A centrally-planned ag industry

RECENT publicity about the rules and regulations covering livestock producers makes this outside observer wonder why 21st Century farmers have allowed control of their farming enterprises to be given away.

The use of waybills when moving stock goes back a long time, designed originally as an aid in preventing stock stealing, but they have since morphed into National Vendor Declarations (NVDs).

It seems that instead of trying to apprehend stock thieves, they are now used to track down farmers to ensure that they are behaving in accordance with the directives from their bureaucratic ‘betters’.

Not only are NVDs needed for stock movements, they are needed for movement between properties if they have different Property Identification Codes (PICs).

But keeping the livestock on-farm is no escape, for they are still a part of Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) Livestock Production Assurance Program (LPA), which is actually run by a subsidiary company Integrity Systems Company (ISC).

It seems that MLA has made changes to the LPA and growers and grower organisations are crying foul, claiming either no consultation, or at best insufficient consultation with the producers.

Under their LPA, farmers must have a Farm Biosecurity Plan (BSP), which must include details of how the farmers can demonstrate how they have “minimised the risk of introducing and spreading diseases on their properties”.

In their spare time, farmers must also “control and record people, equipment and vehicles entering their properties,” a job they could do while sitting at the gate reading their compulsory copy of the “Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines (AWS&G)”.

Farmers can’t ignore all this, for their actions and plans are subject to an audit by the faceless ones, with animal welfare issues also being subject to examination from ‘inspectors’.

Inspectors can’t be stopped from examining your farm, buildings, vehicles – or even your dogs – and if you are wondering who these inspectors are, they will probably be your friendly, local animal liberation activist.

Why would a farmer do all of this you may well ask?

Farmers are told that the consumers are now demanding this sort of information when they buy their kilo of mince or snags.

If this pressure really came from the market, then the consumers who wish to know the provenance of their meat would be happy to pay extra to obtain this information.

But in the 21st Century, we have replaced the influence of the marketplace with the strictures of the bureaucrats, for they all know better than the poor old farmers.

As the PGA spokesman said, “this will give them (farmers) another reason to give up livestock”, but that has its problems also, courtesy of a rampant bureaucracy.

If your truck is overloaded when you deliver to CBH, the farmer-owned co-operative will confiscate most of that extra as a punishment/warning about the evils of overloading, a perfectly legal action that in the good old days would have been termed stealing.

Back then, our local CBH director, Mick Gayfer, who was also a Corrigin farmer, CBH chairman and a member of State parliament, had very firm views about both CBH and farmers.

Not only was he a strong advocate for co-operatives, he would also declare that “CBH will not become a policeman” when it was suggested that the heavy haulage people should be allowed to examine CBH’s weighbridge records.

Those were two firm commitments, but his successors have given one of them away.

Some might say that they kept the wrong one.

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View from the ridgeThe world through Farm Weekly's agripolitical analyst Peter Lee.


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