Grass fed beef producers have a statutory levy taken from every transaction and $67 million of that goes into the MLA, and producers have very little say over how that money is spent.
In the same way processors have a STATUTORY LEVY taken out for every kilogram of meat processed. In contrast, that levy is then passed back to their own service organisation, AMPC, who then make a CONTIBUTION towards projects that are in their interest.
Processors choose what they pay to MLA; very little of processor money goes towards marketing and most goes to R&D, where processors can get matching funds from the government through MLA. Processors generally do not pay towards MLA’s infrastructure and wage costs.
Supermarkets and retailers could be the biggest beneficiaries of MLA’s marketing but they don’t contribute in any way to MLA. At one stage MLA had 2 designated employees working on either Coles or W/W individual accounts.
Processors’ Peak Councils; Well-Resourced: Producers’ Peak Council; Broke and Ineffectual
The MLA is obliged to consult with CCA but not take any notice of what CCA tells them. Present CCA 50% of their income ($750,000) comes from MLA. Some believe this is an enormous conflict of interest and makes CCA beholden to MLA, though the government tells us that the statutory levy cannot be used for advocacy.
In contrast to producers, processors have a very sharp well-resourced representative body, plus spin doctors and legal departments from multinational processors.
Producers through CCA sit in excess of 98 committees and generally are represented by dedicated amateurs, who have to leave their properties no matter what; fire, flood, drought, etc.
Processors are represented on these committees by professional, well trained and well paid staff; this is not a slight on the people representing producers it is simple fact.
Some of these committees are crucial to producers’ interests; however the processors have the numbers. AusMeat language and Standards Committee is a great example 4 processors, 1 supermarket and one beef producer representing producers’ interests.
Trim before scales and what belongs to who is decided by the AusMeat Language and Standards Committee such as kidneys, hide and offal. US dressing percentage: 62%, Australia: 52%. US producers get a percentage of value of by-products while Australia gets nil.
MLA Value Studies
MLA is constantly doing so-called independent studies into their programs. However, when one looks at the consultants doing their studies one finds that a fair percentage is conducted by ex-MLA executive staff.
MLA is found to be a platinum sponsor of a company that does a lot of work for MLA. Is this good? Is this a conflict of interest? It doesn’t seem to be of any concern under the present rules.
When levy was taken from $3.50 to $5.00 MLA conducted a ballot of levy payers, one wonders how they could conduct this when they couldn’t identify levy payers.
It has had been said that the top 200 levy payers could outvote the rest of the levy payers. Votes are given by MLA on the amount of levies paid based on an ‘honesty’ system.
It would be very simple to actually ensure that the biggest were satisfied as they were well looked after by MLA. Is it a fact that MLA has a department or group that actually ensures that the largest levy payers are treated differently to the normal run-of-the-mill producer? Could it also be a way to control votes?
Who can change present structure? Ag Minister?
Some three years ago the present Minister, Barnaby Joyce, called for the Senate to enquire into the structure of the beef industry, specifically MLA. After travelling throughout Australia and taking hundreds of submissions, and listening to weeks of evidence, the bipartisan Senate made seven recommendations only to see none of the recommendations adopted by the Minister.
The Minister stands on his record of record beef prices; however as we’ve seen with the milk industry commodity prices can be very fickle. With Indonesia importing buffalo meat from India, China importing meat from Brazil and the US getting more meat from Brazil things change very quickly and what comes up so quickly can go down with equal speed.
What is the answer of 7 recommendations made by Senate?
Without producers there will be no beef industry valued at $18B providing over 200,000 jobs.
Unless we can get change the industry will certainly go backwards. With an industry worth so much to Australia’s economy surely our government should take the whole industry much more seriously.
When we get Senate findings can we afford to ignore?