Humans of Agriculture

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“My interest in the live export trade has primarily been through supporting the interests of producers. The live export trade not only supports the entire northern beef supply chain but businesses, families and communities throughout regional and rural northern Australia.

For producers across northern Australia, where live export is often the only market option, its well understood the importance of the trade, similarly, a vibrant processing sector providing healthy competitive market tension is also critical to the northern beef industry.

When the live export ban happened in 2011, an area that appeared to be forgotten was its human impact, not only to Australian’s but also to those in Indonesia relying on the trade for employment and the primary source of healthy and safe beef (protein). The ban impacted 1000s and 1000s of families predominately in the low socio-economic bracket whose sole income was derived from working in Indonesian feedlots housing Australian cattle.

One of the largest Muslim faith countries is sitting right at our doorstep, it’s home to more than 200 million people looking to Australia as a trusted trading partner, and suddenly they lost their access to beef overnight. The decision was made without consultation or consideration of the impact. You can imagine how vulnerable and exposed Indonesia felt and how it impacted on our reputation as a trusted trading partner. Whilst relations remained strong at an industry level, there was a fallout and breakdown in trust at a Government level.

More than a decade on, the industry has worked tirelessly on continuous improvement to its systems and processes and to assist government rebuild trust and restore our position as a trusted trading partner.

There are very sophisticated operations in northern Australia, and in terms of considering market alternatives, it’s not their first rodeo. Northern beef businesses have been assessing their risk, their market options, and potential alternatives for many, many years. It’s not a novel idea now.

Whilst we are seeing for the first time in decades (if ever), economic factors supporting the viability of putting cattle on feed in northern Australia, which will allows for local weight gain and, increasingly an infusion of composite genetics, the fundamentals for live export remain strong.

As the biosecurity headwinds pick up pace with the detection of diseases such as (lumpy skin disease and foot and mouth disease) throughout regions of Indonesia, the potential impact on Australia’s entire red meat sector is obvious. With urgent development of vaccines and strategies to protect our multi-billion dollar beef industry underway, our relationship with Indonesia and our connections developed due to the trade are as critical as ever.” – Tracey Hayes

Photo credit: Northern Territory Cattlemen Association
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