A Continuation of the TicTacs You Received on Saturday, concerning the writing of Meat Industry Strategic Plans from 1996 0nwards…..and what those ‘plans’ have achieved.
The fact is the ‘new breed of professional producers’ are going broke. None of the instigated schemes such as NLIS, PCAS, MSA or any other scheme has seen an increase in returns to farmers, and in fact they have been used to discount cattle prices even further. Producers costs have risen, while cattle prices on the whole have remained below the $3.75 mark for over 20 years.
The processing sector have become more concentrated and efficient (much of that thanks to using producers’ money and returns to fund their upgrades). The red meat processing sector has used their concentration of power within industry controls to ensure that an equitable increase in livestock prices never came to pass, ably abetted by drought, export debacles, promotional schemes, etc.
It is astounding to look back in history and read about the billions that producers were promised, which was never been achieved. The only billions that have been influential in our industry is the over-one-billion dollars paid out in grass fed levies.
And it is frightening to think that despite all the promises “The Plan” offered, the reality is that what ABA and others have stated about the industry have been proven correct about:
a). the mismanagement of grass fed levies, which is over 54% of all levies paid to MLA
b). the totally inadequate funding of the grass fed Peak Council – CCA,
c). the dreadful contract between MLA and CCA that allowed MLA to ignore CCA’s advice on management, research, funding and representation (CCA was pretty weak about it too).
d). the mismanagement of MLA, and the almost $2Billion of levies they have received
e). the manipulation of power within MLA by other sectors
f). the unbalanced, inexplicable right for some sectors to get their levies, and keep ‘reserves’
g). the inexplicable fact that producers can pay over $1.1Billion in levies and not be given the right to manage or question the spending of that levy money; nor keep control of, or ‘reserves’ from their levies
h). the fact that our grass fed industry reps would take over 15 years to admit they were broke and struggling, or to demand some action to rectify the situation
Credit should be given to the Senators from the 2014 Senate Inquiry into the Collection and Disbursement of the Grass Fed Cattle Levy. These Senators questioned every aspect of the grass fed industry and its place in the Red Meat Industry, acknowledged the huge problems, and delivered seven very important recommendations.
Those seven recommendations justified every criticism that had ever been made in the past about how the grass fed industry was being managed and represented within the red meat industry. The recommendations did shake things up, and then the gloves were pulled on once many thought that they would be separated from funding, should the producers rightfully get control of their own levies.
Currently Minister Joyce is making a decision about whether to implement those seven recommendations in part, or in whole.
I wouldn’t mind betting that the Minister has be lobbied very professionally by processors, lot feeders, the 98 industry Boards that have made positions for themselves in our industry, supermarkets and retailers, other sectors of the red meat industry, and anyone who feels threatened that they are not going to ‘get a piece of the action’ (being the grass fed levy).
Most of these players were happy to have the grass fed cattlemen paying the bulk of the levies which has helped fund the MLA, in which they seem to have a lot of control. These same groups will not be happy to allow the producers to manage their own funds, and will be influencing Minister Joyce with their bias. They already have advised the Minister that producers will take their funds and run, they will destroy the MLA, they will stop funding to many of the existing Boards, they will cease to work closely with the other Red Meat Councils on MLA, and they will destroy the industry. Rhetoric designed to influence the Minister to leave things ‘status quo’.
All scare tactics that they are hoping will influence the Minister to withhold grass fed levies from the control of the producers and make sure he keeps channelling it through MLA, and he keeps ‘giving an allowance” to the New Cattle Board to let it operate.
Perhaps the money spending in the past was not as ‘professionally and closely’ done with the producers as could have been, and a new management of the levies will bring about massive (more positive) changes, and that is what is frightening many others. It should not frighten the Minister.
Will the wrong decision win the day again for some, but definitely not for all the heavily levied Australian cattle producers? Are the grass fed producers to be saddled with the same old system, led by those who have no skin in the game, just a hand on the money box?
Will producers just see a window dressing exercise?
Will producers be left to blunder along with the same inadequate funding, the continued misuse of our money by others, the potential for unresponsive representatives to grow out of the new system again, and the same blatant miscarriages of management being made?
AS WE GO TO PRINT:
US and Canadian producers currently receive double the prices that Australian producers receive for their cattle, and they’ve had problems with BSE, have no NLIS, no LPA and a world-recognised grading system managed by government.
The American consumer buys their meat for less than half what Australians pay for beef.
The Uruguayan cattleman has been receiving more for his cattle than the Australian cattleman on frequent occasions, despite that country’s problems.
The South American countries have been shut out of some world markets because of problems with FMD. Australian beef has been exported around the world in greater amounts than ever before, for significantly better prices than ever before, but there is no ’flow back’ of this positive trade to the producer.
Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina along with US and Canada don’t have NLIS, nor LPA and other systems that cost Australian producers so much, and deliver so little.
In Japan, consumers are paying the same prices for Aussie beef as Australian consumers are paying in our supermarkets. This is despite Japan imposing a 38% Import tax on all Aussie beef, plus their added shipping costs.
70% of Australian beef is exported. This still leaves 30% of beef to be sold on the critical local market. Yet we treat our own consumers with contempt with poor grading standards, inexplicable meat language, and a great inconsistency with the product.