An estimated 160 people attended yesterday’s Casino Beef Forum to discuss new livestock biosecurity and Johne’s disease rules and grassfed cattle industry representation.
BJD Action Coalition spokesman and former Australia Meat Holdings CEO John Gunthorpe said the Australian beef industry is facing significant problems, including a globally uncompetitive processing sector, long term declines in domestic beef consumption and recent declines in domestic cattle prices, unprecedented levels of rural debt and crippling red tape.
He said national advocacy for producers had been silent and failing and it was time to form new organisations that delivered the 2014 senate recommendations for “a sustainably funded, truly representative, grassfed cattle peak industry body that gave leadership and advocacy to every grassfed levy payer in Australia”.
In addition to the Cattle Council of Australia, which is currently recognised in legislation as the peak industry council representing Australian grassfed cattle producers, there are several self-appointed groups which also claim to speak for Australian cattle producers. These include the Australian Beef Association, the Australian Meat Producers Group, Concerned Cattle Producers, and the United Stockowners Group. An implementation committee containing members of most of these groups is also working to reach agreement on a way to implement and fund a new directly elected structure to replace CCA as the peak industry council.
At yesterday’s forum Mr Gunthorpe urged attendees to support the creation of two new organisations which he said would deliver on the recommendations of the senate inquiry into grassfed cattle industry structures.
He said a new group called the Australian Cattle Industry Council will be a member-owned and director-elected Peak Council for all Australian cattle producers.
He said it would:
- Advocate for producers and develop policy to realise industry potential.
- Leadership and Government communication would be central to its operations, It would interact with and be part of cattle communities across Australia.
- Connect the cattle community through a comprehensive database building networks and connectivity enabling this organisation to listen to your concerns.
- An interim board will be formed to market the new organisation to our potential members across Australia.
- Elections will be held in the 15 ABARE regions of Australia (NSW 3, QLD 4, VIC 2, SA 1, TAS 1, WA 2, NT 2) and an interim board will retire once the new board is elected
- He said a second company, Australian Cattle Producers’ Corporation (ACPC), will be formed to be a service provider for ACIC with the responsibility of receiving transaction levies and applying these through MLA, AHA and other service companies to advance marketing and research and development.
“In this way levies will come to producers and not direct to MLA and AHA as currently provided under the Red Meat MOU.
“This is how the slaughter levies are paid to the Australian Meat Processors Corporation (AMPC) under the same MOU. We are seeking no more of the government than the beef processors currently have.”
He said all cattle producers across Australia are being invited to join the ACIC for an initial membership fee of $10.
He said 120 people joined the organisation at yesterday’s forum, he said.
“Australian cattle producers cannot wait for the implementation Committee to arrive at an action plan to revise a broken structure. The best opportunity for reform is now.”
“Asking those who administer the current dysfunctional and moribund structure (Howard Smith, Peter Hall, Brett Hall and the recently appointed interim CEO) to negotiate a new structure is flawed.
“The next step in making the necessary changes is the unification of all farmers across Australia – every voice counts.”