Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) has welcomed the Australian Government’s commitment to pursue the amendments required to change the definition of lamb to be consistent with New Zealand as the first step in creating an international standard.
The change to the Australian definition was announced by SPA in March 2018 after extensive consultation with producers and other industry stakeholders.
The new definition, as outlined in the New Zealand Lamb and Mutton Carcass Classification, is ‘young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’.
The decision was based on the majority of feedback provided during a nine-week public consultation phase early in 2018 in which 83% of respondents to an industry survey supported the change.
SPA Independent Chair Chris Mirams says SPA continues to work on an implementation plan for the change in definition, given it is referenced in various federal, state and industry regulations and standards which require amendment.
“The change will allow producers to continue to deliver the quality and consistency in lamb that our customers know and love,” Mr Mirams said.
“It enables producers to be able to finish lambs throughout the year with confidence.
“The change was never going to be as simple as it announcing it and it taking effect. There are a number of steps, including changing legislation, which need to occur.
“With the Minister’s announcement that the government will support the industry’s decision with a quick response to change, we anticipate the new definition should be in place in mid-2019.
“The new definition will even the playing field with New Zealand in our export markets and provide producers with an indicator before they incur the ‘price cliff face’ of lamb being downgraded to hogget or mutton.”
The lamb definition review is part of the broader ‘Fit for Purpose Language Program’ being undertaken by SPA. The program aims to enable the introduction of meat and livestock specification language that strengthens the connection between consumer price signals and on-farm decision-making. Enhanced alignment will assist in producers being paid for the product attributes that consumers value most at the dinner table.