If there was any doubt that the conglomeration of bodies which are funded by our livestock levies and government are out of touch with producers it is amply demonstrated with the RMAC funded Green Paper on Review of the MOU.
The paper rarely mentions producers and their profitability, and the conditions under which they labour. Instead, communication with “outside stakeholders” seems to be paramount and some statements in the Green Paper are far from being supportive of the livestock industry
Probably of most concern to producers, particularly in Queensland, is the case made for more strategic partnerships and the claimed successful collaboration between environmental organisations on the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework.
These two organisations, WWF and TWS, were instrumental in the draconian vegetation amendments which were introduced into Queensland in May 2018. Those laws were the subject of protests by thousands of landowners all over Queensland at public inquiries and outside parliament house on the day they were passed.
This is indicative of a prominent disconnect and disregard for problems being faced by significant sections of the livestock industries.
Previously, these environmental organisations threw rocks but lacked credibility. We have, as an industry, handed credibility and recognition to them on a platter as a proxy for “the community” or consumers. Now they have access into our MOU signatories.
It appears reading the Green Paper that our levy funded and associated bodies are more responsive to “external stakeholders” than to livestock producers who supply the levies. There was a time when producers put their levies into a black hole and accepted the crumbs that came their way, but accepted they did, as long as they were done no active harm.
The paper makes an unreferenced claim that the red meat industry is a significant greenhouse gas contributor when, as more factors are added to the equation, it is recognised as being closer and closer to Carbon neutral if not a Carbon sink.
It also claims that fake meat which it calls “in vitro meat” is healthier and more environmentally friendly than red meat. Again, these claims are being questioned on the grounds that it takes a great deal of processing and is a high energy user.
Over many inquiries and reviews, including the grassfed levies inquiry and the processor consolidation inquiry, red meat producers have consistently asked for a well-funded representational, transparent advocacy body which is responsive to their needs and not dominated by other stronger sectors in the supply chain.
There is only one way that producers will get to determine their own destiny and that will not be under any of the options canvassed in the green paper. Only a transparent, democratically elected, well-funded advocacy body where producers have a connection to a local representative will ensure that many of the real problems of productivity and profitability facing the production industry will be addressed.
Joanne Rea is the Chair of Property Rights Australia