New head for beef council

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

Well-known cattle industry identity Ivan Rogers has been elected chairman of the WA Beef Council.

Mr Rogers, who farms south of Tammin, takes over from retiring chairman Tony Hiscock.

A significant player in the WA beef industry, Mr Rogers and wife Jill run a cattle feedlot with a capacity to stock 3500 head at any one time, with an annual throughput of 12,000 cattle.

The Tammin business is also the exclusive WA supplier of Angus beef to Coles supermarkets.

The WA Beef Council was established in 2010 after what Mr Rogers describes as an all-time low for the beef industry in the State.

"It's fair to say there was a fair bit of angst in the industry at that time," he said.

He said the release of the Stocktake Report was the impetus for then Agriculture Minister Terry Redman to establish the non-political council to advise policy makers on industry direction.

"The WA Beef Council is a strategic think tank with a direct line into policy makers," he said.

While the council has flown under the public radar somewhat, Mr Rogers said greater communication with industry stakeholders was high on his agenda.

"The concept is to have representatives of all sectors of the beef industry gather around the one table to discuss issues that are currently affecting the industry," he said.

But he said the beef market was now experiencing more buoyant times when compared with the low point in 2010.

"The major change since 2010 has been that the market has moved significantly, and this improved market will inevitably lead to greater confidence for all sectors," he said,

"Our task as an industry is to ensure that this is not a false dawn and that we put in place strategies that will capture opportunity that presents."

Mr Rogers said while WA producers predominantly supplied the domestic market, prices were impacted by global supply and demand.

"Improved prices over the past few years have been a result of building global demand and that has had a significant impact on the supply demand balance," he said.

"From the council's point of view, we need to recognise there is an opportunity here, whether in the boxed beef trade or in the live trade and we need to consider the correct policy settings that can take advantage of this opportunity."

Mr Rogers said one of his key priorities would be to work towards greater alignment of all sectors in the beef supply chain.

"This council is all about improving returns, and those returns will come through efficiencies. If there is not an aligned supply chain, there will be inherent inefficiencies that will drive down profitability in all sectors," he said.

"It's not an easy thing to realign a supply chain, so that's a big task for us. But there are real benefits to be gained if we can do that, that's the key to maximising the opportunities that are coming our way."

According to the latest Beef Commentary from the Department of Agriculture and Food, cattle exports and beef production increased in 2013-14.

Live cattle exports from WA rose by 56 per cent to 305,000 head, driven by increased exports to Indonesia, Israel and Vietnam.

The WA Beef Council has 15 appointed members including deputy chairman Stephen Meerwald and secretary-treasurer Renata Paliskis-Bessell.

Carnarvon producer Sean Darcy, of Lyndon Station, and Sonya Harcourt-Smith, of Woodanilling, were also newly appointed to the council.

Mr Rogers acknowledged the significant contribution of outgoing chairman Mr Hiscock and retiring council members Jan Cooper, John Young, Paul O'Meehan and Peter Trefort.

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