Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cattle Council Will Establish Independent and Democratically Elected Board to Administer Grass-Fed Cattle Levies

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CCA Deserves Credit for Unity Gesture: Hunt

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Levy Restructure: What are the Implications for MLA?

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Likely Outcome of Grassfed Restructure Now Looking Clearer

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Grassfed Cattle Restructure Breakthrough



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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Farmers' Tax-Loss Idea Should Get Closer Look

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Ministers in Portfolio Spat

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Food Bowl Vision Cut Down to Size

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Friday, October 17, 2014

The need to strengthen Australian rural industry advocacy

HUNTBLOG NEWSLETTER

16 October 2014

THE NEED TO STRENGTHEN AUSTRALIAN
RURAL INDUSTRY ADVOCACY



The recently published Senate Committee report into the industry structures and systems governing levies on grass fed cattle and the State Farmer Organisation based Australian Farm Institute (AFI) published in March 2014 has underlined the urgent need for Australian rural industries to review and reform their rural advocacy structures.


The Call for Change

Grass Fed Cattle Producers

The overwhelming majority of submissions to the Senate Committee inquiry into grass fed cattle levy funded structures and systems, including submissions from, the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA), NSW Farmers, AgForce the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC), Australian Beef Association (ABA), the Richmond river Cattlemen’s Association and the Australian Meat Producers Group (AMPG) all recommended some form of modification to the existing grass fed cattle levy funded structures and systems.

Australian Farm Institute

The State Farmer Organisation-based Australian Farm Institute’s (AFI) report, Opportunities to Improve the Effectiveness of Australian Farmers’ Advocacy Groups – A Comparative Approach[1], published in March 2014, compares the Australian landscape of agricultural advocacy groups with examples of more effective groups in Canada, New Zealand, and France.

The AFI report rates the farm advocacy system’s effectiveness in each country by rating the effectiveness of a national farm advocacy group in each country. In Canada, the report focuses on the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). In New Zealand, the report focuses on Federated Farmers (NZFF). In France, the report focuses on the National Federation of Unions of Agricultural Managers (FNSEA). In Australia, the report focuses on the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and the State Farmer Organisations (SFOs).

In Canada, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture was rated 3 out of 5 for legitimacy due to its historic credentials and key role in official consultations, and the CFA was rated 1.5 out of 5 for strength of business model due, in part, to its dependence on membership fees.

In New Zealand, Federated Farmers was rated 2.5 out 5 for legitimacy due to government and media trusting its knowledge of policies and advocacy, and the NZFF was rated 2 out of 5 for strength of business model due to its lack of new services and reliance on existing assets.

In France, the FNSEA was rated 4 out of 5 for legitimacy due to its transparent election every six years, and the FNSEA was rated 4 out of 5 rating in strength of business model due to historic assets and public funding.

These ratings can then be compared to the ratings for Australia. The NFF and SFOs were rated 1.5 out of 5 for legitimacy due to falling numbers and public opinion, and the NFF and SFOs were rated 1 out of 5 for strength of business model due to the failure to offer members services and a failure to use resources effectively.

The AFI report uses six criteria to assess the effectiveness of the farm advocacy groups: strength of business model, coverage, legitimacy, consistency, competition, and e-capacity. In four out of six of the criteria the NFF and SFOs were ranked last when their ratings were compared to Canada, New Zealand, and France. Only in coverage (where they were ranked third ahead of Canada) and in e-capacity (where they were ranked second behind France) were the NFF and SFOs not ranked last.

The AFI report found that, compared to almost all farming sectors worldwide, “the Australian farm sector is the least ‘organised’, and has very few examples of successful collective action – either in pursuit of policy or commercial objectives.”[2] The AFI report underscores the considerable difficulties facing farmer representation and advocacy organisations in Australia, “exemplified by declining membership, fragmentation, and perceived ineffectiveness.”[3]

The AFI report found that the factors contributing to the difficulties facing rural advocacy groups in Australia include: reduced national economic importance of agriculture, deregulation of the agricultural sector, increased scrutiny being imposed on agriculture by environmental and animal welfare organisations, the digital revolution, and, importantly, the “centralisation of major issues affecting agriculture towards the Australian Government and away from state governments”.[4]

The considerable difficulties facing Australian rural advocacy groups arising from new factors like the centralisation of agricultural issues to the Commonwealth government rather than State governments, coupled with the lack of effectiveness of current Australian State Farmer Organisation-focused rural advocacy groups illustrate that there is a need to strengthen Australian rural industry advocacy, and illustrate why there is a need to look for other examples, both internationally and domestically at industry-specific models, of effective rural advocacy groups.

The AFI report reached a number of conclusions “that appear necessary in order to enhance the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the Australian farm advocacy ‘system’.”[5] The conclusions in the report include:
1.    Agricultural advocacy groups need to deliver a range of services and benefits which can act as an attraction to encourage membership.
2.    Providing attractive opportunities for local engagement is a powerful way to gain and retain members.
3.    Direct-membership models of national agricultural advocacy organisations are highly unlikely to be successful unless they offer a wide array of commercially attractive products and services for members.
4.    Legitimacy is derived from the relationship between the organisation and its members – relies on continuing engagement of members.
5.    An organisation providing a range of services and products to members in addition to advocacy services will be less prone to lose membership as a consequence of disagreements over policy.


OTHER INTERNATIONAL EXAMPLES OF EFFECTIVE RURAL ADVOCACY GROUPS

Canada

While only noted in the AFI report, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association operates on the second largest budget out of all national agricultural advocacy groups in Canada. One of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s primary functions is engaging with government and lobbying the government. About 80% of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s funds come from the levy-funded member groups – the eight provincial member cattle associations.

A primary difference between the Canadian levy system and the Australian levy system is that, while the levy is $3, only $1 is mandatory and goes to Canada Beef Inc. and the Beef Cattle Research Council for market research, development, and promotion. The remaining $2 of the levy can be requested back by the levy payer as a refund, but otherwise stays with the provincial cattle association who then pays some of it to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

A further difference between the Canadian levy system and the Australian levy system is that the Canadian levy goes to beef industry-specific groups for market research, development, and promotion. This situation stands in stark contrast to Meat and Livestock Australia who receives the levy funds, and is to promote simultaneously the conflicting interests of beef and lamb to the Australian public.

United States

There are two further examples of agricultural advocacy groups in the United States that are useful to consider in addressing the AFI’s conclusions outlined above. First, is the United States beef industry advocacy comprised of the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (Cattlemen’s Beef Board or CBB), the Federation of State Beef Councils (the Federation), and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Second, is the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

Important Differences Between the U.S. and Australia

There are, however, four important differences between the U.S. and Australia that are pertinent to the issues of rural advocacy groups, and that are important to keep in mind.

The first important difference between the U.S. and Australia is the continued strength of State governments in the United States, and the continued importance of U.S. State governments to issues affecting agriculture. In contrast, Australia has seen increasing centralisation of power and major issues affecting agriculture in the Commonwealth government. This centralisation has largely pushed Australian States to the periphery of many agricultural issues. This difference explains why the NCBA emphasises a more federalist structure, because the individual State cattlemen’s associations need to lobby the U.S. State governments.

The second important difference between the U.S. cattle levy system and the Australian cattle levy system is that in the U.S., as is the case in Canada as well, the Checkoff levy funds go to beef industry-specific groups for promotion of beef, market research, and development. MLA, in contrast, promotes, develops, and researches for directly competing lamb and beef products.

The third important difference between the U.S. and Australia is that both the lobbying group is also beef-industry specific. The NCBA represents and lobbies Congress on behalf of, and primarily concerned with issues affecting, cattle producers in particular, which is different to the National Farmers’ Federation and their State affiliates who lobby for farmers more generally. Also, the NCBA and the State cattlemen’s associations are independent and membership in them does not depend on membership in another organisation. All that is necessary to be a voting member of a State cattlemen’s association or the NCBA is to be a cattle producer.

The final important difference between the U.S. and Australia is that less than 20% of cattle producers are members of the State Farmer Organisation based Cattle Council of Australia. In contrast, the NCBA represents more than 175,000 cattle producers and feeders. The NCBA represents more than 60% of all farming operations in the U.S. that have 20 head of beef cattle or more and had contributed to cattle sales in the previous year from the 2012 Census (287,000 operations).[6]

Benefits of the U.S. Beef Advocacy Structure

The U.S. Beef advocacy structure comprises of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Federation of State Beef Councils Division of the NCBA.

The structure whereby the CBB’s membership is nominated from the NCBA’s State affiliates,[7] and the Federation is a division of the NCBA, ensures efficiency and synergy between the NCBA, its grassroots membership, and its political advocacy and lobbying, and the CBB and Federation’s use of Checkoff levy funds to promote beef and conduct research.

One benefit of the NCBA structure is that not only are there affiliated State cattlemen’s associations (e.g., Florida Cattlemen’s Association), but these State cattlemen’s associations are often made up of cattlemen’s associations in individual counties in the State. Membership in the State cattlemen’s associations is through these county associations, which set their own membership fees (e.g., in Florida the memberships range from $60 - $100 per year). These individual State and county associations, with their meetings, scholarships, cook-outs, etc., provide a level of local engagement that the AFI report highlights as an important way to gain and retain members.[8]

Further, the NCBA itself is structured so that its own policies are first introduced by individual members at the State level, and then before a policy is adopted it goes to a ballot to the individual members. In this way, the NCBA relies on the continuing engagement of members, which the AFI report concludes is essential for an agricultural advocacy group to maintain its legitimacy with its members.[9]

Given the central importance of the Commonwealth government with respect to issues affecting agriculture, in adapting a similar NCBA model to Australia these local associations would ideally be directly connected to the national organisation. This adaptation would still provide a high level of local engagement, and yet deal with the reality that most issues affecting agriculture are dealt with at the Commonwealth and not the State level.

Beyond these benefits, the NCBA offers commercial benefits to members such as discounts on John Deere, Caterpillar, Ram trucks, Cabela (outdoor store), among others. In providing these sorts of commercial benefits, the NCBA partially realises what the AFI report believes is vital to gain and maintain membership.[10] However, the American Farm Bureau Federation takes these sorts of benefits to members to another level.

Benefits of the American Farm Bureau Federation Structure

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is a very powerful rural advocacy group in the U.S. While its main purpose is lobbying government, it maintains and increases its membership and thus its funds, by offering a number of commercially attractive discounts and services.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has a membership of 6 million “member families”,[11] and a presence in all 50 U.S. States. The U.S. has a total of 2.1 million farms.[12] The AFBF’s success in gaining membership can largely be attributed to the large commercial benefits that members of the AFBF’s State branches receive. Once again, the success of the AFBF in this way provides evidence for the AFI report’s belief that providing commercial discounts and services is vital to gain and maintain membership.[13]

As an example, the Georgia Farm Bureau offers commercial discounts and services to members in categories such as: travel discounts, health and wellness, family entertainment, home and auto, farm, and financial. The Georgia Farm Bureau offers not only commercially attractive discounts, but also commercial services such as car insurance, life insurance, crop insurance, banking services, marketing services. Further, the AFBF also offers help with legal advocacy to landowners in protection of private property rights.

All of these discounts and services do not detract from the main service that the AFBF offers which is legislative advocacy – and the AFBF with its large membership base and commercial services is a very powerful lobbying force in the individual States and at the national level in Washington.

Checkoff

The Checkoff in America is a $1 levy per head of all cattle sold in the U.S., and an equivalent amount on imported cattle, beef, and beef product. This levy is collected by the State beef councils, and at least 50 cents of each dollar must be sent to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. The remaining 50 cents may be retained by the State beef councils. Beef importers send the entire $1 to the CBB.

Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (CBB)

The Cattlemen’s Beef Board was established by the Beef Research and Information Act 1985, and is thus a statutory creation.[14] The CBB is an independent body of 103 members, 95 members must be cattle producers and 8 members are beef importers.The CBB members are responsible for setting and delivering the CBB’s policy for the promotion and research of beef. Members are elected to three year terms, and may only serve two consecutive terms.

Role and Function

The aims of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board are: to encourage the sale of more beef; to encourage the consumption of more beef; to encourage consumer confidence, commitment to quality, and beef safety; and to maintain and grow a positive image for the beef industry.

In order to obtain these ends, the CBB is able to use Checkoff levy funds for the promotion of beef, market research, human nutrition research, new product development, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing, and producer communications. Further, the CBB is permitted to contract with established national non-profit industry governed organisations to conduct programs. One well known and successful marketing campaign for the promotion of beef is the “Beef It’s What’s For Dinner” campaign, which the CBB has conducted with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is a consumer-focused, producer-directed marketing organisation and trade association. The NCBA (through direct membership and its State affiliates) represents more than 175,000 cattle producers and feeders. Given that there is a total of 287,000 operations in the U.S. that has a herd of 20 head of cattle or more and had sold cattle the previous year,[15] the NCBA is regarded as being highly representative of cattle producers and feeders.

Voting memberships in the NCBA are open to all cattle producers, and dues are based upon the head of cattle that a producer owns. Non-voting memberships are also open to non-producers and allied industries. Voting operates on a one person, one vote basis.

Function and Political Action

The NCBA aims “to advance the economic, political, and social interests of the U.S. cattle business and to be an advocate for the cattle industry’s policy positions and economic interests.”[16] The NCBA lobbies Congress to achieve its aims, and funds full-time lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

Beyond the normal lobbying activities of the NCBA there is also a related NCBA – Political Action Committee (PAC), which raises money and accepts donations to help fund political lobbying. The NCBA – PAC aims to raise $1 million per election cycle (every two years). The NCBA – PAC asks candidates to fill out a questionnaire and explain their positions on policy issues important to the NCBA, and then the NCBA – PAC supports political candidates (from both political parties) who support the U.S. beef cattle industry.

Policy

NCBA policies are first introduced by individual members through their State affiliates. Policies that are passed by the State affiliate are then sent to an NCBA Committee, which, when passed, then go to the Resolutions Committee and NCBA Board of Directors for approval and/or modification. A ballot is then mailed to all members for consideration.

Through this process the NCBA attempts to maintain connections to the grassroots members, and they emphasise that their policies start and end with individual members.

Federation of State Beef Councils – Division of NCBA (the Federation)

The Federation of State Beef Councils oversees beef and beef production promotion, research, information, and related activities funded by the beef Checkoff levy. Individual State beef councils, which collect the Checkoff levy, may contribute to the Federation any portion of the 50 cents per dollar that they are permitted to retain from the Checkoff levy funds.

The Federation is a Division of the NCBA. The Federation Division Board of Directors Resolution from 31 July 2010 describes the Federation’s view on the relationship between the Federation and the NCBA: “the Federation should operate in a more independent structure while maintaining the synergies and efficiencies of the current relationship with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and strongly opposes any effort to sever that relationship.”[17]

Since Checkoff levy funds cannot be used to influence government policy or action, including lobbying, or to promote any particular breed, brand, or production system, the Federation maintains separate Checkoff levy and non-Checkoff levy bank accounts. Further, the NCBA utilises an integrated/segregated voting system, whereby the Federation Division directors will not vote on matters which do not involve the Checkoff levy, and Policy Division directors will not vote on matters that do not involve policy.

However, the Checkoff levy funds do help to pay for at least some of the overhead that is shared between the Federation and NCBA, which means that, in this way, some of the Checkoff levy funds do support a lobbying organisation.


International Examples of Levy Funded Lobby Groups

South Africa

The Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) is a self-proclaimed, levy funded lobby group for the industry, and its Red Meat Levy Admin Pty Ltd collects and manages levies on red meat on its behalf.

Ireland

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is a levy funded lobbying organisation. Approximately 35% of the IFA’s annual income is derived from levies. The IFA then uses these funds to represent and defend Irish farmers’ interests.

Australian Agricultural Industry Examples of Levy Funded Lobby Groups

The levy funded Australian Pork Limited, and, in practice, the levy funded Egg Corporation both combine advocacy marketing and research and development functions under one levy funded roof.

The only advocacy limitation that Australian Pork Limited (APL) has in its levy Funding Agreement  with the Commonwealth government are those limitations that prevent APL from  financing any form of external or internal political campaigning. The APL Funding Agreement specifically states that agri-political activity does not include strategic policy development.

Australian Wool Innovations and Dairy Australia are levy funded marketing and research and development corporations with levy payer elected boards. Both corporations do not have any oversight by their industry Peak Councils and set and deliver their own marketing and research and development policies, and when relevant, lobby government to assist them in the implementation of those policies.

The AMPC and LiveCorp are both levy funded marketing and research and development corporations with a levy payer elected board that sets its own marketing and research and development policy in consultation with their Peak Councils, AMIC and ALEC.

Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), Sheep Council of Australia (SCA), Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA), and the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) have all been receiving interest off the RMAC levy revenue fund since 1998, and they have been using these levy funds for advocacy. CCA is advocating for an additional $4 million from the cattle transactional levy funds to fund their policy setting and advocacy.

There is no conceivable reason why Australian cattle producers should not have a similar levy funded combined advocacy, promotion, research, and development organisation.


Conclusions

If we are to have an agricultural advocacy group that is able to effectively lobby government, while simultaneously maintaining membership levels and legitimacy in the eyes of producers, then the AFI report’s conclusions outlined above are important to keep in mind when thinking about the structure that the advocacy group should take.

The U.S. beef advocacy structure, comprising of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Federation of State Beef Councils Division of the NCBA, and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and the interplay between the groups that ensures efficiency and synergy to policy setting, lobbying, and research and development among the three groups, together with the provision of commercially attractive discounts and services that the American Farm Bureau Federation provides, affords a possible model that would result in a powerful and legitimate agricultural advocacy group.

Another possible model is found in the Australian agricultural industry examples of levy funded advocacy groups. In particular, Australian Pork Limited offers a model for combined policy setting, lobbying, and research and development under one levy funded roof.


Further material on the RRAT Senate References Committee into industry structures and systems governing levies on grass fed cattle submissions hearings and report can be found at www.HuntBlog.com.au and on www.cattlelevysenateinquiryinformation.com.




[1] Australian Farm Institute, Opportunities to Improve the Effectiveness of Australian Farmers’ Advocacy Groups – A Comparative Approach, March 2014.
[2] Ibid., pg iii.
[3] Ibid., pg 1.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid., pg x.
[6] USDA Census of Agriculture for 2012, pg 20.
[7] 7 U.S.C. § 2905 defines a Certified Nominating Organisation as: (b) A State cattle association or State general farm organisation: (1) where cattle producers comprise a majority of the total paid membership, or the total paid membership represents a majority of cattle producers in the State; (2) that represents a substantial number of producers that produce a substantial number of cattle in the State; (3) that has a history of stability and permanence; and (4) a primary purpose of which is to promote the economic welfare of cattle producers.
[8] See point 2 outlined above.
[9] See point 4 outlined above.
[10] See points 1, 3, and 5 above.
[11] Ian T. Shearn, The Nation, ‘Whose Side Is the American Farm Bureau On?’, 16 July 2012.
[12] USDA Census of Agriculture for 2012, pg 7.
[13] See points 1, 3, and 5 above.
[14] Beef Research and Information Act 1985 (US), 7 U.S.C. §§2901-2911.
[15] USDA Census of Agriculture for 2012, pg 20.
[16] National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, , accessed 14 October 2014.
[17] Federation Division Board of Directors Resolution 31 July 2010, , accessed 14 October 2014.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Senate Committee Recommends A New Levy-Funded Producer Corporation

HUNTBLOG NEWSLETTER

17 September 2014

SENATE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS
A NEW LEVY-FUNDED PRODUCER CORPORATION

TO MEET THE COLLECTIVE NEEDS OF THE GRASS FED CATTLE INDUSTRY IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Congratulations to Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce for having the perception to ask the Senate RRAT Committee to inquire into Australia’s grass fed cattle levy structures and system. I first met Barnaby Joyce at the Bindaree Beef/ABA beef producer forum in Roma in 2004 where 1500 cattle producers aired their dissatisfaction with the current red meat levy-funded organisational structure. I was also present at the Armidale and Rockhampton Beef’s New Direction forums in 2010 where Barnaby, other politicians, and industry leaders addressed a total of 1700 disgruntled and disillusioned cattle producers concerned about the future viability of their industry.

Barnaby appears to have picked up the message and moved to do something about the plight of Australia's great beef industry shortly after he assumed the Federal Agriculture Ministry.

Congratulations to the Senate RRAT References Committee for agreeing to pick up on Barnaby Joyce's reference, and for the diligent and extensive review that the Senate Committee carried out into Australia's grass fed cattle levy structures and systems. All sectors of the Australian grass fed cattle industry were given, and accepted, the opportunity to put their views before the Senators.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Grass Fed Cattle Levy Senate Inquiry Report

The Report and Recommendations from the Grass Fed Cattle Levy Senate Inquiry have been tabled and are available to the public.

To access a copy of the Report and Recommendations, visit: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Rural_and_Regional_Affairs_and_Transport/Beef_levies/Report

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Accessibility, accountability cornerstones for new MLA chief

"Take a look at the Meat & Livestock Australia website's contacts page, and the second entry point, immediately after 'general inquiries', is managing director, Richard Norton's email address.

It's symbolic of the early approach being taken by the industry service delivery company's new operational head, who took up his duties a month or so ago.

Already, Mr Norton appears eager to engage as closely as possible with grassroots stakeholders, and perhaps to define his management style using some of the strong 'customer-focus' principles he functioned under as a commercial private sector agribusiness management executive with Landmark."


How will MLA respond to senate inquiry signals?

"The recent senate inquiry into grassfed beef levies made it patently clear that levy payers did not want to see current Meat & Livestock Australia directors on the board selection committee, incoming managing director Richard Norton says.

During his first interview with Beef Central since joining the industry service delivery company a month ago . . . he said this was one of a range of messages MLA had taken from the senate inquiry into grassfed levies."


Strength lies in unity for restructure combatants

"The exasperation in WA Labor Senator Glen Sterle's voice was palpable when he commented during a recent Senate inquiry hearing just how divided the grassfed beef cattle industry was.

'God help us if the industry ever got its act together. What a powerful lobbying force it would be,' he said."


MLA board orders 'hard-hitting' extension review

"The board of Meat & Livestock Australia has asked new managing director Richard Norton to oversee a complete review and restructure of its extension activities, triggered in part by a critical independent review of MLA's Livestock Production Innovation (LPI) unit last year

MLA chair Dr Michelle Allan told Senators during the grassfed beef cattle inquiry in Canberra last Friday that the review would be hard-hitting and MLA processes would 'look completely different in six months time'."

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ex-CCA board member backs return to 'original MLA concept'

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Senate hearing pays tribute to Graeme Acton

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vale Graeme Acton - A Tribute to a Visionary Reformer


Vale Graeme Acton - A Tribute to a Visionary Reformer

I first met Graeme Acton when I was invited to address an inaugural ABA meeting in Brisbane in 1998. Graham was one of the cofounders of the ABA and the 1998 Brisbane ABA meeting was attended by the Who’s Who of the Australian beef cattle industry.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Losing to the Levies

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hunt Blog Newsletter 11 March 2014

BARNABY KICKS A GOAL
WITH
THE GRASS-FED CATTLE LEVY SENATE INQUIRY

There was nothing ‘hollow’ about Barnaby Joyce’s public call for the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport  References Committee to hold an inquiry into the grass-fed cattle levy structures and systems. Barnaby’s call for an inquiry was timely and has hit a chord with grass-fed cattle producers across Australia.

The Avalanche of Submissions
At the time that the first Senate committee hearings into the grass-fed cattle levy structures and systems were held last Friday 183 submissions, including 50 Concerned Cattle Producers (CCP) electronic questionnaire submissions, had been posted on the Senate committee website. The Senate committee has also received an additional 67 Andy Rea pro forma submissions and Huntblog understands from the committee Secretariat that an additional 218 CCP electronic questionnaire submissions have been received that have not been posted and there are still another 2 submissions, including the AMPG/CCP submission, that have been lodged that are yet to be posted on the committee website.

So it appears that the final number of submissions lodged into the current Senate inquiry into grass-fed cattle levy structures and systems will be around 470, compared to the 29 submissions received at the last Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee inquiry into the Australian meat industry consultative structures in 2002.

All the published submissions to the grass-fed cattle levy inquiry can be viewed at www.cattlelevysenateinquiryinformation.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hunt Blog Newsletter 17 February 2014

The Dysfunctional Divide
Between
MLA Policy Setting and Policy Delivery
Since the Concerned Cattle Producers (CCP) electronic questionnaire submission was published on the CCP website http://www.cattlelevysenateinquiryinformation.com/ last week, HuntBlog has received a plethora of queries seeking more information about the structural divide between MLA policy setting and policy delivery referred to in paragraph 6 of that electronic questionnaire.

Hopefully the following comments will provide some clarification:

  • under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the red meat industry organisational structures and the Commonwealth government, Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA) and the Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA) are each charged with the responsibility of setting levy expenditure policy for MLA for their sector of the red meat industry, whilst
  • MLA’s role is to be the marketing and R&D service provider for CCA, ALFA and SCA and carry out so-called ‘willing partnership’ Joint and Core service functions and R&D forthe Australian Meat Processing Corporation (AMPC) and the live export levy funded corporation, LiveCorp.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hunt Blog Newsletter 14 February 2014


Hunt Blog Newsletter

 14 February 2014

 Barnaby Joyce Goes into Bat for Rural Australia

But He Needs Your Support


New Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has taken up the cudgels at first drop for Rural and Regional Australia announcing a score of initiatives to address some of the structural problems besetting our rural industries.

 First, on 4 November 2013, just six or seven weeks after the coalition came into government, Barnaby called upon the Federal Senate Rural and Regional and Transport References Committee to call an inquiry into the grass fed cattle levy structures and systems.

 On 12 December 2013 the Federal Senate answered Barnaby’s call and announced the terms of reference for an inquiry into the industry structures and systems covering the collection dispersal of marketing and R&D levies pertaining to the sale of grass fed cattle (the terms of reference for that grass fed cattle levy inquiry and details on how to lodge a submission to the inquiry can be found at http://www.cattlelevysenateinquiryinformation.com/.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Grass Fed Cattle Levy Senate Inquiry

On 12 December 2013 the Federal Senate agreed to Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s request that the Senate hold an urgent inquiry into the governance of our current grass fed cattle industry structures and the ability of levy payers to influence the amount and investment of the grass fed cattle levies that they pay.

A group of cattle producers who are concerned that our current organisational structures no longer meet the collective needs of the grass fed cattle industry have set up a non-partisan website:

http://www.cattlelevysenateinquiryinformation.com

The website contains the full terms of reference and background information for the Senate Inquiry together with contact details of Concerned Cattle Producers (CCP) spokespeople.

If you don’t believe that you are getting value for the levies that you pay the Senate inquiry is your opportunity to have your say individually, or in groups, or through the CCP submission.

All submissions must be lodged by 1 March 2014.

Hunt Partners Submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Reserve Bank Amendment (Australian Reconstruction Development Board) Bill 2013

I am a Sydney lawyer and rural industry advocate with a small cattle producing property in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales who has been advising farmers and rural industry organisations for over 30 years.

I welcome the opportunity to make a submission on the Reserve Bank Amendment (Australian Reconstruction Development Board) Bill (the ARDB) and in particular wish to address the development finance arm of the proposed ARDB.

I will leave submissions to the Committee in respect to the urgent need for rural and regional financial reconstruction arising out of the financial storm of circumstances and structural issues besetting rural and regional Australia outlined below to others who are better equipped to address those issues than me.