Norton announces MLA restructure

18 Aug, 2014 12:00 PM
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MLA managing director Richard Norton.
Today is an important step in addressing the criticisms of the past
MLA managing director Richard Norton.

REINVENTING the R&D investment consultation model is the first priority for Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) in a restructure announced today.

MLA has responded to the criticism expressed by levy payers through the Senate Inquiry process by planning a reinvigoration of research, development and extension (RD&E) to better meet levy payer needs, MLA managing director Richard Norton said.

Mr Norton said that addressing the recommendations made in the 2013 Systems Review into levy investment in on-farm R&D would result in an organisation that “will deliver the support and services required by industry into the future”.

“We have listened to levy payers and industry, and today is an important step in addressing the criticisms of the past and establishing a future-looking organisation that will deliver value to the farm gate,” Mr Norton said.

The new boss of the beleaguered organisation flagged his radical approach clearly within a month of starting by putting his contact details on the MLA website in July.

“I know a lot of people think I’m mad, but I’ve done it in other organisations,” Mr Norton said.

“Having conversations with your fiercest opponents sometimes can give you great insights.

“I hear the frustration that people have around the transparency of MLA and the way their levies are being spent... It’s clear that MLA needs to be on the ground, holding focus groups and ensuring that levy payers feel that they are more involved with MLA.”

Under the new model, producers nationwide will be invited to provide input at a local level on RD&E priorities that feed into the regional RD&E investment plans. These plans will sit with the Northern Australian Beef Research Council (NABRC), a reinvigorated Southern Australia Meat Research Council (SAMRC) and a new regional group encompassing southern West Australia.

“We recognise that the NABRC structure is currently operating in a more robust fashion than its southern counterpart and that it provides a sound model from which to develop similar industry consultation in the rest of the country,” Mr Norton said.

The chairs of these groups along with representatives from Peak Industry Councils and MLA will then develop the national RD&E investment plan which will be informed by the National RD&E Framework and the Meat Industry Strategic Plan.

“Having this level of direct consultation – on an annual cycle – will be resource intensive but this structure will allow true two-way engagement on the levy investment.”

Mr Norton said making the new industry consultation approach operational would be a high priority and will fall to the On-farm Innovation and Adoption unit to implement, which under the restructure will also include extension.

As growth is expected to come largely from emerging markets, livestock productivity and eating quality will also be given increased prioritisation, with the establishment of a specific livestock productivity unit which will include MSA, Breedplan, Sheep CRC and genetics.

- More to come

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READER COMMENTS

GW Sterling
18/08/2014 1:42:31 PM

AWI you're next.
angry australian
18/08/2014 2:19:25 PM

Instead of building new empires the MLA should initially focus on the word "profit" a word that concerns most farmers. It should commission a major accounting firm to look at the impediments to profitability such as different rates of workcover in different states, transport costs,marketing costs, inspection fees,audit trails,even the cost of compulsory levies! That's a start. Productivity fluctuates with rain and feed so how much more research does that need? All these corporations were spun out of DAFF in the early 90's, what exactly to the 1000's who work there now do?
Jo Bloomfield
18/08/2014 3:28:44 PM

Most submissions to the review expressed the desire that they want the genuine grass-fed producers to have control. That must start with changes to the voting system. Currently it would take over 800 / 100 hd cattle sellers to match 1 large processor who has only held cattle for a very short time. Levy producers must register to voice their concerns to atleast be part of the conversation. The style of us all getting the shits and ignoring MLA has got to change. This is our levies and MLA must use them as directed by the majority payers. It is 6 weeks before voting registrations close 2/10/14
Jock Munro
19/08/2014 9:03:15 AM

The MLA director appointment process has been described as Kremlin like and undemocratic. Let all levy payers have the opportunity to nominate in an open election.
pepper
19/08/2014 11:31:31 AM

How about a 'who pays .. who benefits' analysis to identify exactly why primary producer money is being used to fund processor/retailer deals through compulsory levies. Processors should be a service provider not placed in a monopolistic position of commercial power in a flawed vertically integrated chain. MLA should be a long arms length from any commercial advantage by service provision or retail. This can only be achieved through development of an open and transparent cattle market.
Northern Exporter
20/08/2014 7:40:30 AM

The fundamental issue is - does the majority of producers actually want to continue to pay the levee? - there needs to be ID and registration of Producers (excluding Processors) and a referendum of those producers to determine the issue, There is a good argument for the separation of producers of meat in Australia and Live Ex as they are competing entities. MLA/RMAC must be abolished as does the levee. Jo Bloomfield; If you want a structure like you outline then start a Private company and put your groups' private equity in and the direct the expenditure - socialism cannot do what you want
Philip Downie
20/08/2014 9:22:27 AM

I think the 4th last para sums up the problem have you ever seen such a complicated over services mess no wonder they can't do anything and it costs a lot how much "person hours" is tied up in this rubbish? At AWB there were three people who ran wheat quality that is classification, technical market visits, grower meetings, liased with operations and shipping and developed policy on these areas. Your top heavy.
Archibald
20/08/2014 1:50:22 PM

I agree with Northern Exporter. Seems also that MLA are trying to muddy the waters prior to the Senate Committee report!! I won't be fixed until democracy is put in place for the levy systems in Australia; MLA fiddling at the edges making out all is fixed just won't wash now.
John from Tamworth
20/08/2014 6:03:08 PM

I too agree fully with NE

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And this would ring a free market economy in a democracy. To bad so sad.
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Why don't farmers demand cash on delivery from any trader they have no record of performance
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I am in no position to comment on the issues between Culleton and the ANZ or the other farmers