Australian official warns cattle trade loss with Indonesia if ban continues

16:30, June 22, 2011      

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West Australian Premier Colin Barnett on Wednesday said that if the live cattle trade to Indonesia does not resume within six months, the market will likely be lost to Australian producers.

Earlier this month, Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig announced a temporary suspension to all live cattle export to Indonesia, after a footage revealed Australian cattle were being tortured in some Indonesian abattoirs.

The suspension could last for up to six months pending an investigation into the supply chain to ensure that international standards are upheld.

Barnett said Australian federal government had imposed the ban without consulting Western Australia or the Indonesians who felt " insulted and treated in a demeaned way".

"The Indonesians are angry, make no mistake about that, they are extremely angry at the Australian government," he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

"I think what we need to get is some trade going, into the abattoirs that clearly are of acceptable standard and let us try to regrow from there.

"But if the trade doesn't get going for six months, we probably won't have a trade."

As a result of the suspension, more than 150,000 ready-to-export cattle has been stranded across Australia, and the move has aroused controversies, with cattle producers criticizing the plan, saying that farmers are suffering greatly under the ban.

Barnett said Western Australian state Agriculture Minister Terry Redman has visited Indonesia, where he assured ministers and industry officials there that Western Australia wanted the trade to continue.

Earlier, chairperson of Indonesian Peasant Union, Henry Sragih also warned that if the Australian ban remains in place, the Indonesian government will simply substitute Brazilian or Argentinean cattle for Australian cattle.

In a move to deal with the issue, Australian Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig is in Indonesia to hold talks on the live cattle trade.

Indonesia is the biggest buyer of Australian live cattle, accounting for about 60 percent of the market.

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