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Cattle Council Restructure

ABA TicTacs

In the last
12 months Cattle Council has conducted workshops in each state. The sole purpose
of the workshops was to get producers views on how cattle Council could be
restructured and funded to make it a viable unit
Armed with all the
information that cattle Council went away and formed a committee to find a model
that would take cattle Council forward into the future as a well resourced
body.
The committee included three Independents and one came from ABA and two
other QLD producers, all the good thinkers who were prepared to think outside
the square. Countless phone calls and man hours were spent in an effort to find
a workable solution that went some way providing a truly independent body that
would be capable of looking after grass fed levy producers. What they came up
with was a compromise at best and even this plan was too big a leap for the
cattle Council board who wasted no time in canning the whole idea.
The next
move was to lobby Minister Ludwig so as to get a small portion of the five
dollar R /D and marketing levy imposed on grass fed levy producers. The idea was
to get a funding stream that ensured that cattle Council remained under the
control of SFOs and had the necessary finances to keep on going. The Minister
quite rightly refused to allow statutory levy to be handed to the cattle
Council.
The Cattle Council then decided to form another committee to find a
solution to their funding problem. Again a board member of the ABA has been
approached and asked to be part of a committee. This is cause for concern as the
ABA committed resources and time to last enquiry only to find that the whole
thing was dismissed by the cattle Council board. A leopard never changes spots
and there is concern that the same thing will happen again.  In fact, most of
the committee members are entrenched cattle council stalwarts.
The three
models that the latest committee will look at have some mutual goals; Cattle
Council will remain in complete control and corporate sponsors will be given
votes for money.
One can only wonder when we see the consumption of beef
going south and the Indonesian market in more trouble than the early settlers;
Korea and Japan also facing serious problems. Whilst prices for cattle are
falling like stones it is great for processors and supermarkets; a disaster for
producers.
The cattle Council have previously stated that changes are
inevitable; no change not being an option; the present funding they receive is
not sufficient for them to carry out their duties as a peak Council.
This is
in direct contrast to the MLA who one has to join up and fill in forms and agree
to abide by all rules.
Presently, to be a member of Cattle Council one has to
be elected by ones state farming organization to take a place on the cattle
Council board. Whilst the MLA has five peak council members which are supposed
to contribute towards the management of the MLA; the grass-fed cattle producers
pay far more than the other four council membership contributions put together
and have far less say. This is simply a ridiculous situation for cattle
producers.
Processors, retailers and wholesalers who contribute nothing or
very little towards the MLA make sure that the little they do contribute is
controlled and spent the way that they demand. And inevitably grass-fed levees
contribute to the other sectors because of the power of the other four Peak
Councils within MLA.
Cattle Council being the only peak organization that
represents cattle producers and then only representing probably less than 10% of
producers has very little say in what MLA does or does not do. This is in direct
contrast to processors who tell the MLA where their money was spent. No
processor money to be spent on overseas marketing. Imagine if CCA told MLA where
it could spend money.
Surely producers should learn from this and take all
levies and like AMIC and AMPC control all grass fed levies and make sure that
producers get a fair deal. This would mean for the first time that producers
would have a body that is theirs, solely for their interest, managed and
operated by them, democratically, and not funding the interests of other peak
councils.
If producers are going to become viable and profitable they must
have a well resourced and viable cattle producer body. Until this happens then
producers will keep on paying for other peak bodies to continue to screw
producers.
To me the answer is very simple; a cattle Corporation elected by
producers for the benefit of producers. Any levy paid into any new Corporation
would attract an automatic membership and a right to vote; 100,000 producers
being members is a strong united voice. This idea is nothing new and AWI has it
down to a fine art and anybody paying a wool tax has the right to vote and is
simply sent their voting entitlements in the mail.

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