The Cattle Council of Australia is calling on the major political parties to commit $4 million to pay for the council’s long-planned restructure if they win the Federal election.
Cattle Council of Australia and various other grassfed producer representative groups have spent several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of Cattle Council’s reserves trying to come up with an agreed restructure plan.
The groups last year said they had agreed on a new representative model which would see the current Cattle Council, which is led predominantly by directors appointed by state farming organisations, replaced by a board of cattle producers directly elected by cattle levy payers from around Australia.
The new group would combine policy setting, policy delivery and advocacy, CCA president Howard Smith said in a media statement issued this morning.
However, implementation of the new body can only be progressed with government cooperation to develop sustainable funding streams for the new organisation, he said.
The Council says it has been pushing towards structural change since 2013, but it is much longer if you count the council’s commitment to reform expressed at AGM at Longreach in November 2011.
It is still yet to identify a sustainable funding model to support the new directly-elected body if and when it is implemented.
The council originally hoped the new body could be funded from compulsory grassfed cattle industry levies. The senate inquiry into grassfed levy structures had supported this idea with a recommendation that a new producer-owned body be established by legislation to receive and disperse all grassfed cattle levy funds for R&D and marketing, “Reforming the Cattle Council of Australia to achieve these outcomes should be examined as part of this process,” the first recommendation stated.
However the Federal Government rejected the idea, saying it would destabilise broader red meat industry structures including Meat & Livestock Australia, and would make new producer representative organisation beholden to the Federal Government. Having its funding based controlled by the Federal Government (compulsory levies are seen under legislation as tax funds and therefore Govt-owned funds) would compromise the new body’s ability to express its views without fear or favour, Mr Joyce argued at the time.
The government indicated it would consider proposals from industry for new funding arrangements with a preference for non-government sources and provision of member services.
Mr Smith said the issue had consumed vast industry resources over the past three years.
“A large amount of industry resources have been lost and it is essential the new government commits to working with industry to find a long-term solution,’’ he said.
“Ultimately what is required is Government and industry working together to implement a sustainable funding system that delivers activities that enhance the position of cattle producers.’’
The council was now seeking a commitment of at least $4 million from both the major parties to work with industry to fund the implementation of the directly elected producer organisation, Mr Smith said.
Beef Central this morning asked the office of Federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce and opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon for their response to the request, but had not heard back by the time of today’s daily news email. We will follow up with their responses tomorrow.
Asked how the $4 million figure was arrived at, Cattle Council told Beef Central this morning the figure was based on “the minimum funding requirements to set up the body and the development of sustainable funding streams to ensure the long-term success of the new organisation”.
“In developing long-term and sustainable funding models, Cattle Council hopes to secure the future of the new organisation and advance industry through strong advocacy, representation and service delivery,” the council’s response said.
In the CCA media statement this morning, Mr Smith said adequate funding would allow a new corporation to engage in well-researched policy development to identify the challenges facing grass-fed cattle producers.
He said the need to strengthen the representation of, and service to, the grass-fed cattle sector was fundamental to achieving greater accountability to levy payers.
The council said in March that it was working on future funding options and expected to have a number of models available for producers to vote on soon.
CCA told Beef Central this morning that is continuing to move towards a direct membership model, with funding derived from membership as well as other potential commercial revenue streams.
Mr Smith said the planned restructure represented a long-term solution for the grass-fed cattle industry.
“Grass-fed beef producers need to have control and oversight of the $64 million they pay annually through the compulsory levy.
“For this new organisation to be effective, it needs to be focused on the strategic direction of the industry and overseeing the expenditure of the grass-fed levy and cannot be hindered by funding issues,’’ he said.
Source: Cattle Council of Australia