Graziers hoping for lasting reform

BEEF cattle graziers on the Northern Rivers are hopeful a Senate inquiry into the cattle industry will bring meaningful and lasting reform.

Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce announced the inquiry last month following years of mounting frustration between small-scale cattle producers and the industry's peak bodies.

Page MP Kevin Hogan has welcomed the review, saying the inquiry's terms of reference were broad enough to allow local concerns to be "fully canvassed".

President of the Richmond River Beef Producers Association, Brian Creedy, said local graziers wanted to see democratic reform and "real results" from the compulsory $5 levies they pay for every head of cattle sold.

Mr Creedy received $1.99 per live kg for his vealers in 1986, and at his last visit to the saleyards he received just $1.67, despite production costs soaring in the past 30 years.

"We've gone a long way backwards, and that's with $60 million a year going into the industry ... supposed to be promoting the beef industry and improving sales," Mr Creedy said.

"Very few producers can produce cattle for less than $2. We need to see reform of the peak bodies as well as how the levy is organised and distributed."

Sydney solicitor and rural advocate Norman Hunt said reform was overdue, given that the last restructure took place in the late 1990s.

"We didn't have the concentration of supermarket duopoly power that we now have. We now (also) have three or four major companies processing up to 60 per cent of our national kill, and that wasn't the case in 1997," he said.



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