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Tuesday, 12 May 1970

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - While I was in Ottawa last week at the wheat talks, the Secretary of Agriculture in the United States, Mr Hardin, told me that he was deeply concerned at the high rejection rate of Australian mutton exported to the United States. The rejection rate had amounted to about 1 million lb up to the middle of April. This indicated that our meat was not meeting the standards necessary for entry to the United States market. He also told me that he was coming under very severe criticism by the Congress because this meat was coming to the United Stales market. Because of this 1 arranged for the Secretary of my Department, who was with me, to fly immediately to Washington to have talks with the Department of Agriculture there and to ascertain what the position was. He reported to me that it seemed inevitable that a decision would be taken to place a temporary ban on the import of mutton from Australia until the general standards of hygiene and of mutton inspection in Australia came up to the US requirement. An announcement was made yesterday afternoon that this ban is to apply. The US decision is that mutton produced in Australian meat works after 15th May will not be eligible for export to the American market but mutton packed up to and including 15th May will be allowed. This restriction will remain in effect until the US authorities are satisfied that the Austraiian inspection standards are the same as those that apply to the US Department of Agriculture and as required under the United States Wholesome Meat Act. Mutton export meat works will be reinstated only after recommendation by my Department and after reinspection of each works by US officials. My Department has also convened a meeting of the Meat Industry Advisory Committee in Canberra for this Thursday so that the whole matter might be discussed and we might be able to implement measures so that mutton meat works can be reinstated.

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