Member for Page Janelle Saffin is inviting Northern Rivers beef producers to learn more about proposed new laws aimed at giving consumers more confidence in the quality of red meat they buy at the butcher’s or supermarket counter.

Ms Saffin has arranged for the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Independent Member for Northern Tablelands, Richard Torbay, to explain his Food Amendment (Meat Grading) Bill 2008 at a forum in Lismore on Friday, May 8.

Ms Saffin said her forum was in response to the Richmond River Beef Producers Association’s campaign to give more teeth to the current voluntary scheme of meat labelling so that inferior ‘budget’ beef cannot be sold as ‘prime cuts’ or ‘export quality’.

“Richard Torbay has spent 18 months working on this Private Member’s Bill, which continues to be debated at State level and which has in-principle support from NSW Agriculture Minister Ian Macdonald,” she said.

“If consumers can be assured of consistency of quality, an historic drop in red meat consumption in Australia over the past 30 years might be turned around and that will benefit beef producers in Page and across New South Wales.

“This also comes at a time when the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport is investigating the need for nationwide truth-in-meat-labelling laws not only for beef but for lamb, pork and chicken.”

Mr Torbay will be accompanied by Sydney-based solicitor Norman Hunt, who represents the Bindaree Beef abattoir at Inverell and who has helped shaped the Bill.

If the Bill is passed, any wholesaler or retailer using the existing voluntary scheme of AUS-code labelling but breaching its standards could be fined $55,000 for an individual or $2.7 million for corporations.

The forum will be held at the Lismore Workers Club on Friday, May 8, from 2pm until 4pm. To register your interest in attending, contact Ms Saffin’s Lismore office on 6621 9909.