Australian cattle, sheep and goat producers will have their knowledge of on-farm food safety requirements assessed from January next year.
For the first time, producers will need to successfully complete an online assessment to renew their Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) accreditation.
"The assessment is an important part of a nationwide push to ensure every red meat producer fully understands their food safety responsibilities and the crucial role they play," LPA advisory committee chair Kevin Roberts said. "The Livestock Production Assurance program is an industry system that underpins the integrity of our product.
"We know the vast majority of livestock producers understand what is required on-farm in order to meet the requirements of LPA accreditation and this assessment will validate that. This is a significant strengthening of the commitment that reinforces our promise that Australian red meat is safe to eat, and helps secure
vital access to more than 100 markets across the world."
From January, producers will be required to renew their LPA accreditation every three years, and will be notified by email or post when they are required to do so. Those reminded first will be producers whose accreditation anniversary is in January 2017. Once notified, producers will have two months in which to renew.
They will be required to log on to the secure, password-protected LPA Service Centre at http://lpa.ausmeat.com.au/ and correctly answer 10 multiple-choice questions relating to core elements of the LPA program in order to renew their accreditation.
Renewing the accreditation of the 200,000 livestock producers involved in LPA will be a gradual process, with all producers expected to complete the assessment and renew their accreditation by 2019.
Accreditation lasts for three years.
"The important point is that failure to renew your accreditation within the specified timeframe will mean your LPA accreditation will lapse," Mr Roberts said.
"If this happens, producers will no longer have access to LPA National Vendor Declarations and the access to markets for your livestock will be significantly impacted."
Producers will be supported in preparing for the assessment by an online learning tool - LPA Learning - developed by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). It can be accessed via smartphones and tablets as well as desktop computers.
"Working through LPA Learning improves your knowledge around on-farm food safety practices, and the five elements of the LPA program: assessing risks, treating animals safely and responsibly, managing pasture and fodder treatments, preparing animals for dispatch, and documenting livestock transactions and movements," Mr Roberts said.
"I'd strongly recommend completion of the LPA Learning tool to refresh your understanding in preparation for the assessment. It is 30 minutes well spent."
The online assessment (and supporting learning resource) was unveiled at the end of August, with producers joining LPA for the first time required to complete the assessment from September 1.
"With the national trend towards reducing public extension services, and the remote locations of many producers, online learning is a cost-effective way to deliver training," Mr Roberts said.
Producers can access background information on all aspects of Australia's red meat integrity system at the Integrity Hub, http://www.mla.com.au/meat-safety-and-traceability/red-meat-integrity-system/.
It includes information on the National Livestock Identification System, the LPA program,
producer resources and LPA Learning.