Hereford breeder and finisher Maurice Cluff, Bulliroy Creek Pastoral Company at Birriwa .

Hereford infighting cranks up ahead of big meeting

SOME of the Hereford breed’s most respected elder statesmen have added their voices to the campaign to oust directors on their society’s board, saying change can not wait.

At the same time, other breeders say dumping directors who have done their work with good intent is not “the Hereford way” and will lead the society into uncharted waters in which it may well drown.

Meanwhile, the average commercial producer’s take seems to be the whole affair is detrimental to the breed and needs to be sorted out quickly.

The divisions in Herefords Australia now appear extensive and encompass a multitude of differences of opinion, from polled versus horned to hobby farmer against big stud.

Cattle industry doyens including Inglebrae’s Sid Reynolds, Merriville’s Walter Merriman, Sevenbardot’s Jim Gunn and Ironbark’s Adrian Spencer have urged Herefords Australia members to vote to replace directors at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in Armidale on December 1.

The meeting is the culmination of accruing angst over a lack of answers to the fact HA posted a $500,000 loss last financial year and is on track to a similar, if not worse, result this year.

Mr Spencer said it was clear the current board could not run the association’s finances and communication and transparency were sorely lacking.

Replacements with business and commercial experience, well-equipped for the responsibilities of company directorship, were waiting in the wings to take over, he said.

Calls from some the breed’s larger studs for members to allow directors the courtesy of simply not running for the board again, rather than forcing them out ungraciously, have been met with a firm ‘time is up’ from those pushing for change.

“We can’t have bigger breeders running things either, everyone has to be equal,” Mr Spencer said.

“If there is no change, too many people will walk. It’s more harmful to the breed to leave them doing what they are.”

Mr Gunn said only a few directors needed “turning over” to rectify the situation.

“The problem is those directors who need to go don’t seem to know it,” he said.

One of the key issues was lack of communication from the board, Mr Gunn said.

“Members have to go on Facebook to find out anything happening in the society,” he said.

“A lot of us live in an area where we can go three to four days without internet service so that is nowhere near good enough.

“Despite numerous requests, information is simply not forthcoming.”

Mr Gunn said at the end of this year, HA will have lost over a million dollars in three years with no benefit coming from it.

HA’s branded beef program also appears to be a bone of contention.

“It was going to be our saviour but today most breeders are embarrassed by it,” Mr Gunn said.

“It was leased to a company that has been absorbed by another business - how did we get hitched to a business like that?”

On the other end, Robert O’Reilly, Redgate Hereford Genetics at Euroa, Victoria, has labelled the campaign leading to the EGM a “deliberate and calculated attack” which was “not in the spirit in which people in our Hereford community behave and deal with one another.”

He wants members to leave the directors in their job on the condition they give a 100 per cent commitment to making changes and “get things done within the next six months.”

His argument is directors now acknowledge mistakes have been made and had not been well served by outside professional advice and senior staff. That had changed and the current directors, who at least have some experience, were now the best-placed people to make the changes required.

Second generation Hereford breeder and finisher Maurice Cluff, Bulliroy Creek Pastoral Company at Birriwa said the whole affair being played out so publicly was a distraction getting the breed nowhere.

“There is no real gain in what’s happening for anyone - it’s not doing the breed any favours,” he said.