Live cattle trade to Indonesia resumes, but some rough seas ahead for industry


After a month of uncertainty, the live cattle trade to Indonesia has resumed with a ship leaving Townsville port yesterday and another due out on Sunday.

The export of cattle to Indonesia over the next month is expected to be more of a trickle then a flood, as Indonesian importers continue to challenge their government’s decision to introduce a new trade rule, which stipulates a certain percentage of cattle must be imported for breeding purposes.

It is understood that four Indonesian companies have now received import permits after agreeing to the new breeder protocol.

Two of those companies, Santori and Great Giant Livestock, have established breeding programs in Indonesia, which no doubt helped in their decision to accept the new trade rule.

One source has told ABC Rural the vast majority of importers were not in a position to take on breeders, and face the risk of not getting any permits.

“Feedlotters and breeders are two different businesses. These two cannot be mixed,” the source said.

“Hopefully the feedlots are able to withstand this situation long enough and still [be] alive when things get better.”

It is not known at this stage whether the Girolando Express, which was loaded in Townsville, had 20 per cent breeders on board, or if the breeder agreement is a long-term approach rather than individual shipments.

The Girolando is currently enroute to Panjang.

Very quiet September for live cattle exports

The delays caused by Indonesia’s new trade rule has meant no Australian cattle have arrived in Indonesia for the entire month of September, which has proved extremely costly for exporters.

There are still several live cattle ships anchored off various northern ports waiting for permits, including four in outer Darwin harbour.

Meat and Livestock Australia’s Mick Kingham told ABC Rural this week there have been cattle stockpiled in yards around the north waiting for trade to resume with Indonesia.

“There’s certainly [been] a number of cattle held in Charters Towers and a couple of depots closer to Townsville have also got cattle in them,” he said.

“A couple of feedlots that are near and around the area [of Townsville] are certainly stockpiling cattle as well.”

Federal Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the last month had “effectively been a suspension of trade to Indonesia” and the Australian Government needed to do more.

“This is not a commercially viable proposition [the new breeder trade rule] and it really is up to Barnaby Joyce to pick up the phone to his counterpart and have this matter sorted out,” he said.

“I’ve been advised by the [live export industry] sector that they are frustrated that there is no movement from Minister Barnaby Joyce’s office.

“And while this is playing out, there are no less than six Australian export vessels sitting off our northern ports waiting to get access to Indonesia.”

In a statement to ABC Rural from Mr Joyce’s office, it said the Minister had been in contact with his counterpart in Indonesia and the Department of Agriculture, along with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, had also been in “constant communication” with the Indonesian Government over this issue.

“The Minister is aware that to date only four companies have been issued import permits for live cattle and as a result several consignments are scheduled to depart Australia for Indonesia over the next couple of days,” it said.

“Australian officials are actively seeking formal clarification on the Indonesian Trade Minister’s announcement in the media of the abolition of the import quota system for live feeder cattle.

“The Minister’s understanding is that the Indonesian Government has not yet reached a final decision on this matter.

“The Minister remains certain that whatever Indonesia’s final decision, Australian will remain, as always, extremely competitive in those markets.”

Source: ABC Net. Date: 30 September 2016