Fruit fly fight lost
NSW Farmers chief executive Matt Brand (“Time to tackle fruit fly nationally”, The Land, February 15, p29) writes of the disastrous threat to horticulture by the spread of Queensland fruit fly.
His suggestion that a fruit fly trapping program be implemented has as much chance of success as King Canute trying to hold back the sea.
The fruit fly horse has bolted.
It bolted when a particular agricultural minister gave in to the demands of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and banned the use of fenthion (Lebaycit).
The spray had been in use for 50 years without one detrimental effect on humans and was the only effective spray against fruit fly.
Astonishingly, the APVMA recommended the alternate use of neonicotinoid pesticides which are banned in the EU because of harm caused to bees.
The Land's current issue of Smart Farmer reports Mitre 10 and Bunnings have stopped selling that pesticide.
History has shown that such bans spread.
If there are no pesticides to combat fruit fly, it does not take much imagination to conclude that horticulture will be devastated, amounting to the loss of billions of dollars.
And from where then will Australians obtain their horticultural products?
John Maguire, Enniskillen Orchard
Forget his personal life
THE media's preoccupation with Barnaby Joyce's personal life is an unfortunate distraction to his incompetence as the Federal Minister for Primary Industries.
He has failed to show any leadership to bring an end to the alleged water theft by major cotton growers in southern Queensland and northern NSW.
Following Four Corners’ allegations of irrigation rorts last year, his responses were inconsistent, seemingly dependent on which part of the western electorate he was addressing at the time.
Overall, he showed little real concern for the smaller farmers, the honest, compliant irrigators, the health of the Murray-Darling system itself and South Australia's water supply.
Within his national portfolio, he could have done so much more to help the difficult multi-state water agreement succeed.
- See latest on Barnaby p15.
THE divide between city and country has been ruthlessly exposed in the past fortnight.
Landholders in western Queensland and NSW, crippled by drought, have been forced to de-stock - and lose their principal source of income.
You would think city-dwellers in places such as Canberra, home to civil servants feeding off the public purse, would do all in their power to help.
But no: The Greens among them have moved to block an extra allocation of water from the Murray-Darling Basin – water desperately needed to grow crops and feed what’s left of their starving stock.
People on the land are being sacrificed to meet the demands of the Green movement.
PC Wilson, Miami,
RECENTLY we have lost, from the rural sector, one of Australia's icons - Greg Prince, dog trainer and teacher extraordinaire.
He had an unbelievable knack in handling dogs and people.
Most dog trainers train the dog. Princey trained the people. I attended approximately ten of his workshops and every time I learnt more. He and I became great mates over the years and he appreciated the Wyreema Kelpies.
Princey filled a gap in the pastoral industry like very few people ever have, in the past. He taught people the basic fundamentals of stockmanship with dogs and sheep.
Few people realized that he was an outstanding five eighth in the rugby team in Cobar. He was very quick and very elusive. He was a very humble man.
Princey, you'll be sadly missed by all your devoted followers and admirers. You were the greatest.
Gordon McMaster, "Weir Park",
- The Land published an obituary “Greg Prince – loss of a sheep dog legend”, February 8, p67.
WHEN meat grading system MSA was first launched, it was a fantastic system that guaranteed a consistent eating experience.
There were multiple grades and recommended cooking procedures and times for those grades.
One of the reasons for developing the MSA was to stop the slide in consumption of beef on the domestic market.
There it has clearly failed – in 1999 everyone ate a bit over 40 kilograms and last year that figure was down to 25kg.
The MLA graph clearly shows that MSA was going nowhere from 1999 to 2004, and this led to a crisis meeting with processors and supermarkets to establish why nobody was adopting MSA.
The fact was MSA was simply too good and gave consumers a guaranteed eating experience.
But in 2004 independent graders were shown the door and then the rot set in, with alterations and a watering down of the whole system.
I have a very simple theory – the easiest way to destroy any market’s worth is bad pricing for an inconsistent product, and that is how retail beef is being sold in Australia.
I have continually sought out MLA staff and requested that mystery shoppers be sent out to purchase MSA beef and then run a trial through a focus group the same as the original MSA was built on.
MLA refuses to go down this path and refuses to conduct taste tests from mystery shopping.
If this was done and good results were returned, MLA would have every right to talk about consumer satisfaction.
There are large variations in what constitutes MSA graded beef.
The simple fact is that a person signing up to have their brand underpinned by MSA are given many rolls of MSA stickers that they can use at their discretion, policing is almost impossible and it is simple to use a label on non MSA meat.
Surely the time has come to actually have an independent study, not by one of the MLA favoured companies establish just how good a deal that the normal consumer is getting.
Australia Beef Association director and executive officer.