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Beef Central briefs 13 Dec 2013

Beef Central, 13/12/2013

Christmas reading: Collection-Connection

A new book with a distinctly Western Queensland flavour has been released by Jock Douglas from Roma and Carol McCormack, from Glenmorgan in time for Christmas. Connection-Collection combines a portfolio of Carol's vibrant Australian landscape paintings and other works created specifically for the book with engaging words and verses written by Jock which range in style from amusing bush ballads to thought-provoking poetry. Jock and Carol have each spent a lifetime on the land, working cattle properties from both the saddle and the desk, contributing to industry and community affairs and following their individual creative paths. Their expressive words and vibrant art are splendidly combined in this attractive and intriguing book.Collection-Connection can be purchased on-line at www.collection-connection.com.au and will be available at selected bookshops.

Brazil increases live exports

The Brazilian state of Para, home to 20 million cattle and the major source of live export cattle from Brazil, says it expects to receive official World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) recognition as Foot and Mouth Disease free with vaccinations from early in 2014. Para was recently recognised by Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture and Supply (MAPA) as FMD free. If OIE recognition follows as the State expects, the status would give Para greater access to more live export markets around the world. In 2013, live exports from Brazil, 98pc of which came from the state of Para, increased 19pc year to 517,906 head.  Venezuela remained the major destination for Brazilian live cattle, accounting for 69pc of total live exports, or 356,765 head. Shipments to Lebanon increased 70pc year-on-year, to 97,607 head, while in contrast, those to Turkey and Egypt declined 69pc and 25pc respectively, over the same period.


Could Para supply cattle to Indonesia?

Under current Indonesian constitutional law, OIE recognition would not allow the Brazilian state of Para to supply cattle to the major South East Asian market for live cattle. Indonesian law currently prohibits the import of cattle from FMD-affected countries, regardless of whether they are sourced from FMD-free zones within an otherwise FMD-affected country. Imports from FMD-free zones could become legal if an amendment to the 2009 Animal Husbandry and Animal Health Law, currently being deliberated by the House of Representatives, is passed. Under the revised law, Indonesia could adopt a zone-based approach, instead of the current country-based approach that only allows meat imports from a country totally free of certain diseases, such as FMD. While there is growing pressure within Indonesia to increase import alternatives (see story below), there is also strong resistance to the move from local farming and veterinary groups, and it would also require changes to Indonesian constitutional law which can be difficult to achieve. Should access be granted, could Brazilian cattle compete on price with Australian cattle? MLA recently reported that steers were averaging US 310c/kg carcase weight in Sao Paolo state, pricing them at relatively similar levels to Australian cattle. The higher cost of shipping would be a major challenge to Brazil’s ability to compete on price in the market. Ex-Elders MD Malcolm Jackman recently stated that it would cost $800/head to ship steersfrom Brazil to Indonesia, a boat journey of 19 days, compared to the $200-$250 cost of shipping cattle for four days from Australia to Indonesia.

 

2013 cattle exports to Indo could top 400,000

After starting 2013 with quotas to export just 267,000 cattle to Indonesia, the northern cattle trade is on track to ship close to 400,000 cattle to the major market for the year, after the release of additional permits sparked an end of year shipping rush. The most cattle that have been shipped out of Darwin in a single year was 457,720 in 1997. While exports from Darwin this year will not match that record, final export figures for the port could come close to 2008 and 2009 levels, when the port exported 359,307 head and 353,278 head respectively. Darwin shipped 267,000 cattle from January to October, and it is estimated that as many as 100,000 could be shipped in the final two months of the year under the new permits released in late October. Total live cattle exports from Australia from January to October numbered 650,410. Australia’s biggest ever years for live export by volume were 2002 (971,880 head); 2009 (954,143 head) and 1997 (948,063 head). In addition to Darwin, the biggest ports for export from Australia so far this year have been Fremantle (117,338 head); Portland (81,650 – a record); Broome (64,491 head); Wyndham (25,647) Townsville (24,844 head) and Port Adelaide (21,066 head); Karumba (11,543); Brisbane (10,709) and Port Hedland (8300).

 

16 years jail for meat bribery scandal

A senior Indonesian political party figure has been jailed for 16 years and fined one billion Indonesian Rupiah (A$93,000) for accepting bribes from an Indonesian meat importer in return for offering greater access to import permits. Kompas.com has reported that Lutfi Hasan Ishaaq, the former president of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) was convicted in the Jakarta Corruption Court for corruption and money laundering. The report said Lutfi and his colleague Ahmad Fathanah accepted a bribe Rp of 1.3 billion from Maria Elizabeth Liman, the President Director of meat importing company PT Indoguna Utama in order to influence officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, then responsible for granting import permits, to provide the company with increased beef import quotas. Lutfi was also convicted of money laundering while serving as a member of the House of Representatives 2004-2009. The court heard the initial Rp 1.3 billion paid was a ‘commitment fee’ and that 40 billion Indonesia Rupiah (A$3.72 million) was pledged by Maria Elizabeth Liman to Lutfi through Fathanah. During the hearings prosecutors accused Lutfi of lobbying agriculture minister and fellow PKS party member Suswono to raise the overall quota so PT Indoguna Utama could increase its share to 10,000 tons of beef, and said he had devised a scheme that would facilitate a meeting between Suswono and Maria Elizabeth Liman. Lutfi’s accomplice in the case, Ahmad Fathanah, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay a Rp 1 billion fine. Lutfi was the first acting leader of a political party to be arrested by the KPK in a graft case.

 

Jakarta wont halt trade, but wants other cattle

In contrast to comments from Indonesian agriculture minister Suswono this week calling for Indonesian importers to cease imports from Australia in the wake of the recent spying scandal, Indonesia’s trade minister Gita Wirjawan, the man with most responsibility for allocating import permits, has told Indonesian media that it is unlikely Indonesia will halt cattle imports from Australia. However he has reiterated Indonesia’s desire to seek alternative sources for the country’s beef supply. The minister told the Jakarta Post that the main priority for the government would be to maintain the stability of the domestic meat market. “Since the domestic supply is still insufficient to meet demand, we must be aware of the reality that we need to source it overseas. And if we want to take punitive measures against a sourcing country, we will need to source from other countries.” The Jakarta Post said Indonesia is still assessing the possibility of importing cattle from other countries, such as India and Brazil, where Foot and Mouth Disease is present. In response to agriculture minister Suswono’s statements, Indonesia’s Meat Producers and Feedlot Association (Apfindo) executive director Joni Liano said the business said cutting imports and shrinking supply would disrupt the stability of local meat prices and the suspension would negatively impact both the Australian and Indonesian cattle businesses.  “The diplomatic row is political in nature and should not be linked to economic matters. It should be overcome through diplomatic measures, too,” Mr Liano said.

 

Hindus protest Indian beef exports

India’s rise to become the world’s largest exporter of bovine meat has led to increasing signs of public unrest by Hindu nationalists according to recent media reports. Most beef exported from India is buffalo meat, an animal less venerated than the hump-backed indigenous Indian cow, but the trade, even in buffalo beef, still evokes revulsion among Hindus who have considered the eating of beef sacrilegious for at least a thousand years, according to online news service The Week. It reports that in a recent riot, an angry mob ran amok, burning trucks and government property and forcing traffic to halt and factories to shut. One of the sharpest critics of the trade has been Narendra Modi, a prime-ministerial candidate who has slammed what he calls the government's "pink revolution," and its "secret agenda … for export of beef." Beef production in India is dominated by Muslims, which further fuels sectarian tensions. The report described how quickly beef exports can stir anger in India. When passers-by reported a foul smell coming from a truck that had broken down; rumours spread that it was loaded with cow meat. Slogan-shouting youths swept through the town near Delhi, ransacking the truck and tearing out its cargo of ice-covered meat. By the time police calmed the riot, 74 trucks and buses had been burned.


Silver Fern Farms introduces new beef grading system
 

New Zealand’s biggest meat processor, Silver Fern Farms, last month introduced a new beef grading system that turns the usual approach to meat grading on its head. Instead of using measurements such as carcase size and shape, it is focused on eating quality, based on what the company says has been the most extensive consumer testing program conducted in the NZ meat industry. The process is heavily influenced by Australia’s Meat Standards Australia grading system.  Scientists from Otago University, Australia and the US have been working on Silver Fern’s new grading system for more than two years, as part of the government funded Farm IQ primary growth partnership program. Silver Fern's group category manager Grant Howie says it means that the company will be paying farmers the highest prices for the beef that consumers rate as the best. Mr Howie says it's been able to link all that data back to individual farms and cattle to create a model that can grade as well as predict the eating quality of the beef that farmers produce.

 

Angus celebrates expansion
 

Angus Australia has officially opened new extensions to the purpose-built office in Armidale from which it has operated since 1993. Since that time the increase in Angus registrations and increase in services provided by Angus Australia has seen the size of the society’s staff increase from four to 15, necessitating an office expansion. Angus Australia president Michael Gadd had the honour of unveiling the plaque marking the extension opening, with chief executive officer, Peter Parnell welcoming the visitors to Armidale headquarters. “Having larger premises gives our staff the room they need to work and allows for our future needs as we expand our range of product and services for our members,” Mr Parnell said.
“Sharing the opening with our members, Directors and guests made it a special and unique event for the Society.”

 

Call for marble score to go beyond 9

Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit executive director Dr Rob Banks told a recent industry gathering that the Wagyu industry should be talking to AusMeat about getting the AusMeat descriptor language for marbling extended beyond its current limit of marbling score 9. “It’s absolutely clear-cut that if there was numbers 11, 12 or 13 in the AusMeat scale, you would have had Wagyu cattle in this project already scoring in that range, which would potentially add value to them as carcases, rather than simply describing them as “9+” . I can’t see any particular reason why that couldn’t be done, as it would be very helpful in more accurately describing Wagyu marbling performance beyond the current ‘9+’ maximum descriptor.”    
 

Astonishing Chinese import growth continues

China’s imports of fresh and frozen beef climbed an astonishing 1,379pc and 978pc respectively in the first half of 2013. A shortage of cattle means there are up to eight years of price climbs left, it predicts. This should be good news for exporters: the US Meat Export Federation ranks Australia first among China’s beef exporters this year, selling 92,680 metric tons to China in the first eight months, followed by Uruguay with 52,866 metric tons.
They are among the handful of countries allowed to export beef to Chinese markets. Smuggling, however, accounts for between 40pc and 50pc of supplies, according to local Chinese language media reports. While those figures are debatable, China National News CNR radio reported recently that large amounts of Brazilian and Indian, as well as US, meat are entering China overland through Hong Kong as well as Vietnam. Meanwhile, soaring prices for meats such as beef and mutton, relative to pork, are prompting one of China’s poorer provinces to encourage farmers to breed steers and sheep. In central China’s Shaanxi province, agricultural officials say they have earmarked CNY50m in 2013 and CNY100m to be spent next year on expanding local beef and sheep herds. However, the officials have not explained how they will have the land, feed supply and breeding knowhow required to meet an ambitious target of producing 1.8 million tons of beef and 12 million tons of mutton by 2017.

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