Seeing red over BJD crisis
THE BJD crisis enveloping the Queensland seedstock industry is entering its second nervous week with still more questions than answers over how the disease will be contained let alone eradicated.
Talks in Rockhampton last Friday with Agriculture Minister John McVeigh, AgForce, Cattle Council, the Australian Brahman Breeders Association, concluded with the majority backing the Queensland government's push to have the outbreak eradicated.
There are plenty more, however, who say this plan is lunacy and want the disease to be managed with vaccines and as Choice Cuts was being filmed this week there was speculation the government might be pausing to rethink its approach.
So far there are about 156 stud and commercial operations under quarantine, all with a connection to the Rockley Red Brahman stud in Central Queensland, where the infection was detected late last month.
Critics of Biosecurity Queensland's effort is saying the agency is moving too slow and is being over taxed, not helped by cutbacks to testing services that the LNP Newman government unleashed after the mid year State Budget. Sources within Biosecurity Queensland are saying the workload is so huge, some properties could be in quarantine for up to 18 months. That will send many producers to the wall.
AgForce and the Australian Brahman Breeders Association are still saying the impact on most of the industry will be minimal except for the operations directly affected. Others are saying this spells disaster for Australia's northern beef industry and will wipe out many, especially if the Rockley bulls are traced forward into some of the State's extensive cow herds.
Live ex numbers plunge
JUST when Brahman breeders thought the end of 2012 couldn't get any worse they receive news out of Indonesia that live export numbers will again be slashed in 2013 by about 45,000 head of cattle.
The drop to 80,000 tonnes equates to about 238,000 head, which is a far cry from the 750,000 in 2009 and the 520,000 head that we exported in 2010.
Of course, that was all before Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig took his advice from the ABC, the Greens, Animals Australia and an hysterical public based on images of animal cruelty they had seen on a television current affairs program and suspended the trade for a month last year.
Indonesia says its decision to cut numbers is still on track with its aims to be self-sufficient in beef and other food staples by 2014. Reports are that Indonesia is slaughtering female breeders in a bid to boost its domestic kill, which is doing little to relieve food shortages, price rises and long term goals to provide sustainability and consistency in its supply chain.
If we were on better terms with Indonesia, Australia might be in a better position to offer some friendly advice, but given last year's circus that's unlikely to happen any time soon.
New RSPCA cattle welfare guidelines
As expected, RSPCA has joined the chorus of non-farming organisations with zero stake in the industries they are commenting on to lecture producers about how to do their jobs.
The animal protection group, which more and more looks like an animal rights organisation, has released a set of new cattle welfare guidelines, presumably its first step towards introducing beef products into retail carrying RSPCA certified trademarks.
As foreshadowed by RSPCA chief executive Heather Neil at the Beef Ex national feedlot conference on the Gold Coast earlier this year, on-farm surgical procedures have come in for plenty of attention.
Hot iron branding is out and so too is ear notching. The RSPCA doesn't want calves castrated if they are destined for slaughter prior to sexual maturity. If they are to be castrated then they must be under three months and will require pre and post-procedure pain relief. The same deal applies for the spaying of females.
They also want polled cattle to be sourced instead of horned cattle and instead of dehorning recommend horn trimming instead. For details visit www.rspca.org.au/beefcattlewelfare
WWF in govt's 2040 vision
THE Queensland Government's Agriculture Strategy paper outlining its vision to double the value of food production by 2040 has raised some eyebrows with a reference in the document to consulting with WWF's Sustainable Beef Roundtable.
Queensland beef producers will no doubt be overjoyed to hear their elected government will be talking to WWF on productivity gains, given the good work the extreme conservation group did at undermining graziers during the Beattie Labor Government's term when it meddled in the hugely unpopular vegetation management laws and made life generally miserable for thousands.
The suggestion that WWF has a sniff of gaining political influence with the LNP and members of Agriculture Minister John McVeigh's office specifically will also likely incense National Party stalwart Ron Boswell, who for months in the Senate has been calling for the Roundtable to be shunned due to the false claims it makes about farming's carbon contribution to the environment and its track record of increasing compliance costs on producers who sign up to their certification schemes.