News

Ministerial delays stalling grassfed restructure process

James Nason, 27/05/2015

Delays in ministerial responses are continuing to stall the grassfed cattle industry and levy restructure process.

The grassfed cattle industry is eagerly awaiting the Government’s official response to the seven recommendations of a senate inquiry into grassfed cattle industry levies and istructures handed down last September.

How the Government responds, and in particular whether it accepts a key recommendation to allow a new national producer representative body to be formed to receive and control all grassfed levy funds in future, will have a significant bearing on the future shape of the industry.

The industry has been waiting for clarity for almost eight months.

Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce held a meeting to receive feedback on the Senate Committee recommendations from various cattle and beef industry stakeholders in Brisbane on December 19 last year.

As an outcome of that meeting, several groups which represent grassfed cattle producers presented Mr Joyce with a preferred restructure model in February, which would establish a board directly elected by all cattle levy payers around Australia to represent growers and control grassfed levy investment decisions in future.

Since that point the restructure process has stalled as the industry awaits the Federal Government’s formal response to last September’s Senate Committee report and the February restructure proposal.

In a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra yesterday Labor Senator Glenn Sterle, who also chaired the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee which handled last year’s inquiry, asked the secretary of the Department of Agriculture Philip Glyde for an update on how the Government’s response was progressing.

Mr Glyde said members of his department had been involved in detailed discussions with various grassfed stakeholders and revealed on that April 21, the Minister wrote to ministers of other relevant departments outlining Government’s proposed response to the inquiry.

“We are still awaiting the responses from some of those minister and then obviously when they come in the Prime Minsiter needs to formally agree to the Government response, so it is train,” Mr Glyde said.

Mr Gylde said he could not reveal the content of the letter to other ministers.

Asked by Senator Sterle if he could provide a deadline so grassfed producers around the country could see some “light at the end of the tunnel”, Mr Glyde said he could not.

“I can’t give you a date or a deadline as we’re in the hands of other ministers, but I do know the minister is very keen to have this issue resolved and have the governments response and move on, particularly since this is an occasion where for the first time in a long while we have a collective view around industry.”

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