MLA Managing Director David Palmer on interview
Posted June 28, 2011on:
Since the midweek of June 2011, The Australia Federal Government six-month ban on the live cattle trade with Indonesia. Is bad for Australian exporters but also truckers, stock feed producers and farming groups.
To understand with the progress, I made a written interview with MLA Managing Director David Palmer. Meat & livestock Australia (MLA) is a producer-owned company providing marketing and, research and development services to over 47000 cattle, sheep and goat.
How great is the impact of this policy on Australian farmers?
The temporary suspension of cattle exports to Indonesia is having a significant impact on northern Australian cattle producers. Rural communities across northern Australia are very reliant on the livestock export trade for income and employment.
This is an extremely challenging time for Australia’s cattle industry and Indonesia and it is vital we all work together to rapidly achieve the one action that will make a difference – the re-opening of the trade to Indonesia with an assured supply chain for Australian cattle in place.
Until now, how much is the estimated loss that potentially hits the breeders, both financially and non-financially? If it lasts for 6 months, how many potential losses will MLA members suffer?
The cattle export trade to Indonesia is worth $320 million a year in direct export earnings. In 2010 around 60% of all cattle exports from Australia were exported to Indonesia.
While it is difficult to estimate the losses, we do know that many cattle producers have outlaid significant amounts of money to prepare cattle for export. These producers have been reliant on the live export trade for income.
Many businesses have indicated that they will have to lay off staff if the suspension continues.
The Australian industry also acknowledges the impact that the suspension may have on Indonesian businesses.
That is why we the industry considers that the most effective means to provide financial security to the northern cattle industry is to re-open the trade.
Will there be any contracts to cancel following the enactment of the policy?
Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) is not involved in contractual arrangements between cattle producers and importers and exporters of cattle.
We heard the MLA to allocate A$9 million to reopen the cattle trade with Indonesia. What is the purpose of the allocation and can you give any prediction the percentage of success of reopening the trade?
Earlier this month MLA presented Australia’s Agriculture Minister with a $9 million package of measures that we believe would allow the trade to resume.
The measures MLA has proposed to the Government include:
· Assistance to Indonesian abattoirs processing cattle to meet or exceed agreed international animal welfare standards in line with the World Organization for Animal Health, backed up by an audit of import facilities to ensure compliance;
· Priority installation of additional stunning equipment – an additional four facilities have already had stunning equipment installed since the ban was announced taking the total to 11 facilities using stunning;
· Together with Indonesian authorities, the redesign and upgrade of abattoir infrastructure to better facilitate more humane processing – alternative options are now being developed based on a Temple Grandin design that will allow for both stunning and non-stunning processing;
· The urgent development of a traceability system with Indonesia to ensure that cattle are managed appropriately;
· Capacity building of Indonesian industry animal welfare officers to be stationed at facilities processing cattle – with 30 animal welfare officers receiving training this month; and
· Capacity building of Indonesian abattoir workers to assist in their operations and to ensure they are operating in the most humane manner – with eight Australian stock handling experts having already conducted intensive training programs over the past two weeks;
We are hopeful of a reopening of the trade in the near future.
MLA is continuing to work closely with the Indonesian industry and Government. We have a team of experts on the ground working to put practical solutions in place.
After the Australian Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig refused to provide compensation to farmers amounting to A$5 million, what are the steps next taken by MLA?
MLA’s focus has been to provide the Australian government with the confidence to reopen the trade as soon as possible, not to provide contingency funds. MLA considers that reinstating the trade is the most effective means to provide financial security to cattle producers and businesses across northern Australia and Indonesia.
Indonesia plans to divert the net importers of live cattle to six other countries including New Zealand, how does the association respond to it?
The cattle export industry to Indonesia is vitally important to Australian farmers, businesses and our economy.
We believe we provide a high quality product sought after by the Indonesian people.
Our goal is for the live cattle trade with Indonesia to be recommenced as soon as possible to secure the livelihoods of our cattle producers and ensure Indonesians receive a supply of healthy, halal Australian beef protein.
The Indonesian and Australian industries have a long history of working together which we hope will continue.