ORARA Valley cattlemen had some pointed questions for Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker when they met him at a Nana Glen farm yesterday.
Mr Hartsuyker had no answers to their anxious inquiries about what rules and regulations were now being put in place for importers wanting to bring beef into Australia.
March 1 marked the commencement date for the possible resumption of beef imports into Australia after 20 years of bans on imported beef following outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in a number of overseas countries.
Mr Hartsuyker said he had not seen the import protocols. He said the Federal Labor Government had been secretive and had refused to release the import protocols ahead of the lifting of the ban yesterday.
Mr Hartsuyker said he did not know if imported meat would have to have to be boneless, as is required for imported pork or if no brain and spinal cord matter would be permitted.
John Heaton asked why Australia wanted to ‘import disease’ considering its clean, green image.
“We export half the meat we produce, why should we be importing beef?” asked Len Goodenough.
“Isn’t it making a mockery of our paddock-to-plate system?” asked Shirley McCann.
Barry Hallgath said Australian farmers did not have a level playing field because free trade saw them competing against imported food not grown using the same standards of chemicals, disease control, traceability and working conditions.
Mr Hartsuyker told farmers the Coalition would draft and introduce a Private Members Bill asking for an import risk assessment to be carried out so that people retained confidence in our beef.