China’s beef hunger a new era for North

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

IF CHINA only takes a small­ish per­cent­age of cat­tle from North­ern Aus­tralia, the re­gion, re­gard­less, is stand­ing at the dawn of a golden age for beef pro­duc­tion.

As one ex­porter points out, even if China doesn’t take huge num­bers of our Brah­mans, the North will still be needed to sup­ply cat­tle into the vac­uum cre­ated around Aus­tralia by the ex­o­dus of do­mes­tic live­stock to the na­tion of 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple.

We still don’t know just how many Bos in­di­cus or Brahman- cross cat­tle the Chi­nese might take from the trop­i­cal North.

The Chi­nese cat­tle buy­ers are said to be sen­si­tive about the pres­ence of blue­tongue dis­ease, which is preva­lent across the North and in parts of NSW. Sci­en­tists say our blue­tongue is non- con­ta­gious and does not cause dis­ease in cat­tle.

Per­haps Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill, a sci­en­tist with a dou­ble ma­jor in mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy and bio­chem­istry, is right when she says the Chi­nese are only us­ing blue­tongue to lever­age down prices in their favour.

The drought will play a part and will cre­ate on­go­ing sup­ply prob­lems for years to come as pro­duc­ers re­build de­pleted herds.

Still, there is no need for panic. China watch­ers say the coun­try’s de­mand for beef will be slow and steady and that North­ern Aus­tralia’s beef herd will grow as de­mand from Asia in­creases. Pa­tience will be re­quired. As the Chi­nese say, “drip­ping wa­ter pierces a stone”.

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