MLA Donor Company is very much a survivor against the odds. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the MLA. Approved donors are the Australian Meat Processors Corporation AMPC and live Corp who both received statutory R&D levies and MLA donor company which receives voluntary contributions.
Despite an amendment in 2007 to the Australian meat and livestock industry act which gave processing sector the right to introduce statutory levies cattle sheep and goats. As part the legislated change levy funds are directed to AMPC service body as well as the live shippers. However the amendment did not affect existing arrangements for Commonwealth matching funding as processors are R&D funds were still directed to MLA of the industry research body.
Therefore the MLA remains the industry body eligible to receive dollar for dollar matching Commonwealth funds research from industry levies and funds received from three approved donors. This means to get matching funds from the Commonwealth government any research in the red meat industry must go through the MLA donor company.
Example if a processor has a project they can go to the AMPC and get 50% of the total project cost returned so they can then go to the MLA and get 50% of the remaining funds which means they pay as little 25% of the final cost of the research. It would seem a lot of the research being done by the donor company is done for processors, who may be owned by overseas interests, could it be possible that the Australian taxpayer is subsidising R&D that could be used in foreign plants.
In 2011 a newspaper reported that JBS swift then CEO Ian Mars disclosed that the company had received $2.4 million in funding primarily from R&D, Mr Mars was a director of MLA from2009 to 2012 and he went on to explain that JBS contributed $840,000 over the same period primarily through the MDC.
Between 2008 and 2009, MLA reported that 30% of its R&D projects were meat processing projects. At that time it was noted that country’s biggest meat processors including JBS, Nippon, Rockdale and Teys Cargill were awarded one third of the AMPC entire budget for R&D.
MLA Donor Company contributed a further 50% but did not make public citing commercial in confidence rules. It should be remembered that the government put up matching dollars for R&D, and it seems almost impossible to find out who receives what money for what project, it is surrounded in secrecy.
Annual reports; the operation of MDC is integrated into MLA, annual report and the secrecy surrounding the outcomes make it almost impossible to find out who gets what. The fact is producers and their representatives have very limited knowledge of how the MDC operates including its funding arrangements with clear lack transparency and a relative protected status within the red meat structure.
The MDC has been criticised by both the Productivity Commission and the Senate and continues on with its Web of secrecy. Breed societies are also receiving funds from the MDC for EBV and genomics. This article is not a rant against the MDC however I would argue as a taxpayer and a levy payer a full audit should be take undertaken into the MDC and a complete list of all recipients should be made public to taxpayers and levy payers. I have always believed that whilst Australians live in a democracy, what we see with the MDC would make Robert Mugabe very proud.
David Byard, ABA Executive Officer
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