A beef with Gillard

Clunes farmer Anne Thompson was one of more than 100 protesters who greeted Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard on her way into the Lismore Workers Club on Tuesday night.

Carrying placards that included slogans “Keep Aussie Beef Clean and Green”, “Destroy Socialism not Farmers” and “Keep Mad Cow Out”, the group was attempting to draw attention to the federal government’s impending relaxation of a ban on beef imports from countries that have had BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease).

“We want Australia to be clean and green – we don’t need to import beef, particularly from countries with BSE that have no traceability,” Anne said. “Australia is the envy of the world in regards to beef. We’re not the biggest producer, Argentina and America are bigger, but they envy us because of our National Identification Livestock Scheme.”

From March 1 countries that have had BSE will be allowed to import beef to Australia, as long as they can demonstrate they have appropriate controls in place to ensure beef products coming into Australia are free of BSE. But the Senate Estimates hearing last week was told that there would not be traceability assessments for individual farms, meaning if there was an outbreak of mad cow disease in Australia it could not be traced from the farm gate.


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