Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss was yesterday [Monday] accused of prostituting his position and disregarding the interests of the beef industry.

The Australian Lot Feeders Association told a Senate inquiry that Truss was guilty of "blatant political interference" over his handling of the US beef quota. The Association estimated his dealings would cost some 5000 regional jobs.

The Senate is investigating Truss's handling of the allocation of the 378,000 tonne quota, worth some A$2bn (US$1.12bn).

Opposition parties have taken the opportunity to weigh into the debate. Labor's primary industries spokesman Kerry O'Brien said the way Agriculture Minister Warren Truss was reacting to the US beef quota was threatening the livelihood of many small rural communities.