CCA president Howard Smith.

CCA pulls out of moves to a new representation body

Shock move on the cattle producer representation front.

UPDATED 7:30PM with CCA and SFO statement

PEAK producer group Cattle Council of Australia has pulled out of the process of taking grassfed representation to the much-touted direct-elected model.

It says in the face of no appetite whatsoever from the Federal Government to support the long term, sustainable funding of the new structure, it simply has no choice but to put its resources into enhancing what currently exists.

President Howard Smith flagged the doubling of the number of independent directors on CCA in the near future and said CCA would look for all areas where it could achieve better representation from grassfed levy payers.

It has the full support of State Farming Organisations.

The move came at a meeting in Brisbane today of the Cattle Australia Implementation Committee, set up to take the direct-elected model for advocacy forward in line with recommendations from two beef industry senate inquiries.

Chairman of that committee Troy Setter also resigned due to work commitments.

New chairman Paul Wright said the committee remained committed to giving every grass fed levy payer automatic membership and voting rights.

Mr Smith acknowledged it wasn’t the ideal outcome, given producer support for a new organisation, but said all funding options had been exhausted.

He expressed frustration over the “years of wasted time and money” and described the treatment of CCA as “death by a thousand cuts.”

New Federal Government Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is currently considering a response.

A joint press release has just been issued from CCA and State farmer organisations.

It reads:

State farmer organisations have this week united to throw their full support behind the enhancement of Cattle Council of Australia’s directly elected model, to ensure the beef industry has a strong national representative body.

Cattle Council President Howard Smith said the move demonstrated a direct commitment to progressing the interests of beef producers across Australia.

“The state farmer organisations clearly recognise the vital role played by Cattle Council in levy oversight, policy development and producer engagement, and I thank them for their support,” he said.

“Decisions made by Cattle Council members affect the entire industry and the founding members continue to support independent levy payers having their voice heard.”

The founding members of Cattle Council include NSW Farmers Association, Victorian Farmers Federation, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Western Australia Farmers Federation, Pastoralists and Graziers’ Association, Livestock SA, AgForce Queensland and the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association.

The state farmer organisations met in Sydney this week with Cattle Council executives to review the Council’s restructure priorities including the move to re-engage levy payers not affiliated with a state body.

The founding members collectively represent a significant proportion of beef producers across Australia and acknowledged the need for Cattle Council to represent not only existing state farmer organisation members but the beef industry as a whole.

Mr Smith said the meeting in Sydney this week, which was attended by State Presidents, Chief Executive Officers and Livestock Board Chairs, acknowledged the restructure work undertaken by Cattle Council since the 2015 Senate Inquiry into the grass-fed levy.

“There has been significant constitutional change for Cattle Council, and while there is more work to be done, we are getting on with the job of restructuring the organisation to ensure we deliver for the entire industry” he said.

“This is about shoring up the future of the beef industry as a whole. There is recognition of the need for a new model, and that state farming organisations are key to that model and driving it forward.”

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said "with Queensland producing almost half of the country's beef, the state's producers were eager to have a well-organised and efficient national peak body providing strong leadership and strategic direction for the industry".

"We are delighted to see all the state farming organisations agreeing to work together to support Cattle Council through the restructure process during what are exciting times for the beef industry" he said. 

President of the Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association (NTCA) Tom Stockwell said “NTCA is committed to supporting Cattle Council through the restructure process and ensuring that grass fed cattle producers have strong national leadership.  The NTCA, as a founding member of Cattle Council, continues to fully support it as Australia’s peak national body for grass fed producers”.

NSW Farmers Association President Derek Schoen said “the enhancement of Cattle Council’s model recognises that structural reforms are required, to improve producer engagement and enable better industry coordination”.

Victorian Farmers President David Jochinke said “as Victoria’s peak industry body for beef and dairy producers we have a long term commitment to Cattle Council. We see the value in a strong, sustainable national body carrying the southern policy priorities at the federal level and into the international arena and we look forward to continuing to support Cattle Council into the future”.

Western Australia Farmers’ Federation President Tony York said “to achieve the best outcomes for our beef producer members and tap into the national agenda, we are proud to align ourselves with the national body.  We are supportive of the goals of Cattle Council and look forward to working together to create a stronger and more vibrant future for the Australian beef industry”.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association President Wayne Johnston said “we need a national peak body for cattle, and Cattle Council is clearly that body. It’s good to see that this proposal has State support right across the board”.

Pastoralists and Graziers of Association of WA, Livestock Chairman Chris Patmore said “yesterday’s meeting was a step in the right direction, with Cattle Council actively seeking member’s views on the core functions and priorities of the organisation going forward. All members play a pivotal role in the effective functioning of Cattle Council and it is absolutely vital that they are considered front and centre with respect on any restructure process”.

Livestock SA President Joe Keynes said “Livestock SA strongly supports a peak body that meets the needs of a modern beef industry. We look forward to working together to ensure strong leadership in the interest of South Australian beef producers”.

“This recommitment by the founding members has reenergised the restructure process and we look forward to working closely with our members and industry around next steps for progressing the representation model” said Mr Smith.

Today’s announcement brings to a close Cattle Councils involvement in the Implementation Committee which was established post the 2015 Senate Inquiry and included independent members from across the industry.  The Committee met regularly over the past few years to work through options for restructuring the industry and seek out sustainable funding avenues for a full direct elect model. 

Independent Chair of the Implementation Committee, Troy Setter welcomed the renewed focus on developing the representative model to engage more grass fed producers.

“The Implementation Committee was given a difficult task by the Former Minister for Agriculture in assisting in the development of a new representative model for the industry. Its members have committed considerable amounts of their own time and energy to achieving this goal. Whilst considerable progress was achieved through this process, confirmation that access to a portion of the levy would not be an option was a hurdle. This new approach by Cattle Council ensures momentum is maintained on improving cattle producer representation.  As out going Chair of the Implementation Committee I would like to thank each member of the Implementation Committee and recognise the considerable passion they have for the grass-fed Cattle Industry” said Mr Setter. 

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