Marketing, services the key, says new MLA chief

Melissa WilliamsCountryman

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) has a new chairman and a bid to wind-up the company has been roundly defeated.

These were the major outcomes of the organisation's annual general meeting held in Longreach, Queensland, last week.

Rather than dwell on the vagaries of the 2011 calendar year that saw the suspension and resumption of the live cattle trade to Indonesia, big swings in the Australian dollar and peaks and troughs in demand from various overseas markets, new MLA managing director Scott Hansen outlined to the meeting the company's renewed focus on provision of service to the red meat industry.

"MLA is not the industry representative body, it is not a policy or regulatory body - we are a marketing and R&D services company," he said.

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"Our role is to create opportunities to reduce the cost of production, improve the feed base and animal welfare for livestock.

"We also invest in marketing to create opportunities for increased demand for your products."

At the annual meeting, retiring MLA chairman Don Heatley made way for NSW grazier Rob Anderson to take the chair and new board directors Michele Allan, Geoff Maynard and Rodney Watt were elected.

An Australian Beef Association (ABA) motion to wind-up MLA was resoundingly defeated for the second consecutive year, attracting only 10.3 per cent of votes last week.

WAFarmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) said these results had been expected.

WA Farmers meat section president Jeff Murray said he was comfortable with the new MLA board and pleased the ABA motion was defeated.

He said discussion about the live export trade at last week's meeting centred on MLA's investments in research and development to improve the trade, which was continuing and a positive step for producers.

PGA Cattle Council of Australia representative David Lovelock said he welcomed the new MLA chairman and board members and anticipated the skills of each newly elected member would enhance the service provided by the organisation to the red meat industry.

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