MEMBERS of the grassfed cattle restructure implementation committee say they are pressing ahead with plans to create a fully directly elected grassfed cattle producer representative organisation, as recommended by the 2013/14 Senate Inquiry into grass fed cattle levies and industry structures.
It follows last week’s withdrawal from the three-year long restructure negotiations by the peak industry council Cattle Council of Australia.
The implementation committee has announced it has formally incorporated a new company called Cattle Producers Australia Limited to act as a future advocacy body for Australia’s grass fed cattle producers.
“Cattle Producers Australia limited has been set up in conformity with former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s direction to develop a democratically elected grass fed cattle transaction levy payer body to become the new grass fed cattle Peak Industry Council in accord with recommendation one of the 2013/14 Senate Inquiry into grass fed cattle levy funded structures,” committee chair Paul Wright said.
“The new structure will give all grass fed cattle transaction levy payers the opportunity to both vote for, and nominate candidates for, the board of the new representative body and all grass fed transaction levy payers will be entitled to nominate for election to the board.
“In the immediate future the Implementation Committee will convene a facilitated workshop in Brisbane to develop a draft constitution for Cattle producers Australia which reflects these aims.
“A logo and website for Cattle producers Australia are currently under development and the business and finance plan for the new representative organisation is being finalised.
”Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) was a valued and active participant in the process of establishing Cattle Producers Australia Limited until its recent and regrettable withdrawal from the Implementation Committee under instruction from the State Farming Organisations and I thank them for their contributions to that process.”
Mr Wright said the Implementation Committee intends to meet with government and other relevant stakeholders as soon as possible to discuss the recent resignation of the Cattle Council of Australia’s members from the Implementation Committee and Cattle Producers Australia’s business and finance plan.
The Implementation Committee says details of its Finance and Business Plan to fund the establishment and ongoing operation of Cattle Producers Australia Limited will be released “in due course”.
A spokesperson said that in basic terms, the Business Plan model will be based on the membership fees and member service models of a number of successful overseas agricultural representative bodies such as the American Farm Bureau.
VFF says Cattle Council already gives all producers a voice
Meanwhile the Victorian Farmers Federation released a statement this week reaffirming its support for Cattle Council of Australia and its decision to depart from the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee.
“CCA will continue to work on developing a contemporary structure to best represent the interests of all cattle producers and enhance industry wide coordination,” VFF livestock president Leonard Vallance said.
“The Implementation Committee was instigated at the behest of a senate inquiry, but the process has ultimately failed to deliver.
“They’ve had three years to get it right and they’ve failed to do so. That’s long enough by anyone’s standard.
“They failed to provide a funding model, and a workable structure for the new body. Their suggested fifteen regions were not viable and would’ve led to huge financial burden on the industry.”
Mr Vallance said the Cattle Council of Australia already had the ability to represent all cattle producers, with membership being open and accessible, either as a member of an existing SFO, or as a direct member of Cattle Council for $100.
Mr Vallance said the new 15 region model as proposed would create “a complete disconnect between state and national representation”.
“SFOs are the peak industry bodies for cattle in their states, representing beef producers on state legislation such as animal welfare and biosecurity, and first established CCA to represent industry.
“This provides the perfect avenue for policy development from grassroots through to state and national levels. They also provide a voice for farmers on all issues affecting their business including energy, rates, transport and telecommunications and more.
“The SFOs provide a free service for Peak Industry Councils through board member training, industry knowledge, and taking care of local and state issues, which allows bodies like Cattle Council to focus on national and international trade and market access issues.”
He said the VFF gave accountability back to the producer through an elected model and provided grassroots representation through a network of more than 200 branches in nine regions, with 12 elected regional councillors.