Australian Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has reopened live cattle trade to Indonesia on condition exporters are responsible for the welfare of stock sent for slaughter.
Although there have been no inspections of Indonesian abattoirs by Australian officials, Senator Ludwig said export permits would be issued only if exporters complied with a new system that ensured individual cattle were tracked and slaughtered under international standards.
The ban, which was imposed after evidence emerged of Australian cattle being treated brutally in Indonesian abattoirs, has devastated the $320 million a year industry and sparked tension with Australia’s nearest neighbour. Senator Ludwig’s decision means Australian exporters can now apply for export licences to start shipping stranded cattle to Indonesia if they meet strict conditions to track animal movements to ensure their humane treatment.
Cattle producers in the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia have few other options for selling prime stock.
When we were there last year, Indonesia had changed the rules, reducing the weight of cattle which could be imported and that was putting huge pressure on station budgets.
The change was made because Indonesia wanted to increase domestic production to reduce its reliance on imports. The ban has added impetus to that:
The Indonesian government described the scrapping of the ban as ”great news”.
Deputy agriculture minister Bayu Krisnamurthi said Jakarta is now rethinking its reliance on live cattle imports in the wake of the ban.
He said Indonesia’s recent experiences with Australia show that depending on food imports is risky.
The ban cost Australia 10s of millions of dollars. If Indonesia does manage to increase its self-sufficiency it will have a major impact on Australia and northern cattle producers in particular.