Australia’s new definition of lamb is on track to take effect from 1 July 2019 with legislative changes registered this week by the Australian Government.
Sheep Producers Australia Policy Manager Stephen Crisp thanked the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Hon David Littleproud MP for expediting the change.
“This is an important milestone in the development of the Australian lamb industry and now with these changes approved prior to the approaching Federal Election, the industry is on track for the commencement date of July 1,” Mr Crisp said.
“State regulations in New South Wales and Western Australia still need to be aligned but the relevant authorities have indicated this will occur before the target changeover date.”
For the change to take effect, various federal and state legislation and regulations needed amendment with the new definition, which has been under way since the start of the year.
The new definition is ‘young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’.
This definition is consistent with New Zealand – removing the unfair advantage New Zealand producers have had over Australian producers. The new definition gives Australian producers greater certainty and a definitive signal to make moves to market their lambs.
The process for checking whether lambs comply with the new definition will be via a visual inspection – the same process used to verify lambs against the current definition.
The change to the definition was first announced by Sheep Producers Australia in March 2018, following extensive consultation with producers and other industry stakeholders. The change has been endorsed by the Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards Committee. Current members of the committee include the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Australian Meat Industry Council, Sheep Producers Australia, Cattle Council of Australia, Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, Australian Pork Limited and Australian supermarkets/independent retailers.
In coming months, relevant members of the Australian Meat Industry Language and Standards Committee will inform their respective red meat sectors of the changes and how they can apply the new definition.