ADVOCACY group Cattle Producers Australia has vowed to fight any move to allow fresh beef imports onto our shores, saying Australia simply cannot risk having its exemplary biosecurity record turned upside down and its beef industry decimated by a contamination of foot and mouth disease or mad cow’s.
CPA has issued a statement saying it was alarmed to hear at Red Meat 2018 in Canberra comments by Meat and Livestock Australia’s Andrew McCallum that an application had been made by the US to import fresh chilled and frozen beef product into Australia and that Japan is already importing some meat products into Australia.
CPA recognises the inherent dangers to Australian beef producers if the approval of fresh imports into Australia is promoted and acted upon.
Dr Paul Wright, chair of CPA said a 2013 Senate Inquiry into Beef Imports recommended that beef and beef products should not be imported from any country that has reported any cases of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or has cross-border trade with an adjoining country which has reported any cases of BSE.
The US has reported four cases of BSE since 2003 with the most recent case being reported in 2012 and Japan suffered an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in 2010.
According to the Department of Agriculture’s Final Report into Imports of Fresh Beef and Beef Products from Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United States and Vanuatu, chilled or frozen beef will be permitted entry subject to compliance with specified risk management measures.
Dr Wright noted that “considering the total value of imports from the US to Australia in 2017 was over $31 billion whilst our exports to the US totalled $12 billion, there really shouldn’t be a requirement for a two-way street for beef products, given the obvious biosecurity risk to Australia and the absence of a credible traceback system in the source countries.”
CPA agrees with Mr Bill Heffernan’s comments where he said: “Our entire prosperity in beef hangs on our clean, green reputation and we need to hold onto that at all costs.”
Mr Heffernan, who is renowned for his advocacy during his years as a Liberal senator on maintaining strict biosecurity protocols to protect Australian producers, believes the beef industry should not be giving any support to more imported beef in the name of reciprocal access.
Dr Wright who has witnessed first-hand the carnage an outbreak of FMD can cause when he undertook two tours of duty to the UK to assist with the control of FMD in 2001, agrees.
A glimmer of hope on this potentially industry threatening development springs from CPA enquires with the Australian Department of Agriculture revealing that beef imports into Australia from America have been suspended indefinitely pending a formal review, with an Import Risk Analysis initiated by the American Government, he said.
CPA is continuing its investigation into this vital issue for Australia’s beef industry and hopes to be in a position to provide more information shortly, he said.