AUSTRALIAN cattle farmers fear a plan by Indonesia to drastically cut the amount of beef it imports next year will be a massive blow to the domestic industry.
Indonesia will only allow for 280,000 cows to be imported, down from 520,000 permits this year. Live exports to Indonesia are believed to be worth $300 million to Australian farmers.
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Indonesia will also limit the boxed beef it buys from overseas to 34,000 tonnes. Last year, Australia exported 48,500 tonnes of boxed beef to Indonesia.
Indonesia has indicated it wants to be self-sufficient in beef by 2014.
The Cattle Council of Australia president, Andrew Ogilvie, said Indonesia’s decision had dealt the industry a huge blow.
”Industry is pretty disappointed that there has been a reduction but we recognise Indonesia’s determination for self-sufficiency,” he said.
Mr Ogilvie said he did not believe the decision was in retaliation to Australia’s suspension of trade in June.
The live cattle trade was suspended by the Australian government for a month this year after the ABC’s Four Corners program sparked animal welfare concerns. The trade was later reinstated.
The Australian Live Exporters Council chief executive, Lach McKinnon, told the ABC any drop in exports would be massive blow to the cattle industry in the northern states.
”It’ll put us under a lot of pressure and we’ll have to work very hard to get through this,” he said.
”It’s like any of these particular trade issues – it’s about government to government and working through what it is both parties want to get.”
This month the Labor Party’s national conference rejected a push to phase out live cattle exports altogether.
THE head of an independent review into live exports has backed the government’s decision not to make stunning mandatory in the slaughter of Australia animals overseas, saying the practice is not universal and can still be inhumane.
Former departmental secretary Bill Farmer released the report of his investigation into the industry today as Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig confirmed a series of reforms to the $1 billion a year trade, reported by The Australian today.
The new arrangements will see extra transparency measures in place for live cattle exports to Indonesia – introduced in the wake of graphic ABC Four Corners footage – extended to all markets, including Asia and the Middle East, and will also cover the live-sheep and goat export industries.
The changes, which represent an unprecedented shake-up of the industry, will be staggered over the next 14 months to avoid mass disruptions.
Mr Farmer said the review examined animal killing practices overseas – with and without stunning – that met animal welfare guidelines.
“We also saw practices, both stunning and non-stunning, that fell far short of the OIE guidelines. Stunning applied incorrectly is not a humane practice,” he said.
“There is not universal acceptance of stunning, including under our own guidelines in Australia.”
Mr Farmer said he did see a “very significant move in Indonesia” to introduce stunning and by August, 30 abattoirs there had introduced the practice.
Senator Ludwig said the government had accepted all 14 recommendations made by Mr Farmer.