Indonesia cattle imports inadequate

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

WAFarmers president and Badgingarra cattle farmer Dale Park believes Indonesia has not gone far enough to secure its domestic demand for Australian cattle with its latest 50,000 head export permit.

Mr Park, like many other cattle producers, has sold his cattle to Indonesia in the past. The permit comes after Indonesia last month issued import permits for an initial 50,000 head of Australian cattle for the July to September quarter, down by 80 per cent on the previous quarter.

The latest permit was issued after much Australian industry speculation that such a drastic cut was unsustainable for their industry, which saw anger mount among Indonesian processors over the sharp spike in beef prices.

Since then the cost of a kilogram of beef at local markets has shot up by about 40 per cent and Indonesian butchers have gone on strike because their customers cannot afford it.

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Mr Park said Indonesia risked not being able to source the cattle it needed from Australia, with the opening of the other lucrative markets and the tightening supply of cattle.

His comments come after the Federal Government cast speculation Indonesia would increase the cattle quota to 300,000 next quarter.

"Even if Indonesia raises the quota in the next quarter there will still be a six-month delay with cattle supply with prices remaining sky-high in Indonesia until the permits are issued in January," Mr Park said.

"The Chinese are now going to be looking for slaughter cattle from Australia in the future so the market is going to get tighter.

"The way Indonesia had dealt with Australia on the issue of cattle permits worked well for them in the past but now with these expanding markets they could find themselves waiting in line if we can not get some more clear communication on the numbers they will require."

Livestock carrier and lot feeder Matt Leeds said his yard was overflowing with cattle destined for markets other than Indonesia.

Mr Leeds has sent cattle to Indonesia in the past but now concentrates his business in other rapidly growing export markets instead.

"I was a bit surprised when the quota permit was cut in the first place but I don't really think too much of the industry was overly concerned because business is booming for us anyway," he said.

"We're putting thousands of cattle through our lot at Regans Ford and we have plans to build more yards on the property to accommodate more numbers."

Meanwhile, Australian Livestock Exporters' Council chief executive Alison Penfold said there is little point trying to predict the future Indonesian requirement based upon speculation.

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