Editor’s note: Depending on their operating system and device used, some Beef Central readers may have been unable to open this item, when it was first published yesterday.
Queensland cattle industry leader Howard Smith says the establishment of new consultative committees by Cattle Council of Australia last year has been one of the most effective initiatives he has seen in his agri-political career.
Last year the council introduced four new committees which included experts from outside its existing membership base to add more punch to grassfed cattle industry policy development.
The consultative committees were introduced to guide policy development in four key areas: Industry Systems and Food Safety; Marketing Market Access and Trade; Research Development Extension and Sustainability; and Animal Health Welfare and Biosecurity.
The membership of each committee draws from various sources including:
- Representatives of State Farming Organisations (SFOs) and the Australian Cattle Vets Association and the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association;
- CCA’s direct member representatives;
- Finalists from CCA’s Rising Champions initiative; and
- Invited representatives from other sectors such as lotfeeding, meat processing, meat exporting and R&D.
Examples of outside experts who have been invited to sit on the committees include export industry leader Richard Rains, Australian Country Choice chief executive officer David Foote and vertically integrated beef producer and brand program marketer Blair Angus, who each participate on the Marketing, Market Access and Trade committee.
As mentioned in the list above, any cattle producer who pays the $110 annual fee to become a direct member of Cattle Council is eligible to nominate to sit on one of the consultative committees, allowing any Australian beef producer to have input into Cattle Council’s policy making process and the strategic planning processes of service providers.
A Cattle Coucil spokesperson said the consultative committees provide advice to the Cattle Council board, and, to assist them in that aim, they often receive presentations from industry service providers, such as Meat and Livestock Australia and Animal Health Australia.
The consultative committees were delivering “unprecedented outcomes” in terms of volume and quality of policy being developed, the spokesperson said.
Participants in the consultative committees have the cost of their travel and accommodation covered. They do not receive a sitting fee for their time which they provide voluntarily.
The spokesperson said the work of the consultative committees was funded through the Government-sanctioned services agreement with Meat and Livestock Australia and Animal Health Australia, “on the basis that they provide an unrivalled opportunity to consult with the grassfed industry and to inform their strategic planning processes”.
The future of that service agreement between MLA and CCA remains uncertain after December this year and will hinge on whether the MLA board will see room to maintain the service agreement work in its restructure and what recommedations Senators make to Government concerning industry structures and how grassfed levy funding flows to both or either MLA and CCA when they table their report next month.
AgForce Queensland cattle president and Queensland representative on the Cattle Council of Australia Howard Smith told Beef Central that 12 months on, the consultative committee concept was working very well.
“It is probably one of the best things I have seen in my time in agripolitics,” he explained.
“We can now bring people in from outside SFOs and there has never really been a mechanism to do that before.
“I believe we have lost a lot of intellectual capacity over the years by being divided, so being able to bring in a cross section of experts has brought a lot of knowledge and a fairly balanced view of the world.
“That gives us pretty powerful knowledge sitting around that table so when we put our levy dollars into marketing and promotion, it is not just a producer on the farm gate, it is other people through the whole supply chain.”
Vertically integrated branded beef producer and exporter and Beef Australia chair Blair Angus said he believed the Cattle Council’s consultative committees were a great initiative.
“Initially I am always a bit apprehensive where agripolitics is concerned, but I thought it was a very good initiative and I think that through the committees we are able to offer some good insight,” Mr Angus told Beef Central this week.
“Certainly there are some people there who I look up to including Richard Rains.
“I think it is fantastic that they have realised that they needed expertise from outside their existing membership and I think it is a good step forward.
“Basically the decision side of our industry has been dominated by other sectors for a number of years and I think it was a good initiative for Cattle Council to bring in some people with skin in the game and to talk about these things from a farm-gate view point.”
Cattle Council said the committees’ achievements in the past 12 months have included:
- Initiating a review of Australia’s red meat language to reflect current industry science;
- Oversight of implementation following Meat and Livestock Australia’s LPI Review;
- Initiating an industry led process to examine future management of HGPs in the industry;
- Ensuring continuing market access by opposing beta agonist use in the Australian beef Industry;
- Coordinating the grassfed industry’s role in Exercise Odysseus – a simulated exercise to assess Australia’s biosecurity;
- Contributed significantly to the development of the National Wild Dog Action Plan;
- Ensuring priority markets are reflected in industry programs;
- Providing ongoing advice to the Cattle Council representatives who sit on the 90 plus industry/government committees.
The four consultative committees will meet in Canberra tomorrow ahead of a CCA dinner marking the council’s 35th year, which will also result in the naming of the 2014 Cattle Council of Australia/NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion.