MLA And Cattle Council Conspiracy In ‘At Risk’ BSE Imports?!

Thank God that Agriculture Minister Tony Burke has personally initiated action to keep foreign beef at risk of BSE off Australian shelves. However, there is a strange stench in this issue. While the Australian Beef Association has been very loud in its lobbying against the BSE at risk imports, MLA has been very quiet and Cattle Council has for some reason seemingly been complicit in supporting the foreign BSE at risk imports.

It easy to understand how the public could run scared from beef due to the perceived risk of imported beef bringing BSE into Australia. After-all, look what ‘Mad cow’ did to the UK and Canada a few years back!
But with Australia’s producers as the primary source of Meat & Livestock Australia and Cattle Council funding, the question has to be asked as to why these groups haven’t been more vocal in their concerns about this issue. Surely they haven’t rolled-over to Government pressure because livestock levies go directly to the Government’s Consolidated Revenue (as tax revenue), who then funds MLA et al. That would make sense in so many ways for so many issues over the years, wouldn’t it!
However, perhaps MLA thought letting-in BSE at risk meat would be a great way to push their NLIS and LPA programs around the World to countries wishing to export meat to Australia! Unfortunately for them even Minister Burke has now realized that not only do these programs not work within Australia but the rest of the World has absolutely no interest in them – with President Obama recently removing NLIS from their programs!

It is a reasonable decision for Minister Burke to put-off any possible importation of beef for at least two years as protocols for the importation of beef are developed. However, let’s hope MLA and Cattle Council can get together and support the Australian Beef Association’s efforts in protecting all Australians after that 2 year period has transpired, especially their enforced tax-paying constituents/members.

What do you think?
Please leave your comment(s) below.



  1. The Serf said

    I think this a prime example of mediocrity we are all subject to under this structure in the so called beef industry; to my mind beef is a secondary manufactured product to which I have no control; I own and operate a cattle breeding business and my interest stops right there because I can sell either to an abattoir or top live export. In this case unelected government appointed civil servants (RMAC) have made a decision which favours some of their retail giants (Coles, Woolworths) who are members of AMIC to allow imported beef into the country, on the whole it is cheaper and of better quality. To my mind the BSE issue is a second issue, and a dangerous one at that!!!

    Palmer of MLA has admitted to the Senate Estimates Committee that he and MLA and RMAC want “reciprocal” trade in beef between USA and Australia and he put a figure of 300,000 tonnes on that trade. He qualified that statement by saying that RMAC believed that the trade in the short term it would be very small and that in the past the USA only exported about 34 tonnes annually. I think times have changed considerably worldwide since the early ‘90s and I think the USA has an alternative view.

    I think the very fact that the decision was made and made in the way it was; without consultation, with the potential detriment to the Livestock sector; is even more proof that the whole structure has to go. For those that own cattle business in the north and who utilise the live export trade, the $5 tax or levy as they like to call it, is just a subsidy to the cattle operations in the east and south to keep the processors operational; it’s a cost impost, a tax, with no benefit at all. The cattle industry is not the same across the country it’s made up of segments some of which operate in isolation to one another with little or no similarities, but this prehistoric structure enforces its will regardless.

    I also think the this structure is actually causing economic hardship because there is no relationship between the processors and the cattle owners (accept a mutual hatred) because MLA is enforcing regulation for the sake of regulation on the cattle owners on the processors terms; there are no economic benefits to the cattle owner but significant financial advantages to the processor. The opposite is the case with live exports.

    If MLA was gone, that would force the processors to negotiate with at least enough cattle owners, on a commercial basis, to guarantee supply; probably using common law contracts. The saving would be to the Industry at least $200 million a year; and I am a believer in that we elect Governments to secure our international trade; not some overpaid civil servant knucklehead in MLA.

    At the senate estimates committee hearings, I am pleased to see that Senator Heffernan drew the distinction between “industry” and the livestock owners; when questioning Greg Brown (CCA) about consultation… Brown asserted RMAC had consulted “industry” … To which Senator Heffernan said “… but the “industry” is not the producers, the cattle owners is it? The “industry” is quite different isn’t it?”… To which Brown became interested in something on the floor.
    Looks like truth and fact is finally sinking in…

  2. Edgar Burnett said

    Let us get this movement going in amongst cattle and sheep producers –

    1. Every time their businees has to buy NLIS tags
    2. Every time their business has to insert a NLIS tag
    3. Every time their business has to re-insert a NLIS tag
    4. Every time their business has to read a NLIS tag
    5. Every time their business has to transfer a NLIS tag
    6. Every time a Processor bills their business for a Transaction Levy
    7. Every time an Agent bills their business for a Transaction Levy

    SENT A TAX INVOICE TO THE DPI payable in 14 days with interest payable on overdue accounts and resend it every 14 days until these people come to their senses. Because the DPI is a Government Department, they are obliged by law to respond to any requests made to them.

    If this Department get thousands of bills arriving every 14 days, it will clog up their system and they will have to do something about it.

    This action is called PEOPLE POWER.

    Please advise me of any comment of this proposed action.


    Edgar Burnett

  3. Peter B said

    Interesting thought, Edgar!
    The time wasted on the NLIS actually taking the industry backwards as distinct from advancing it.
    How to stop the levy being extracted
    I would like to add to you points 6 & 7 that as I understand it, a producer has to agree to the transaction levy being extracted by the agent/processor.
    So, if you don’t agree with the waste of these taxes, which is mainly directed to MLA by the way, (so they can spend millions of it on failed projects like Polkinghornes meats and subsidising AACo and processor projects!!), then you should just write a note to your agents/processors advising them to not extract the levy payment. You don’t need to explain why; that is up to someone else to investigate. Once you do this, the agents/processors will be stealing if they continue to extract the levy.

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