CATTLE Council of Australia (CCA) chief executive officer David Inall has announced his resignation and will take up a new post in America in January.
His departure comes less than a week after CCA held its AGM in Fremantle, where Mr Inall gave no inkling of his intentions to quit.
Mr Inall saaid he would end his role with CCA in mid-January. He will then head to the US to take up a position with the farm group, the United Egg Producers. According to the UEP website its members represent the ownership of about 95pc of the US's egg-laying hens.
Former CCA president Greg Brown said Mr Inall's overseas move would be a huge loss to the Australian beef industry.
"He has contributed so much - he is a very decent, very genuine human being," Mr Brown said.
"I think Cattle Council has been suffering quite a bit of decay over recent years and it certainly needs a restructure. He has to move on, he's been there long enough.
"It will create a hiatus but that will be dealt with and it needs a person who can manage the situation Cattle Council finds itself in. It needs a lot of handling."
Mr Inall's exit comes at a crucial time for the embattled CCA, with the producer-funded organisation in the stages of overhauling its structure.
The organisation has been open about its money woes and its need for more directly elected board members to improve representation at a national level.
Mr Inall has also come under pressure this year for his organisation's continued links with environmental activist group, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an arrangement that could see costly certification schemes imposed on beef producers.
The concept drew fire from Nationals Senator Ron Boswell in the Senate this week, who suggested CCA and other organisations in the scheme were party to devaluing "the public perception of the brand name or reputation of producers and retailers to pressure them to adopt certification systems developed by ENGOs (environmental non-government organisations)."