MEAT and Livestock Australia's general manager of livestock productivity, Dr Alex Ball, is overseeing the Australian Beef Language White Paper project and is optimistic about the future.
"I actually think we will find there will be better ways of describing the language, and it will not be a divide between processors and producers," he said.
"It is about building confidence, transparency and further credibility in the carcase-measurement system."
The cattle industry asked MLA to commission a research and development project to provide a series of options, scenarios and recommendation to better understand the requirements of the Australian beef-trading language.
There has been ongoing dissatisfaction among many beef producers regarding parts of the language that have become scientifically redundant, such as the use of dentition, meat colour, fat colour and butt shape.
A steering committee headed by Dr Ball is made up of representatives from the Cattle Council of Australia, the Australian Lot Feeders Association, Teys and the Australian Meat Industry Council.
Both MLA and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) have funded the project and will oversee it.
A consortium of consultants, who have completed white papers for other industries, respected meat scientist John Thompson and MSA pathways committee chairman Rod Polkinghorne have been appointed.
The consortium has submitted a project plan that outlines key outcomes, and will be scientifically oriented and provide a range of options that are evidence-based.
The first draft is due at the end of the year.
"We'll then build a straw-man model of the language options and discuss with industry what models might look like," Dr Ball said.
The paper should be completed by April next year.
Dr Ball's role is to identify and facilitate the technologies that can be put into place to improve carcase measurements.
Currently there were descriptor measurements in the language that needed to be reviewed as they did not contribute to either measurements of yield or eating quality, he said.
"Why are we clinging on to dentition? For a whole range of international markets, dentition is used to describe the carcase and that's why Aus-Meat uses it."
Dr Ball said dentition was a useful tool to use on-farm to estimate the age of an animal, but with a standard error of nine months, it was of limited value in predicting eating quality.
"We need to build confidence between producers and processors so that they are working on the same information to make their decisions."
For example, an animal that does not meet market specifications costs both the producer and the processor, and a rigorous system is needed to say why.
"The paper will be fundamental in that it will produce hard scientific information and then it will be up to the industry to adopt it.
"If the science is robust, then we will be able to have a sensible debate."
The timeframe, however, is critical, with both the US and other countries reviewing their language.
"With good, solid industry support, there are a lot of technologies that can rapidly change the beef and sheep industry.
"We have a window in the next eight months to get a dialogue going."
Both the MLA and AMPC, which own Aus-Meat - the custodian of the beef language - support the review.
AMPC general manager Stephen Kelly said all parties needed to be proactive to see what sort of initiatives could be taken on the carcase measurement side, where measurements and descriptors of meat could be aligned.
"There are a lot of factors to consider, including what consumers want, but there has to be a pull-through effect for all parties," Mr Kelly said.
He said he wanted to see what the review came up with before jumping to any conclusions.
Asked if processors would be open to measuring meat colour at a different point if the white paper suggested this, he did not disagree.
"A lot of work is being done by people smarter than me - Rod Polkinghorne is on the committee and looking at this aspect, and I welcome the review to see if some of those things are applicable.
"As a final comment, the processor groups are not against change, and we're not against producers achieving a fair price for their product.
"It is up to both parties to come up with a methodology that pays both sectors and meets the customers' requirements.
"If there are changes in the review that recommend this, we will adopt them."