EACH year stock theft and rural crime costs the state many millions of dollars and revelations this week 860 cattle had been stolen from two western Queensland properties have shown the problem continues to be one that plagues our grazing industry.
Cattle duffing is nothing new to grazing and in pioneering days even contributed to the folklore of our pastoral history.
But cattle theft is a serious crime, one that places a severe financial and social impost on our industry and one that requires important legislative reform.
This reform process has been under way since February 2011 with the creation of the Stock Working Group, of which AgForce is a member.
The group has met a number of times and developed a series of recommendations for change to existing legislation.
AgForce's primary areas of concern pertaining to this legislation fall into two main areas - those laws surrounding the retrieval of missing stock as well as those that dictate how long animals are held for use as legal exhibits.
Under existing law, retrieval of stock cannot occur without consent of the owner of the property upon which missing stock are expected to be held.
The reality, of course, is this consent is not always granted.
AgForce and the working group have recommended this legislation be changed to allow for an order for a "forced muster" to be applied for by a stock squad officer.
For this to occur there must be sufficient evidence to support a belief the person controlling the property where it is believed the stock are has unreasonably refused entry.
Furthermore, cattle being used as exhibits in legal proceedings have been held for up to two years.
This is not only a financial burden on the owners of the stock, but also a potential animal welfare risk and a significant cost to the government in terms of care for these animals.
AgForce and the working group have called for changes in legislation that would give police power to return stock to their owners or to sell stock prior to the completion of legal proceedings.
It is now time for the government to make legislative changes to allow police to better deal with stock theft.
However we cannot merely rely on the police and government to protect our assets. As an industry we must be vigilant in taking precautions to protect ourselves.