2030 (refer to ‘More information below’), as its foundation, MLA draws on input from a number of sources to inform its own strategy, including:

  • the Australian Government’s Rural Research, Development and Extension Priorities
  • the Australian Government’s Science and Research Priorities
  • stakeholder consultation
  • MLA market and industry trend data
  • other reports and data that provide insight on the current and future operating environment, including the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment commissioned Agricultural Innovation—A national approach to grow Australia’s future.

In the next edition of Friday Feedback, we will explore the issues and outcomes identified during a similar workshop held with members of the cattle industry supply chain.

Have your say

Over the past few weeks MLA has shared what we believe will be the focus areas within our next Strategic Plan and has sought your thoughts on these.

Specifically for the sheep sector, we would like to know:

Do you agree that the areas outlined in this article reflect the key challenges for the sheep industry?
Do you have further suggestions for solutions to address these challenges?

Have your say by emailing your response to