By DAVID BANCROFT
BEEF producers are being asked to put their hands a little deeper into their pockets in order to protect the long-term future of their industry.
Around 150 producers met in Grafton on Thursday to hear representatives of the Beef Industry Funding Steering Committee put a case for a $1.50 increase in the cattle transaction levy to $5.
The levy is charged every time a beast changes hands. Producers on the North Coast have long considered it to be unfair because of the nature of the industry, where cattle may change hands a number of times.
Steering committee member and beef producer Keith Adams said the meeting, organised by NSW Farmers Association, was only to provide information.
Producers will get to vote for the proposal between June 14 and July 14.
Larger producers will get a bigger say, as ballots will be allocated according to the number of transactions a producer has made, rather than one vote per producer.
"You have to recognise that those with the largest income in the industry should be entitled to have more say," Mr Adams said.
Mr Adams said an increase in the levy was necessary because Australia's beef production was predicted to grow by about 330,000 tonnes annually by 2009, and extra effort needed to be put into marketing.
"Producers need to balance the extra $1.50 in the levy with a projected 15 per cent reduction in prices by 2009," he said.
"The promotion would be aimed at the domestic, international and live export trades."