LiveCorp is the Rural Research and Development Corporation (RDC) for Australia’s livestock export industry. It is funded in part through a research levy on exported cattle, sheep and goats, which is invested to improve the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness of the industry.
The majority of the research, development and extension (R&E) carried out by LiveCorp is managed by the Livestock Export Program (LEP), which is jointly funded by the RDC for livestock farmers, Meat & Livestock Australia. Around 70% of the annual RD&E budget is allocated to projects supporting animal health and welfare.
Projects come in many different forms, including literature reviews, experimental design and field trials, and the development of systems and software. Resources are developed in multiple languages to support training in overseas facilities that receive Australian livestock, including in animal handling and welfare.
Other extension materials are aimed at promoting awareness of project outcomes and increasing their adoption throughout the livestock export process. This includes RD&E Update magazines produced twice a year to keep livestock exporters, the wider industry and the community informed of the LEP’s work.
The Livestock Export Program (LEP) is a formal joint venture between LiveCorp and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), funded by both marketing and research levies. The research, development and extension (RD&E) investments are made through the LEP RD&E Program, funded 25% each by the partners, and 50% by the Australian Government, which provides matching funds for research levies.
Around 70% of the annual RD&E budget is allocated to projects aimed at improving the health and welfare of cattle, sheep and goats throughout the live export process, with around 20% on improving efficiencies from the farm to countries which receive Australian livestock, and the remainder on maintaining and improving access to overseas markets.
LEP RD&E Program purpose
To invest in projects that seek to build knowledge, fill gaps in existing understanding, and develop, trial and implement practical extension outputs in the areas of animal health and welfare, supply chain efficiencies and market access.
Investments made by the LEP RD&E Program are guided by the RD&E Blueprint. This was developed after extensive consultation with farmers and livestock exporters to provide visibility and clarity on the industry’s priorities for funding.
The blueprint sets out a series of goals that align with both LiveCorp and MLA Strategic Plans, how the RD&E Program will make investment decisions and how project ideas may be proposed. It will be reviewed annually to ensure that its priorities are relevant and that it incorporates new developments in the livestock export process.
There are two main bodies involved in overseeing the LEP RD&E Program.
The Livestock Export Research and Development Advisory Committee (LERDAC) is a skills-based group which provides strategic advice and represents both industry priorities and community expectations. Members include:
farmer and livestock exporter representatives
an independent technical advisor
an animal welfare/social science representative
an independent chairperson
a LiveCorp representative
an MLA representative.
The Management Committee is the decision-making body that represents LiveCorp and MLA – the organisations ultimately accountable for the RD&E Program’s funds and responsible for the delivery, investment and performance of the RD&E Program.
Projects that need large investments, are complex, or potentially impact across industries may require the services of a Consultative Committee, to be established at the discretion of Management Committee with members who bring specific interest or knowledge in the topic of the project.
A review of the LEP RD&E Program was carried out in 2018 to ensure appropriate systems and processes were in place to support the delivery of RD&E for the livestock export industry, including good governance.
The recommendations were based on four main principles:
Clarity: Clear strategic objectives, and clear decision-making and evaluation processes
Reach: Better engagement with stakeholders, both within and external to the industry, to ensure the Program is delivering relevant projects
Structure: A simple and efficient structure, with clear and consistent reporting and management
Knowledge: Regular review to determine priorities and incorporate learnings from past projects.
The following changes have been implemented, or are underway, in response to the review, with the aim to have the work completed by mid-2020:
Developing an RD&E Strategic Plan with industry, government and community engagement (the RD&E Blueprint)
Develop a communications and engagement strategy to ensure ongoing, sustainable communication and extension support
Develop and refine templates, tools and processes for generating project concepts and converting them to projects
Develop a system for post-project reviews, to capture lessons and identify potentially valuable areas for future RD&E
Define governance structures and roles of LERDAC, Management Committee and Consultative Committees.
Meat & Livestock Australia manages the RD&E Program for the Livestock Export Program (LEP). Any current tenders for research projects will be listed on the MLA website.
The National Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension Framework has been developed to encourage greater collaboration and promote continuous improvement in the investment of RD&E resources nationally. It is a joint initiative, through the Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC), of the Australian, state and territory governments, rural R&D corporations (RDCs), CSIRO and universities.
LiveCorp participates in and maintains membership on the steering committees for two of the eight cross-sectoral strategies - those being biosecurity and animal welfare.
The National Animal Biosecurity RD&E Strategy (NABRDES) aims to provide Australian livestock industries with innovative and integrated ways of preparing for, responding to and recovering from disease, pest and weed incursions.
Animal Health Australia (AHA) coordinates the implementation of the strategy on behalf of government and industry stakeholders, including animal-based rural RDCs such as LiveCorp.
The National Animal Welfare RD&E Strategy (NAWRDES) aims to deliver strong collaboration amongst existing RD&E provider groups and effective partnership between investors and research providers to address the strategic themes of:
animal welfare assessment
pain assessment and management
management, housing and husbandry
transport, euthanasia and slaughter impacts
public attitudes, social science and community;
attitudinal effectives on the welfare of livestock throughout the value chain
education, training and extension.