New lamb definition

By Country News

Australian farmers will be able to sell more lamb, with the definition of lamb now changed to match our competitors in export legislation.

Under the definition change, which will come into effect on July 1, lamb will continue to be called lamb even if the animal has permanent incisor teeth, so long as those teeth have not begun to wear.

Research by Meat and Livestock Australia found no discernible difference in eating quality between lambs immediately prior to incisor teeth and immediately afterwards.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the change would bring Australia into line with the New Zealand definition.

‘‘This is a simple, commonsense change which will help our farmers,’’ he said.

‘‘In Australia, lamb had previously been considered to have grown into the less lucrative ‘hogget’ or mutton as soon as incisor teeth were visible.

‘‘The new export definition is now in the Export Control (Meat and Meat Products) Orders 2005 and matches New Zealand’s and our own new AUS-MEAT definition.

‘‘It also brings clarity to the definition — growers will now clearly see when a lamb becomes a sheep, when there is visible wear on the incisors.’’

Sheep Producers Australia policy manager Stephen Crisp said despite the changes passing through federal parliament, there was still work to be done.

‘‘State regulations in NSW and Western Australia still need to be aligned but the relevant authorities have indicated this will occur before the target changeover date,’’ he said.

For the change to take effect, various federal and state legislation and regulations needed amendment with the new definition.

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.

Lamb and mutton exports were worth more than $2.6billion to the Australian economy in 2016-17, with lamb alone worth more than $1.9billion.