To be presented at the Annual General Meeting
Friday, 10 October, 2014
It’s my pleasure to present the President’s Report for the operation of the National Saleyards Quality Assurance program for the past 12 months.
As you are aware, this will be my last Report as your President as I step down at the conclusion of today’s meeting so I thought I would address the report a little differently. While reporting on the past year, I would also like to reflect on the time if my involvement with NSQA.
It can easily be forgotten that NSQA was developed from an idea of a former Executive Director of the Australian Council of Livestock Agents who saw a need for the “benchmarking” of saleyards at a time when other sectors of the industry had embarked on quality assurance programs to strengthen their place in the industry as a whole. We had seen “Cattlecare” developed; “Flockcare” was being mooted and the processing sector had been mandatorily regulated to provide quality assurance. If saleyards were to maintain their relevance in the so called “paddock to plate” process, they needed to be part of the action.
A Commonwealth grant and a consultative process involving all sectors of industry, I emphasis, all sectors, saw the establishment of the NSQA National Standard, the formation of a corporate structure, now an incorporated association, and the appointment of a now Committee to administer the program. Some 100 saleyards and organisations across the Nation joined the program.
That was 18 years ago. Today we have some 47 saleyards with Accreditation, we have provided a Certificate Two tier of accreditation and we continue to provide a program which will have increasing significance in the operation of saleyards within the livestock industry.
We see this in two areas at the moment. Legislative action in Victoria has made it virtually essential for a saleyard in that State to be Accredited. It is my understanding that similar legislation, and thus advantage to a saleyard, is being developed in some other States and in time will become national.
The SAFEMEAT Initiatives Review will undoubtedly result in added pressures on saleyards to be accredited to meet animal welfare, food safety and livestock traceability standards demands which are being placed on the whole of industry by the end product users.
So I have been proud to have been part of the ongoing development of NSQA which will no doubt continue to need change to meet market expectations.
While many ask the value of participation in NSQA, not only are these issues important but the program provides a saleyard operator with a very valuable tool to be able to manage the stakeholders within their saleyard. The internal audit system, along with the annual third-party audit, provides the mechanism for saleyard operators to maintain high standards but also ensure that other stakeholders – producers, livestock agents, buyers and transporter operators – play their part in the efficient and safe working of your saleyard.
In the past year we have moved to establish our own NSQA website – www.nsqa.com.au
Like all such electronic innovations, it has had some teething issues but is now settling down and will be a valuable tool in informing industry as a whole of NSQA and its activities. Members, particularly Accredited Saleyards, will also be able to use the website to spread the word of their activities and developments.
The SAFEMEAT Initiatives Review has taken some time of your Committee, ensuring that the interests and role of saleyards are not only fully understood but taken into consideration in restructures that will inevitably occur. Again, they largely centre around the demands of the end users of product both domestically and our valuable export markets. The Review outcome will require further “tweeting” of the NSQA National Standard to meet the wider industry expectations.
The Panel appointed to examine these issues is chaired by Mr John Wyld has met with the NSQA Committee and has been in close liaison with our Executive Officer. Further, a representative of the Panel met with the Committee earlier today to discuss issues that have come from an industry wide review of quality structures within the sectors of the industry.
The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association has been leading a strong push on loading ramp reforms, not just at saleyards but all facilities – processors, feedlots and farm property sites – to improve the standard and in particular operator safety and animal welfare issues. The Working Party is fortunate to have loading ramp drawings and other material developed by the LSAV and LTAV some years back but these are seen as in need of some update.
I am pleased to welcome the Corowa Saleyards NSW, and Casterton Saleyards (Glenelg Shire) Victoria to our Membership, the latter in recognition of advantages to the saleyard of NSQA within the Livestock Management Act of Victoria.
I am aware several Members are actively pursuing Accreditation while at the same time the Committee is also active in approaching others to further their initiatives they had made towards accreditation but stalled.
It has been a concern of the Committee that several Accredited saleyards have had Corrective Action Reports issued in particular non-current Auction Terms and Conditions of Sale on display and failure to conduct the required internal audit requirements. To some, these might seem small issues but they are very relevant in the maintenance of quality standards at a saleyard. In the past year there was one Critical Incident Report issued which the Committee has addressed with the Member to resolve.
I should report that the finances of NSQA remain strong and stable. The Committee has kept Membership Fee increases within the annual CPI and controlled expenditure to ensure a sound financial position continues.
I’d like to thank AUSMEAT NSQA Program Manager Malcolm King and his team for their continued diligence in conducting the annual third-party audits.
I would also like to thank the Committee for their input and support over the past two years while also reflecting on the support of past Committee Members in my term of service to NSQA.
Finally, I thank our Executive Officer David Pollock for his continued support and contribution to the position. He has been of great assistance in helping me carry out the duties as your President and helped make the operation of the Committee run efficiently. His background knowledge of the program, indeed the industry as a whole in these times of changing personnel and times, has been valuable in dealing with issues and providing understanding of the sector to many newcomers.
I could not conclude my thanks without thanks to my wife and family for their support in carrying out my duties on the NSQA Committee and as your President.
I wish the organisation well in its future deliberations and thank you for the opportunity to have contributed.