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ABA Forum in Roma – 10th July

The ABA has announced its plans for a forum at the Roma Showgrounds on July the 10th starting at 9.30 am. Reasons for the forum are numerous. Click here for Agenda

Cattle producers are getting squeezed on price whilst the costs are continuing to escalate.

In Australia we have the highest cost of production of any competing country.  This combined with rock bottom prices have led to an alarming escalation in debt levels for producers.

This is despite the fact that we have escaped the problems of foot and mouth disease and of course BSE.  Despite the fact that US has had problems with BSE they have no tagging system like the hugely expensive NLIS tags and even LPA yet they still manage to get better prices than Australian producers.  Over the last three years the USA have taken market share from us in our key high value markets of Japan and S.Korea.

The South American countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay all get better prices for their cattle than Australian producers get, despite the fact they can’t get rid of foot and mouth disease.

These countries don’t contribute towards an organisation like the MLA who are there as a service provider.

MLA itself is run by six peak councils who have all competing interests. For example, farmers want as much as possible whilst producers fight hard to retain live shipping.  The processors are dead set on getting live shipping banned.

Contributions towards the MLA cattle grass fed levies come in at $56 million whilst processors contribute only $9 million, which the processors have total control whilst in contrast the producers have little to no control.

The processor body is a well-funded and effective organisation with reserves reputed to be $20 million plus while producers are represented by Cattle Council which are broke and is a liability to the cattle industry in its present form.

This, of course, leaves the producers with little or no influence over the MLA or any political level while the processors are well organised and are very active on both fronts.

Supermarket retailers pay nothing towards the MLA however they have close ties and get enormous benefit from the MLA marketing dollar.  Coles and Woolworths have an MLA employee on each account.

One could argue that though cattle producers pay the biggest majority of the money going to MLA they have the least say.

The ABA believes the only way to get a solution to these problems is to have an organisation that is elected by producers for the benefit of producers.  This organisation will be totally there for the benefit of producers.

If a producer board managed to take all levies of $56 million in total they could in turn make sure that any service provider such as the MLA would have to dance to their tune whilst ensuring that producers got the best possible deal from processors, supermarkets and retailers.

There will be a range of speakers whilst not all speakers have confirmed they will be available. We can confirm that Brad Bellinger will open proceedings by explaining how the present system is working and how effective this structure has been for producers.

David Byard will then speak about the gate to the plate and explain who gets what share of the retail dollar.

John Niven will then give an NLIS overview which will include costs and how effective the tagging system has been.

Linda Hewitt will then explain how she sees the restructure and where it is at.

Jed Metzs, CEO of cattle Council, and Andrew Ogilvie, chairman Cattle Council, will present the Cattle Council case.

All speakers would have very tight timelines as to how long they speak.

As politicians and others confirm they are willing to speak then they’ll be announced.

Participants will be encouraged to come along and participate and bring their thoughts so these can be noted and put into a report of what producers actually want. Questions will be encouraged at the end of each section and then we envisage a panel discussion whereas all speakers can be questioned.

This forum is held at a time of absolute crisis within the beef production sector. I strongly urge attendance.  The more producers who attend the more our policy makers will be responsive to action.  Concrete beef industry policy has so far been lacking from the major political parties, this forum will not only educate our politicians on the economic stress that producers are under but provide you the producer to question them and help decide your vote in the Federal Election.

Let David or Brad know if you can attend so we can get an idea for catering purposes.

Author: David Byard

David Byard: 0409 426 710

Brad Bellinger: (02) 6725 4282

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