PEAK grass fed producer lobby group, the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) has promised a more demographic model, greater transparency, increased representation and more accountability as it reinvents itself.
It’s decision to break from government-endorsed efforts to create a new producer advocate group called Cattle Australia was not taken lightly, CCA chief executive officer Margo Andrae said.
Far from discounting the views and desires of producers, senators and ministers, CCA has listened and learned and is set on delivering the type of organisation demanded, she said.
The unanimous support by State Farming Organisations (SFOs) meant the new-look CCA would have a funding stream but it was also recognition the existing model needed to be enhanced.
Ms Andrae said the bottom line was it was time to get on with the job of talking cattle business rather than restructure.
CCA was a key member of a committee tasked with designing and seeing to fruition Cattle Australia, which would bring into the fold the numerous smaller breakaway producer groups and operate under a direct-elected model.
This has been the recommendation of at least two beef industry senate inquiries and also appears to be the overwhelming preference of producers.
Ms Andrae said CCA still supported that type of body.
It just believes the best road there is via a restructure of what currently exists.
“The reality is after three years we no longer believed the committee tasked with designing the new structure had the ability to deliver, not because of a lack of will, but because of a lack of long term sustainable funding,” Ms Andrae said.
“Creating a new organisation only to have it fail almost immediately would have put the grassfed beef industry, and grassfed producers, in an even worse position.”
Instead, CCA will go it alone and in the process undergo a total reset, she said.
Opportunities would be developed for increased direct member involvement at all levels within the council’s representative structure and it was even envisaged an independent chair would soon head the organisation.
“We believe that we can build on what we have, continue to service our members, defend the beef industry and become more accountable to grass-fed levy payers everywhere,” Ms Andrae said.
CCA has also outlined significant changes made since the 2014 senate inquiry into grassfed levies – in line with its recommendations – which include the creation of the direct membership, the ability for direct members to nominate for the independent director positions, a voting structure for directors, a framework which ensures consultation with producers on key areas including animal health and welfare, marketing, market access and trade, industry systems and research and development and the ability for both SFOs and direct members to nominate for the consultative committees.
“CCA have recognised the need to increase communications with all stakeholders as a key priority for 2018 and the need to continue to improve the effectiveness of the organisation around policy development, advocacy and levy oversight,” Ms Andrae said.
“For those out there who still have doubts – we are saying to you, there will be avenues for your voice to be heard and we will be listening.
“As an industry, we must unite and acknowledge we aren’t always going to agree but we are better off together than apart.
“Join an SFO, or join us directly, and support us in fighting for our industry, not against it.”