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The disruptive behaviour of officebearers
within the Scottish Beef Council
towards the NBA must stop
Teviot Scientific, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie,
Filed 30 Apr 06
The National Beef Association (NBA) has reported
its audited accounts for the year ending 31st December 2005. They
show that substantial losses have been incurred both at NBA HQ and
in the regions, each to about the same extent - £20,000 in
the main account and £18,000 in the regional account. It would
seem therefore that the regions, including the belligerent Scots,
should perhaps be shouting a little less vigorously against those
in charge at HQ.
The accounts also bear witness to the fact that
there has been substantial re-organisation at HQ, which has moved
north to Hexham. That should please the Scots too, but from the
mounting aggressive tone of the officebearers of the Scottish Beef
Council (SBC) this advantage has apparently not been recognised.
No, they wanted "their man" Keith Redpath to be chairman,
and it is alleged he wanted the NBA HQ on his own premises at Kelso.
The losses reported in the audited accounts are
largely due to a substantial drop in income from the Beef Events
and from the Breed Societies, as well as one-off expenses incurred
in re-organising the office, in legal fees incurred in the application
for charitable status and taking on a much needed additional member
It is my belief that the inner group of SBC, named
in the press as Messrs Redpath, Lambert, Kennedy, and Cameron (1),
could have conducted themselves in a much more supportive manner
while still making their concerns known. Instead it would appear
to me that they have gone out of their way to cause as much damage
to the NBA HQ as they could muster (2).
This included some of them talking to the press far beyond what
had been agreed in committee, and apparently designed to cause as
much unsettlement within the NBA organisation as possible.
A further device that in my view was being used
by this core group was to fan the flames of manipulated discontent
by using the excuse of "personality clashes" (3),
which seemed to me to be more manufactured than real, more petty
It was not difficult for this disruptive core
group to place seeds of doubt in the minds of the Breed Societies.
There should be no surprise that there was a fall in the amount
of subscription the Breed Societies were prepared to pay. In 2004
they contributed £19,163, while in 2005 they only contributed
£15,180. This is an absurdly small amount for the Breed Societies
to pay in view of the enormous benefit they get from the NBA, which
is by far the most effective voice in defending the UK beef industry
from the onslaughts of an incompetent government that does not understand
the industry and apparently does not want to.
Keith Redpath is a director of the British Limousin
Cattle Society (BLCS). He could have been positively instrumental
in encouraging the BCLS, which is awash with funds, to do a bit
better towards the NBA. But no.
Disquiet was manipulated within the Aberdeen Angus
Cattle Society (AACS) who then regrettably showed reluctance to
pay their subscription. Eventually they paid, but less than in the
previous year. Like the BLCS, the AACS is awash with funds.
For some reason, inexplicable to me, the Charolais
Society allegedly contributed nothing in 2004.
Yet the advantage of having such an effective
organisation to promote UK beef, including the various regions with
their differing needs, is so obvious. Perhaps the elite among pedigree
breeders could manage to recognise that the sales of their bulls
depend on farmers having cows, and the money to buy bulls so that
the cows can produce calves. That is why we need a nation-wide NBA
that can effectively lobby for the industry as a whole.
What I cannot help recalling is that it was the
same Keith Redpath who, along with others, took the BLCS to court
at great expense to its members over the introduction of black limousin
cattle, which the majority of members did not want. Allegedly that
particular group had got the nod from a senior office bearer within
the BLCS and that was enough for them, whether the majority of members
had agreed or not. The reason why many members of the BCLS did not
want black limousin cattle was that the distinctive brand colour
for the breed is red. Did one want a black limousin bull because
its offspring might be passed off as Aberdeen Angus and get the
premiums associated with that breed? Not a pleasant thought. To
many there seemed to be no convincing reason for wanting a black
limousin bull. And why did he more recently dispense with most of
his pedigree limousin herd? In contrast to John Cameron, Keith Redpath
is nowhere near normal retiring age. Surely his participation in
a Johnes disease committee would not be so very time consuming.
Amidst the present damaging and undignified machinations
largely created by the Redpath, Lambert, Kennedy and Cameron cartel
there has not been proper communication with the ordinary members
of the NBA in Scotland. In my view a communication that did go out
to members went far beyond what had been agreed by the SBC committee,
with the less than plausible excuse that "the executive had
to lead." Not in that manner it doesn't.
The SBC troublemakers have been variously described
as "rebels" and "renegades". I would add the
word "bullies". In my experience in attending every committee
meeting of the SBC since the last agm when I was elected, Patrick
Lambert appeared to have little idea how to chair a committee meeting
in a proper democratic manner that is so essential for on organisation
that is part of a Company Limited by Guarantee. Shouting down members
of the committee who wish to make their point, but which does not
concur with the chairman's views is not part of acceptable practice.
Nor is introducing a debate with totally biased views expressed
from the chair.
I was also greatly concerned at the highly discourteous
way in which the SBC officebearers treated Duff Burrell, chairman
of the NBA when he had travelled to Scotland to help try and sort
things out in a constructive spirit. The SBC executive had not even
asked Duff to the SBC committee meeting to discuss what SBC committee
wanted to do about the rapidly deteriorating situation, largely
of its own making. They put him out of the room, and left him waiting
in his car in the car park for one and half hours, and sent him
away when they had finished treating him in a manner than in my
view amounted to little less than verbal assault. Then they had
the cheek to comment "that he had not performed well."
Ironically, Duff Burrell came up to Scotland at
great inconvenience to try and keep the Scots on board. He had been
scheduled to go with Robert Forster, the CEO NBA to meet the top
brass of Tesco to see what could be done about getting better prices
for farmers for their beef. It could be said that he was not only
performing a very important task for NBA members by arranging to
go with his CEO to talk to Tesco but he was also planning to do
what the SBC had asked: namely, "to keep the CEO in check".
For these reasons - and because in my view the
cartel who had managed to rouse others to their cause as though
they were enacting Robert the Bruce - I could not credit that they
were sincere in trying to get the NBA better organised, but were
a power-hungry bunch of bullies.
Pat Lambert apologised to me from the chair for
his behaviour before closing the last committee meeting which I
attended. But he had achieved what he and his cronies had set out
to achieve. His apology to me seemed as insincere as his motives.
Not wishing to be party to such antics I subsequently resigned from
the committee of the SBC, but not of course from the NBA of which
I remain a Scottish member and a strong supporter (4).
In my view Duff Burrell is right that the situation
is now such that it would be much better if the dissident group
of disruptive Scots went their own way (wherever that is) and the
NBA got on with its job as a UK organisation with a newly elected
committee for its Scottish Council that is willing to work with
the NBA, not against it.
I also believe that the chairman of the NBA is
correct in seeking the removal of Keith Redpath from the Board of
the NBA at its agm on 24th May 2006 at Hexham.
What strikes me is that the executive of the SBC
seems to be committing the same sins as those over which it accuses
the NBA HQ, but even more vehemently.
Where the proposed breakaway new Scottish group
is going to get its finances from is far from clear. Rumours that
a Scottish based animal feed company was going to bank roll it proved
false. More worrying is the rumour that the influential inner cartel
have a scheme to join up with the Scottish Executive in some way.
The saying "He who pays the piper calls the tune" should
be remembered. A great advantage of the NBA is that it is totally
independent of government.
With a spirit of positive co-operation I would
agree with NBA chairman, Duff Burrell and NBA treasurer, Bill Harper
that the financial state of the NBA is likely to substantially improve,
washing its face satisfactorily by the end of the year 2006. At
this time it should not be building up assets for a rainy day. The
rainy day is now, and we need to make best use of what there is
I thoroughly disagree with the embarrassingly
disgruntled cartel of Scots that NBA staff should be reduced to
save money. For a lobby group to work it must have dedicated staff.
In my view the NBA has excellent staff. Rather, every NBA member
should get out there and recruit more members to a harmoniously
functioning organisation, and persuade these rich Breed Societies
to see that it is their interests to support the NBA.
Now of any time is when the UK beef industry
should be acting together (5).
Under the current NBA arrangements the Scots get the best of both
worlds: UK representation at defra and Brussels, and direct representation
to the Scottish Executive. For goodness sake, let's get our best
lobbying organisation for the beef industry back on track. There
is plenty to fight out there without fighting among ourselves.
1. MacSkimming, Douglas (2006).
NBA split widens.
The Scottish Farmer, April 29, p 3.
2. Irvine, James (2006). The regrettable
actions of the Executive of the Scottish Beef Council towards the
National Beef Association.
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 30 Mar 06,
Here to View
3. Pate, Ewan (2006). Mounting
anger poses huge threat of split in the NBA.
Reproduced with permission of the author and The Courier.
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 13 Apr 06,
Here to View
4. Irvine, James (2006). My resignation
from the committee of the Scottish Beef Council.
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 08 Apr 06,
Here to View
5. Gillanders, Eddie (2005). Showdown
looming as NBA row comes to a head
Reproduced with permission of the author and Farm North East.
See SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, filed 18 Apr 06,
Here to View