The Australian cattle industry is made up of mostly small to medium enterprises spread across the continent and operating in a wide range of environments. Furthermore, the cattle industry is physically and culturally isolated from its primary customers - multinational meat processors and its consumers - urban communities in Australia and overseas.
Due to its geographical fragmentation and its relative isolation, the cattle industry more than most industries, needs an insightful and effective platform for collective thought, planning and action.
The present arrangements – Cattle Council of Australia, and Meat and Livestock Australia - have been totally ineffective. After a decade of inaction and waste, the cattle industry is in a perilous situation.
Farm gate cattle prices have not increased in a decade while costs have increases 30%. This 30% decline in return has undermined investment in human and physical capital.
The average age of cattle producers declines almost one year, every year - as young people, choose not to work in the industry.
Agricultural industry debt has doubled - with no increase in farm income. More specifically, the Queensland cattle industry debt has increased nine-fold since 2000 to unsustainable levels.
Australia’s pasture and rangeland resources are significant national assets. But to create food and value on an ongoing basis, cattle producers need sustainable prices.
Cattle businesses now operate in a commercial environment which is increasingly dominated by domestic and international corporations. Australian cattle businesses also face unprecedented environmental and financial challenges.
A responsive and competent platform for collective thought, planning and action is essential if cattle producer are to equitably and sustainably manage rangelands, produce cattle, and compliment corporations in their joint goal - to delivery food to consumers in Australia and abroad.
By Athol Economou
T: 03 9421 2855
October 25, 2012