We now have an implementation committee to look at how to create a well-funded grass-fed producer organisation. It seems to me whatever we do we will find it will be very difficult to establish a vibrant well-resourced independent cattle Corporation.
One of the keys to get this independent cattle Corporation up is the ability to identify all producers who pay a five dollar levy and ensure they get an independent vote, just like AWI do with their producers. To my way of thinking we may be trying to push the proverbial up the hill and we know how far this will get us.
One of the interesting things to happen is that CCA employed consultants to look at how it would be possible to identify all producers out there to give them a Democratic vote on what they desire out of a new peak body to represent producers. The report has now been completed and it seems that it will take at least three years to get a system in place that can ensure all producers who pay a five dollar levy will be given a right to vote in a referendum which would advise government of what producers actually want. I really wonder how long it would take if we copped a disease like FMD in this country to actually identify producers. In actual fact we have that ability now through NLIS which it seems would take this amount of time to get a Democratic referendum through the system. Why???
Is it possible for an operator to access the database and give a read out of all grass fed producers who paid the levy in the last 12 months in a matter of minutes or hours?
Could it be possible that people in power would like to keep the status quo the same as we have now? In regard to the Seven Senate recommendations, Minister Joyce stated if cattle producers received the whole of their money it would destabilise the whole of the MLA as we know it. We are continually fed the line that MLA is a producers’ service organisation and processors and live shippers have their own service organisations that negotiate deals with MLA or any service they desire. Processors have huge reserves, in excess of $40 million, yet they refuse to pay towards MLA’s marketing, which leaves producers to fund marketing. The question should be asked “who does the MLAs co-funded marketing support programs benefit?” certainly not the producer.
The simple fact is that processors have a voracious appetite and will pay as little as possible for stock, though they maintain producers are a necessary part and they need to be sustained. I’m a firm supporter of the view that industry should be more cohesive.
Concerns regarding the MLA’s survival are largely smoke and mirrors. If the producer funding is guaranteed in a similar fashion as AMPC, then MLA core functions in market access, meat safety, issues management and market information would continue to be funded.
To me a great way to kill off dissention is to form a committee or to employ a consultant and if both are not handled well we will end up with a smokescreen that will achieve very little and where the people fighting to change are exhausted and worn down.
According to Howard Smith, the chairman of Cattle Council, the problem is that a lot of levy producers believe because they pay a levy they are entitled to have a say in policy development or advocacy. I am one levy payer that believes that because I pay a statutory levy that I am entitled to have a say. Am I wrong?
A producer referendum might ask the question, “Do you support the Senate recommendations, 1 to 7, yes or no?”