Cattle export ban to cost millions
A TOTAL ban on the export of live cattle to Indonesia could cause a significant drop in domestic cattle prices, warns a former Warwick livestock agent.
Bernie Brosnan, who sold Ray White Warwick earlier this year to return to the Northern Territory, was at a meeting with pastoralist and live export stake holders in Katherine yesterday.
He said industry was anxiously awaiting specific details of the Federal Government’s decision this week to temporarily halt all live cattle exports from Australia to Indonesia.
“Even a temporary halt will cost the northern Australian cattle industry millions,” Mr Brosnan said.
But he said the implications of a six month plus ban would be wide spread impacting on domestic cattle prices, rural property values and other export relationships with Indonesia.
“The live export trade has for the past 16 years put a floor price in the domestic cattle market,” Mr Brosnan said.
“In places like Warwick where the market is solely reliant on processors, the minimum price since 1995 across Australia has been largely set by live export.
“If you take that market option out of the equation beef producers will again be at the sole mercy of meatworks.”
Mr Brosnan said animal welfare remained a major concern for cattle producers.
“But the best way for Australia to influence animal welfare and treatment in Indonesia is to stay involved in the trade,” he said.
He warned a total ban would have a “political and diplomatic backlash” on other Australian export industries.
“There are 240 million people living in Indonesia and the country has the potential to become our greatest economic partner,” Mr Brosnan said.
Local butcher Ross Bell was not as concerned about a repercussion from the government’s decision.
The Bells Butchery owner said while he disagreed with a blanket ban on exports to Indonesia, he did not see it having an immediate effect on local trade.
“All our meat is sourced locally, so the ban isn’t going to affect us in any way,” he said.
“I’m not expecting a backlash from it.
“It’s the big properties up north who will be affected but probably none from around here.”
None of the meat consumed in the Southern Downs, Mr Bell explained, was meat produced up north.
“What they ship overseas is not what we eat here – it’s different cattle and a different breed of mainly droughtmasters,” he said.
“All export cattle are a lot bigger kilogram-wise and the average body weight of what is consumed locally is probably half of what goes over there. Our local market eats cattle that are a lot younger and better.”
Mr Bell said an ideal situation would be to process meat in the Northern Territory, or to export it to a regulated abattoir in Indonesia.
“If they have their own works that are governed by Australian regulations, that would be fine, but the best situation would be to kill them here and ship them over,” he said.
Meanwhile, Agforce president Brent Finlay said a blanket ban would mean about half a million cattle would need to find another home.
“At least part of the trade should be kept open,” he said.
“It will impact on businesses in northern Queensland and across Australia.
“A lot of cattle farmers have come out of the wet season and the quality we’re going to be eating has probably never been better.
Mr Finlay said cattle producers he’d spoken to were concerned about the repercussions to the industry.
“People are shocked and horrified and are certainly concerned about where the industry will go,” he said.
“It’s created uncertainty because it’s such a big market and our industry will be under intense scrutiny for a while now.”