The strong condemnation at the Stock Inspectors' conference in Sydney of the lack of supervision in country districts of meat killed for human consumption draws attention to Lismore's position. The officials at present charged with this duty do the best they can to inspect the meat, but their multifarious duties prevent them inspecting every carcase killed. Sydney insists that all meat exposed for sale in the city must be killed under the supervision of the Metropolitan Meat Board, and one Lismore firm that sends to Sydney has to keep an inspector permanently at the yards in order to comply with this regulation. If it is necessary in the interests of public health to inspect meat intended for consumption by Sydneysiders then it is equally necessary to protect the dwellers in country districts.
Lismore council has repeatedly considered the question of establishing abattoirs, but, on account of cost, the proposal has never passed the consideration stage. The North Coast branch of the Master Butchers' association suggested to the council last year that an abattoirs district be proclaimed and that the works, necessary be erected and operated by the butchers, under council control. This suggestion seemed likely to meet with approval, but is still in a nebulous stage. Figures placed before the council on different occasions show that there is a lack of supervision of meat killed in Lismore, though it is admitted that the various officials do the best that can be done under the circumstances. It may also be true that no district butcher would willingly sell to the public a carcase that he knows to be diseased, but there is an entire lack of certainty about the latter supposition and butchers would welcome supervision by reason of the fact that it would give the public added confidence in the meat sold.
Bound up with the question of the meat sold in country districts is that of the prevalence of tuberculosis in cattle. The ordinary conscientious farmer would not knowingly keep diseased cattle in his herd, but there are a small minority who would milk a cow as long as it could stand in the milking bails, and it is the unscrupulous minority from whom the public should be protected. An unfortunate characteristic of tuberculosis in cattle is the lack of external evidence of the disease, especially in its early stages. Only a qualified veterinary surgeon can state whether or not it is present, and only after injecting a serum and waiting to see whether or not the animal will react. The Department of Agriculture has never shown great anxiety to deal with this problem, possibly owing to the cost. Farmers can get the tuberculin test applied to their cattle, but they are not asked to protect the public by having the test made. In 1926 the department only tested about 21 herds of all the thousands in the State, and among the herds not previously tested 7.7 per cent. of the cattle reacted. In 1927, the last year for which figures are available, less cattle were tested than in the previous year, said of the 240 animals tested for the first time 4.6 per cent. reacted. It may safely be assumed that the herds offering for test would be slightly above the average, yet nine cattle out of every 200 in such herds showed that they were affected with tuberculosis. The department cannot state whether the percentage of tuberculosis in cattle is larger in New South Wales than in other parts of the world, because tests have never been carried out to substantiate a claim along these lines. Mr. C. J. Woollett (president of the Institute of Stock Inspectors) made serious allegations concerning the lack of control in the country districts, and there are plenty of facts to substantiate his charges.