Restructuring the Cattle Council of Australia into a more modern, streamlined and relevant body for industry has been identified as a key priority by its new leader, South Australian cattle breeder and lot feeder Andrew Ogilvie.
The South Australian Farmers Federation livestock chairman and former CCA vice-president was elected to the position of CCA president at the organisation’s annual general meeting in Longreach this morning, replacing Queensland cattleman Greg Brown who has retired after three years in the role.
Mr Ogilvie slides into the saddle at a time when industry representative structures are coming under intense scrutiny. It is an issue he wants to address from the outset.
He agrees that the time has come for a change, and, in fact, it seems likely that under his watch the CCA boardroom will face some serious destocking ahead.
At present Cattle Council of Australia is made up of 23 councillors, drawn from its eight member organisations: NSW Farmers; AgForce, VFF, WAFF, Pastoralists' & Graziers' Association of WA, Tasmanian Farmers' & Graziers' Association, the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association and the South Australian Farmers Federation.
However that number could soon reduce to just seven under one restructure option outlined by Mr Ogilvie today.
Mr Ogilvie said CCA councillors had been developing a model over a period of time that would reduce the CCA board to seven representatives, comprising one councillor from each State farming organisation.
Issue-specific taskforces incorporating a CCA board member and people with expertise in each issue from across the industry, and including individual producers, would then be assembled to take over much of the work currently undertaken by the extended Cattle Council.
This arrangement would enable Cattle Council to harness collective industry expertise in specific issue areas more effectively, and would also provide greater opportunities for producers to participate directly in industry leadership roles.
Mr Ogilvie said the concept was one of many that would be investigated in coming months.
“We realise that Cattle Council needs to be a modern, streamlined and relevant body for industry,” he said.
“We are investigating other avenues and models, and every suggestion that is out there will be put on the table and scrutinised for its merit.”
Developing a funding model to make Cattle Council's role more sustainable was another priority.
CCA serves a vital role as the peak body responsible for an industry that generates more than $10 billion in value in every year and involves more than 30,000 individual producers.
Yet despite the importance of its role, CCA has survived on a meagre annual budget and staff of just five people.
“We need a sustainable funding model,” Mr Ogilvie said.
“Having a different structure is not going to solve problems if you can’t fund it.
“What we would love producers to do, not everyone belongs to an SFO, and it would be really great if every producer out there recognised the work that was being done and joined their State Farming Organisation.”
Mr Ogilvie said key issues immediately on the horizon as begins his term as president include animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and improving the industry’s ability to connect with consumers.
The newly elected national leader has been involved in cattle industry representation long enough to know that some of biggest challenges he will face are unlikely to have yet emerged.
“There are going to be plenty of challenges going forward,” Mr Ogilvie said.
“But probably the most challenging challenges are the ones that come up that we don’t see on the horizon.”