Grassfed restructure forum guest list questioned

James Nason, 18/12/2014
CQ cattle producer Ian McCamley

CQ cattle producer Ian McCamley

A forum to discuss the future of grassfed cattle levies in Brisbane tomorrow is already generating debate before it has begun.

Grassfed cattle industry representatives have expressed concern about the large number of non-grassfed sector stakeholders that have been invited to participate in the grassfed industry restructure meeting.

26 red meat industry groups and companies have been invited to attend the three-hour gathering which has been organised by agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce (see full list below).

The Minister’s office told Beef Central earlier this week that it had organised the forum to “better inform the Government’s response” to the first recommendation of the recent Senate Inquiry into grassfed cattle levies and structures.

That recommendation was for a producer-owned body to be established by legislation to receive and disperse grassfed cattle levy funds.

At present the funds are received and dispersed by the industry service organisation Meat & Livestock Australia, under the direction of the peak grassfed producer representative body, the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA).

The Senate Committee also recommended that a reform of CCA be examined as part of the process to create the new producer owned levy body.

Mr Joyce’s office said he had invited a broad-cross section of industry stakeholders to attend the meeting to ensure a fair representation of industry views would be heard.

The list of invitees has been circulated privately in recent days, prompting grassfed industry representatives to voice concern about the level of representation their sector will have at tomorrow’s meeting, which is dealing with a grassfed industry restructure process.

The invitation list seen by Beef Central this week lists the invited attendees as:

  • Minister for Agriculture
  • Minister’s Staff
  • Department of Agriculture
  • National Farmers Federation
  • Cattle Council of Australia
  • Australian Lot Feeders Association
  • Sheepmeat Council of Australia
  • Australian Live Exporters Council
  • Australian Meat Industry Council
  • Goat Industry Council of Australia
  • Red Meat Advisory Council
  • Meat & Livestock Australia
  • Livecorp
  • Australian Meat Processors Corporation
  • Agforce
  • NSW Farmers
  • Victorian Farmers Federation
  • Livestock SA
  • Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association
  • WA Farmers Federation
  • Northern Australia Beef Research Council
  • Australian Beef Association
  • Australian Meat Producers Group
  • Australian Beef Industry Foundation
  • Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association
  • Australian Agricultural Company
  • Bindaree Beef
  • Consolidated Pastoral Company
  • Stanbroke

Beef Central understands that only the president or chair of each industry group has been invited, not those at CEO or management level.

Likewise, each State Farm Organisation in attendance will be represented by their general president, it is believed, and not their cattle section president.

The invitation sent to each attendee from Mr Joyce’s office provides limited detail about the forum itself.

It describes the purpose of the meeting as “a discussion regarding the Senate Committee’s report: Industry Structures and Systems Governing Levies on Grass-Fed Cattle”.

The meeting will open at 10m with opening remarks from the Minister, followed by general discussion and discussion focusing on recommendation 1 from the inquiry.

The full meeting has been allocated three hours, with proceedings to close at 1pm.

Self-interested groups hi-jacking grassfed restructure

Central Queensland cattle producer and CCA marketing, market access and trade consultative committee member, Ian McCamley, told Beef Central yesterday that he is concerned the voice of grassfed producers will be outweighed by the large number of non-grassfed sector stakeholders invited to the meeting.

“For some strange reason the vast majority on the Minister’s attendee list are not grassfed levy payers and do not represent grassfed levy payers,” Mr McCamley said.

“So yet again we will have a majority of self-interested people who don’t pay the levy and don’t represent the levy payers, given full access to lobby the Minister about who should be in charge of grass-fed levy expenditure.

“This is wrong.  This is grassfed beef producers hard earned dollars we are talking about.”

Mr McCamley said the Senate Inquiry process had clearly shown that the current grassfed cattle industry structure had failed. It was ‘ridiculous’ for any group other than grassfed producers to oversee the expenditure of their grassfed levy.

He said the Minister had an opportunity to make generational change and show true leadership, and for the first time grassfed producer representative organisations were standing shoulder to shoulder with an agreed view on how the industry should be restructured.

“CCA itself has turned a corner with strong leadership backed up by a solid board which now includes two very capable independent directors,” Mr McCamley said.

“Clearly grassfed levy payers must be given the opportunity, and are ready to take responsibility for the collection and expenditure of their own money.

“It is now in the Minister’s hands.”

Why some groups and companies have been invited and others have not has generated discussion in recent days.

For example, one private meat processing company has been invited to contribute to the grassfed cattle industry restructure meeting, Bindaree Beef from Inverell, which is the largest processing company in Mr Joyce’s electorate of New England in northern NSW.

Of the State Farm Organisations on the list, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association from WA do not appear. (UPDATE: since publication of this article Beef Central has been informed that both TGFA and PGA will participate in the forum via teleconference)

CCA, ABA and the Australian Meat Producers Group have been working together in recent weeks to try to find common ground on a restructure plan that can satisfy the main recommendation of the Senate Inquiry (the creation of a grassfed producer owned and controlled group to take over full control of grassfed levy revenue).

Tomorrow’s meeting is likely to hear more details about how those privately-held discussions are progressing.


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  1. Charles Winter, 19/12/2014

    David Byard and Ian McCamley are spot on the money, ironically and sadly the non producers want all the money. There has been a senate enquiry with clear recommendations, if the minister had the strength he would be discussing with producers an implementation plan. It is a shame we don’t have a few more Byards around who come to the table with a well thought out and pragmatic approach to the red meat industry. It is clear no one has been properly advocating on behalf of the red meat industry producers. I only hope people listen to David at the meeting.

  2. Rod Barrett, 18/12/2014

    Looks very much like another snow job.
    Grassfed producers were snowed by John Andersen at the start of MLA. History repeats?
    This restructure is about change to give the grassed levy payers some basic rights and a fair share of the cake.More of the same is totally unacceptable Barnaby – totally unacceptable!!

  3. John Wigand, 18/12/2014

    Further to David Byard’s comments, I am also at a loss as to what anyone expects to achieve from 30-odd (including some very odd) opinions in a 4 hour meeting.

    However, I’m at even more of a loss that there seem to be factions within the grass fed cattle sector who think a Senate Inquiry process, run by a group of people with next to no working knowledge of the Australian cattle industry, can somehow be robust enough to provide well though out recommendations on how to reform an industry.

    If my memory serves me correctly, the current structure (which works quite adequately, albeit not perfectly, for all parts of the industry with the exception of the grassfed beef sector) took a Ministerially appointed, skills based team, years to put together.

    In 2014, apparently we know better: effective reform can be achieved with the input from a Senate Committee on their L plates, followed by a morning “meeting of the minds” in Brisbane.

    Suffice to say, that age old saying ” you get what you pay for” comes to mind. The sooner the Mavericks, the CQ big hat mentality, and the emotive falacies about certain Peak Councils needing levies to survive are removed from this debate, the sooner we’ll get an intelligent outcome.

    I’ll add it to my Chrismas wish list.

  4. Edgar Burnett, 18/12/2014

    How come those that do not pay the grass fed levy are even consulted much less invited? It looks as though we will have to get Bob Katter to bring Alan Jones into this one as well!

  5. David Byard, 18/12/2014

    Meeting of the chosen 26 with Barnaby Joyce, 16 of these people don’t pay grass-fed levies and have a lot to say how the levies are spent. December, 2013 Barnaby Joyce requested a senate committee to look at grass-fed producers contributions to the MLA. By March the started with hearings around the country and by September they had released their findings. I am at a complete loss as to why the Minister can really think that he can achieve an opinion in 4 hours when it has taken the senate months of deliberation to come to their conclusions.
    Simple solution is to ensure that all producers are identified and then give them a democratic vote as to what they want. No processors, no feed-lotters, no sheepies, just grass-fed producers.

  6. Brian, 18/12/2014

    Without inviting the CEO or Management level guys, it will be another all talk no action meeting, pushed under the carpet, in about three weeks.
    Barny won’t do much, there are No trips or free feeds in it.

  7. Mike Teelow, 18/12/2014

    I agree with Mr McCamley It is not a case of (He who pays the Piper gets the Tune)

  8. Tim McHugh, 18/12/2014

    I would have to stand with Ian McCamley and suggest that tomorrow’s meeting is an absolute waste of time and money !
    And the fact that it is limited to a three hour session ?
    Barnaby’s next step is crucial for the Cattlemen of Australia to achieve their aim of managing their levy funds as recommend by the Senate Enquiry !

  9. Andrew Dunlop, 18/12/2014

    This looks like the representatives of the MLA Peak Councils who have emasculated the grass fed producers power and hijacked the direction of the industry body to suit their factions rather than the to benefit the industry as a whole and especially not to the benefit of the levy paying producer!

  10. Philip Downie, 18/12/2014

    Bet all these guys wouldn’t like the grass fed people telling them how to spend their levy $s. Unfortunately Barny is like most pollies, useless, all talk no action.

  11. Michael Clarke, 18/12/2014

    I agree Mr McCamley, it is the grass feed levy payers money they should be the majority of the invitees. Not a good start for Barnaby, get ready for more of the same, probably just a new name.

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