News

Cattle Council outlines its next steps

Beef Central, 23/01/2018

CCA president Howard Smith, CEO Margo Andrae and NSW director Tony Hegarty, pictured at the CCA AGM at Alice Springs last November.

Cattle Council of Australia issued a media release on the grassfed cattle industry restructure process as Beef Central’s daily news email was being sent this afternoon.

In the release CCA CEO Margo Andrae said Cattle Council has committed to moving the organisation forward with a model that demonstrates increased transparency and increased representation across the beef industry.

“There’s a lot of confusion out there about what happened last week. Today I want to confirm that Cattle Council will work to enhance the organisation’s directly elected model to build a stronger representative body. The new model will develop opportunities for increased direct member involvement at all levels within the Council’s representative structure” said Ms Andrae.

“We believe that we can build on what we have, continue to service our members, defend the beef industry and become more accountable to grass-fed levy payers everywhere.”

Ms Andrae said the discussions have long revolved around access to the levies and long-term sustainable funding streams, which go unresolved and continue to delay any progress.  The unanimous support by State Farming organisation’s (SFO’s) last week, who represent a significant number of beef producers,  provides a sustainable funding stream for the new model to build upon and was also clear recognition by SFO’s that the existing model needs to be enhanced to represent all beef producers.

“This was not an easy decision. Cattle Council have been engaged in the process to transition to Cattle Australia for years but the reality is there comes a time where you have to move on and we made this decision with the support of Cattle Council founding members,” she said.

“This decision was never about discounting producers, Senators or Ministers views or recommendations. We have listened and learnt from the experiences of the past few years and understand that there is plenty of frustration and misinformation out there.”

“The reality is after three years we no longer believed the committee tasked with designing the new structure had the ability to deliver, not because of a lack of will, but because of a lack of long term sustainable funding.

“Creating a new organisation only to have it fail almost immediately would have put the grass-fed beef industry, and grass-fed producers, in an even worse position,” Ms Andrae said.

She said significant changes had been made within Cattle Council since the 2014 Senate Inquiry into grass-fed levies which included

  • the creation of the direct membership;
  • the ability for direct members to nominate for the independent Director positions;
  • a voting structure for Directors;
  • a consultation framework which ensures consultation with producers on key areas including animal health and welfare, marketing, market access and trade, industry systems and R&D; and
  • the ability for both SFO’s and direct members to nominate for the consultative committees.

“CCA have recognised the need to increase communications with all stakeholders as a key priority for 2018 and the need to continue to improve the effectiveness of the organisation around policy development, advocacy and levy oversight,” she said.

“For those out there who still have doubts – we are saying to you, there will be avenues for your voice to be heard and we will be listening. As an industry, we must unite and acknowledge we aren’t always going to agree but we are better off together than apart. Join an SFO, or join us directly, and support us in fighting for our industry, not against it”.

More details on Cattle Council and its membership channels are available here.

Organisational structure a matter for industry: Littleproud

Meanwhile, new ag minister David Littleproud has issued a statement saying the Coalition Government is proud to support the beef industry, which makes a powerful contribution to the Australian economy.

“The Government will continue to work with all industry stakeholders,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The Coalition Government has contributed $500,000 to Cattle Council towards a transition, however it is a matter for the cattle industry to determine what organisational structure is best to represent a united voice for farmers to government.”

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Comments

  1. Paul Franks, 25/01/2018

    Paul if the editor will allow me I will respond to your questions. It is not so much different regulations for different regions, but how the current regulatory regime seems to have been created with little thought put into it for the different situations producers find themselves in. A small producer with a small mob on a small place may find it easier to comply then a large producer. A producer that buys in all their cattle might find it harder then a producer that breeds and fattens all their own. A feedlot producer would be different from a grazing producer. But the rules are the same for everyone.

    Let me go through some quirks. First off LPA and chemical applications. You are supposed to record dose rates. So how does a producer record the dose given to a beast that has gone through a plunge dip? On the subject of plunge dips, under LPA using expired chemicals is a prohibited practice. So does this mean plunge dips must be cleaned out as soon as the earliest expiry dated chemical used in the dip reaches that date? According to the rules it must. If a producer is audited and run a plunge dip they risk being thrown out of LPA and bankrupted due to not following LPA guidelines that are unfollowable.

    While on the subject of chemicals. There is no reason why a chemical that has a nil WHP and ESI needs to be recorded, by the simple fact said chemical has a nil WHP and ESI. There is no residue risk from said chemicals. In fact it is illegal under state laws anyway to sell cattle for human consumption while they are under a WHP for the market they are sold to. Also it is illegal under state laws to apply a chemical contrary to the chemical label. So it is already covered by state laws.

    When it comes to herbicides and record keeping. A producer is supposed to map out herbicide chemical use on their property. It becomes absurd when a producer with a three thousand acre paddock while driving around sprays one weed in that paddock with a chemical with no WHP or ESI and is expected to return home and put on a map where that single weed was sprayed. Any diligent land owner would soon be overwhelmed with maps with dots here there and everywhere.

    Even if the chemical had a WHP or ESI spraying a single plant in an extremely large paddock the risk is negligible but that is a matter for the APVMA.

    When it comes to OC chemical residues. LPA rules state people who suspect their properties have had OC chemicals applied like in old cattle dips or wooden structures, must either fence off said areas or get soil samples tested (at quite a large cost). OC chemicals like DDT were banned for cattle use in dips in1962, while use for termites continues until the 1980’s.

    So any wooden yards built prior to the mid 1980’s which if well built would still have a few decades of life left are under LPA supposed to be either tested and reading the guuidelines if positive fenced off and never to be used again. Putting cattle yards is an extreme expense, costs of $100 000 to $200 000 is not an unreasonable figure. So even if timber yards are done for termites with a DDT chemical under LPA it is not a matter of risk management, it is a simple, ban use of that land for animal production, this is despite decades of safe use in the past. A sensible LPA guideline risk management could be do not use that area to feed cattle destined for sale for x amount of time. Ironically, a new set of steel yards even if placed on an area previously applied with OC chemicals flies under the LPA radar.

    I could go on about commodity vendor declarations and animal vendor declarations and biosecurity and animal welfare and NLIS but I think I have gone on here for long enough for the gist of my opinion.

    I will just point out that everything LPA forces us to do paperwork for what is already covered under state government legislation, it is just LPA treats us all as guilty unless we do that magical paperwork. You are guilty until proven innocent.

  2. Will Robinson, 25/01/2018

    Thanks Paul. Specifically we see that feedlots use starch to drive animal performance. By bringing this concept to freshly weaned cattle in a paddock on grass – we appear to halve the grass requirement of getting a weaner from about 200 kgs to 450 kgs down from 4 tonnes to 2 tonnes. This is achieved via increased daily weight gains and less time on property – typically about 6 months less. Grain or starch in conjunction with grass saves, and can actually generate grass in summer. If a definition of Grass Fed can include some grain it would be ideal? These are the facts not the politics. There was stark contrast between the grain assisted cattle I saw in Roma versus the grass only, on Tuesday this week. Indeed, developing a pure grass fed market niche of customers may well be creating a customer who demands 4 tonnes of grass to get a weaner from 200 kgs to 450 kgs – but the grain assisted customer will only demand 2 tonnes of grass? Graziers tend to need that “spare 2 tonnes of grass” for their breeders in times of drought? It is not my call.

  3. David Hill, 24/01/2018

    Paul, spoken like a true northern cattleman. The complaint from the south is that CCA is supposedly too focussed on northern issues. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how you would implement different regulations for different parts of the country? Whilst the north has considerably more cattle numbers, the south has more producers. Good idea, lets add another level of division?
    Will, to suggest that stock are disqualified from being fed anything is a nonsense. Whether you believe in it or not, there are premiums available for grass fed beef, what level of integrity do you suggest would be appropriate when a consumer may make a purchase based on a raising claim?

  4. Will Robinson, 23/01/2018

    Internal politics or semantics surrounding the nature or definition of “Grass Fed,” aside – it would appear that the grass component of this whole operation may need to be studied further? There is excellent historical documentation and current visual evidence of massive environmental issues which appear to be related to over optimistic livestock numbers since the 1800’s. A quick assessment of the body condition of some of the cattle coming on to the market this week would indicate that grass or feed is already an issue this season. Disqualifying a substantial section of the cattle industry from being fed any form of grain appears to be tempting fate for the next big drought we face – when ever that may be? It would be a great shame if grass fed evolved into grass-dead?

  5. Anita Lethbridge -Qld, 23/01/2018

    Yes Ms Andrae, that is one thing you have got right – there is a lot of confusion (and disbelief) over what happened last week and the blame for that sits squarely with you and CCA.
    How can any grass fed beef producer believe or respect anything that follows from your quarter?

  6. Paul Franks, 23/01/2018

    Does the CCA management know why grass fed beef producers have so much anger towards the representative bodies in the beef industry?

    Talking to many grass fed producers I got the feeling they feel they have had a bureaucratic burden placed upon them for what they see as no gain. Indeed just a few years ago beef producers in Queensland were getting rock bottom prices and few grass fed producers were making anything more then subsistence income, this is despite them being told things the representative bodies embraced and forced upon grass fed producers were done to make sure market access was secure, when in reality there is not much more market access then in 1990 for your basic grass fed beef producer that does not go for niche markets. (otherwise for example why would Australia still be competing against the US beef industry for markets like South Korea when the US has no regulatory regime for it’s beef producers like Australia has) They have had a gutful of being tied to an office or forced to employ the services of a consultant instead of being out there in the paddock growing better beef.

    The thing is all we need is decent leadership by a management who can call a spade a bloody shovel and just says no when someone thinks up some hair brained idea that achieves nothing but create more expense and work for the beef producer. We also need a leadership team who understands that what regulations might work for someone on one hundred acres in Tasmania does not work for someone with thirty thousand acres in central Queensland or someone with three million acres in the Northern Territory These nation wide schemes end up that some people can virtually never comply as their situation was never thought of.

  7. Peter James McHugh, 23/01/2018

    Some how CCA , CEO Margo Andrae and her board in this media release have completely ignored the Senate Committee inquiries recommendations over the last 3 years, this Senate group is made up of both sides of Parliament , hopefully these aren’t the small minorities they keep referring to , or suggest they haven’t been able to sort the misinformation she talks about.
    Lets have a quick gander at the latest report dated 12th September 2017 and maybe the reason the quick pull out as the Implement Committee maybe were finally going to break new ground..
    EFFECT of MARKET CONSOLIDATION on the RED MEAT SECTOR
    Recommendation 1
    ( 5.77)
    The committee recommends that the Australian Government provide immediate support , including appropriate financial assistance ,to the grass fed cattle sector in its efforts to replace CCA with a transparent & accountable producer-owned body as the sector’s Peak Industry Council.
    (5.78)
    The committee recommends that the government Officially recognize Cattle Australia as the grass-fed cattle sector’s Peak Industry Council under the meat livestock industry act 1997 & red meat memorandum of understanding once it is operational and has a membership structure in place .
    Hopefully our new Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has been given the opportunity to review the Red Meat MOU Report Chapter 5 summary and been briefed by fair minded officials with out fear or favor .
    I believe if CCA were truly there for the Grass fed cattle industry , these strong recommendations would have been worth fighting for .
    It’s extremely damming when in the Chapter 5, 20 page committee summary by a Bipartisan government inquiries there is condemnation of our industry structure in every recommendation , again take note this is 20 pages not from misfits or containing misinformation .

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