Concerns over Indonesian feedlot cattle

By Aidan Smith
December 16 2019 - 5:00am
Australian Livestock Exporters' Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton.

THE animal welfare issues raised at small holder farms in Indonesia this week is a complex issue according to Australian Livestock Exporters' Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton.

Pictures emerged in the media of emancipated cattle in feedlots which shocked the industry, as well as adding fuel to the anti live export argument.

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The small holder program, which is run as part of the Indonesian government's breeder program to increase the country's food security, will need Australian industries and governments to be engaged in resolving the issues.

Mr Harvey-Sutton said the arrangement meant that the Indonesian government purchased the cattle and then allocated them to farmers for breeding, meaning they do not come under the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS).

He said the Indonesian industry was reviewing the program to understand the full extent of the issues and ALEC was hoping and was willing to provide assistance.

According to LiveCorp's annual report for 2018/19, funding to provide assistance for the Indonesian breeder program was discontinued in August, after having been extended for five months at a cost of $270,000.

"As of July there had been 70 mortalities out of 2500 head of cattle - that is three per cent," Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

"There were 300 cattle at condition score one that we knew of, at the time.

"Unfortunately we don't know what the situation is like at the moment as there are diplomatic sensitivities with this program - they might be in better condition, or unfortunately conditions may have deteriorated."

Indonesian farmers have been dealing with drought conditions similar to that of Australia which has affected their ability to source adequate feed and water.

This could also be a contributing factor for the condition of the cattle.

"There needs to be a four way engagement - between the two governments as well as the industries - for managing this into the future," Mr Harvey-Sutton said.

"We are also aware of the food security needs of Indonesia."

According to LiveCorp's annual report, "Indonesia continues to demonstrate its importance to the livestock export industry, importing 671,000 head in 2018-19 (up 30.5pc year-on-year)".

"Market conditions were favourable as importers sought to build feedlot numbers to meet strong consumer demand for fresh beef.

"However, Indonesian feedlotter's have experienced a level of uncertainty as a result of the 5:1 feeder for breeder cattle policy audit in December 2018."

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