The Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association is urging the Federal Government to use overseas development funding to help Indonesian abattoirs to gain accreditation and avoid a potential slaugter capacity deficit in the key market.
Australian cattle exported to Indonesia can only be slaughtered through accredited supply chains under new Federal Government rules designed to improve animal welfare conditions in the market.
With exports returning to significant volumes since the Federal Government’s export ban was lifted on July 7, questions are emerging as to whether enough supply chains will be accredited to absorb the flow.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry confirmed to Beef Central today that 128,312 cattle have now been exported to Indonesia since the suspension was lifted on July 7.
But in an indication of the vast numbers that may be yet to come, DAFF revealed that it has received Notices of Intention to Export from exporters for the remainder of the season for no less than 154,082 cattle.
That number is subject to change based on commercial and seasonal factors, but highlights what is currently in the pipeline.
At the other end of the equation, DAFF said 16 supply chains have now been accredited.
Its figures did not indicate the actual number of abattoirs included in those supply chains, or the processing capacity they represent.
Asked if it was concerned about the potential for export volumes to exceed accredited processing capacity, DAFF said such considerations were the responsibility of exporters.
“The management of animals, including volumes, throughout approved exporter supply chains is the responsibility of the Australian exporter,” the department’s response said.
“Any exporter who fails to meet welfare standards puts at risk their entire business.
“Any producer who is concerned about the capacity of export supply chains should talk to the exporter about what capacity they have to process animals.”
NTCA executive director Luke Bowen said the northern cattle producer body saw slaughter capacity in Indonesia as a “critical issue”.
He said available information suggested that the progressive introduction of abattoirs into accredited supply chains was occurring.
However, he believed more assistance was needed, given that existing supply chains represented a complex mix of government and private facilities.
Mr Bowen suggested that the foreign development funding should now be used to help bring more supply chains up to speed in time to handle the rising export volumes.
“There is an opportunity for greater buy in from the Australian government through overseas development funding,” Mr Bowen said.
“Australia already puts a great deal of positive development assistance into Indonesia for breeding and agricultural production projects and this could be expanded to assist in the area of food processing and technology.”
Australia’s foreign aid budget to Indonesia totalled $558m in 2010-11.