Simon Crean will tell the Making Our Voices Heard advocacy event in Melbourne later this month that the bodies speaking for Australian agriculture need to pitch themselves differently.
The former Agriculture Minister is chair of the Australian Live Export Council and says a whole-of-supply-chain focus is essential.
"I don't think they can just see themselves as agricultural bodies or pitch their message just through to agricultural departments or ministers," Mr Crean said.
"They are an industry, they're going to be a value-added export, as well as a trusted food source in both domestic and international markets.
"And they've got to pay more attention to the whole of supply chain activity, not just to the provision of commodity."
While there were often tensions between different members of the supply chain, the government's newly-released discussion paper, Modernising the Research and Development Corporation System, went to the nub of the problem.
"You're only going to be effective advocates if you understand fundamentally that a chain's only as strong as the weakest link," Mr Crean said.
"You can't afford weak links.
"And you've got to use the collective strength to strengthen the message.
"Divided, you weaken it so you've got to find whole-of-supply-chain advocacy and the commitment of all sections in the supply chain to work together.
"That's why the current review that the government is looking at in terms of better R&D collaboration with industry is welcome.
"That challenge has always existed for industry and I think that, so far as the red meat industry is concerned, the development of the white paper gives us a great opportunity to look at structures within the industry and therefore a more effective voice and advocacy tool."
The Making Our Voices Heard panel discussion comes ahead of next week's launch of Red Meat 2030 at Parliament House.
It aims to double the value of red meat sales by 2030 to $57 billion, more than half the $100 billion objective set for Australian agriculture by the National Farmers' Federation and government.
At the same time, the A Better Red Meat Future white paper for the Red Meat Advisory Council is in its final stages of development that would see Red Meat Australia become the single voice for the Australian red meat and livestock industry.
"The meat industry strategic plan gives the foundation for the strategic direction," Mr Crean said.
"Get the strategic direction right, get your advocacy voice right and you're you're in front.
"I think that understanding the importance of whole of supply chain is important.
"That's all been recognised, I think in the dialogue that's been around the white paper but that's been the case for some time.
"Can we get our work together now? I think we can.
"Should we get our act together? We must.
"Unity is key. Marshalling it not easy but it's essential that we do it."
Mr Crean will speak at Making our Voices Heard in Melbourne on October 24.
Facilitated by ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh, panel members will include National Farmers' Federation president Fiona Simson, Australian Farm Institute chair and immediate past Australian Pork Ltd chief executive Andrew Spencer, Australian Live Export Council chair and former Agriculture Minister Simon Crean, Australian Dairy Farmers chief executive and former Cattle Council of Australia chief executive David Inall, and dairy farmer and 2019 Nuffield scholar Daniel Meade.
More details and tickets are available via Eventbrite.