Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Meat Industry group Started “MIANG”

MIANG stands for “Meat Industry Advanced Nothing Group” and it has a massive membership as many of us are members by default!!!   I have been saying this as a joke for a few months, but unfortunately it is fast becoming or already is the reality of what is happening. 

It’s been over since 6 months since I last wrote anything, but a phone survey call one evening a week or so ago incensed me enough to start again. 

It was some farming survey and the second question was along the lines:  if you were to get an extra $25 for a lamb would you be prepared to pay $10 per lamb for the next two years to consolidate the industry?  My immediate reply was what a stupid loaded question: is this survey being carried out on behalf of the Meat Industry Excellence Group (“MIEG”)?  To which I was finally advised it was.   It was an unbelievably ridiculous question in my eyes, of course if you simply answer the question you would have to answer yes, $25 more for each lamb, and invest $20 to get it.  However the real question is how is the extra $25 achieved, where are the arguments and data that backs up the rationale that consolidation will achieve this and will that extra $25 continue long term beyond consolidation; or will it as being suggested, by the two coops at least, with the present market conditions prevailing, what we will get extra in two years time anyway.  This question simply assumes that the $25 is reality.    

It seems to me that MIEG through such a survey is endeavouring to get statistical data to say x percentage of farmers are in favour of consolidating the industry, which based on such questions, if you answer without questioning any of the assumptions behind,  should be 100%.   The above was not the only loaded question like this I was asked.

I personally think consolidation and the merging of the coops is probably required and have argued why previously, but I know there are many more people out there who are much better informed than I as to the pro and cons of doing this.    But what really continues to bug me is why can’t everyone be upfront and transparent about it all, treat all of us with respect and detail the pro and cons, don’t just feed us with generic unjustified statements “Consolidation will result in greater returns blah blah blah….” without any detailed argument as to why it will or indeed the details as to how we go about it. 
Again, we are told that we need to take greater ownership in the process to reap higher returns for our lamb, but again I personally have not seen any detail as to how and why this statement will result in us receiving more money for our lamb.    These are the questions and statements that have been made for decades now and again are being asserted now, but what we are never told is the detail of how we go and about it and why it will achieve this amazing generic conclusions we are constantly fed.  I am not saying that consolidation should not happen, but treat us with some respect and detail how, why and the costings associated with it.   After all if we are making a major change on our farm, don’t we all try to get the best information before making a change that is essentially irreversible?  We don’t just take some consultant’s assertion that is what we should do: now that I think of it, there are people out there that probably do this, but not me! 

The former MIEG members who were elected to the SFF and Alliance cooperatives in the last elections: I felt that was always going to be waste of time. It was déjà vous as that’s exactly what the Meat Industry Action Group did and what did they achieve?  I understand there is still one member of that group on a board.   The problem is no matter how well intentioned you are, if you in the minority on such a board you are pushing the proverbial uphill from the get go.   

I also believe that given those new directors were put forward by MIEG and asked to be supported by farmers on a clear mandate; they have been very conspicuous by their lack of public comment on the whole situation.   The argument for not doing so, namely commercial sensitivity and confidentiality does not cut the mustard for me; in my view Directors of both Coops should be keeping us more informed than they do on these issues, with detail, it’s their duty to shareholders.    

We as shareholders want to know what are the difficulties; its their duty to inform us beyond the generic statements made (Mr Young recently stated in the Farmers weekly that “the complexity of the Market surprises MIE founder” but he doesn’t tell us anything about what these complexities are?)   Surely they could tell us why things are more complex than first thought, or why it doesn’t make sense economically, why it will take time, why other members of the board are not interested in a merger?  I want things to be transparent, I want to be informed, and I want to know what the true situation is.  If we are all transparent about what we are trying to achieve, which means detail about why this should happen and how, then we can be trust what is being said and et everyone on board and actually move forward as opposed to the same old.

Just a quick comment on the upcoming vote on the Wool levy, much of the above apply to this issue also.   Same old generic statements and claims with no detail as to how it’s achieved.   The cynic in me looks at the fact that we had a Wool levy for many many years prior to it being voted out and looked what happened to wool.  Now miraculously if it’s reinstated its going to save the industry?   There is something to be said for the fact that if it’s your money you are playing with you tend to utilise it much better!

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