Home > Abbott’s Jakarta visit delivers 'breakthrough' in live cattle trade

Abbott’s Jakarta visit delivers 'breakthrough' in live cattle trade

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Prime minister Tony Abbott’s recent visit to Indonesia has resulted in a special quota of 53,000 ‘slaughter ready’ cattle, in addition to the December quarter quota of 46,000 cattle which will be a headed to feedlots before processing.

The negotiations were headed by two agricultural ministries prior to Abbott’s arrival, and included a compromise on Indonesia’s demand for animal health tracking information, something which was previously rejected by Australians as being unacceptable, The Australian reports.

However, Malcolm Jackman, chief executive of Elders said that cattle producers are unlikely to be able to provide such numbers by the end of the year.

"I suspect that 53,000 in three months will be a bit of a struggle but I think that people will get after it pretty rapidly," he said.

Jackman said that Indonesia serves as a highly important market for the Australian cattle industry and that producers intend on maintaining healthy business relationships.

"It's by far the most natural market -- the market's well-established, the relationships are well-established and because it's so close, it works really well," he said.

In addition, Abbott also demonstrated a positive response to Indonesia’s plan to invest in 1.5m hectares of northern Australian cattle land - a plan which will undoubtedly be subject to an investigation by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Abbott said that there are still a lot of negotiations that will need to take place in regards to the live cattle trade, however he was intent on contrasting his recent efforts with the Gillard government’s 2011 suspension of the live cattle trade which was halted due to evidence of animal cruelty.

"We can work together -- but it will take some effort, especially after the shock of the former Australian government cancelling the live-cattle export trade in panic at a TV program," he told a business breakfast.

"Nothing like this can ever be allowed to happen again."

"Last year, I visited abattoirs in Indonesia which were quite comparable to those in Australia and reject any notion that Indonesian standards are lower than Australia's."

Earlier this year, animal welfare groups around Australia including the RSPCA called for arestructure away from live exports in favour of a meat-only export trade to ensure that animals are slaughtered humanely. 

Lynne Bradshaw, president of the RSPCA said that as live export is a high risk industry, overnight market shocks and interruptions to trade will continue to create uncertainty and impact producers unless a restructure is formed.

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