Port has ca­pac­ity for China cat­tle deal

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY

TOWNSVILLE’S port could triple its live ex­port trade, with the re­gion’s cat­tle in­dus­try con­fi­dent it will ben­e­fit from Aus­tralia’s land­mark trade deal with China.

Many in­dus­try fig­ures have ex­pressed cau­tion fol­low­ing the sign­ing off on the deal to send one mil­lion cat­tle to China, with the coun­try’s dis­ease pro­to­cols favour­ing cat­tle in Aus­tralia’s south be­cause of the preva­lence of the non- in­fec­tious blue­tongue dis­ease in North Queens­land.

But some of Queens­land’s lead­ing cat­tle­men, who met in Townsville yesterday to dis­cuss cru­cial re­cent de­vel­op­ments in the in­ter­na­tional live trade mar­ket, were op­ti­mistic China would al­ter its pro­to­cols to take in a sig­nif­i­cant amount of north­ern cat­tle.

It comes af­ter Townsville’s port has set records for live cat­tle ex­ports the past two years, han­dling 250,000 cat­tle in 2014 and 165,000 so far this year.

AgForce cat­tle pres­i­dent Bim Struss said he could see Port of Townsville’s live­stock “dou­bling or tre­bling” on the back of the China deal.

“We haven’t seen the new pro­to­cols yet ( and) it’s all up in the air, but I would be sur­prised that if they’re talk­ing the num­bers they’re talk­ing, if they wouldn’t be tak­ing some north­ern cat­tle,” he said.

“There would have to be some re­lax­ation, in my opin­ion, on that Blue­tongue vec­tor, or the way it’s han­dled.

“It may be as sim­ple as cat­tle with vec­tor may be shipped to cer­tain ports … and kept sep­a­rate from other cat­tle.

“What comes out of it all, we’re not sure yet but I think it’s go­ing to be pos­i­tive.”

Beef pro­ducer Alex Stubbs, who owns 1000ha of cat­tle prop­erty be­tween Mir­ri­winni and the Ather­ton Table­land, said Townsville could ex­port a lot of the cat­tle be­ing sent through Dar­win as Aus­tralia sent less cat­tle to In­done­sia.

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