Integrity key to an evolving industry

Integrity key to an evolving industry

09 May 2023
-Min Read
SELX Manager Tom Cooney shares his insights on how our integrity systems protect and enhance the Australian red meat industry.

Key points:

  • Confidence in integrity systems has helped evolve the Australian red meat industry and position it as a world leader.
  • Integrity systems help industry respond to public scrutiny about animal welfare and are critical for consumer sentiment.
  • High compliance is the key to developing and strengthening the Australian red meat sector.

Tom Cooney, Yass SELX Manager

It’s another busy day for Saleyard Manager Tom Cooney at Yass’ South Eastern Livestock Exchange (SELX), a 16-hectare facility where up to 700,000 sheep and 60,000 cattle are sold every year.

Tom, who has more than 20 years of experience in the red meat sector, says he’s never seen it in such good shape. He cites Australia’s comprehensive integrity systems as a significant contributor to this success. 

“Our integrity systems are so important to the Australian red meat value chain because of the traceability advantages they offer, as well as the disease risk and mitigation planning which helps protect the sector,” Tom said.

Integrity Systems Company (ISC) manages and implements the primary on-farm assurance and traceability systems for the Australian red meat sector:

“When these systems are working well, everything in the sector’s going according to plan. I think that's fantastic. It means that as an industry, we've got a handle on any current concerns and it gives us the confidence to move on to something else,” he said.   

Marketing Australian red meat to the world

Tom maintains that widespread compliance is a winning marketing tool for Aussie red meat. 

“This is so important to the entire industry and to our end users in our overseas markets. These systems – LPA, NLIS, all of it – help us maintain our clean, green image abroad, which I think is a really important tool. It just keeps making our whole industry stronger,” Tom said.   

He says our integrity systems also help the red meat industry face public scrutiny around issues such as animal welfare and biosecurity with confidence.    

“There’s no doubt most Australian producers really care about their stock and want them to be happy and healthy. Many have devoted their whole lives to perfecting their product. But this is also a business, and a livelihood. If you're not doing the job right and complying with integrity systems, then you're not going to make money – simple as that.”

Watch this video to hear Tom Cooney discuss common NVD misktakes you need to avoid.

The forefront of future farming

Tom says across the red meat industry, integrity systems are simply a part of modern farming. The popularity of eNVDs is rising, with that trajectory expected to continue as farmers get younger and the industry evolves.     

“It’s a matter of keeping up with the times. I think it's a logical step in the current world that we're living in, and it's just another tool that people can access from their phone, or in the paddock. Once people are up to date with the technology, it just makes life easier for everyone,” Tom said. 

In Tom’s line of work, the NLIS is utilised daily.

“The NLIS works really well for our cattle because it means every animal in the yards is traceable back to its original location. It also means that when we make mistakes, and sometimes we do, we can easily identify individual animals to make sure that they're sold to the right person and are where they're meant to be,” he said.

Sky’s the limit for next generation

Looking back on where the industry has come since he started out more than two decades ago, Tom says it’s been a monumental rise – and as far as he’s concerned, the sky’s the limit.

Tom believes widespread endorsement of integrity systems by producers has led the way and it will help create a lasting legacy of success for generations to come.   

“I think the next generation of producers are going to be so well-informed and professional. It's really exciting being part of this industry and I look forward to seeing what unfolds over the next 20 years,” he said. 

The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) captures lifetime movements by linking accredited tags or devices to a Property Identification Code (PIC) to track livestock through the supply chain.