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The diagram MLA contributors show producers paying $56 million into the MLA. Producers funding, with no checks and balances of any consequence, is going directly from the government to the MLA for R&D and marketing.

Cattle Council, the peak body for producers, are broke, dysfunctional and the present state is a liability to grass fed producers. The fact is the MLA treats cattle Council with contempt. It is also interesting to look at cattle Council seeking contracts from the MLA to keep it afloat, surely this is a conflict of interest.

Processors pay $9 million into the MLA of which 6 million goes into the MLA’s R&D Company, whereas the government match dollar for dollar. The other $3 million AMPC ensure that this money is spent how they specify. Processors refuse to have any of their money spent on the MLA’s marketing campaigns overseas, as they believe it to be a waste of money. Producers have no such luxury.

MLA dances to the tune of the processors; this is in direct contrast to the cattle producers who have virtually no say of where and how their statutory levy is spent.

The processors are well-resourced and efficient. The processors have been very active in trying to stop live shipping whilst cattle Council hasn’t got the resources to fight on producers’ behalf.

Past MLA decisions have irreparably damaged the grass-fed producers’ prosperity.

For example:

1. The Indonesian fiasco with the knocking-boxes, found to be entirely inappropriate.

2. MSA, $100M’s of levy payers money into a great system only to be bastardised by greed of processors and retailers.

3. NLIS, again a system to go from the gate to the plate enforced onto producers which retailers and processors failed to adopt leaving traceability stopping at the knocking-box.

4. LPA, a voluntary system, however processors will not accept cattle without LPA. A voluntary system affectively is mandatory.

5. MLA at the AGM, Fremantle, stated that producers were getting a better share of the retail dollar in 2012 than in 2003. What is our share now? 25%?

6. Looking at State cattle price indicators they have obviously declined but are still respectable. Would it be so respectable if the MLA staff took a pay cut of 50-70%?

Presently, we know that the current structure is not working in the interest of producers. In fact, producers are paying the larger sums of money for the whole industry. Cattle Council are looking at reform but will not take on the role of controlling the $56M received form grass-fed levies.

Until we get industry reform, producers will continue to suffer the consequences of incompetency.

The obvious answer is a cattle corporation elected by producers for producers.

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Author: David Byard

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