In the absence of Mr. W. T. Dunn, Minister for Agriculture, the annual conference of the Institute of Inspectors of Stock of New South Wales, was officially opened yesterday by Mr. Max Henry, chief veterinary surgeon. Mr. C. J. Woollett (Lismore) presided.
Referring to the depression, Mr. Henry stated that the primary producers of New South Wales were at a low ebb, but the conference would, no doubt, do something to counteract the unfortunate economic position. If Inspectors were only able to improve the travelling stock reserves, these would carry more feed and thus help stock owners travelling stock to the markets. The stock inspectors had done this and other services for the primary producers, and justified their activities.
Mr. Sydney Smith Jun., secretary of the stock and brands branch, said that there was one bright spot on the horizon for the primary producer. The wool market had advanced from £9 to £15 a bale. This was the only hope that the primary producers could pull Australia out of the depression.
Referring to activities at the Botanic Gardens, Dr. G. P. Darnell-Smith. Director of Botanic Gardens, said that experiments had been continually carried out for the improvement of fodder and in topdressing methods. In experiments in the extermination of weeds, the Botanic Gardens had worked in conjunction with the Veterinary Research School at Glenfield.
Mr. A. C. Pratt (Lismore), member of the Tweed-Lismore Tick Board, remarked that the farmers appreciated the work of stock Inspectors.
"There was a time when,there was not that cooperation between farmers and inspectors," added Mr. Pratt, "and in the coastal areas there was agitation against the boards, but now there is considerable agitation on the part of farmers and stockowners to retain the boards." (Applause.)
During a general discussion on cattle diseases, Mr. F. H. Whyte (Wagga) said that in his district a pest known as the skeleton weed had caused considerable trouble and anxiety among stock owners. Only last week a farmer had reported that out of 700 ewes he had lost 50. A neighbouring stock owner had also lost several sheep. He had thoroughly inspected the paddocks, but found nothing new in weeds except patches of skeleton weed.
Mr. Lucas: Were the sheep hungry?
Mr. Whyte: No, they had been on good growth. In many of the cases the skin seemed to turn black.
Mr. Devlin (Casino) declared that there were many other weeds about which they knew little. Last year, in the Casino district, several animals had been strangely affected as if their skin had been scalded. He had carefully inspected paddocks, but could not find any strange weed. Singularly enough, he had never seen a dark animal affected.
Mr. Furness (Bathurst) stated that similar complaints had been made to him. Out of 1200 head of cattle, over 200 had been affected, and these animals were all similar in colour. It also appeared that the only stock affected was that which had access to the richest parts of the flooded areas after heavy rainfalls. On inspecting affected animals he noticed breaking and cracking in the skin, out of which oozed a greenish moisture. Many bullocks had to be destroyed.
Mr. Furness added that old residents mentioned that they had seen animals similarly affected years ago, but not recently.
In an interesting address on "The Role of Preventive Veterinary Medicine in State Affairs," Mr. Max Henry stated that it would appear as a commonplace thing, not permitting of doubt, that the intervention of the State in preventing the spread of such diseases as anthrax or pleuro-pneumonia, was an essential and indisputable function of Government activity, but this was by no means the universal opinion. That the removal of Government control would be followed by results disastrous to the State was so obvious that, unless one actually encountered such views one would be inclined to doubt their existence. They did exist and were expressed with considerable force, all the more dogmatically because based on lack of knowledge.
"It Is the function of preventive veterinary medicine," stated the speaker, "to protect the country against the introduction of diseases from outside. This is provided in countries with sea frontiers by limiting the ports at which animals may be landed, by controlling the carriage of animals within territorial waters, by limiting the countries from which stock may be imported, by providing port inspection and quarantine stations for animals landed, and by requiring veterinary certificates to accompany animals introduced."
As regards prohibitions, continued Mr. Henry, the veterinary preventive services acted solely from the health standpoint. So far as was compatible with safety, they did not endeavour to place restrictions on trade. Veterinary preventive medicine should never be used improperly as an instrument to control trade. To do so would destroy that international confidence which was being rapidly and securely built up, and which was becoming such an important factor in giving confidence to importing countries. The outbreak of Rinderpest in Western Australia some years ago provided an excellent instance. On the one hand it had to resist a persistent demand for the exclusion of South African maize. On the other hand, it had to force the slaughter of a few hundred head of cattle, a measure which, despite its unpopularity, saved Australia from untold disaster.
"It is not necessary to point out how valuable abattoir observations may be in controlling an outbreak of disease," Mr. Henry added. This is one of the reasons why the operations of meat inspection must be controlled by the veterinary authorities. As Ostertag, probably the greatest living authority on meat inspection, has pointed out—'The supervision of the sale of meat is a purely veterinary duty.' The value of veterinary inspection of milch cows hardly needs stressing, as here again the close association of feeding and health, the scientific determination of basic rations, accentuate the necessity for the association of the veterinary services with milk production."
The following officers were elected:—
President: Mr. C. J. Woollett (re-elected); vice-presidents, Messrs. F. F. Forster and C. W. Sabine (re-elected).
Council: Messrs. H. C. Kennan, F. T. Yeomans, J. Faulkner, L. W. Devlin, F. Hildred, A. Hessin, H. Copeland, E. J. Quinn, F. J. Madden, and E. A. Lucas.
Treasurer: Mr. C. J. Woollett.
The following resolutions were carried:—
That the Chief Veterinary Surgeon be asked to arrange for Glenfield to wire the stock inspector direct, when requested, when an urgent diagnosis of disease is required from specimens sent to Glenfield.
That the attention of the Minister be drawn to the urgent need of a Pig Branding Act.
That in the event of the abolition of P.P. Boards, the Minister be requested to appoint a stock inspector with the necessary experience In charge of the reserve improvement work.
That the Minister for Public Health be asked to call two stock inspectors to give evidence at any inquiry into the meat industry and meat supply of country towns and districts which he proposes to hold.