Cattle farmers unite
WHEN Grafton cattle farmer Gerald Hay talks of how his farm, which at one time could sustain a family of five, can now barely support him and his wife, the Murray’s can only nod in agreement.
Whether it’s Grafton or Kyogle where James and Jenny Murray live, the story is the same: the cattle industry is in rapid decline and farmers are being driven off the land.
The Northern Star caught up with the trio during the lunch break at the Australian Beef Industry Forum at Armidale on Saturday.
Mrs Murray is a fifth generation cattle farmer and although she was aware of some of the problems with the industry’s leadership she said she was “shocked” by what she had learnt at the forum.
“I am disappointed in the leadership,” she said, before Mr Murray added: “We’ve been sold out by NSW Farmers and MLC. They have just took their money and run.”
“We have reached a point where we have to draw a line in the sand. There is no give and take; we just aren’t going to take this crap anymore.”
“And you will find if you put that to anyone here, they would support that.”
“If they allow imported beef, the Americans will swamp our domestic market and will destroy our export markets in Asia where they don’t want American meat because of mad cow.”
“It will be the end of it, the end for everyone here.”
But not if cancer surgeon Dr Ian Fielding has anything to do with it.
He moved to the Northern Rivers to lead a quiet retirement and “raise a few head of cattle”.
That dream of a relaxed life came to an end on Saturday when he was elected to represent cattle farmers against their current leadership and the government.
“A lot of producers and processors are particularly unhappy with their circumstances and have been for a number of years,” he said.
“This forum and now the taskforce were set up to get some direction for the beef industry that has been going down the googly for the last 20-odd years.”
A beef producer since 1997 and a cancer surgeon for 30 years, Dr Fielding plans to use his skills anyway he can.