Twelve months as a Director of WA’s Meat Marketing Cooperative has given North Stirling sheep and lamb producer Bill O’Keeffe some important new perspectives on the meat processing industry.
“For many years we were probably entitled to complain about poor returns received from processors.
“But today processors and producers share risks, red tape and tight margins and there is increasing need for us to cooperate to succeed,” he said.
Since his election to the WAMMCO board in October, last year Mr O’Keeffe has been a strong supporter of widening producer appreciation of its cooperative charter and the increasing opportunities and challenges it faces.
He is urging farmers in the Borden area to attend the first of a series of WAMMCO information days at the Borden Pavilion on Thursday September 19.
“The Borden session will discuss how WAMMCO is developing some of the world’s most sophisticated high-value markets and how they can contribute. Producers prepared to tap the information and to help develop the products, can also expect to share increased benefits.”
Mr O’Keeffe said the expanding range of end product, the diversity of markets it was reaching, the technology assisting its development and the readiness of consumers to pay, were all eye openers for lamb and sheepmeat producers.
“In exchange, consumers are demanding accreditation for grain and pasture fed product, for further value adding, as well as strict compliance with animal welfare, chemcal and hormone standards.
“These are changes WAMMCO is building into its charter, that will not only cut costs, but carry our reputation for product quality and safety to an even higher level.
“Early compliance will also ensure a solid base for much-needed expansion in the lamb industry and increase our confidence in dealing with new calls for greater scrutiny.”
Mr O’Keeffe said producers should also keep abreast of the ongoing technological changes taking place at WAMMCO’s Katanning and Goulburn processing plants.
“Whether it is a case of dramatically extending the shelf life of our products, protecting our workers from injury, using biogas and re-cycling onsite to be more self sufficient in power and water, - as well as clean and green - every opportunity and need is under review, under construction, or in the final stages of completition.”
Like many of his fellow farmers in the Gnowangerup/Borden area, Bill O’Keeffe’s parents took up virgin land in the mid-1950’s. Today, he wife Kate and family produce 6,500 Merino ewes and hoggetts, 1,200 “Prolific’ high fertility breeders, 4,000 crossbred and 3,000 Merino lambs, along with a 450 bale wool clip.
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