Grassfed industry groups welcome restructure funding

Beef Central, 30/10/2017

Two groups involved in the grassfed cattle industry restructure implementation committee have issued statements welcoming the committee’s successful application to receive $500,000 in funding to help to create a new fully directly elected peak body to represent grassfed cattle producers in Australia.

The funding was announced on Friday by then Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, before he was disqualified from parliament by the High Court for having been a dual citizen when elected.

The Federal opposition has reportedly received legal advice suggesting that Mr Joyce’s ministerial decisions are now at risk under section 64 of the constitution, which requires ministers to be members of Parliament. It is being reported that as many 20 legislative instruments and 47 ministerial announcements made by Mr Joyce made since October 20 last year could be subject to challenge.

The source of the $500,000 grant – Mr Joyce’s ministerial announcement of the Coalition’s $5 million Leadership in Agriculture Fund – occurred in  March this year so is within the time frame of decisions potentially at risk of challenge.

However, such a legal challenge would involve significant cost and whether the Labor opposition would see value in overturning a fund designed to strengthen agricultural leadership would seem debatable.

Federal Attorney General George Brandis has also cast doubt over whether a legal challenge would hold water, arguing that most decisions made by ministers are in fact made by the cabinet on the recommendation of ministers, “So I think you will find that there is no legal consequences here at all”.

Assuming the $500,000 grant is not affected, details are still being finalised on how it will be spent. It is understood the focus is to transition from several representative organisations – Cattle Council of Australia and several other smaller organisations – into one new organisation with a new constitution, peak council status and a directly elected board to represent grassfed cattle producers nationally. Beef Central will follow up with more details on the process so far and how the restructure appears likely to proceed from here in coming days.

The funding application was prepared and submitted by members of the implementation committee but the funds were formally granted to the Cattle Council of Australia, as Commonwealth rules require funding to be awarded to an entity with a formal constitution, which the implementation committee itself, established by Mr Joyce in late 2014 as an advisory group to work out a structure and organisational design, does not have.

Cattle Council of Australia welcomed the funding in a media release last Friday. Other groups that played a significant role in writing the application for funding on the committee’s behalf have released statements below.

Australian Meat Producers Group statement:

“The Australian Meat Producers Group (AMPG) welcomes the announcement by Barnaby Joyce last Thursday on behalf of the Federal Government of a $500,000 Leadership in Agricultural Industries Fund Grant to help establish a new democratically elected grass fed cattle Peak Council (Cattle Australia) to replace the current State Farm Organisation based Cattle Council of Australia (CCA).

The AMPG is proud to be part of the disparate group of representative bodies that came together in February 2015 under the auspices of the then Federal Minister for Agriculture to develop the proposed Cattle Australia representative structure and form the Implementation Committee (IC). As the Leadership Grant application notes this historic February 2015 meeting concluded that the IC’s organisation vision could not be achieved through the existing entities. Consequently the IC was tasked with establishing Cattle Australia and developing a funding proposal for a new structure and the first step in this regard was the lodgment of the successful Leadership Grant application by the CCA on the IC’S behalf.

The Cattle Australia Leadership Grant Application and the accompanying Cattle Australia Business and Process Plan foreshadowed the establishment of a volunteer Project Steering Committee comprising 6 to 8 representatives of the IC and such other volunteer persons that may be nominated by the Steering Committee together with a remunerated Project Manager reporting directly to the CCA and IC.

The scuttlebutt doing the rounds of a completely independent Steering Committee and Project Manager to drive the establishment of Cattle Australia forward is inconsistent with the express terms of the Cattle Australia Leadership Grant Application and Business and Process Plan and appears to be misplaced.”

Australian Beef Association:

“Members of the Australian Beef Association (ABA) are incredibly proud to be part of the Implementation Committee which applied for the funding grant through Cattle Council of Australia to develop Cattle Australia. The initiative aims to establish a national organisation which will truly represent cattle farmers across Australia.

Cattle Australia will provide Australian grass-fed beef producers with advocacy and policy development services, leadership development and training and facilitate a flow of communication between industry, government and stakeholders.

David Byard, Executive Officer of ABA said, “The Implementation Committee applied to the Leadership in Agricultural Industries Fund programme back in May 2017 and are very pleased to have been successful in the $500,000 bid.”

There are many in our industry who have shared our vision to establish a truly representative organisation that provides leadership and advocacy to every grass-fed cattle farmer across Australia.  There has been a long-held view that cattle producers have needed a truly grass-roots representative organisation model to secure a sustainable and effective structure that will lead the cattle industry into the future.  As stated in the application the proposed national organisation, Cattle Australia, will foster innovation and develop training programs that will engender inspiration from cattle producers to secure high level co-operation between government, industry stakeholders and the Australian community.

The Implementation Committee was established after representatives of the Australian Beef Association, Cattle Council of Australia, Northern Pastoral Group, Australian Meat Producers Group, Concerned Cattlemen’s, Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association and the National Farmer’s Federation presented to the Minister for Agriculture in February 2015.  This meeting confirmed that our industry was united in establishing a new structure and were committed to working together to develop an effective peak body.

Cattle Australia will deliver an exclusive range of services and benefits to all grass-fed transaction levy paying members, and provide opportunities for producers to engage on policy and non-policy issues with the new organisation.  The organisation will develop electronic communication networks to support all cattle farmers through a comprehensive database that will be utilised for further on-line training, communication and networking.

The ABA looks forward to continuing to work with the Implementation Committee in developing the constitution to incorporate Cattle Australia and the next steps will be to establish the project steering committee as per the application where six to eight members of the Implementation Committee along with some independent members will drive the project forward.”



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  1. Jane Carney, 01/11/2017

    Congratulations Loretta Carroll for continuing tirelessly with the work on cattle industry reform and for all the behind the scenes hours preparing and pushing through with the grant application.

  2. Marian Joseph, 30/10/2017

    So great to see an opportunity for real change and these organisations working together! The industry is screaming for change and a voice from grassroots farmers is the best way to drive it. Well done!

  3. John Gunthorpe, 30/10/2017

    The Australian Cattle Industry Council welcomes news of the funding to assist achieve a member-owned peak council for the grass-fed cattle producers as opposed to state farming organisation (SFO) owned as CCA is currently.

    It is to have directors directly elected from 15 cattle regions across Australia rather than appointed by SFOs. It will advocate on behalf of the levy payers and provide real leadership for our industry.

    We read with interest the strong comment from Ashley McKay in the CCA Receives $500,000 article where he moved the resolution in the Implementation Committee to have a new organisation rather than a new version of the broken CCA model. While I am sure this is the intent of the IC, whether it ever sees light of day will depend on the anticipated push back by CCA on that decision over the 18 months or so it will take to roll out the new structure.

    Unfortunately, if the scuttlebutt suggested by AMPG above of a new project advisory committee made up of independent people to carry Cattle Australia forward is correct, then this is clear evidence of CCA working behind the scenes to clean up the process and get back to the Sheepmeat Council model for electing directors where SFOs must approve a person wishing to stand for a director’s role before their name can be entered on the ballot.

    This totally contrary to democratic process and seemingly contrary to the IC strategic plan.

    ACIC will continue to agitate for the replacement of CCA with ACIC as the peak council for grass-fed cattle producers. This is the only way Australian cattle producers can be sure of a sustainably funded, truly representative grass-fed cattle peak industry body.

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