Aust cattle industry welcomes Indonesian plans

Aust cattle industry welcomes Indonesian plans

Indonesia is looking to purchase one-million hectares of Australian farmland - reportedly to breed cattle.  

The Indonesian government wants to stabilise the price of beef, which has seen prices hit record levels.


Two decisions by the government will have repercussions for the Australian livestock industry, as it still recovers from the suspension of live exports in 2011.


There's a buzz across the cattle industry in northern Australia.


Looking to solve its local beef supply problem, Indonesia is looking to purchase one-million hectares of Australian farmland - reportedly to breed cattle.


This is on top of an announcement to ease beef import rules from next month.


Despite not receiving the full details of either plan, the Australian cattle industry welcoming the moves.


Tracey Hayes is Executive Officer of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association.


"There's optimism among producers. All the indicators are pointing up and things are looking a bit more positive. I'd have to probably sum that up by as, 'quietly optimistic".


Chief Executive of the Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association, Bernie Brosnan, can see benefits for his members, and beyond.


"The increase demand out of Indonesia will obviously lead to numbers being transported to Indonesia and provide more confidence not only to producers in northern Australia but also to all the other stakeholders in the industry supply chain."


Over the past year, a strong Indonesian economy and increasing demand from local consumers has seen beef prices soar.


Both Mr Brosnan and Ms Hayes hope the moves to stabilise the price will provide more predictablity for Australian suppliers.


"Like any industry or business, everyone has a major customer base and for the northern Australian cattle industry, Indonesia is our major customer, so they are critical."


"I think northern producers will be looking for stability in the market, so they can get their herd structure back in order. I guess it's a very unique production system in the north with the wet and the dry, and the ability to carry cattle over the dry season is difficult in some land systems, so having the herd structure back in some shape where they can manage it year in and year out, will be welcomed to northern producers."


The proposal for Indonesia to buy farmland in Australia would be subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board, which would assess whether it would be against the national interest.


Tracey Hayes from the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association says that having an Indonesian company operate in Australia is not a concern if it abides by Australian regulations.


"We welcome some foreign investment in agriculture in Australia. It's my understanding they are looking at some breeding country in the north specifically for some cattle destined to live export into Indonesia. So I think there's some real positives that could flow from this. There's a comparative market advantage in that the north is fantastic for producing beef and Indonesia are fantastic at putting the weight on and finishing off the process so it's a natural synergy between the north and the Indonesians. They do the job very well at the end of the production cycle, so I think there's some positives that could come this, employment, local employment, infrastructure development"


By Laurie Lawira


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