Grassfed restructure stakeholder reaction

Beef Central, 18/01/2018

First published 17 Jan. Updated 2pm 18 Jan

Published below are the media releases issued by Cattle Council of Australia, the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee and the Australian Beef Association following CCA’s resignation from the CAIC in Brisbane yesterday: 

Joint Cattle Council of Australia/State Farm Organisations media release – 17 Jan 2017:

Renewed strong support for Cattle Council

State farmer organisations have this week united to throw their full support behind the enhancement of Cattle Council of Australia’s directly elected model, to ensure the beef industry has a strong national representative body.

Cattle Council President Howard Smith said the move demonstrated a direct commitment to progressing the interests of beef producers across Australia.

“The state farmer organisations clearly recognise the vital role played by Cattle Council in levy oversight, policy development and producer engagement, and I thank them for their support,” he said.

“Decisions made by Cattle Council members affect the entire industry and the founding members continue to support independent levy payers having their voice heard.”

The founding members of Cattle Council include NSW Farmers Association, Victorian Farmers Federation, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Western Australia Farmers Federation, Pastoralists and Graziers’ Association, Livestock SA, AgForce Queensland and the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association.

The state farmer organisations met in Sydney this week with Cattle Council executives to review the Council’s restructure priorities including the move to re-engage levy payers not affiliated with a state body.

The founding members collectively represent a significant proportion of beef producers across Australia and acknowledged the need for Cattle Council to represent not only existing state farmer organisation members but the beef industry as a whole.

Mr Smith said the meeting in Sydney this week, which was attended by State Presidents, Chief Executive Officers and Livestock Board Chairs, acknowledged the restructure work undertaken by Cattle Council since the 2015 Senate Inquiry into the grass-fed levy.

“There has been significant constitutional change for Cattle Council, and while there is more work to be done, we are getting on with the job of restructuring the organisation to ensure we deliver for the entire industry” he said.

“This is about shoring up the future of the beef industry as a whole. There is recognition of the need for a new model, and that state farming organisations are key to that model and driving it forward.”

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said “with Queensland producing almost half of the country’s beef, the state’s producers were eager to have a well-organised and efficient national peak body providing strong leadership and strategic direction for the industry”.

“We are delighted to see all the state farming organisations agreeing to work together to support Cattle Council through the restructure process during what are exciting times for the beef industry” he said.

President of the Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association (NTCA) Tom Stockwell said “NTCA is committed to supporting Cattle Council through the restructure process and ensuring that grass fed cattle producers have strong national leadership.  The NTCA, as a founding member of Cattle Council, continues to fully support it as Australia’s peak national body for grass fed producers”.

NSW Farmers Association President Derek Schoen said “the enhancement of Cattle Council’s model recognises that structural reforms are required, to improve producer engagement and enable better industry coordination”.

Victorian Farmers President David Jochinke said “as Victoria’s peak industry body for beef and dairy producers we have a long term commitment to Cattle Council. We see the value in a strong, sustainable national body carrying the southern policy priorities at the federal level and into the international arena and we look forward to continuing to support Cattle Council into the future”.

Western Australia Farmers’ Federation President Tony York said “to achieve the best outcomes for our beef producer members and tap into the national agenda, we are proud to align ourselves with the national body.  We are supportive of the goals of Cattle Council and look forward to working together to create a stronger and more vibrant future for the Australian beef industry”.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association President Wayne Johnston said “we need a national peak body for cattle, and Cattle Council is clearly that body. It’s good to see that this proposal has State support right across the board”.

Pastoralists and Graziers of Association of WA, Livestock Chairman Chris Patmore said “yesterday’s meeting was a step in the right direction, with Cattle Council actively seeking member’s views on the core functions and priorities of the organisation going forward. All members play a pivotal role in the effective functioning of Cattle Council and it is absolutely vital that they are considered front and centre with respect on any restructure process”.

Livestock SA President Joe Keynes said “Livestock SA strongly supports a peak body that meets the needs of a modern beef industry. We look forward to working together to ensure strong leadership in the interest of South Australian beef producers”.

“This recommitment by the founding members has reenergised the restructure process and we look forward to working closely with our members and industry around next steps for progressing the representation model” said Mr Smith.

Todays announcement brings to a close Cattle Councils involvement in the Implementation Committee which was established post the 2015 Senate Inquiry and included independent members from across the industry.  The Committee met regularly over the past few years to work through options for restructuring the industry and seek out sustainable funding avenues for a full direct elect model.

Independent Chair of the Implementation Committee, Troy Setter welcomed the renewed focus on developing the representative model to engage more grass fed producers.

“The Implementation Committee was given a difficult task by the Former Minister for Agriculture in assisting in the development of a new representative model for the industry. Its members have committed considerable amounts of their own time and energy to achieving this goal. Whilst considerable progress was achieved through this process, confirmation that access to a portion of the levy would not be an option was a hurdle.”

Cattle Australia Implementation Committee media release – 17 Jan 2017:

At the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee meeting held in Brisbane today, the Cattle Council of Australia resigned from the Committee at the behest of the State Farm Organizations, citing that the SFO’s wanting greater involvement and influence in the grassfed cattle Peak Council than was being proposed in the Cattle Australia model.

The Cattle Australia Implementation Committee was formed at the direction of the then Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, in the wake of two Senate Inquiries. The Committee was charged with setting up a democratic, directly elected cattle body.

The newly elected Chairman of the committee, Paul Wright, said that the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee is committed to giving every grass fed levy payer automatic membership and voting rights, as per the Senate Inquiry recommendation No 1

Former Chair, Troy Setter, resigned due to work commitments. Troy Setter welcomed the continued focus on developing the representative model to engage more grass fed producers.

Australian Beef Association media statement – 18 Jan 2017:

The ABA is committed to the establishment of a truly representative grassfed body to represent the interests of our industry.

The ‘Cattle Australia’ Implementation Committee  (CAIC) is moving forward with the original plans established by former Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce to develop a democratically elected grassfed cattlemen’s national organisation.

The Australian Beef Association (ABA), strongly backs the continuation of the CAIC, saying it is an ideal opportunity offered to us by Minister Joyce.  ABA wishes to reinforce their support of the remaining members of the CAIC to continue to develop the new producer owned organisation.

Senate recommendations, which were delivered following 2 Senate Inquiries (which had also been facilitated by Minister Barnaby Joyce), stated in Recommendation 1: …”that a producer owned body be established ……..” , and the CAIC, originally called the Implementation Committee, was well down the path of achieving this when CCA disappointingly resigned yesterday.

In a 2012 CCA-funded report delivered by a well-respected consulting firm, Innovact, it was noted that the existing Boards and the Peak Council were basically non-representative of the grass cattle industry, and that change was necessary.

Recently the CCA received a Federal grant of $500,000 on behalf of the CAIC (which Minister Joyce encouraged the IC to apply for).

The ABA is committed to the establishment of a truly representative grassfed body to represent the interests of our industry.

Australian Meat Producers Group media statement – 18 Jan 2017:

CCA Renegs on Cattle Australia restructure, thumbs its nose at democracy

Yesterday the Cattle Council of Australia advised a meeting of the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee that the CCA members of that committee had been directed by the State Farm Organisations (SFO’s) to resign from the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee.

In doing so Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) and State Farming Organisations (SFO’s) have thumbed their noses at the recommendations of the 2014 and 2017 Senate Committee Inquiry recommendations for the formation of a truly representative grass fed cattle producer body to replace CCA.

CCA and the SFO’s have also ignored the advice contained in the 2012 Innovact Consulting Report that CCA attached to its submission to the 2013 Senate Inquiry into grass fed cattle systems and structures that as a consequence of falling SFO membership and the convoluted SFO/CCA structure CCA no longer truly represented Australia’s grass fed cattle producers . The Cattle Australia Implementation Committee was set up at the behest of former Federal Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce in 2015 to establish a new truly representative grass fed cattle producer Peak Council to replace CCA.

As Barnaby Joyce stated there was:- “…a strong desire from all sectors in the industry to see the creation of a directly elected representative organisation, whereby if you can earn the endorsement of your peers within your region or ‘electorate’ then you can represent them on the national level, no matter which group you support, CCA CCP, ABA, AMPG, USA and the list goes on. We must see the creation of that body but to get here we must have a mechanism through which levy payers can have their say and vote accordingly on the election of representatives…”

Despite Barnaby Joyce’s express views on representative democracy and CCA’s previous agreement to the establishment of Cattle Australia CCA advised the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee yesterday that the SFO’s were not prepared to walk away from direct SFO representation on the grass fed cattle producers representative Peak Council in favour of a model based on a board directly elected by grass fed transaction levy payers.

Consequently CCA proposed to continue to represent Australia’s grass fed cattle producers through a board comprising 8 SFO appointed directors and two directly elected board members with a proposal for two more directly elected board members if CCA can drum up another 500 direct members. In other words the SFO’ are also thumbing their noses at Australia’s grass fed cattle producers suggesting by necessary implication that grass fed producers cannot be trusted to directly elect their own advocacy representatives and that responsibility should remain with the SFO’s .

The Australian Meat Producers Group (AMPG) remains firmly committed to replacing CCA with the Cattle Australia grass fed cattle representative body. This Cattle Australia Peak Council model includes a board directly elected by grass fed cattle transaction levy payers and was agreed to by the AMPG , CCA, Australian Beef Association (ABA) and the Northern Pastoral Group with the support of then Federal Minister for Agriculture in February 2015. The AMPG will continue to work with the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee and the new Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud to bring that about as soon as possible.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Brad Bellinger, 20/01/2018

    Well said Vince , and good comments on NSW Country Hour on Friday.
    If the CCA is to be the minion of the SFOs then let it be such. The dividend from the levy reserve fund should not be given to an undemocratic CCA .Why should the investment return on past compulsory levies controlled by RMAC be given SFOs ,surely this is compulsory unionism. A policy I thought the National party was opposed to.

  2. David Hill, 20/01/2018

    Vince, I didn’t mention SFO’s in my reply, please read what I stated. I would also suggest you check the facts of your so-called cattle industry grant of $500K. As an independent on the board I was supportive of the model that was being proposed, as stated it was the agreed model the IC was pursuing.
    My reply was more about the sand pit analogy, and the fact that we run the the risk of losing focus on the big decisions. My concern for the near future is the critical decisions we will be a part of, last year at the MLA AGM Michael Crowley in his presentation suggested that dentition overriding eating quality was potentially costing the Australia beef industry $46.5M. The beef language white paper has delivered amongst other things the EQG cipher, we know this has support from processors, but they are having trouble getting customers to accept that dentition has no effect on eating quality. CCA reps have played their part in these areas, and will need do so again in the near future. As a producer this is one of the priorities for myself as a CCA rep on industry committees, as industry hopefully moves into an era of value based marketing we need to rid ourselves of the old paradyms that led to the decades of returns based on an averaging system. Vince, I am involved in this for no other reason than to be part of the change to a more sustainable industry, because like others involved in this discussion, at the end of the day I am a beef cattle producer first.

  3. Vince Ptolemy, 19/01/2018

    8 or 9 SFO appointed directors and 2 directly elected CCA board members does not make a democracy make.Nor will a board comprising 8 or 9 SFO directors and 4 directors elected board members a democracy make.

    The AMPG media statement that you refer to points out that the CCA’s own consultant’s report found that -as a consequence of falling memberships and CCA’ convoluted SFO structure -CCA had ceased to be a truly representative cattle producer body. The AMPG media statement also states that the CCA members of the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee advised that the SFO’s were pulling out of the process to form a new representative cattle producer body because they are not prepared to lose their current right to appoint directors to the grass fed cattle producer Peak Council.

    Your argument that the SFO’s and CCA is supportive of the truly democratic directly elected cattle producer representative Peak Council model but had to walk away because the Government is not fronting up with sufficient funds to get it off the ground does not stack up .The Government has provided the cattle industry with a Grant of $500K to set the new democratic representative body up. So whilst everyone knows that the CCA is strapped for cash,if the new democratic directly elected grass fed cattle producer representative Peak Council received the same income as CCA currently receives cattle producers would have the benefit of a truly democratic representative body with almost the same financial operational resources as the CCA currently has . The only difference would be the $350k annual contribution to CCA from SFO’s and that difference could quickly met by charging the 100,000 plus Australian transaction levy payers a $5 membership fee to belong to the new democratic Peak Council .

  4. David Hill, 19/01/2018

    I would like to take issue with the AMPG heading to their media statement that reads ‘CCA Renegs on Cattle Australia restructure, thumbs its nose at democracy.’
    CCA has made it quite clear that they were supportive of the move to a directly elected grass fed cattle producer representative Peak Council. There is the issue of the future funding mechanism, everyone seems to be forgetting that among other things the Senate Inquiry recommended that a portion of the CTL was to be made available to adequately fund this new structure, this has not been forthcoming. While it would be desirable for a representative organisation that had all levy payers as members, this doesn’t seem likely in the near future.
    Whilst I am happy to cop the critisicm of the Eion John McAllister’s and Alf Collins Snr’s of this industry, people must remember that there is another sandpit at play. That sandpit is the Industry Committee sandpit, as someone that has been turning up to the industry negotiating table as a CCA representative on several of those committees I would suggest that it is no easy task. Grassfed producers must understand that there are changes at foot that will have long lasting ramifications for this industry, CCA is currently the prescribed body, we have a duty to ensure that what is put in place will have a positive effect on the long term sustainability of this industry. Last year a responder to this website referred to people such as myself as dimwits, I responded that I was happy enough to stay at home and let the professionals take over. I would now challenge the likes of Eion John McAllister and Alf Collins Snr to do as I have done. My role as an Independent Director on the CCA Board will be up for re-election this year, I was not an SFO member when I was elected, so that would allow those that don’t want to be an SFO member the opportunity to be on the board. I to have a quote, it is not from from someone such as Albert Einstein, but it says ” if you are not on the bus, you run the risk of being under it”, I would say the industry bus is moving, and someone from the production sector must be on it, the door is open for others to be part of the larger discussion, it is going to be in all our best interests to have the best people on the bus.

    David Hill
    Northern Independent Director
    Cattle Council of Australia Board.

  5. Alf Collins Sr, 19/01/2018

    Same porridge. More to be pitied than pilloried.
    I refer to Albert Einstein quotes.
    “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
    The reason for change was triggered by plummeting support for state farming organisations and poor value for compulsory taxation (levies).
    Now watch what happens when siege mentality swamps those reps who have retreated to their old trenches, shoulder to shoulder, SFO’s to the end.
    Einstein again: “Life is like a bicycle, To keep your balance, you must keep moving”.
    Press on Paul Wright, and concerned cattle producers. Might is not always right, and history has a canny way of illustrating “Right finally prevails”.

  6. Eion John McAllister, 19/01/2018

    This is like preschoolers in the sandpit, I’m not going to play because I don’t like how the game is going and I can’t set the rules, so I’m going. Actions like this confirm the dysfunctional nature of this sorry excuse for a peak representative body, its elitist and controlling philosophical focus and further cements in many peoples minds the view that CCA is a problem and not the solution it says it can be. I find no incentive to be a member of a SFO and choose not to support them and I know many who feel similarly. It is blithley stated in many quarters that SFO’s are the voice of producers and represent the views and needs of “all ” producers. This “assumed” mantle of representational fidelity for all is not really credible, it is one of those things that when repeated often enough can assume the ring of authenticity to those who promote that message. Claiming that CCA is superior in its capacity to bring about a renewed, revitalised, representational and relevant industry body is not actually delivering such an outcome. I am sure there will be more in this saga, Joyce has not had the guts to do what should have been done and left it to the “Sandpit Solution” where all the kiddies were to play nicely and get along. Well it is clear that has worked really well. Now we have two Sandpits and the squabble over the sand continues.

    Thanks for your comment, Eion. As always, Beef Central is happy to take reader comment from all perspectives on industry issues, provided they meet our comment policy. Are there others in support of CCA’s decision? If so, let’s hear from you. Editor

  7. Arthur David Thomas Dingle, 18/01/2018

    Congratulations to all States to come together and be able to work jointly, a huge benefit.
    Grass fed Cattle are here to stay.

Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -