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2013 draft tick,tacks frid 5/1/ 13

2013 draft tick,tacks frid 5/1/ 13

2013 has arrived and sadly it could be a very challenging year for all cattle producers.Cattle producers are faced with many problems, like supermarket dominance, the flow on effects from the live shipping debacle, transport costs, animal welfare issues, rising dollar, increased red tape, and all this is happening whilst cattle prices are forecast to fall.Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) say these problems are not theirs, technically they are correct their charter is Research and Development and marketing only. To make things more difficult they represent people who have competing interests, producers wants and needs are different to the processors and retailers, with the tension of the processors and retailers wanting livestock as cheaply as possible, with the producer bearing that cost.So who is there to look after producers interests, Cattle Council in theory is the producers voice in a political sense, as well as looking after producers interests in the MLA.Cattle Council unfortunately is dysfunctional and nothing more than a liability, as they are underfunded, non-focused, with an outdated corporate structure, even with the best will in the world they cannot operate as a functional organisation.MLA is funded predominately by a statutory levy on cattle producers producing grass fed cattle, levies to the MLA from cattle producers are around $56 million.Other sectors of the industry have much more influence over the MLA board. Processors through the AMPC contribute $9 million towards MLA however they control every cent they pay into the MLA, they choose not to fund any marketing.Producers who pay more than the rest of other councils have little or no say of where the MLA spends their money . Supermarkets and retailers who pay nothing towards the MLA find themselves in receipt of marketing and research dollars provided by the MLA.Cattle Council is a toothless Tigers controlled by state farming organisations, where some state farming organisations have not been paying levys but still contribute around the table. Sometime ago cattle Council was quoted as saying not to change was not an option. Since then the Cattle Council has conducted a review looking at its operations and structure, this is turning out to be a long and laborious job with little end in sight .

The ABA has spent considerable time producing alternatives structures and strategys to the Cattle Council. It

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would seem that all alternatives alternatives being put forward are obviously unpalatable to the Cattle Council board.

One of the main issues confronting Cattle Council is where the money going to come from to function independently, it seems they have not worked out a funding source that will make them viable and capable of controlling producers political interests.

It seems that Cattle Council have come some way in its bid to get some sort funding, MLA has come up with a package so as Cattle Council will provide consultancy services to the MLA for $700,000. This will not work for the benefit of producers mainly because there is no independence. All this will do is entrench MLA’s stranglehold on producers levys, that producers have no say in how they are spent.

We have Cattle Council saying they cannot service producers needs with the present staff levels, the question we would ask how can Cattle Council with the present staff afford to find time to take on consultancy work?.

Could it be possible that MLA is very keen to keep Cattle Council in its present state where they haven’t got the resources to question the MLA on behalf of producers. If this goes ahead it could be seen as a master stroke by the MLA Board, with the Cattle Council Board an irrelevant puppet.

The logical answer is a revamped Cattle Council or a similar body that is set up with the sole purpose of looking after producers interests political, R&D and marketing.

Producers could insist that all grass fed statutory cattle levies would be sent to a producer body. This producer body would be for the benefit of producers.

Processors or retailers will not be members, this will ensure the dog wags its own tail, Every transaction would attract a vote with a system similar to AWI, that is tried and tested, this allows all producers to get a vote. This body would be well resourced and could decide what R&D and marketing was desirable for the producers and provide a strong political voice for producers, something we don’t have now but desperately need.

The ABA realises that other sectors of the beef industry, especially the processors and retail sector may feel very threated by a functional and well-resourced cattle producer body and they will put considerable weight and muscle to ensure that producers interests remain dysfunctional.

Who could blame them, they want stock for the least possible price, and stop live shipping which has enormous influence over the price that the producer receive. They certainly don’t want to let producers have a say on marketing and other things that are beneficial to other groups.

Yes 2013 could be a difficult year for beef producers with prices forecast to drop and costs soaring upwards, however this can be mitigated with a solid producer organisation in place.

Posted By: Mr DAVID BYARD
Australian Beef Association
P.O. Box 529

Mowbray, Launceston, TAS7250


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