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Coal Seem Gas Production – implication for livestock

Over the years I have watched as producers have been encouraged to adopt systems to ensure customers are assured that the quality of beef products is kept up.

Firstly we had ‘Cattle Care’ which was a system bought out with much fanfare and promise of prices that never eventuated and producers dropped out.  Not to be discouraged CCA and MLA developed LPA livestock production assurance.  When first launched with all the bells and whistles producers were assured this was a voluntary system.  However this time though still remains a voluntary system processors refuse to take purchase stock without an NVD or a certificate to ensure that a producer has signed up for LPA.  These are some of the schemes that have cost producers plenty whilst at the same time giving processors enormous returns.

Now we have the situation if you’re a cattle producer and have a coal seam gas project nearby you may have a problem if traces of contaminants seep through into a freshwater aquifer. If this actually happens and meat is contaminated the whole red meat industry sector could suffer the consequences.

Key question: what are the legal implications for the cattle producer if residue tests detect contaminates and a producer has signed an NVD guarantee, the food safety of his product? Even worse, if someone gets sick by using that beef, who is responsible?

To this end the MLA funded a project which was initiated by CCA and Australia’s lot feeders Association this study was completed some months ago. Despite that fact, the advice by contacted legal firm cannot be passed on to producers who funded and indeed would be in the firing line if anything wrong. The legal firm contract to do the work refuse to release the final report to producers??

Spokesman for CCA said the information in the report was legally sensitive and due to the fact that it addresses liability and the report could not be released.

Some people suggest that if a CSG company wanted to drill on your land, landowners should press a contract which allocates responsibility to manage the risk and any adverse outcomes from a CSG operation.  It would seem even if the landowner had some recourse against a CSG operator the landowner would have the primary liability. CCA are quoted as saying if the producer was concerned that residues in water the mining operations they should contact the state mining regulator and asked for the water be tested. The fact is,  contaminated aquifer can go across numerous properties and water systems.

Safe meat Ross Keane made some interesting points.

As members of LPA producers are responsible for undertaking risk assessment to ensure they are aware of any potential areas of contamination and take appropriate steps to avoid risks.

NVD is underpinned by the livestock production assurance LPA and NVD is used to identify origins of stock and obtain declaration from producers about a range of issues relating to animal treatments feedstuffs and environment which are designed to ensure consumers interests are protected.

He goes on to say if the producer is concerned over the risk of contamination of water the producer should raise the matter with their state mining regulator and request to investigate.  If a problem occurs producers should seek independent legal advice if they wish to pursue damages for any contamination.

One can actually only wonder at bodies that are set up and funded to look after cattle producers interests like CCA, MLA and Safe meats.  This is just another example of dysfunctional  bodies set up to look after producers interests which are simply failing to achieve any sort of oversight and assistance to the producers that fund them.  The answer very simple we set up bodies that have one goal in mind to actually look after grass fed cattle producers’ interests.  Do we persevere with the present quango or change to a peak body that is focused on producers.  If not we will continue to suffer from stupidity.

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