Media Release 27 October 2017
Dr Paul Wright Chair of Cattle Producers Australia Limited (CPA) today confirmed that CPA has lodged a to the Federal Governments Modernising the Research and Development Corporation system Discussion paper which can be viewed in full Cattle Producers Australia’s R&D Review Proposal 2019.
Dr Wright said that ‘The issues raised in the Federal Governments September 2019 discussion paper Research & Development Corporation (RDC) submission questionnaire were important issues for Australian agriculture generally and particularly important for the red meat industry that was currently considering a general organisational restructure in the context of the recent Red Meat MoU Review Taskforce White Paper’.
‘The Federal Government’s RDC Discussion paper amongst other things seeks guidance on RDC organisational restructure measures to drive increased adoption of R&D. The bottom line in this regard is that adoption of agricultural R&D is fundamentally driven by producer acceptance and engagement which in turn depends upon ensuring that the R&D carried out by the agricultural RDCs addresses issues that are identified by the levy paying stakeholders as issues that affect the levy paying stakeholders productivity and profitability.’
The Federal Government’s RDC Discussion paper acknowledges that:-
- Australia’s agricultural sector needs strong and effective advocacy to promote the sector’s interests and priorities to the Australian public and to government, and that
- currently, all RDCs except Australian Pork Limited (APL) are not permitted to engage in advocacy activities and that
- some RDCs advocacy is also explicitly prohibited under their funding agreements with the Commonwealth, which consequently
- limits the capacity of industry to use the policy research and knowledge development done by the RDC’s to contribute to public debate.
CPA’s endorses those comments but notes that the red meat industry RDC, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), does however currently invest in policy development research that can then be used by the relevant Peak Industry Council industry representative body.
Dr. Wright noted in this regard that ‘the processing and live exporter sectors of the red meat industry both have the benefit of a two-company structure comprising a levy funded corporation and separate representative membership funded advocacy body. Namely, in the case of the processing sector the levy funded Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) and separate Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) advocacy body and in the case of the live export sector levy funded LiveCorp and separate member funded advocacy body Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC).”
‘Both AMPC and LiveCorp pay the majority of their sectors levies to MLA in accord with the provisions of the Red Meat MoU but each retains some of their sectors levies and conduct policy R&D for their sector and the outcome of that R&D is then given to their respective representative advocacy bodies.’
A number of Senate RRAT Committee Inquiries and analytical research papers have drawn attention to the lack of engagement of levy payers and stakeholders with the current representative bodies and the need for reform of current red meat industry organisational structures to meet the future organisational needs of the levy paying stakeholders.
These Senate RRAT Committee and analytical research papers have concluded that member engagement with agriculture advocacy bodies are enhanced if they embrace direct stakeholder membership entitlements with a directly elected board structure based on a regional or national electorate voting structure with opportunities for members to directly influence policy through surveys and plebiscites.
For grass-fed cattle transaction levy payers the failure to achieve value from levy funded R&D flows from their inability to definitively choose the relevant R&D projects which results in poor adoption of R&D because of the lack of cattle levy payer engagement.
Dr Wright suggests that ‘the most effective way for the red meat industry to receive value outcomes from levy funded R&D would be for the current RDC model to be amended to either adopt:-
a) the Australian Pork Limited (APL) model of a joint levy funded R&D & Advocacy representative body, which is a model currently being promulgated by the red meat industry live export sector, or
b) the current red meat industry processor and live exporter two-company organisational structure comprising a levy funded corporation and separate representative membership funded advocacy body with:-
- a levy funded R&D corporation which could contribute to joint and core MLA functions and policy development R&D for its sector, and
- an adequately funded, accountable, transparent and directly elected levy payer’s peak industry council, and
- an amended MoU which delivers levy payers control of the rate, collection and expenditure of their levy.
Dr. Wright concluded by saying ‘desires to achieve efficiencies and savings by removing overlapping RDC R&D expenditure by different sector RDCs should be balanced against the possibility of far greater value wastage flowing from loss of engagement between RDCs and subsequent loss in stakeholder adoption uptake of the product of the R&D.
Greater efficiencies and reductions in wasteful R&D overlap expenditure may be able to be achieved through an organisational structure where all cross-sector R&D was conducted through a separate cross-sectoral owned and controlled corporation and particular sector-commodity specific R&D was conducted through sector-specific RDC’s.
The financial and operational efficiencies sought by the current review of the agricultural RDC structure will not be able to be achieved unless the structure of sectoral advocacy bodies and Peak Industry Councils are also reformed to meet the organisational needs of each agricultural sector in the third decade of the 21st century.’
Dr Paul Wright
Cattle Producers Australia (Implementation Committee)
“Woongarra” Taroom Qld 4420
Phone 07 4628 6185 Mobile 0438 286 185