Article by: Hari Yellina
If efforts to establish a unified, national voice for grass-fed cattle producers were to succeed, any temptation to “stand outside and fling rocks” had to be eliminated. As the consultation time for the development of the new advocacy group, Cattle Australia, begins, this is the message from seasoned cattle producer leaders from State Farming Organisations. A request has been made for grass-fed cattle producers on the ground to provide guidance on what areas of work their new apex body should focus on and where it can best funnel funding to help the beef industry expand. Producers have until April 15 to comment on major priority areas, and a series of webinars will begin next week.
Cattle Australia will be officially established on July 1, following the closure of the Cattle Council of Australia. Several State Farming Organization cattle committee officials told Farmonline that it was vital that all producers, large and small, rally behind the drive to consolidate grass-fed representation. Will Wilson, Agforce’s cattle expert, said the new organisation had widespread support and that producers who valued having a voice ‘had to make this work.’ “How much you engage will determine how good this is,” he stated. He explained that it was all too easy to say, “I don’t agree with one element, so I don’t engage,” and that this was a habit the industry needed to break.
“That’s not a good way to spend your time.” “Governments can see it a mile away and pick us off,” he explained. While it will never be feasible to unite all producers on all topics, it is part of a producer’s job to be involved, to engage in advocacy. “Having a strong voice is critical to our future. “All we have to do is look at the other sectors of our industry, such as live exporters, processors, and feedlotters, to see how successful strong, well-funded, and well-supported representation is.” “It leads to good leadership.” Mr Wilson acknowledged that there would always be critics, but that the momentum and support for Cattle Australia to serve as the single national voice for grass-fed producers was strong and that it deserved to be given a chance. “In this day and age, when customers have queries about our product that aren’t related to research and development or marketing (the functions of beef’s service providers), it is up to us – the producer – to respond,” he added.