Rural press has been very active in talking about peak bodies and their effectiveness.
Beefs most influential body, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) stated in a recent article, that it does not rely on peak producer bodies to consult with levy payers. Surely, this is a serious problem.
The article goes on to quote recommendations from the 2014 Senate review, to overhaul producer representation. It now appears, MLA has set up several avenues to allow direct consultation with its levy payers.
I can’t see how MLA can consult with levy payers, if they can’t identify the people that are forced to pay a statutory levy.
The Senate enquiry referred to by the MLA, has seven recommendations.
One of the recommendations was that, a producer owned body be established by legislation. That body should have the authority to receive and disperse the research and development, as well as the marketing component of the cattle transaction levy funds.
Another was, the establishment of a cost-effective automated cattle transaction levy system. The system, to identify levy payers against levies paid. Subjected to regular independent auditing and verification.
In addition, the Australian National audit office, conduct an audit of the cattle transaction levy system, tracing the levy from inception through to all expenditure.
The MLA remained adamant, they have no agri-political advocacy role. It would seem to me that MLA are making judgement on a peak Council, that they support financially through a bamboo curtain of service work.
Reading Cattle Councils Australia’s (CCA) site, suggest that they are the peak producer organisation, representing Australian cattle producers.
Under the red meat, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), CCA’s role is to provide leadership, formulate policies, set strategic imperatives and agree to expenditure for the industry sector it represents.
Another CCA role, is to assess the performance of service delivered by the MLA, they also should provide recommendations to the Minister, on the operating levels required to fund MLA activities and consult widely with the grass-fed cattle industry, on MLA funding requirements.
The question must be asked, how can CCA carry out its roles when the biggest part of its funding comes from the very people, they are supposed to oversee,
Senate O’Sullivan says, “the fact is, there is a serious void of representation of cattle producers in this country”, it seems even the MLA agree on this point.
Another article I read, revolved around the ABARE conference and TEYS Australia spokesman, Tom Maguire. He goes on to call for a distinctive new model for industry representation, based on customer focus and zoning-in on a few, big issues for impact.
He went on to say, that the industry faced significant challenges including, labour energy costs, regulatory burdens, market access and higher competitive competition, he suggested there to be, a role for industry associations in the interactive role with government, to address these and a host of other challenges.
It is interesting to watch people like John Berry and Tom Maguire and other lobbyists, from different sectors, forcefully pushing their points through government. I wonder where the representatives from the cattle producers are? One suspects, they simply haven’t the same resources that other sections of the industry have, at their disposal.
Mr Maguire posed the question, “are industry associations keeping up with the dramatic changes in the way the red meat industry functions? The answer to this question must clearly be “NO”, in the case of CCA.
The point was also made, that Australia employed 135,000 people in the red meat industry.
Surely the point should be made that the meat industry is nothing without producers and being a dog eat dog industry, grass fed producers must be entitled to have one of the biggest dogs in the kennel however, as it stands now, we have one of the most starved and smallest dogs in the kennel, with no teeth.
This has led to numerous imposts on producers, which continue to get larger and more out hand. It seems to me; the only way forward is to form a producer organisation, with the confidence of producers and the financial muscle to look after its members.