A REVIEW into the levy paid by producers to Meat & Livestock Australia upon the sale of goats has divided opinions across the country.
The Goat Industry Council of Australia recently put a call out to producers to gauge their thoughts on increasing the current goat transaction levy of 37 cents a head to as much as 50 cents, one dollar or two dollars a head.
The peak industry body announced the review after it was recommended by members of its organisation.
"We're only at the start of the process and there will be a lot of consultation with goat producers to follow - watch this space," GICA president John Falkenhagen said.
However, the prospect of raising the levy has received a mixed response from producers within the sector, some of whom believe large-scale operators are already paying enough in levies.
One such producer is Nick Deshon, Llanillo, Cumborah, whose operation runs 5000 goats behind wire and several thousand more as part of Deshon's Goat Depot, who said he felt 37 cents a head was enough.
"There is certainly two sides of the equation because in my opinion, people out west don't want an increase, while those who are based more inland do want an increase," Mr Deshon said.
"I think that people out west are running enough numbers that we're already paying enough in levy fees."
Having been running the depot for the past 20 years, Mr Deshon said he understood why some in the sector were in favour of increasing the levy, despite not being in favour of it himself.
"I understand some people wanting to raise the levy, however from the people I have spoken to out west that run a lot of goats, they are certainly not too keen on it," he said.
"To me, the goat job at the minute is a funny thing; I think people are overthinking it a bit because we are basically just killing goats at a flat price.
"Most of it is going overseas and while I understand the desire to try and spark a domestic market for goats, I don't think it can rival the demand we are seeing from overseas markets."
However, the man behind Queensland's biggest goat processing facility, Western Meat Exporters at Charleville, Campbell McPhee said he believed raising the levy was required to help the industry grow.
"There has obviously been a big uptake into the goat industry and I think the need for more research and development is certainly there," Mr McPhee said.
"In order to achieve that, levies need to be at a certain level which allow these types of things to be brought forward.
"I think the majority of producers will be in favour of it once they understand how low the levy is at the moment and how low it is when you compare it to other red meat commodities.
"On top of that, I think most producers are calling out for more information and we can't have one without the other. Therefore, I think it is timely and I'm hopeful that it does happen."
Mr McPhee, who also represents the goat sector as a special director for AgForce, said the most exciting part of a potential levy increase was the possibilities of the benefits unlocked by more research into the industry.
"At the moment, the goat levy makes up such a small percentage of the MLA's revenue stream that in order for the industry to have a greater seat at the table, it needs to reflect a larger portion of that revenue stream," he said.
"If it does that, then a lot of the research projects being put forward will become a reality and in turn the industry as a whole will benefit.
"I think a lot of producers would like to see the money spent on research and development because a lot of producers are looking for a managed system, so more research would hopefully offer some answers to their questions.
"In saying that, if we are increasing the size of the national flock we are also needing that market research overseas as well, so the two need to go hand in hand."
While no timeframe has been set for the review, Mr McPhee encouraged all goat producers to reach out to the GICA and have their say.
"If they get the right people to do the right review, the right outcome will be achieved," he said.
"The old price of 37 cents is certainly a long way off the mark and the guys at MLA have been hamstrung by the limited levy streams over the past few years because of low production.
"I look forward in the increase in production as well as an increase in levy streams so that those projects can be put forward."
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