The Courier-Mail

Indons wonder where’s the beef


ANGRY beef eaters have forced the Indonesian Government to partly reverse its drastic cut to Australian cattle imports.

The shock decision last month to cut shipments by 80 per cent from 250,000 to 50,000 in the September quarter, compared to the previous three-month block, left Queensland graziers reeling.

But it has also led to mass dissatisfa­ction and protests by butchers in Indonesia as beef prices escalate due to a shortage of meat.

Indonesia has requested a further 50,000 head of cattle in a quota upgrade.

The situation was predicted by Australian industry, which questioned the size of the cut aimed at shoring up Indonesia’s domestic beef market.

Federal Agricultur­e Minister Barnaby Joyce was yesterday trying to confirm the exact terms of the reported increase, while Queensland Agricultur­e Minister Bill Byrne, on a trade trip to the country, welcomed the change of heart.

He said he was pleased to meet with Indonesia’s Economic Affairs Minister to discuss the quota top-up.

While discussing high beef prices this week, Indonesian Agricultur­e Minister Amran Sulaiman refused to address the Australian cattle import quota being slashed in July.

On Sunday, butchers in Jakarta put a four-day ban on selling beef to protest against the sky-rocketing high prices.

The Government was forced to respond by selling subsidised beef at various markets in a “market operation”.

The State Government last night confirmed the cattle ordered were slaughter cattle for immediate consumptio­n, rather than feeder cattle, to pump an immediate injection of beef into the market.

The Federal Government and industry groups are pushing for 12-month quotas to stop the volatility in orders and allow Australian producers certainty in their planning.

The live cattle trade supports hundreds of jobs in Queensland and the NT.

The shock of the initial decisions last month was offset when Mr Joyce announced a breakthrou­gh agreement with China giving unpreceden­ted access to Australia and making it the first country to export feeder and slaughter cattle there.

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