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TAS Country : April 12th 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012 Tasmanian Country 11 Opinion Time to simplify levy system TFGA matters with Jan Davis 'While the TFGA's income base is sound, many of our peer groups in other states are struggling to fund their activities using a levy-based system and are considering other forms of fee-based membership' AT the risk of having some of you glaze over, I'm going to talk today about an upcoming constitutional review we're undertaking in the coming months. I know, I know -- hang in there, I promise this won't hurt a bit. The TFGA introduced a new consti- tution in 2005 and, though only seven years old, it is now in need of review. Over the next few months, we will be discussing proposed changes with members at meetings throughout the state, the first of which was held in the Huon last night. A formal proposal will be considered by members at our AGM in July. At several thousand pages, Aust- ralia's Corporations Act is one of the biggest pieces of legislation in the world. Because the Australian legis- lation is so comprehensive, so complex and the subject of regular updating by amendment, companies such as the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers As- sociation (TFGA) have to be constantly alert to its latest provisions and to modify their own governing docu- ments accordingly. Why is this important to members of the TFGA? Most of the changes we'll be propos- ing are essentially housekeeping ones to keep our constitution in line with changes in the Corporations Act. However, one significant area we'll be looking to change is around our ''levy''-based fee system. Our constitution requires member- ship fees to be paid through levies on all the commodities a farmer produces; and it assumes that the company that processes the commodity collects each levy and forwards this payment to us. So, for instance, it is the abattoir that deducts sheep and cattle levies from a farmer's returns. This is not unique to TFGA -- it has been a pretty standard system for state farming organisations for decades. However, across the country, those organisations are finding that this system is no longer robust. There are more and more paths to market, many of which don't go through a traditional processor; there are many more products than were ever dreamt of when levies were established; and farmers are seeking greater transparency in the levies and charges they pay. As well, I have yet to find a company that relishes the role of collecting funds on behalf of someone else, so calculat- ing and collecting levies on behalf of the TFGA is not a favourite pastime for the processors either. While the TFGA's income base is sound, many of our peer groups in other states are struggling to fund their activities using a levy-based system and are considering other forms of fee- based membership. State farming organisations (SFOs) like the TFGA provide core funding for national peak commodity groups (like the Cattle Council of Australia, the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, AusVeg, etc) and also for the National Farmers Federation. The TFGA pays more than $150,000 each year in membership fees to national bodies, and we're one of the smallest states. So uncertainty in income at SFO level places constraints on funding at the national level too; and we're already seeing signs of this system breaking down. We have to come up with a more flexible system for all levels of farmer representation or we risk losing our industry voice. Currently, the provisions in our constitution don't allow any flexibility in this system; and we're already operating outside our own rules. Several years back, we introduced an annual cap of $4500 and a minimum of $337. That does not comply with the rule that says farmers must pay all levies on everything they sell. So we have to update these provisions as a matter of some priority. If the levies collected by the proces- sors and paid to the TFGA amount to more than $4500 for an individual farmer, then we remit the difference; if the levies collected are less than the cap, we have to invoice farmers for the difference. This is a very inefficient system. Already many farmers who regularly pay the maximum fee to the TFGA have said it is time to simplify the process -- and we agree. A number of members are already using the pro- vision in the constitution that allows for self-assessment under some limited circumstances. Putting some rigour around this process and expanding the application would be a good first step. There are many other options used in membership associations and it is probably time we considered some of these. I should stress that we are not seeking to increase the fees paid by individual members although we are, of course, seeking to increase the number of members. Rather, we want a more efficient membership fees system. We are open to suggestions about better ways of doing this, which is one of the reasons that we will be talking with members to hear some ideas from those who ultimately sign the cheque. Eat vegies whole to lose weight INTACT vegetables make you feel fuller and can help with weight control. A new study looking at satiety has shown that the maximum feeling of full- ness is achieved by eating larger, intact pieces of a vegetable, in this case car- rots, compared to the pureed version. AUSVEG spokesperson Andrew White said that the findings were part of a broader study undertaken by the vegetable industry to examine the potential importance of consuming different vegetable types in controlling weight. ''Vegetables may have an important role to play in terms of making you feel full and this may have positive benefits in re- lation to controlling weight. If you feel full you are less likely to over eat,'' Mr White said. ''The results showed to achieve maximal satiety benefit or feeling of full- ness it was recommended vegetables be consumed in a more intact form.'' The biggest small tractor in the field. Own a bright future Some tractors just feel bigger than they really are. But when you re packed with heaps of powerful features, you can t blame them. New Holland s Boomer range boasts the very best of tractor technology in a compact frame. Take our Boomer 1000 -- small, powerful and loaded with features, it s got enough grunt to tackle some pretty big jobs. Then there s our T1500 - built tough, easy to operate and available with a huge range of options. Add in our big rebates and you ll discover that whatever you choose, you can t lose with New Holland. Visit thelandiscalling.com.au to see the full Boomer range and find the nearest dealer. *Terms and conditions apply. The factory rebate offer is subject to availability. The rebate is provided by the dealer as a discount off the recommended retail price (inc GST) and is not exchangeable for cash. Contact your local dealership for full details. Now you can get a $2,500 rebate on the Boomer 1000, and $3,500 back on the T1500*.
April 5th 2012
April 19th 2012