Groups hopeful of good news

25 Jul, 2013 02:00 AM
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WAFarmers president Dale Park.
WAFarmers president Dale Park.

NEWS reports that Indonesia will remove import restrictions on beef and live cattle could be a game changer for WA pastoralists.

WAFarmers president Dale Park said although the details were still emerging, it would be no surprise if numbers were lifted.

"We all said when Indonesia announced the quotas that the end of the year that numbers were going to be unsustainable," he said.

"They were battling with numbers around the 160,000 mark and we knew they were never going to be able to make it work with 90,000 for the second half of the year.

"That is assuming the rumours are true, but honestly I can't see it not happening."

Mr Park said it would be an immediate bonus for pastoralists provided they could get the boats organised.

"Mustering is well and truly underway so we won't run into any problems getting the cattle ready," he said.

"The trick will be having the boats available for them.

"It will be interesting to see how many they need in addition to their own production.

"But whatever the numbers this signals a turn-around for the industry."

The Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) were cautious about getting too carried away by the speculation.

PGA president Rob Gillam said it would be hard to believe Indonesia wouldn't keep some control over what was coming in.

"Some of the rumours coming from Indonesia indicate it will be an open slather, but I don't believe that will happen," he said.

"It appears they will issue permits for an additional 25,000 head, but as to them opening up the market completely, I am not convinced."

He said it would be an enormous bonus for pastoralists if it were to open up, particularly for those with cattle suitable for the slaughter trade, but he doubted the open slather would happen.

Either way, Mr Gillam said it signalled a change in the tide for the industry.

"These changes to import restrictions are very much about lowering the price of beef for consumers," Mr Gillam said.

He expected more permits for slaughter cattle to be issued to meet the demands of the market and dampen the beef prices.

"But they won't want to flood the market so they will still keep some control over what is coming in," he said.

"Once they have got that meat supply up and about again they will concentrate on importing more store cattle so they continue with optimum involvement in their feedlots."

He said the availability of cattle ready for slaughter wouldn't be an issue considering the favourable seasonal conditions experienced in northern WA.

FarmWeekly

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