Victorian grass and grain finisher Andrew Ogilvie takes pleasure in seeing a “bullish’’ Cattle Council of Australia, underpinned by a healthy balance sheet, stability and progressive leadership.
Almost 18 months ago Mr Ogilvie handed over the CCA presidency to Queenslander Howard Smith, and stepped away from the media glare to concentrate on the daily routine of his family’s cattle business.
Elected as president in May 2011, he was immediately plunged into the live export crisis when the Labour Government suspended trade with Indonesia – a turning point in the history of the nation’s beef industry.
Mr Ogilvie then went on to help lay the foundations for the China and Korean free trade agreements, the Trans Pacific Partnership and Grass Fed Beef Industry Strategic Plan 2020.
The TPP, once ratified, will provide more seamless trade rules, reduced costs and less red tape leading to new and substantial market access opportunities.
Driven by CCA, the Grass Fed Beef Industry Strategic Plan 2020 is designed to refocus industry efforts and resources towards strengthening Australia’s beef industries competitive position.
Today, Mr Ogilvie enjoys the personal satisfaction of seeing the free trade agreements come to fruition, with the Australian beef industry set to reap long term benefits.
He describes the Grass Fed beef Industry Strategic Plan 2020, released in February, as “robust with goals, benchmarks and accountability’’.
“It is probably the first plan the industry has put together which has measurable goals,’’ he said.
To Andrew, Cattle Council has always been about providing the industry with a voice to government and on red meat supply chain issues affecting international market access.
He believes Council’s role as a peak industry body is often misunderstood by cattle producers.
“I would like people to see Cattle Council as an organisation that is going to look after their interests,’’ he said.
“They often haven’t got a lot of time to look outside their front gate and that’s where Cattle Council operates – quite often they don’t understand the value it can add to their industry.
“Cattle Council has always been under fire from dissident groups with different opinions.
“Being the foremost industry body, Cattle Council is always going to take a bit of flack but I’m confident it has come through what has been a pretty difficult period in good shape to look after the industry in future.’’
Over the past few years, Council has punched above its weight despite being inadequately resourced.
Under Ogilvie’s leadership, Council pushed towards structural change, including a sustainable funding model, to adequately deliver the advocacy, policy and strategic services the grass fed industry requires.
This year, Council and its implementation committee are developing new funding arrangements, free from government intervention and including multiple stream sources.
According to CEO Jed Matz, Council has financially turned the corner and was now “back in the black’’.
“Funding is always a problem with any agricultural body – everybody wants results but nobody wants to pay for it, it’s the nature of the beast,’’ Mr Ogilvie said.
“This new funding model should provide certainty.
“Direct membership is always the Holy Grail but it doesn’t seem to work – if people can get a free ride they will and that’s the case of the cattle industry.
“Some people pay and participate while others sit back and reap the benefits.’’
Mr Ogilvie has always been a passionate supporter of nurturing youth in the beef cattle industry, and lists the Rising Champions program as “one of the best initiatives Cattle Council has ever come up with’’.
“It has given Council a group of young people industry exposure and we can use their talents and youth to put some rigour into decisions old blokes were making for essentially an industry being run by young people,’’ he said.
“Rising Champions has given those people the opportunity to get out and have a bit of say.’’
Mr Ogilvie’s passion for Cattle Council as an industry leader continues to burn.
He and brother Noel showcased their Airlie feedlot to industry stakeholders on CCA’s 2016 Rural Awareness Tour on April 13.
The Ogilvie Group turn off 20,000 grass and grain fed cattle a year to the supermarket trade, and are ranked in the top 50 levy payers among the nation’s 50,000 beef properties.
With historically high cattle prices, the Ogilvie brothers concede lotfeeding margins are tight but expect market conditions to improve once export prices stabilise.
Caption: Andrew Ogilvie is pleased to see the Cattle Council of Australia organisationally stable and heading in a positive direction.
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