Red meat levy payer register in operation

Beef Central, 02/07/2021

MEAT & Livestock Australia has started the development of the cattle and livestock Levy Payer Register – a database of the details of individuals and organisations who pay red meat industry-specific transaction levies.

The register has been created to enable Rural Research & Development Corporations (RDCs), such as MLA, to “better understand and more effectively communicate and collaborate with their levy payers.”

Many other agricultural industries have already established similar registers, including grains, wine and grape, sugar, and wool. However the legislation makes it clear that only Research & Development Corporations, and not peak industry councils (Cattle Council of Australia, Australian Meat Industry Council, Australian Livestock Exporters Council etc) are eligible to access the register.

In 2018, the Federal Government passed legislation that gave the 15 RDCs the ability to establish Levy Payer Registers, allowing the Department of Agriculture (DAWE) to provide levy payer information to RDCs and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Since the introduction of the legislation, MLA said it has been engaging with DAWE, levy collection agents and the trade sector who submit levy transition returns as well as the software providers that support these businesses.

Up to now, agents have submitted to DAWE their monthly consolidated levies for each commodity transacted (cattle, sheep, lamb or goat).

From yesterday (July 1), the Levy Payer Register requires a more detailed list of who agents have collected levies from, the commodity (eg cattle, sheep, lamb or goats) and the levy amount.

Any businesses that transact levies on cattle, sheep or goats will be affected by this change, and should speak with their software provider to ensure they are prepared to submit the additional information.

As it is currently drafted in the legislation, ‘eligible recipients’ of levy payer information are the RDCs (in this case MLA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The ABS cannot establish a Levy Payer Register but it can seek access to the data to perform any of its functions.

Once established, an RDC can use the levy payer information from their register for the specific purposes:

  • to maintain a register of who has paid a levy and/or charge
  • to maintain a register of persons eligible to vote in a poll conducted by, or on behalf of, the RDC
  • to make public information of a statistical nature
  • in performing its functions under law of the Commonwealth or under a contract or agreement with the Commonwealth
  • to determine whether a person is or remains eligible to be a member of the RDC.

The legislation says levy payer information may not be used for purposes such as:

  • agri-political activities
  • increase the membership of an industry representative body
  • an activity that would give a commercial advantage to a participant in the industry
  • an activity unrelated to the function of the RDC.

Access to the levy payer information by a third party (ie, anyone outside of MLA) can only occur with the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.


Click here to access the DAWE guide to who can access the levy, and under what terms.

Click here to access a backgrounder on use of levy payer information.


Source: MLA






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  1. Andrew Dunlop, 05/07/2021

    It would be interesting to see the total levies collected at $5.00 per head and compare it with the total cattle slaughter. As cattle are now days often transacted 2 or 3 times prior to slaughter, it could be that levies collected per animal slaughtered is a multiple of the often quoted $5.00 per head.

  2. John Gunthorpe, 05/07/2021

    If this register is available in time for the 2022 AGM of MLA, then all levy payers will be sent a voting slip for the meeting so a full plebiscite can be taken on all matters going to the meeting. Not that we expect this to make much difference to the outcome as democracy goes out the window when selection committees are enshrined in a constitution.

    It is disappointing to read peak councils will not have access to this register even if only to conduct a democratic vote of levy payers to elect a board for their peak council. Indeed, Cattle Council are unaware of who are Australia’s grass-fed cattle levy payers even though their charter is to represent them. It is incongruous.

    Equally concerning on the MLA voting procedure is the weighting given to allocated votes based on livestock sold. In 2007 in the list of MLA’s top 4,000 voters, many individual levy payers held votes in the hundreds of thousands.

    As you would expect AACo and CPC separately held votes in excess of 100,000. However, they were trounced by abattoir operators who separately held three times this number of votes. Abattoir owners accounted for over a million votes in this election. If one person one vote is the accepted practice for our three levels of governments, why not base all industry votes on the same basis?

    Now the service company for abattoir owners is AMPC not MLA. Why would processors want to control the vote on MLA matters? A weak grass-fed cattle producer peak council is strategically important to a strong processor peak council. Keep them divided with little or no political power and terms of sale can be manipulated.

    Any of the details collected over the next 12 months are already in the hands of MLA through their wholly owned subsidiary Integrity Systems. To move your stock you need an NVD and this is only provided by Integrity Systems if you are signed and paid up to LPA. Now they call LPA voluntary but it is in fact mandatory to producers to operate in Australia.

    We hear agents are upset at now having to provide detailed reports on who has paid the levies and on which livestock. In the past they just had to transfer the funds.

    Yes it will be good for MLA to have a register after 8 years after the Senate Report called for one. MLA will be able to speak directly to those who fund their operations. But they will continue to make decisions on marketing and R&D based on their outlook. Until CCA is in a strong position to represent the interests on grass-fed cattle producers and control the use of the levies paid by their industry (as processors do currently), there will be little change to the waste experienced over past decades.

    Australian Cattle Industry Council

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