FEDERAL Parliament today passed the Primary Industries Levy and Charges Collection Amendment Bill 2016, representing an exciting moment in the history of Australian agriculture.
Cattle Council of Australia has strongly advocated in favour of the Bill, seeing the ability to communicate directly with levy payers as a vital step forward in strengthening and growing the grassfed beef industry.
Cattle Council president Howard Smith said CCA have moved to a direct membership model, in order to enable Council to better represent its grassfed producer base.
“We have strongly lobbied for prescribed industry bodies to have access to levy payer contact details for specific purposes.
“The ability to communicate directly with levy payers is a huge win for producers and industry bodies,” Mr Smith said.
“Gaining access to levy payer details provides benefits to the whole of industry including that the database captures an accurate profile of the industry, allowing for improved disease management and prevention, improved extension services and more targeted communication and policy.”
Cattle Council recognises concern has previously emerged around privacy and the handling of levy payer information.
Mr Smith said Cattle Council fully supported the government’s proposed safeguards around the sensitive levy information.
“We are committed to handling stakeholder information with the same integrity as we have always done with our member information,” Mr Smith said.
Cattle Council have previously raised concerns about who will oversee the information and who will fund the implementation and maintenance of the databases.
“We will continue to be engaged with and provide input into the implementation of the database, to ensure a cost effective structure that provides positive outcomes for producers and industry.
“While sensitivities and assurances around privacy and data storage must be critical to its implementation, we must also ensure the data can be used effectively to better advocate for producers,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith noted the Bill provides potential for Cattle Council to progress its own sustainable funding agenda, for a directly elected grassfed representation body.
“It is a major step forward for Cattle Council in being able to progress its direct membership model and identify new options for the funding of a restructured grassfed representation model.”
Since 2013, the Council has been pushing towards structural change, including a sustainable funding model, to adequately deliver the advocacy, policy and strategic services the grass-fed industry needs.
“We see this as an opportunity to ensure all prescribed industry bodies and research and development corporations can be truly answerable to Australia’s producers,” Mr Smith said.
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