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MLA says it is aware of the frustration many producers are experiencing with Safemeat’s planned phase-out of versions of the LPA NVD that are printed pre-2013.

ABA has had members ringing up with concerns over their inability to make contact with the LPA NVD hotline, to order their new expensive NVDs. Many try for days.  You are simply unable to make your order. When we complained to MLA about the lack of service in getting through, and the long waits, we were told not to contact MLA, but to use the Hotline.

I have personally tried to contact the NVD hotline, only to be put on hold for half an hour.  I become fed up and gave up.

The second time I rang in, a voice recording told me that I could order through MLA and gave the e-mail address!!  Mmmmmmm    

One well-known agent had an advertisement saying that as of 1st January 2015 some processors will only accept NVDs that are the latest version.  He then advised producers to contact the (MLA) Hotline 1800 number.  Mmmmm, don’t contact MLA but there’s a MLA Hotline?

The ABA had made our concerns clear to the top management of MLA….that the left hand does not seem to know what the right hand is doing!!!

MLA has made statements that Safemeat is a partnership between the red meat industry and government.   MLA clarify that they are not a partner in Safemeat, and that MLA has NO ROLE in making any decisions around NVDs, LPAs,  or about the cost of NVD books.

MLA then also reminds us that it is not an industry representative body, but that it is a service provider to that industry.  It seems a component of this ‘service provider provision’ is operating the NVD book ordering service!!  Confused yet?

At this point I am definitely confused.

Amongst all this inexplicable mess, it appears MLA is also now providing further funding for the call centre, as they are aware that producers are still experiencing unacceptable difficulties in getting through to the NVD Hotline.  

If MLA is not responsible for NVDs (SafeMeat apparently is) they should clarify the situation to everyone, and ensure that agents and others make no mistake of who is responsible for what.  And if MLA is not part of the NVD system then why should they use levy payer funds to provide this service?  This is a right royal mess, ain’t it?

It amazes me too that producers are asked to pay $2/page or $40 for a booklet of 20 sheets.  This is way overpriced, and to whom, or where, does this money go??  There seems to be a lot of income, and expenditure that is clearly unexplained, or is going in circles.   

When NVDs were first introduced, one could download a ‘Newbrain’ NVD off the ABA website.  This was legal and allowed, with abattoirs accepting them. They were free.

Then certain sectors of the industry got their heads together and ensured that abattoirs would not accept the non-industry designed NVDs, despite them being perfectly legal.  The words ‘Restraint of trade’ spring to mind!! And the ‘acceptable’ NVDs cost the producer.

It appears the LPA program which underpins LPA NVD is administered by Aus-Meat, who then takes advice from the LPA Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from Peak Industry Councils!!  It is worth noting that Aus-Meat is a jointly owned by processors and MLA, as is MSA – the descriptive program for grading beef!!  Makes one think of the fox in the hen house! 

Beef producers have a $5 mandatory levy deducted for each beast sold; then they have to buy costly and faulty electronic tags; plus a ‘voluntary’ LPA system (which is not voluntary because nobody would accept your stock without it); and then….for good measure we have to pay for an NVD form that may be costing far more to purchase than it is to produce!!

Could it be possible that somebody is making a healthy profit out of NVDs?  Who?  And why should MLA use levy payers’ money to provide the call centre to sell these NVDs?  Whoever receives the income should be providing the service

This is the norm.   Producers pay for everything, whilst others sit back and dream up ways to get more money out of long suffering producers. And now there is an opportunity for producers to take control of their own levies, there is a ‘race’ on by those living off the levy to ensure that the New Cattle Board never gets off the ground.  (Watch this space – more on this in the future)

Producers, through lack of control of their own industry and their own levies, are forced to bear extraneous costs to ensure others reap the benefit.   

It may be worth remembering that if producers keep being screwed for costs, control and management, the desire to keep producing cattle will deflate significantly.  Right now the steel goose (as it is not ‘golden’, but definitely made of stern stuff) is being flogged into unviability.  Which is short sighted, but currently allowed by our successive governments.

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