Cattle Australia taking input from the ground on where to focus advocacy efforts

Shan Goodwin
By Shan Goodwin
Updated March 14 2022 - 11:29pm, first published 11:00pm
Grass-fed cattle producers urged to 'engage'

ANY tendency to 'stand outside and throw rocks' had to be done away with if efforts to get a single, national voice for grass-fed cattle producers off the ground was going to find success.

That's the word from experienced cattle producer leaders from State Farming Organisations as the consultation period for the formation of the new advocacy body, called Cattle Australia, kicks off.

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The call has gone out for grass-fed cattle producers on the ground to provide direction on what areas of work their new peak body should focus on and where it can best funnel investment to facilitate beef industry growth.

Producers have been given until April 15 to have their say on key focus areas and a series of webinars start next week to answer questions about the new peak industry council.

Cattle Australia which will officially be launched on July 1, at which time Cattle Council of Australia will wind up.

Several of the cattle committee leaders from State Farming Organisations told Farmonline it was critical that producers, large and small, now get behind the effort to unite grass-fed representation.

Agforce's cattle man Will Wilson said the new organisation had support from all players and if producers valued having a voice they 'had to make this work'.

"This will only be as good as how much you engage," he said.

He said it was too easy to say 'I don't agree with one element so therefore I don't engage' and that was a habit the sector had to break.

"That's not productive. Governments see it from a mile away and pluck us off," he said.

"It won't ever be possible to unite all producers on all issues but it's part of the responsibility of being a producer to be involved, to engage in advocacy.

"Our future depends on us having a strong voice.

"We only have to look to the other sectors in our industry, namely live exports, processors and feedlotters, to see that strong, well-funded and well-supported representation is effective.

"Good leadership comes from that."

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Mr Wilson said there would always be distractors but the momentum and support for Cattle Australia to be the single, national voice for grass-fed producers was strong and had to be given a good chance.

"In this day and age, where customers are asking about our product and have questions that aren't related to research and development and marketing (the roles of beef's service providers), it is up to us - the producer - to answer those questions," he said.

The nitty gritty

Cattle Australia has announced it will be run by a nine-person board with seven democratically-elected directors who will in turn appoint two skills-based directors.

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An attached Policy Advisory Council will comprise fifteen directly-elected levy-paying producers from Meat & Livestock Australia Regional Advisory Council regions and eight State Farming Organisation representatives, appointed by their respective SFO, with oversight of an independent chair.

This structure answers the long-standing call from producers for a more democratic process.

However, how the ongoing funding of Cattle Australia will play out is still not set in stone.

The official word is 'possible sources of revenue are being explored and it is recognised there will be a short-term interim funding requirement, followed by a long-term funding solution.'

Mr Wilson said it was not unreasonable producers should expect to contribute.

"It is essential we get this right and give it some money," he said.

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"I believe as Cattle Australia comes together and shows value, people will see a reason to be a part of it and it will be funded.

"Meanwhile, the steering committee is working very hard on some sort of opt-out function."

Producers can provide their feedback by visiting the Cattle Australia website at www.cattleaustralia.com.au or emailing cattle.feedback@three60consulting.com.au.

The free webinars are on:

  • Monday 21 March - 7am-8am AEST - register here
  • Wednesday 30 March - 6pm-7pm AEST - register here
  • Monday 4 April - 9am-10am AEST - register here
  • Friday 8 April - 6pm-7pm AEST- register here

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Shan Goodwin

Shan Goodwin

National Agriculture Writer - Beef

Shan Goodwin steers ACM’s national coverage of the beef industry. Shan has worked as a journalist for 30 years, the majority of that with agricultural publications. She spent many years as The Land’s North Coast reporter and has visited beef properties and stations throughout the country and overseas. She treats all breeds equally.

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