Council tells residents to eat less beef for environment

James Nason, 26/05/2011

Ratepayers in a large council area of South East Queensland are being urged to cut their consumption of red meat to help the environment.

The Logan City Council south of Brisbane offers tips on its website advising its 280,000 residents on ways to slow climate change.

Under the heading how you can help is a tip that suggests residents should “Eat less beef and lamb”.

The council provides no reason or science-based evidence to support its advice that cutting red meat consumption will benefit the environment.

One councillor has broken ranks by making comments on his Facebook page criticising a recent council vote to spend $6000 on a flyer to inform residents about ways to reduce global warming.

One page of the flyer was dedicated to giving away beef and lamb, Cr Sean Black said on his Facebook page, a suggestion he personally opposed.

“Isn't that great for our local farmers? What a waste of money, and may I add a slap in the face for struggling local producers,” he wrote.

Logan City Council’s boundaries south of Brisbane take in numerous beef cattle farming enterprises and also one of Australia’s largest meat processing plants owned by Teys Brothers, a major source of employment in the area. It is also one of the highest population growth areas in Australia. 

Meat and Livestock Australia’s community communications manager Samantha Jamieson contacted the council on Tuesday to ask about the source of the council’s information, and to offer research-based evidence highlighting the cattle industry’s environmental credentials.

She said a council spokesman explained that the advice had been posted after council staff found information from the CSIRO on the internet showing that livestock accounted for 10pc of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In response Ms Jamieson said she supplied the council with research showing that Australian cattle and sheep producers had implemented a range of environmental management initiatives that had resulted in a 10.7% reduction in emissions since 1990, while emissions from other sectors such as transport and electricity had increased by 26.9pc and 54.1pc in the same period.

The material also included a report on Queensland’s beef industry funded by the Queensland Government which concluded that if all carbon sinks were taken into consideration, the Queensland beef industry (47pc of Australia's total cattle herd) would be close to carbon neutral.

“On behalf of the Australian red meat industry, we would appreciate if you could review this information, and remove the reference to eating less beef and lamb, as cattle and sheep farmers play an important role in managing our environment whilst producing a nutritious safe food,” she wrote.

It is understood the council has not yet responded to Meat and Livestock Australia.
Beef Central asked the Logan City Council’s media unit on Tuesday for more details on the evidence used to justify its position but has not yet received a response.

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