Cattle Prices. Somebody should do something, but who is somebody?
This article was written by previous ABA Chairman, John Carter. To many in the beef industry John needs no introduction. From a strong activist in the Cattleman’s Union, NSW Meat Authority Chair and of course respected cattle breeder from his very productive property Lake Edward, Crookwell.
John knows his way around Canberra and reveals the vapour trail of the people involved in the disastrous beef industry structure.
The Australian beef industry is in crisis. From Cape York to King Island there are many producers technically bankrupt. Meanwhile EU and US cattle prices are at record highs. Bob Katter has called for an emergency meeting of Federal and State Ministers to explore answers.
$ 2 billion in levies has disappeared over 30 years with little to show for it. Who are the people responsible for delivering the aims of the 1997 John Anderson designed meat industry structure?
All are technically dependant and answerable to Minister Ludwig. He is blamed for reaction to the Indonesian crisis but he had no alternative .His department had warned the Live Exporters months before the ABC film unleashed a politically unstoppable deluge of outrage. He shot himself in the foot by not sheeting the blame to where it belonged—MLA, who had provided hopelessly inadequate knocking-boxes. His Department (DAFF) doesn’t seem interested in what other Governments do for their agriculture.
The Shadow Minister, John Cobb, is a former NSW Farmers Chairman and is enmeshed in the hopeless Cattle Council /NFF club.
Next in line is the Chair of our levy reserve funded Red Meat Advisory Council – Anderson’s official industry advisor to the Minister. The
Chairman gave Ludwig, no advice during the Indonesian crisis, as his Council couldn’t agree on anything; self-interest saw processors wanting the trade stopped, producers wanting it opened. He is former AMH cattle buyer, and JBS Director, Ross Keane.
Cattle Council was granted peak body status, membership of RMAC and access to levy reserve funds by Anderson. They have been “dead in the water” for years. Their defence of US beef being imported to Australia was incredible in its naivety. Their non- appearance at the ACCC Grocery Inquiry was culpable. Their Strategic Plan is an embarrassment – pure waffle including the inane idea of a Grass fed beef brand. They don’t understand the disciplines required for a credible beef brand and our grass fed beef mainly ends as mince. The current Chairman is a South Australian, Andrew Ogilvie
MLA is the service company. Their policy for spending our multimillion dollar grass fed levies is decided by Cattle Council!! Their first Chairman, Bob Graham, was eased out quickly by the Queensland connection. David Crombie took over as a high profile chairman, introducing the NLIS white elephant and MSA (before abandoning it to the processors). He became NFF Chair. Don Heatley followed. He was the industry face during the live cattle episode as Cattle Council hid. He left and Rob Anderson became MLA’s invisible Chairman.
So, as beef industry faces its worst challenge in 39 years we have a rudderless rabble. Ludwig, Cobb, Keane, Ogilvie and Anderson are invisible as they dodge the spotlight. Wyatt Earp cleaned up Dodge City in the US 140 years ago. Bob Katter may be our Wyatt Earp for a clean-up. We must scrap our failed, inoperable structure and do what the US did in similar circumstances 92 years ago. They legislated a Packers and Stockyard Act to bring in the same day payment, proper market reporting, share of consumer dollar etc. France has this too, and consumers and politicians are on the producer’s side as they know the processor and retail “mark ups”.