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Minister Backs Lamb Producers

HON WARREN TRUSS MP
MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY

1 AUGUST 1999

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss has supported Australian lamb producers protesting the US tariff and quota restrictions imposed on Australian lamb.

The NSW Farmers' Association began a month-long picket at the US Embassy in Canberra today.

"The US decision to impose hefty penalty tariffs on new imports above 35,000 tonnes (1998 levels), and impose a tariff of 9 per cent on current tonnages, flies in the face of what US President Bill Clinton says about free trade," he said.

"This action demonstrates to the world that the US is not fair dinkum about fair trade and does not practice what preaches.

"Australian lamb producers worked hard to develop the US market without any support or subsidy from the Australian Government.

"They are now being punished by the US for producing a high quality product and selling it at a competitive price.

"I support the lamb producers' protest and the Australian Government will fight to have this decision overturned within the WTO.

"In the meantime, the Federal Government is assisting the industry in coping with the damage caused by the US decision."

The Government will provide assistance to lamb producers by paying for up to two years, the equivalent of half the Transaction Levy applying to ALL lambs in Australia.

Currently, the Transaction Levy is set at 2 per cent (to a maximum of $1.50/head) and the total value of levies raised across the industry is in the order of $14 million a year.

The Federal Government will be establishing a Lamb Industry Development Program worth up to $3 million a year over two years. This grant-based program will be available to individual processors, including boning room operators and producers.

Grants will be available to: enhance industry performance; improve lamb product quality; build demand for lamb product, develop infrastructure, including in the lamb processing sector; and encourage on-farm productivity and innovation.

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