Need for Change
The purpose of this article is to show the difference between the Cattle Council (CCA) structure reform proposals, and the Australian Beef Associations (ABA) grassfed cattle industry reform proposals.
The reason for concern is that grassfed levy payers pay more in levies than all the other Peak Councils combined. These Peak Councils are supposed to manage and advise MLA on how to service the beef and meat industries.
It could be argued that the way that Cattle Council is funded (not by our own levies) leaves the grassfed cattle producer at the mercy of the other well-resourced Peak Councils, who get to manage their own levies.
Who are the Peak Councils? They are.
1. Cattle Council of Australia (representatives for the grassfed industry)
2. ALFA Aust Lot Feeders Assocn (reps for the Lot Feeders)
3. ALEC Aust Live Exporters Assocn..
4. AMPC Australian Meat Processors Corp (reps for processors and butchers etc)
5. SMC Sheep Meats Council..and
6. GMC Goats Meats Council.
Each of these Peak Councils makes up the Board of the MLA. (A simple explanation of our structure!)
Interestingly, our grassfed levies and the sheepmeats levies are the only levies sent straight to MLA, not to our Peak Councils! We have effectively handed them our chequebook (through John Andersons design of MLA in 1997) and they do not (or will not) consult us on how our money is to be used. The other Peak Councils do get their own levies to manage, and dole out to MLA as they see fit.
AMPC (Aust Meat Processors Corp) are a great example of this imbalance. They access all the research, marketing, information, and resources that our levies pay for. Processors contribute just $9million from their levies to the MLA, so they are well resourced and self-managed. They have an agreement from the MLA as to how their levy contribution will be used before their funds are released to MLA.
Grassfed cattle producers pay $50-60million in levies directly to the MLA, and have no such agreement with MLA. We effectively lose control of our money right there.
Cattle Council (CCA) have to get their funding by having the State Farm Organisations (Agforce, VFF, SAFF etc) pay a subscription to hold a seat on CCA. CCA also sells corporate seats on their Board to raise funds. But take note, CCA has to take $500,000 out of their coffers to pay the NFF to help them function! We seem to be funding everybody else, but are not allowed manage our own money!
Financially strapped, in desperation, CCA has apparently sought contract work from MLA. This raises some interesting questions, such as..with a staff of four who are overrun with work and are underfinanced, how can they take on paid contract work? Notably, it is not funding that allows them to finance themselves, as the contractual work is rigid in its scope. So, have they not compromised themselves by accepting work from the very body that they are paid to oversee? This is obviously dysfunctional!
The supermarkets and retailers pay nothing towards the upkeep of the MLA yet they arguably get more out of the MLA than the grassfed producer, through advertising and meat research. No increases in prices ever filter back to producers! Both Coles and Woolworths have a full time MLA employee working for them. (ABA says this is like the sugar industry helping Coca Cola to sell drinks!).-David Byard