NFAS Update Praised as "Well-Orchestrated Change"
MORT & Co has thrown its support behind the latest updates to the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS) with general manager of feedlot and farms Scott Braund applauding the organisation for setting achievable standards.
“I think this is a great example of well orchestrated change,” Mr Braund said with feedlot operators set to be audited against these new standards as of March next year.
Initiated by the Australian Lot Feeders' Association (ALFA), the NFAS is an independently audited quality assurance scheme, managed by the Feedlot Industry Accreditation Committee (FLIAC) and has been in place for the past 23 years.
With more than 20 years of working in the industry, Mr Braund remembers his first workshop in 1995, just one year after its inception.
“I remember it being quite an interesting couple of days as a person new to the industry, and, back then, I probably never understood the true significance or gravity of what that two day workshop was about.
“Looking back on it from where I am now, it was obviously a pretty big step.”
Mr Braund said, since then, the NFAS has continued to change and and grow with the feedlot industry - becoming ingrained in everyday operation for accredited properties.
“To market your cattle as grain-fed in Australia you have to be accredited. There’s roughly 400 accredited feedlots in Australia and it’s a number that goes up and down a little bit season to season but by and large, it’s reasonably consistent. From my knowledge, the major part of the Australian domestic market and large retailers are highly engaged with the NFAS and that’s evident in their supply base.”
Mr Braund said non-accredited feedlots were more opportunistic, using a temporary feedlot system in times of drought or to supply a small domestic market.
“From an accredited feedlot operators perspective, those people do present some risk to me on the basis that, if something untoward should happen in a feedlot anywhere, from a public perception perspective, it’s just going to be a feedlot, not whether they are accredited or not.
“There’s plenty of management responsibilities involved with being NFAS accredited, you have to be on your ‘A Game’ everyday.”
Mr Braund said, although there were a small handful of feedlots not NFAS accredited, the vast majority of cattle supplying the domestic market are coming out of accredited feedlots.
With Mort & Co currently running an aggregation of three sites across the Darling Downs and Northern N.S.W with a combined capacity of 72,000 head of beef cattle, Mr Braund said the new NFAS rules and standards are a positive step to improving the current feedlot systems.
“They’re not big. There’ll be some things that need to be addressed around risk assessment and contingency planning and operators will need to become familiar with the updated reporting requirements.
“The feedlot industry is used to this stuff - accredited feedlots do this and industry is well and truly up to meeting the challenge.”
Mr Braund said the 2015 revue of the original NFAS guidelines identified a number of opportunities for improvement with the scheme, and the coming changes are all in reflection of the review work done previously.
“You have got to stay current with the times and there’s no doubt the expectations of the community have changed since 1994.
“You learn from your mistakes and you uncover things you maybe thought you had partly right to begin with and you refine them,” Mr Braund said.
“Historically, contingency management within the NFAS system was really localised around things like a separate water supply and was quite narrow in its focus, whereas the new NFAS risk assessment process is actually more like a modern health and safety system which requires you to take a view of the wider risks associated with your operation and the mitigations associated with that.”
“It’s actually quite a modern and holistic approach to managing contingency risk within your business.”
“There’s an increased awareness around quality control and, because of that, our constituents and stakeholders are actually asking more of us.
“Not only are consumer expectations becoming higher over time, due to food safety and environmental factors, people understand that the feedlot industry are working in this space, and have been for 20 years, so they feel as though they can ask us to do more.
“We’re being looked at and the fact that we have a system means it needs to be credible and working - it’s one thing to say you have a system but another to actually do the things you say you’re doing.
“I think, particularly in the last four to five years, the pressure being placed on the NFAS is more than it’s ever been because people know we're working in quality assurance so these changes are only positive.”
Mr Braund said Mort & Co would continue to embrace future changes to industry and encouraged other operators to be proactive.
“It’s really important, and something that ALFA is really aware of, that you have to take people on the journey with you but we know the feedlot industry is made up of a really adaptive, forward thinking bunch of people and, I think collectively as an industry, we do it pretty well.”
For more information about the changes to the NFAS rules and standards, visit: www.feedlots.com.au
View published article HERE.