The week that was Sunday 21 August 2011

Yesterday was the last day of Brisbane’s ‘ekka “where the country comes to the city”.

Organisers of the spectacle are feeling pretty pleased with themselves because they have seen over 400,000 people pass through the gates.

As per usual, there were the parades of animals, the displays of pregnant animals giving birth, the judging of this animal or that for whatever ridiculous purpose they feel like. With the owners being able to puff their chests up and boast about their prized animal winning whatever accolade that is on offer.

Watching the news on Friday night, the reporter said that there was some disappointment that the lambs didn’t give birth as planned, and they appeared to be saving it all up for the end as there have been a large number of births in the ‘ekka’s closing days.

So they won’t feel left out through the whole exercise, Mr and Mrs Average Citizen will be able to gorge themselves on a whole variety of animal product based items. From the traditional Dagwood Dog and other junk food items, all the way through to premium beef eye fillets and Wagyu steaks.

As to be expected, there was the usual misleading propaganda displays by the farmers and animal agriculture about how well they treat this commodity of theirs and so on. Compared to some other countries, they probably are treated good, though the thing to remember is that all this warm and fuzziness about animal welfare only happens when there is a chance for the farmer to make a profit with the animal is sold to the next link in the food production chain. I didn’t attend this years ‘ekka though, if I had have, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the term “World’s Best Practice” or other similar catch phrases being thrown around.

Friday was the closing date for the Queensland Government’s Invitation to Offer for the development of an investment prospectus for a Northern Outback Queensland meat processing facility.

This invitation to offer is to have a look at the commercial viability for the development of a Northern Outback Queensland slaughterhouse. This slaughterhouse would be predominantly be set up to kill cattle though the documents do ask that a multi-species operation be looked at too.

With the schamozzle surrounding the whole live export trade, and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s commitment to grow the industry to a value of $10 billion as part of DEEDI’s 2020 Beef initiative, I wouldn’t be surprised if this project goes ahead despite the cost and/or returns to the Queensland Government.

Part of the reasoning behind looking at setting up another slaughter house is that the Australian Government, through the Northern Australian Ministerial Forum acknowledged “the difficulties of the northern beef industry’s dependence on a single export market and that lack of competition for meat processing capacity in northern Australia is a significant issue”.

Whilst this new facility, will be ‘state of the art’ and I am hoping it will be, that will have the latest in stunning and other gruesome tools. What will that do to those slaughterhouses that are already established? The cheapest option for them would be to increase production levels, which would be done by putting more pressure on the current staff to ‘process’ more animals. With the first and most crucial part of the ‘processing chain’, the correct stunning of the animal about to be killed usually the first area to fall victim to the increase in kill rate. As can be expected, the information on percentages of animals correctly stunned before slaughter isn’t available from the meat industry. Whilst I can’t back that statement up with proof, it doesn’t take a genius to work out when pressure is put on someone mistakes happen and when companies look to increase their profit margin, corners are cut.

Rest assured, I will do my best to get hold of any information regarding this project that I can and keep you all informed.

Thursday was the day where 2 separate bills to end Australia’s live export trade were voted on in the House Of Representatives. Both bills were soundly defeated, and I have commented on that in a previous post which can be found here.

Who knows what is going to happen next week??