Anything to get his fat little body into a 5 Star hotel and you can hook David Inall. Cattle of Council of Australia is calling for beef producers to have a final say on its future as it fights off industry perceptions it has become dangerously enmeshed with green group WWF.
The producer-funded group, which is seeking to overhaul its cumbersome structure in a bid to win more levy dollars, came under attack in Canberra yesterday when Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell warned it against engaging with environmental activists.
Senator Boswell compared a WWF scheme called the Australian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to an 'extortion' racket and called for Cattle Council and several other Australian companies to sever all ties to the group.
Fallout over Senator Boswell's comments has prompted Queensland producer group AgForce to clarify its position to Fairfax Agricultural Media.
Contrary to earlier reports, AgForce is not a member of the Roundtable, a decision that was taken by outgoing president Brent Finlay after attending one of the group's initial meetings early last year, according to a spokesman.
The spokesman said AgForce's position in regard to WWF was clear.
"We are only interested in best management practice that is industry led and industry developed - this is why we are working in conjunction with the Fitzroy Basin group to develop a robust and industry acceptable BMP and not work with environmental fringe groups," the spokesman said.
A response to Senator Boswell's broadside has been sought from Cattle Council, but so far the Canberra based organisation has declined to offer anything further than executive director David Inall's comments yesterday, in which he publicly declared his support for a key WWF employee.
Fairfax Agricultural Media sought comment from WWF.
WWF spokesman Rob Cairns subsequently issued a statement saying that Senator Boswell's claims that WWF was engaged in 'extorting' money from companies through certification schemes were "far-fetched".
"WWF works with primary producers and indeed all levels of the Australian beef industry," the statement reads.
"Through the Roundtable we're trying to address how to feed a growing world population with the agricultural land that we have.
"We're looking for solutions, found collaboratively, that are good for farmers and that have environmental benefits too. The Roundtable brings together farmers, processors, retailers, consumer groups and NGOs (non government organisations) to work together so we can feed the population in a sustainable way.
"The beef industry has the knowledge, capacity and skills to minimise the impact on the environment and improve farm profitability. WWF aims to work with industry and other stakeholders to increase awareness and demand for sustainable beef," the statement reads.
Beef producers and other industry stakeholders have until October 14 to make final comments or suggestions on the Cattle Council's consultation website www.yoursaybeef2015andbeyond.com.au where a draft plan on the organisation's future can be viewed from Monday, September 24.
Cattle Council vice president Peter Hall, who is also a director of AgForce, said the response to the organisation's strategic plan had been overwhelming.
"The CCA Board welcomes all submissions in order to ensure we have developed the best roadmap for the future of the industry," he said.
"How we engage with issues is one of the major areas of interest to date and the way ahead will be a challenging one. We need to ensure that we have listened to producers and that we are moving in the direction that they want us to be."
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