03 Feb, 2015 09:40 AM
A SOCIAL media campaign has been launched today in support of the creation of a new organisation to replace the Cattle Council of Australia.
Through the campaign www.cattlelevysenateinquiryinformation.com the Australian Meat Producers Group (AMPG) says it is voicing the broader cattle industry's calls for Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to ensure the establishment of a Grassfed Cattle Corporation.
AMPG is a collection of mainly family-based cattle producers in northern Australia who have long sought changes to the representative structure of cattle producers and the use of levies for Meat and Livestock Australia.
The AMPG wants the new corporation to collect the transaction levies from cattle produced from pasture based production systems and to guide how those levies are used to specifically improve the profitability of the grassfed cattle industry.
The formation of a Grassfed Cattle Corporation is one of the recommendations made following a Senate Committee Inquiry initiated by Mr Joyce last year.
Queensland AMPG co-founder and Theodore-district cattle producer Cameron McIntyre said it was essential the industry was properly organised and represented properly to manage the industry and manage media issues.
"Cattle Council is broke and the cattle bodies within the state farm organisations with the exceptions for probably AgForce and NSW are not functioning," Mr McIntyre said.
"In 2013-14, grass fed cattle producers made up $61.5 million of Meat and Livestock Australia's $117.5m levy income.
"But despite contributing more than half of the income, grassfed producers received very little of MLA's output.
"At the same time, Australian producers are slowly going broke, last year receiving less than $2/kg for liveweight steers, almost half the returns to US producers for similar stock.
"Producers are exiting daily - and urgent action is required to restore our sustainability."
Mr McIntyre said the new corporation could be achieved in two ways.
The first was the creation of a body through legislation delivered by the Federal Government.
The second was for the existing farm groups and other groups including the AMPG to determine a new structure and present their plan to Mr Joyce.
Mr McIntyre said corporation board members would be directly elected by levy payers. However, he said he envisaged a two-tiered voting system to ensure that both corporate and smaller scale producers were fairly represented.
Mr McIntyre said cattle producers desperately needed a well-resourced, accountable body with a focus on improving the profitability of the industry.
"In short, we need to follow through on the Senate Committee recommendations for a Grassfed Cattle Corporation directing its energies towards strategies that restore the future of grassfed beef production in Australia," Mr McIntyre said.
"There is no doubt that Minister Joyce is determined to act in the industry's best interests but cattle producers do need to publicly support these much-needed reforms recommended by the Senate Committee."
Click here to view the social media campaign.
Mr McIntyre said the AMPG was scheduled to meet with Cattle Council representatives on Monday.
Comment is being sought from Cattle Council of Australia and AgForce Cattle.