Industry getting 'ship in order'

AGFORCE Cattle directors certainly exercised their minds during an issues-packed, two-day gathering in Brisbane last week that incorporated the board's annual general meeting.

Directors were updated on the live cattle industry's progress in ensuring supply chains into Indonesia avoid further animal welfare issues.

Richard Trivett, chairman of live exporting company Austrex and a member of the Queensland Live Export Council, reported that between 15 and 20 Indonesian supply chains were now approved.

While the AgForce Cattle board appreciates the ground being made by exporters, directors made it clear breaches of supply chain licenses to Indonesia or other markets would not be tolerated, and that any "cowboy" operators in the trade must be peer-pressured into operating within the new rules or risk another PR disaster.

Pleasingly, Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has given assurances that if livestock "leakages" occur outside approved pathways, the company concerned will wear the consequences - not the entire trade.

In order to keep abreast of progress in Indonesia, AgForce has formally requested the Australian Live Exporters Council compile outgoing volumes against their designated supply chains and provide such figures to the cattle board.

AgForce Cattle is no longer prepared to allow others to play "policeman" with live exports, and we will continue to strongly protect our members' interests by keeping a close eye on the entire supply chain.

On another note, the cattle industry is set to lose some experienced leaders as Don Heatley hangs up his hat as chairman of Meat and Livestock Australia and Greg Brown finishes his term as chair of the Cattle Council.

The baton passing comes as critical issues like restructure at MLA and effective funding of the Cattle Council are debated.

To function effectively, the Cattle Council needs to possibly double its current budget of $1 million.

The mechanism to raise those funds is the issue.

There are some suggestions the funds should come from within current transaction levy proceeds, and consideration is also being given to source royalties from industry services such as NLIS tags or other systems.

Whatever path is taken, AgForce will push for all beneficiaries of CCA activities to contribute to ensure Queensland isn't subsidising "free riders".

MLA managing director Scott Hansen addressed last week's board meeting about the changes taking place at the red meat body.

In the most significant structural adjustment for years, MLA is set to merge its international and domestic marketing divisions to better target its $55 million expenditure, and there are plans for a renewed focus on the delivery of market intelligence back to industry.

Just as other industry bodies take the mirror to their operations, so too will the AgForce Cattle board.

Being a member of the board is by and large a voluntary commitment taken by 18 men and women from across Queensland, who devote their efforts to make the beef business a more profitable and sustainable proposition for each and every producer, not just AgForce members.



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